Interview: Martin Whatson

First the basic introduction – can you tell us who are you, what are you doing, where are you coming from?

I’m a 34 year old, Norwegian stencil artist living and working in Oslo, Norway!

How did you started to do graffiti and stencils?

During my primary school years I travelled alot with the subway from my school to my friends house and early found an interest in the ever changing graffiti along the subway line. After watching it for years and sketching throughout mid school I tried painting my first piece in the early 2000’s. Since then I’ve followed both the graffiti scene and later the fast growing stencil and streetart scenes.

After my first stencil in 2004 that took over more and more of my time finally resulting in working with a combination of graffiti and stencil full time since 2012.

“I get a bit of everything when I’m doing my paintings!”

Your works are recognisable, they are vibrant and contrast by both colors and themes, how would you describe your style? How you quickly you found your own ”style” ?

One of the things I found when doing just stencil work was how I got bored of it after a while. I still love cutting stencils, but I felt my work lacked some vibrancy and some elements to break with the rigid and graphic look of the stencil. Thats when I started incorporating graffiti and graffiti influenced scribbles into my work. To me, this meant I could make editions of my work and make all unique and quite different from each other!

It took me several years for first to learn stencils properly, then working my way through phases of paintings with a more political message through dark to light works and finally adding the colorful graffiti that now can be called my style of work!

As a big positive its also something I love doing so I get a bit of everything when I’m doing my paintings!

When you begin to work a new piece, do you have a clear vision what you are going to do or where to start? How much your works ”live”/change from the original vision? How much you improvise?

The stencils are always the basic idea of a piece, and I normally have a pretty clear thought on to how the piece will look in the end, with the exception of the graffiiti which I can change by using more spray, less spray and more pens, fill more, fill less, monochrome colors or full color scheme.

I also love how you can use the same stencil as a base for a piece but completely change the look of it by changing the area you put the graffiti in.

What connection do you have to your work? Do you ever become frustrated with a piece that isn’t coming out as you’d hoped or seen in your mind? And then, if you make an error on a piece, a line you don’t like as much etc, how do you correct it?

A great thing with stencils is that you can reuse them several times, and I hardly ever get really frustrated about any artwork gone wrong as they can fairly easily be replicated. A lot of my work revolves around the different layers in a wall or covering my own work, so mistakes can easily be hidden under layers of graffiti.

Do you observe your development as an artist? And then, do you have a clear vision what you’re going to do or try next?

I’m trying to evolve my style and work slow but steady, and I have plan for my progression as an artist. Trying not to rush a progression and work with what I find interesting and like, sometimes finding new ways by accident, sometimes planned out!

What influences you as an artist? And how things influence you? Can you see the influences in your works or has there been a moment that you’ve noticed afterwards?

For a number of years I’ve been very influenced by how a street environment changes, both by human hands or by the decay of the elements. This is something that inspired me into the style of work I’ve been doing the last few years!

What is your favourite work? And why, what makes it stand out?

This is a very difficult question, I always feel quite finished with a work after I’ve completed it, but I think the one special must be ‘Eternal Reflection’, the work that made it possible to me to start living from my artwork.

What are you trying to communicate with your art? What do you wish that viewers experience thru your art?

I’ve always wanted to introduce the ‘street’ to peoples homes or a cheerful happy moment in peoples travel through a city. A goal is to surprise and brighten up your day discovering my external works. I’m continuously hiding messages in my art, both as an overall body of work, but also as individual artwork.

If you should describe your art with one word, what would it be?


Martin Whatson around the internet: