I recently published a feature on one of my favourite artists in Barcelona, Mr M Lab and I am fortunate enough to say that he also agreed to do an in depth interview with nogreywalls about all things art and swapping lifestyles with sleepy bulldogs.
Hi Mr M, how are you? Tell us a little about yourself…
Hi! I’m from Barcelona, and I’ve lived all my life in this city, I’ve always thought that this is not my place, but for now I’m still here.
How did it all start for you? Were you one of those kids always scribbling on notebooks at school? What was the first ‘spark’ to pick up a spray can?
I always liked to draw and from very small I spent long hours drawing, attending drawing classes, reading comics, watching cartoons etc.
I remember that at school my notes in class were only drawings, the table filled with drawings, the washrooms… for that I take some blame haha.
I guess it’s something that comes out of me without thinking about a why. I like it, it relaxes me and helps me disconnect.
I don’t remember very well the first time that I took a spray can sincerely. I remember my first tag, sure! But a spray can… Maybe around 15 years old, to make something more than a homemade marker made with paint lacquer.
Where does the name Mr M Lab come from?
It’s very simple! The M is the first letter of my name, Marc. I added the Mr. to give it a more regal touch.
The lab is to define a little of what you are, MR. M Lab, a testing laboratory where the only purpose is to have fun creating.
Where does your artistic inspiration come from? How did you come to start drawing your little monsters?
My inspiration comes from many sides, from comics, animation, graphic design, digital design, illustration, photography, graffiti, street art…
There are countless inputs we receive every day in our brains, today even more with the internet and the amount of information we have at our fingertips.
Today, instagram and pinterest fill part of my time. It is full of artists, designers, illustrators, photographers from around the world that are worth following, observing, learning from.
Were you ever into writing, tagging, creating throw-ups/burners or were you always attracted to character style pieces?
Of course! Since I discovered the graffiti, at that time I think I was about 12 years old, I have not stopped looking at the walls and all their tags, it is a disease that many will not understand and maybe some will, but wherever I go the walls call me!
That makes one day you want to try, and I did not take much longer to make my first tags, with some friends who also liked graffiti. But I never considered it as something firm that I wanted to do as I could spend time without doing it.
When I studied illustration I met several graffiti artists from Barcelona and I returned to the walls again. I kept looking at walls, and tags without any control, for some reason I couldn’t stop looking at the tags, the walls. Bombing is a highly addictive thing! But I left it again.
Writing your name with lyrics, whether it’s a tag on a wall, a train or a good wall, is graffiti in its purest form and I’m fascinated by the people who get those rhythms with lyrics, that simplicity, those wild-style arrows, those simple and clean bubbles. But I’ve always liked cartoon more, I feel more identified with this style.
And here I am trying it again! This time with these monsters!
Are you only painting outside on the walls or are you also doing canvas work, commissions etc?
Everything will come, without hurry but without pause.
It is a project with very little time of life in reality, and that has come out a little spontaneously, without thinking too much.
At the moment I’m painting outside walls and I do digital illustrations for print.
This summer I also did limited print t-shirts and soon the winter collection will come with sweatshirts!
But basically, I really wanted to spray paint so the main objective was the street walls.
In mind there are canvas, skateboards, and whatever comes out really.
It’s about enjoying, not setting goals, just having fun!
Do you have a plan in mind when you start a piece? Do you pre-draw the monsters before you head to paint or is it just whatever you are feeling at the time?
At first, when I started, as I was not very clear about his characterisation, I drew and drew them before putting them on a wall. There’s a lot of monsters sketches at home.
But now I think I am finding a certain style, and it’s much more spontaneous, without so much control, it is as if they leave me without thinking too much about them, they leave from a natural form. That allows me to be free in front of the wall and for now I do not think much about what I’m going to do, I have a slight idea about what I’ll paint but I’m evolving as it comes out.
Lately what I do is choose a range of colors that I want to use, and with those colors paint the wall with the monster.
I continue to do sketches, but for the simple fact of drawing and evolving.
With this in mind what do you find to be the most difficult part of the creative process? I’ve read other artists speak about the fear of the blank page/canvas, writers block so to speak, do you ever get this?
The most difficult part is to be consistent and not stop looking for ideas. Work, work and never stop producing.
This is a project that I have in parallel with my work as a digital art director and visual designer in an agency. So there are many nights that I take off sleep to be able to move forward with these creatures.
That also means that many times I can not spend as much time as I want.
What about if I suffered from the blank page syndrome?
If we talk drawing, of course! I was several years without drawing, suddenly the desire, the ideas, they leave.
I guess computers and graphic / digital design got all my attention.
If we talk in graphic / digital design not so much, I’ve had days that cost me more, but the timmings of clients are a priority, so we have to work hard.
Do you have a favourite city or place to paint? Is there a dream city or country or wall even that you’d like to paint?
The truth is… no, any spot or wall seems a good site, so I would paint anywhere in the world.
If i choose one city I think I would choose New York for what it means in the world of graffiti.
But I think the monsters would look good on any wall in the world.
Do you like to collaborate with other artists? Is it quite easy to collaborate with other artists for you?
The truth is that I have only had occasion to do it once and very recently!
I had the pleasure of meeting and sharing the wall with Tim Marsh. It was a very good experience, and I think we were both very happy with the result!
Mixing different styles spontaneously without thinking too much about what you are going to do and getting something worthy is wonderful!
I think the good thing about collaborating with someone is to have a sense of style and to complement each other.
I hope to repeat with Tim, and have new collaborations with other artists!
Something I really enjoy is hearing what inspires artists. Are you mainly inspired by other artists or do you find influences literally everywhere? Which artists inspired you growing up and who’s work do you really like just now? And is there any artist you would love to work with?
As I said before, instagram and Pinterest right now are my source of inspiration. Pinterest I use it a lot at work and instagram for pure consumerism of images.
I follow a good number of artists from all over the world and it sometimes take a lot of strength to see how good they are.
But they are a great source of inspiration.
I think my influences are a mixture of many things, from comic strips to Mortadelo and Filemón, Super López etc. to Batman, Wolverine, The Punisher and ending with the cartoon of Dr. Slump, Dragon Ball, Coyote and the roadrunner, Tom and Jerry, Disney in general, Pixar also.
Graffiti by its aesthetics, its typographies, its graphics, its use of the colors, the forms, the design.
And the graphic and digital design because it is what I dedicate my time to professionally and makes me constantly look for inspiration.
I know you like to paint on the many legals walls here in BCN but there are sometimes ‘issues’ with artists tagging finished pieces and even sometimes unfinished pieces just for kicks. You recently called it a “jungle” during a recent chat with myself… what are your thoughts on the legals walls here in Barcelona?
Well, I see it very easy. It is about respect and education.
Every artist who paints on the street knows that it is an art that can last, sometimes more and sometimes less. I think it’s accepted by everyone.
But although there is nothing written, at least as far as I know, respect must always be had.
I always come to the site to paint, first I take a turn to see what is already there. First to enjoy the views, and second to choose where I’m going to paint. I always choose something that I think I can improve.
Recently I said to you that this is the Jungle, it’s simple! You can accept the game or you will always be angry.
What I believe is that more walls would have to be free yet, the city is full of gray walls that do not contribute anything and sometimes the only way to give color to the city is by other ways that do not fall within the legality.
Here we could start a kick off on legal and illegal and there would be opinions of all colours. The basic graffiti is illegal and like everything has its good things and its bad things.
For me, the illegal, the pure bombing, I see it more spontaneous, with speed and adrenaline! And it’s great! But my two knees do not have enough to run like I’d want!
With a legal or not legal wall but “allowed” things are different, there is no adrenaline, not speed if you want, but you have calm and more time to enjoy.
Thanks to Wallspot we have the opportunity to paint on walls of Barcelona and other cities of the world without problems, and that is appreciated.
Hopefully they will continue to offer new walls!
Just to speak about something different for a minute, tell us something about yourself that maybe not many people would know!
I love to sleep, although the moon always keeps me awake.
If you could be anyone or anything for a day who or what would you be?
Without hesitation I would exchange with my dog, a French Bulldog who loves to sleep.
Those days that you get up to go to work and see how he falls asleep after his walk, that moment, I would change with him.
Do you have any upcoming shows or projects we should know about? Are you currently exhibiting your works anywhere?
Right now everything you see is in the streets, I have some digital illustrations and many sketches made, but as I said I’m playing and having fun.
In mind I have many ideas, so step by step we will try to do them. I need more time! And that is already difficult to get.
I hope soon to start a small canvas production and try to set up a small expo in “petit committee”
I want to start testing the paste-up, the stickers, the stencil, there are so many things!
And above all to continue working, painting and playing with these monsters.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us before you go?
I think I’ve talked too much!
Nothing more, just thank you for the interview, interest and support on your part.
And thanks all those who directly or indirectly support me in this project. Some people say, “Why do you keep painting walls at your age? and some others they encourage me to keep doing it.
To all of them thank you!
Many thanks for your time Mr M and all the best with your future artistic endeavours!
Thank you man! A pleasure! See you on the streets!