Once again I’m thrilled to be able to share an interview with an artist who’s work I really admire. This time I’ve been lucky enough to chat to Barcelona based Graffiti artist, illustrator, designer and one of the Guardian newspaper’s top 5 Female graffiti artists in the UK – Miss Hazard.
I hope you enjoy the interview below.
Where does the name Miss Hazard come from?
My name is Harriet, my nickname is Haz and when I was younger all my mates decided to call me Hazard, possibly my teenage moodswings and love of hazardous situations!
How did it all start for you? Were you one of those kids always scribbling on notebooks at school?
I’ve been drawing since I can remember – my Dad is an incredible artist and illustrator so I grew up inspired by his sketches and work. I always had a thing for big artwork – we’d drive past graffiti or murals and they would always have this special attraction to me. I also love art that uses unconventional canvases – paintings on wood/stone/found objects. Yes, my notebooks were COVERED!
What was the first ‘spark’ for you to pick up a spray can and hit the streets? Did you start off as a writer then progress to larger more muralistic pieces?
I first became interested specifically in street art when I was at school, my art teacher showed me some of Banksy’s work but went on to explain the wealth of street art styles (and opportunities) out there. I saw Beat 13 and Shephard Fairey’s work and was inspired to start scaling up my artwork. My art teacher actually bought me some Poundland car paint (in white, grey and black) and sent me around the back of the art block where she let me paint the wall! It was so liberating to paint so big and with aerosol – something so different to acrylics and brushes. I then continued painting, I became part of a crew and we would tag and spray paint where we could! It was all very exciting and super fun!
In your work you often paint peaceful looking female characters with really bright and incredibly detailed tribal headwear, where does the artistic inspiration for this style come from?
I’m always aware that my answer to this might be slightly disappointing! I don’t have a deep and meaningful reason to why I often paint females – but I do think women are under represented in many ways, I know first hand some of the struggles faced by women and I guess its my way of expressing the inner warrior! I like badass women and I absolutely adore communal and tribal artwork from around the world- whether its in body paint, tattoos, fabrics or textiles.
You are a multidisciplinary artist, I’ve seen your work on the streets, paintings on canvas, t-shirt design, album covers, pendants, books… literally everything! Is there one area you enjoy more than the others or do they all give you the same satisfaction? And where do you find the time for it all!?
I went freelance 3 years ago so this is what I do full time! I’m determined to create and do my dream job, so I’m constantly pushing and challenging myself. My favourite thing to do is spray paint big walls but I always want to keep it varied. I enjoy the graphics I do, I love working with people and teaching urban art workshops, I enjoy sharing skills and knowledge. Regardless of my work schedule, I’m constantly drawing, sketching and illustrating so I think there will always be a range of stuff coming from me! Why not eh?!
I’m a huge fan of community art spaces/walls/projects and just this year you crowdfunded the Ajo Street Art Mural project on the border of Arizona and Mexico. What made you decide to get involved with this project? And how was the experience?
I first heard about the Ajo Street Art Project in September when visiting a friend in Arizona. I try to reach out to the local graffiti/street art scene where-ever I go in the world and I ended up in contact with Michael Schwartz of Tucson Arts Brigade who organised for me to talk about my work in a local gallery space and spray paint a mural in a large storm-drain/ wash in Tucson. He told me about the project in Ajo and I loved the idea, so from then onwards I took part in online meetings as a team of organisers for the project. It became very clear that the funding for the project was becoming less and less, and whilst I couldn’t afford to pay my own way there – I knew I didn’t want to take from the very small amount of funding that the project was getting. My only option was to create a crowd fundraiser – I felt and feel very passionate about the activities in the border lands of the U.S.A and the issues facing the Native communities in America so I hoped others would see the value in me participating in this and leaving my artwork over there… and they did! The project was over-funded within half the time available for fundraising! The aim of the project was to provide Ajo with artists to occupy and decorate the buildings in such a unique place in the Sonoran Desert. Public artwork in significant and relevant locations as framework for larger national and international dialogue to promote socially engaged practice and community based arts – I wanted this project to be an opportunity for public interaction and community integration and conversation.
When working on a wall do you have a plan in mind when you start a piece? Or do you like to look at the wall and the surroundings and take inspiration from there?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no! When I’m doing commissioned work for a client we always discuss design and the space, we plan a piece that I sketch out beforehand and then reproduce with spray paint. Otherwise, quite often I don’t plan what I’m going to paint when I’m doing a legal wall or painting for fun. I like to play with colour and test myself or improve my techniques so often I just go with the flow! Remember kids, if you have no design you can’t make a mistake – haha!
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, do you ever get this?
The most difficult part of the creative process for me is the execution of a design or idea. It’s getting what’s in my head onto paper/wall/canvas in the same way that I see it in my head, with the same atmosphere or mood to it. It can be really frustrating to not get the image out in the same way as in my imagination – but sometimes that can take the work in a totally different direction which is equally as exciting!
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?
I try to paint everywhere I visit, its like a to-do list and I know many graffiti artists feel the same urge! We like to make our mark, I guess it’s a little bit like cats and dogs weeing on things to mark their territory but hey – we like to leave a colourful, bold and artistic trail! I would like to paint in New York, thats the Mecca for the graffiti culture.
Do you like to collaborate with other artists?
I do yes! I love painting walls with other writers, its such a nice way to hang out and appreciate each others work, combine styles and colour schemes whilst taking note of techniques – usually with beer in hand! I’d be interested in doing other collaborations, perhaps clothing or print work…
Something I really enjoy is hearing which artists inspired other artists. 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?
My Dad! I know, but it’s true he’s an incredible illustrator and worked in the film and tv industry, hand drawing title sequences and graphics. His typography is amazing and I remember being in awe of his handwriting since I was tiny! I also love all kinds of art, so it’s not just graffiti artists that inspire me. I’m constantly influenced by visuals and things I see around me but here are a few of my favourite artists and creators – El Mac, Aryz, Byroglyphics, Lucy McLauchlan and Smug!
Just to speak about something different for a minute, tell us something about yourself that maybe not many people would know!
I’m a triplet – I have two incredible brothers. One working in biochemistry and the other in international relations. Pretty awesome.
If you could be anyone or anything for a day who or what would you be?
I would be invisible so I could snoop around and see what people are up to – what goes on behind closed doors/backstage! Just so I could be nosey and get away with it – but for no more than a day, I think it would be hard work haha!
Back to the art! Do you have any upcoming shows or projects we should know about? Are you currently exhibiting your works anywhere?
I’ve been busy this summer working on big projects such as Glastonbury and Spark York so haven’t had much time to exhibit, that being said I currently have work on show at The Art of Protest Gallery in York and at the Tallercito 3 Gallery in Gracia, Barcelona. I have some big projects in the pipeline for 2018 but you’ll just have to keep your eyes peeled!
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us before you go?
Check out my Social Media pages and online store – I’ve got lots of bits and pieces available right now all with discounts! Go, go, go!
For anyone interested in checking out Miss Hazard’s work further or picking up a few discounted bargains on her web store here’s some handy links…