Last week I brought you a round up from the VASA Fest along with an interview with organiser Meghan Williamson. Well, this week I have an interview from one of the participating artists – Nils Westergard. Nils is an internationally recognised artist with murals all over the globe so it was a real honour to be able to chat with him.
Hi Nils how are you? Tell us a little about yourself…
I am good. Settling into the colder months a bit. I got a guitar recently and Ive been trying to teach myself that. Otherwise I largely run with the same group of close friends when Im not at a wall or cutting stencils (which I am most of the time.) I got a cute little bird named Paco, 3 crockpots, and a busy schedule.
When did you first start spraying on walls?
I’d guess I was 13 or so. Im 26 now.
What was the original inspiration for grabbing a spray can for the first time?
A kid I worked on the stage with came in with a stencil of an M16 and I thought it was the coolest shit I’d ever seen. I was just dipping my toes into graffiti about the time and everything just came together at the right time.
Do you like to work with a sketch or just freestyle?
I always know what Im doing. I work from photos so I will always have a photo Im working from. I will often have many photos though and just pick when Im at the wall.
What’s the inspiration behind your work? A never ending list of things right?!
Just about. I studied film and get a lot from watching films, also the lyrics of Aesop Rock and things I see when Im out and about. Of course a whole list of visual artists are always blowing my mind, the Etam guys, Beth Cavener, and recently this guy Curt Montgomery who does these lovely little linework tattoos.
Is a piece ever finished in your eyes?
Hell yeah. I know when Im done and I never touch it again. I dont know how the hell abstract painters know when to go home.
Do you prefer Legal or illegal painting?
I prefer painting.
You painted at the Virginia street art festival last month. It’s only about 100 miles or so from home right? Not quite painting in your own backyard but close enough! How was the festival for you?
This is America, so that may as well be my backyard, it is only like an hour away. People do that for work every day. I definitely think this year’s festival was the most enjoyable of the 3 I have done; a lot of friendly people around and pleasant weather. Also a great wall smack dab in the middle of town.
What’s the ideal soundtrack to a day’s painting?
Aesop Rock, John Prine, and then anything in-between. Of course the local cats, Nick F, Fly Anakin, Mike Millions, etc….
If you could have one super power for the day what would you choose?!
I feel like anything except for flight I would ultimately use for deceptive or nefarious purposes. No one is doing good things when they are invisible or can read minds. Ultimately you’re screwing someone over. Flight seems so pure and fun, although I guess it could really shatter someone’s sense of reality of they saw me just buzzin around the city 50m up. So either flight somewhere in the countryside, or teleportation. I’d love to teleport to Amsterdam for lunch and a bike ride, then Fiji for a swim, etc.. Seems pretty harmless if you’re careful.
What’s next for Nils Westergard?
Gotta keep that close to the chest. But I’ll be in Amsterdam/Berlin the first 2 weeks of the new year, maybe head down to Miami for Basel beforehand. Not really sure. Perpetually busy though.