Freshness Feature: Interview with INSA

By - November 11th, 2007

freshness feature Freshness Feature: Interview with INSA 
freshness banner Freshness Feature: Interview with INSA

No elaborate introduction is needed for INSA, a graffiti artist from London. Now a days you can see INSA making dope art works and products with international brands. His Graffiti Fetish exhibitions have been nothing but amazing and it was a fantastic opportunity to catch up with INSA to speak about the past, the present and the future. Also the Sneaker Fetish prints have been launched and are up for sale on INSA’s website.

> INSA

How are things in London?
Yeah good, getting cold though.

Most people are aware of what you have been up to lately, can you give us a history lesson on INSA?
Well I am originally known as a graffiti artist, I started tagging when I was like 12 years old. I mainly got into it for bombing and getting my name known. So after years of doing throw-ups, getting busted and painting walls, I started to get noticed around 2000. I got really into doing proper walls, burner pieces and big productions with writers like Astek. I traveled a lot painting walls wherever I could around the globe.

Keep reading after the jump…

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That’s cool. What are some of the things that influence your work?
I’m influenced by all sorts of things, everything, society, pop culture, shiny stuff! Some of my artistic influences come from work by Jeff Koons, Sorayama, Mode2 and Hans Bellmer.

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The concept of Graffiti Fetish is definitely dope. I love the heels pattern. When did your fetish begin?
Well as I said earlier I’ve painted graffiti for a long time but it was about 5 years ago that I started to consider the act of graffiti painting as a fetish. Around that time I figured that my name was fairly well known in graffiti and I also felt the need to give more thought to my work, more than just writing my name.

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I initially did some pieces that spelled my name in high heels, I loved what the high heel represented; sex, femininity and fetishism. I took the image of a heel and used it to replace my tag, to paint up a symbol of fetishism to represent my concept of graffiti fetish. From there my paintings evolved into masses of heels with legs and butts. I used this continuous pattern to cover walls, buildings, engulf cars and wrap around canvases, dominating objects with my fetish drawings.

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Now, you have produced some amazing collabs with Oki Ni, Kangol and Kid Robot recently. How did the transition from art on the streets and on canvas to commercial projects happen?
Well it was at my first solo show of artwork at the shop/gallery Best in east London. Some of the folks from Oki-Ni came to the show and obviously really felt what I was doing so asked if I wanted to work on something. I liked where they were at and felt they were right to represent my ideas.

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INSA x Oki Ni Hoodie

It was a similar thing with Kangol, another show and another meeting. I have been asked to work with many, many brands but I think it’s very important to only work with companies that you respect and that can offer the opportunity to be creative and original.

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INSA x Kangol army cap

I know it will be a hard choice but would you prefer to do art works or produce products and why?
It has to be artwork. When you’re painting you’re doing it for yourself. You haven’t got anyone to please but yourself. No deadlines or restrictions. Doing products is fun, but often not long after I have seen the sample I’ll lose interest in it and want to move on to the next thing, there’s a deeper level of satisfaction from art. I like the fact a lot of my work treads a line between product and art because within my work I like to explore the relationship we have with commodities.

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Sneaker Fetish print

I can totally understand your point. How about if you can collaborate or work with one person/company, who would it be and what type of work would you want to produce?
It probably wouldn’t be a particular brand or individual it would be to work with a decent workshop/large scale sculptor and make some huge installation pieces, massive legs and butts that you could climb and rest on. Something like that. 

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INSA at Venice Beach

Let’s hope you can get something like that happening soon! How is the street art/street fashion scene in London now? Any upcoming artists/brands we should look out for?
Well it’s like most major cities, there’s a flood of wannabe Banksy rubbish cluttering up the place, but there’s also good stuff from guys like ATG/Mr.Monkey and BC who are getting up in some amazing spots as they have been for a while now.

There are so many new galleries opening and art shows, it’s hard to keep track, which is a good thing I guess. I really like the artwork of Andrew McAttee. As for streetwear, Bond relocating is quite a change, really marks the end of Soho/Carnaby Street being a worthwhile destination. New store Goodhood seems cool, they have a nice vibe.

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INSA leotards in New York

Good to hear that London is keeping it fresh and evolving. Do you have any new projects/events you are working on now you can give mention quietly?
Well I’ve got loads of things in the works, currently I’m busy working on new paintings for a solo show I’m planning for London sometime next year. After the success of the calendar, me and Fuel are working on a very special INSA car, but I don’t wanna ruin any surprises, so the best thing is to keep checking my blog to see what’s up in INSAland.

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Laser etched heels

Well thanks a lot for your time INSA, I know you are a super busy man! Lastly can you drop some advice or any last words for your fans and to the readers?
Yeah, I have more competitions coming. You know you gotta love those giveaways, regular readers of my blog will know what I’m on about. Other than that just stay cool, be original and enjoy life!

Five Favourite Facts on INSA
Favourite food? Fresh shellfish
Favourite city? NY/SF/LONDON
Favourite musician? Prince
Favourite artist? It changes all the time, right now it’s probably Rockin’ Jelly Bean
Favourite relaxing method? A nice cold pint or ten

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