An Interview With: Kid Acne

Sheffield has developed somewhat of a vibrant street art scene over the past few years, heading that scene is the well experienced artist/hip hop performer Kid Acne. Growing up in Leicester but now being based in Sheffield Kid Acne has his work painted across many areas of the city centre. Never afraid of expansion you can also see his work in some of Europe’s biggest cities. Next week however brings his first solo exhibition of the year, Standard Practice, to Sheffield.
We managed to catch up with Kid Acne to talk about his exhibition and his lengthy career.

Hi, great to talk to you today, how are you doing?

You too. I’m very well thank you.

For those who are unaware of yourself and your work, could you tell us a little about what it is that you do?

My name is Kid Acne. I’m an artist.

Your latest solo exhibition ‘Standard Practice’ begins soon, do times like this bring you excitement or nerves?

For this show, I’m actually really looking forward to it. It will be the first time I’ve shown this amount of print-based work at the same time. The work dates back to 1999 so it’ll be nice for me to experience the development and evolution over the past 15 years.

Could you explain what the exhibition is about and what attendees can expect to see when they visit?

Standard Practice is the first of 3 Kid Acne print retrospectives to be held in the next couple of months. This show is in Sheffield and the other two are in London and Los Angeles. It’s a great opportunity for me to share my work with different audiences as well as being able to make sense of where I’m at with my own studio practice in order to move things forward for future shows.

Your career has spanned many years covering many aspects, do you have a particular moment or piece of work that still stands out as a main highlight?

I have fond memories of the pre-internet era. I can really see the difference in my work before I got distracted with emails and a mobile phone even. I’m trying to get back to that mindset now and screen-printing is the perfect outlet to stay off the laptop and make work physically.

At Kolekto we believe that nothing is black and white or straight forward, art is disguised in many forms, whether this is music, film or fashion. You’ve released several EP’s and a few LP’s too, how does the experience of making music differ to your graffiti?

For me it’s all part of the same thing. Each creative outlet is just another way of presenting the same kind of imagery or whatever. It’s a case of finding the right medium to communicate specifically what you’re trying to say. Sometimes it works better as an illustration and other times it’s more suited as a lyric in a song. I have no preference for either. They’re both sides of the same coin.

Do you have a favourite city that you like to paint in?

My favourite city would be somewhere I haven’t been to yet. Travelling is most definitely the highlight of what I do and I love visiting new places. I enjoy painting anywhere as long as there’s a good vibe and good people.

Your creation of Zebra Face has recently been converted into a short animated series for Channel 4. How did that opportunity arise and can we expect more from Zebra Face soon??

Zebra Face began life as a one page comic strip back in 1995. It was always our dream to make it into an animation, so we’re really pleased that this is finally happening. A friend of ours pitched the idea to Channel 4 recently who loved it and said it would be “bigger than Rastamouse”. We’d love to make more animations like this.

Where is it exactly that you find your inspiration? Does popular culture such as television and films influence your work?

I don’t have a TV so don’t watch much television. I take inspiration from anything and everything and try to avoid doing the obvious.

You’ve evidently got a busy schedule for 2014, what are you most excited about it throughout the year?

Aside from the exhibitions, I’m really excited about releasing some music again. It’s been 7 years since the last LP so it will have been a long time coming. The new album is under the name MONGRELS, which was our initial rap group in the 90’s. We’re taking it back to basics and loving how it’s sounding so far.

In 2009 you collaborated with Vinyl toy giants Kid Robot to create the Rollin’ Stock series, how did that opportunity arise and can we expect anything similar in the pipeline?

I met Kid Robot through mutual friends on a trip to New York in 2006. They asked if I’d do a series of toys with them. I said yes, it just took a while to get the designs worked out and fitted into their release schedule. The toys were released in 2009. I’d love to do more of this kind of stuff, so you never know.

Finally, what else can we expect to see from Kid Acne in the future?

More of the same – art, music, prints, animations. I’m not going anywhere anytime soon.

Standard Practice by Kid Acne runs from February 6th – March 1st at B&B Gallery, 95B Mary St, Sheffield, S2 4RT.
Saturdays 12 – 6pm or by appointment.