Written by Jack Blocker
11 Monday 11th March 2013
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In a shameless attempt to jump on the bandwagon, without actually having to do anything, I'm giving Mobstr's interview the attention it deserves. x.

Not too long ago a story appeared on a wall in East London. As opposed to being written out in full, the story only progressed when the council cleaners - also known as buff men - erased the previous chapter. A freshly painted space emerged, giving the author a blank page to continue. The author is a guy from Newcastle who goes by the name Mobstr. In a time where street-art is chipped off walls and sold at auction, it's good to know that there is work out there that still depends on its environment. We spoke to Mobstr about local councils, graffiti traditionalists, and fucking with Tesco.

Hi Mobstr, can I ask you where you’re currently based?


A lot of your work documents your interaction with local councils. Do you view these organisations as an important part of your work?

In most cases it is an inevitable part of the process. You paint something on a wall knowing that it will not last. In some cases I integrate this predictable outcome into the piece. This adds another dimension to the work.

Explain your relationship with advertising in our environment?

Mostly I just observe adverts but when living in a city there is not much choice in this matter. Occasionally I subvert them. If you like to paint your surroundings it is hard for them not to come into play. I am not on some righteous anti-advertising movement but they are an easy target. There are people that do that with better conviction than myself. I am just having some fun but I hope it has a hint of underlying truth. I don’t take what I do too seriously but don’t be mistaken there is a massive passion behind it. Besides, I strongly believe you shouldn’t believe in anything too strongly.

Our offices are right around the corner from your story on Jerome Street, so we could watch the piece develop. With this in mind, would you rather a person see a complete piece as a set of photos, or witness it in the street at random points?

I enjoy discovering new work out and about. The same old street that you walk down each day can be transformed overnight by a piece of art appearing on it That same old street isn’t the same old street anymore.  This is how I would like my work to be viewed but obviously not everyone lives where I put my work and not everyone gets to see if before it is removed. Therefore, the photos are just as important.

You’ve mentioned before that cities have a weird relationship with street-art - removing it before they’ve even cleared away garbage. As a lot of your pieces wouldn’t work if they were allowed to remain, would you ever want your work to be accepted by the cities you work in?

I am not sure. Obviously it is a compliment if your work survives the buff. I’ve had a few pieces which the buff crew worked around but at the same time I think it is important for walls to evolve otherwise they become stale. I think it is a great shame when people put those protective sheets over Banksy’s stuff. Obviously it is great for Banksy but the chapter of that wall is now over and there won’t be another one to succeed it. I like my pieces to last as long as possible but when they are gone I don’t cry about it.

Your piece Borin shows your respect for Graffiti in all forms. Have you received criticism from other Graffiti artists because of your methods?

A writer once threatened to knock me flat because of what I did. You start to sound like a bit of an idiot if you try to put rules on an art form that was founded on breaking the rules. Telling someone he can only use spray paint in a certain way is like giving a musician a guitar and saying he can only play one chord. If you don’t branch out in methods and style the art form will become very, very boring.

Not all of your work takes place outdoors. Can you tell us about the letter from Tesco? How did you manage to intercept that woman’s initial query?

It was quite simple: I opened up the comments box in a Tesco store. After that letter they put a padlock on it. The lady was complaining about the size of the croissants getting larger – how can you not respond to that?

How do you feel about the future of street-art and graffiti? 

Well it’s definitely moving towards the mainstream. Hopefully not too much bullshit will manage to cling onto it during its journey. 

To see more work by Mobstr check out his website

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