Artist Interview – Dvate
Firstly who are you and where are you from?
I write Dvate and I grew up on the Frankston line in Melbourne, Vic.
How do you think this affected you on your journey towards being a graffiti artist?
Our house is pretty much on the train line so I grew up surrounded by quality graffiti and spending lots of time hanging out near the tracks. This definitely made an impression on me and was what made me want to start painting graff which has led to my current career as a professional artist.
When/How did you know you wanted to be a graffiti writer?
As I mentioned I grew up near the train line and catching the train to get around the city so graffiti was always part of my life. I was really into skateboarding in the mid 90’s and I guess this also led me to graff as we often hung out in the same types of places and had that urban exploration mentality, looking at a city in a different way than most. (spots to skate/spots to paint)
I guess I was doing a few tags here and there but didn’t do my first real piece till 1997. One of my mates had a copy of a Hype mag and we used to study it and try to copy the pieces on paper. One night we acquired some paint from the local supermarket and went out and painted a few trackside boxes, the results were horrible but I was definitely hooked! The rest is history since then I’ve never really thought about stopping.
How did you learn to do what you do?
Lots of practise and hundreds of toy pieces 😉 I was never schooled in my any older writers, we just slowly figured it out over time. We didn’t even meet any other writers till around 98-99. These days I try to paint with as many people as possible and keep and open mind about influences other that graff that I can incorporate to my work.
What is your dream project?
A massive flat but interesting surface in a crazy location that I can paint with a bunch of mates and have a huge budget so we can stay in a pimped out house and have no hassles and arvo shade and no wind and I don’t have to worry about getting pics.
Your favourite or most inspirational place/spot you have painted at?
That’s a tuff one but off the top of my head a few are:
Antwerp main yard in the day, Beach side walls in Tahiti, Getting in early to a huge abando like Amcor paper mill and just a chill underground drain spot on a super hot day.
What/Who are some of the inspirations that drive you to paint?
So many amazing writers and artists around these days its hard to even start but I guess I’m inspired by many different types of artists. With graff I’m all about style and quality but also being able to master all elements and scenes and keep painting over a long time. So many come and go but the ones that really stand out are the artists that don’t stop and keep progressing.
Did this help guide you to where you are today?
Definitey! I think the mentality and drive of an active graffiti writer gave me a huge advantage in all aspects of my life. The desire to be up the most and rock the best burner, looking at life in a different way and problem solving under stressful situations 😉
What are your personal goals now and in the future as a professional graffiti artist?
Recently I’ve made a conscious decision to keep my graff as more of a personal thing and try to separate it from my job as a painter. The two will always cross over and I’m sure they will come back together at some point but for now i’m happy to focus on my realism as my gallery and work projects while keeping my graff as stress free as possible.
Tell us a little about how you like to work. (Alone, with others, in phases, details, etc…)
I’m a bit of a control freak so I guess I usually like to work alone, specially when I’m painting realism that takes heaps of concentration. I’ve done heaps of collaborations and I really enjoy working with other artists but it has to be the right people and setup for it to work well.
What direction do you feel your art is going?
As I mentioned my art is pretty much focused on my realism – specifically local native flora and fauna and trying to raise awareness for endangered species. I’m still experimenting with different techniques and ways of incorporating some of my graff flavour.
With my graff I’m constantly changing what I paint, some days I’m feeling a full colour production with all the bells and whistles, others just a simple buff fill. But letter structure is still the most important thing.
What’s the biggest misconception the general public have of graffiti artists?
Not sure these days. When I was growing up it was definitely a negative perception by most, mainly due to ignorance and the way the media reports on graff. Now people are generally a bit more educated on the scene and the variety of people who paint. Anyone living in the city will most likely have seen someone painting a legal etc and it not as much of a mystery as it used to be. Although most have no idea about real graff or style.
What are your thoughts on the whole graffiti vs street art?
I used to get all wound up about it but doesn’t phase me too much these days. In the end both are a temporary art form that evolve with the locations they exist in.
If someone messes with your piece you can either fix/redo it, start a war or just cop it. No point talking shit online or whinging to your mates.
If you could share a message with the next generation of graffiti artists, what would it be?
Paint as much as you can while you are young. Start simple and learn the basics. Show respect, stay humble but always try to rock the best piece on the wall.
There any up and coming artists that we should keep an eye out for?
Heaps of new writers are killing it at the moment. Too many to mention 😉
Any shouts out you would like to give?
Big love to my beautiful family, my crews, friends and anyone I’ve painted with. Stay safe in 2020!
Thank you very much for your time and we look forward to seeing more of your amazing work.
You can find more of Dvate work at: