Interview by Cian Walker
BombingScience: A quick introduction- What do you write ?

I’m Bonzai.

BombingScience: Where are you from and what’s the scene like where you live?

Bonzai: I’m originally from the south coast of the UK but have lived and worked in London for quite a few years now. The scene here in London is pretty big, like any major city. I think there was a bit of a dip in activity for a while but it seems to be picking up again.

BombingScience: What was your introduction to the world of Graffiti?

Bonzai: I got into graffiti with the first wave of hip hop that hit the UK. I started seeing graffiti more and more at that stage, I didn’t care who done it I just wanted to see more of it. It wasn’t until a couple of years later when I was around 14/15 that I picked up a can. For me something just seemed to click! I know it’s been said a thousand times over, but when I first saw ‘Subway Art’ it just confirmed everything for me.

BombingScience: Ideal painting experience?

Bonzai: For me it would have to be a long weekend with all expenses paid in a nice hot country.

BombingScience: Tough question I know but who are some of your favourite artists- graffiti and otherwise?

Bonzai: Yeah, this is a tough one as there is so much talent out there and you just keep finding more and more…
Right now I’m really feeling Smug, Dead, Epok, Kak, Lovepusher, Aroe and HA Crew, Aryz, Sofles, Askew, MSK, Solo One, Sobekcis, LoveLetters, DMV…. This list could go on for ages, but I really think the ones to watch out for and are at the top of my list right now are the Ghetto Farceur guys.

BombingScience: Are there any particular goals you’d like to achieve in your graffiti career?

Bonzai: Over the past few years I have set myself goals at the beginning of each year, last year was to paint a new style and do as much as possible. This year I want to try and paint in as many cities in the UK as I can.
But my main goal is to push myself as far as I can. For me, especially over the past couple of years I have just wanted to challenge myself. I’m never 100% happy with my work once it’s finished and I can always see major faults in it. As soon as I’ve finished a piece and look at the photos I always want to go straight back out and better it.

BombingScience: What is your opinion on the current state of graffiti, both locally and internationally?

Bonzai: I think Graffiti is in a good place right now, best it has been in some time. There are always going to be good things and bad things in the scene. I try and ignore all the bullshit that goes on and concentrate on where I’m at.

BombingScience: Do you prefer to paint letters or characters?

Bonzai: I’m really enjoying painting letters right now, but I do like to sneak the odd character into my pieces from time to time. I enjoy painting characters but there are so many great character writers out there and that is why I wouldn’t try and make characters my main thing.

BombingScience: Do you inject any narrative into your work? For example, the way that Lovepusher or Solo One implement thematic ideas into their work that they feel are important…

Bonzai: Not really, but I think it’s great what they do, I also think it’s really important to be yourself when you paint and if that means sending out a message that you strongly believe in, then go for it. Also, don’t be deterred by what others think because the moment you start to worry about that and not do what is in your heart it will affect your work. Me, I just try and give my work as much visual impact as I can.

BombingScience: What are your strongest influences outside of graffiti and do they in turn influence your work? I mean stuff like this is amazing- , really inspiring, and the Ghetto Farceur stuff, which I’d never seen before… Any other gems such as this?

Bonzai: I get influences for fills from loads of things, nature plays a big part, whether it be the bark of a tree, a pattern on a stone ect,ect. I try and photograph as many things I see as possible these days and document the photos so I can refer back to them when I’m painting. Also the internet is a great place to find influence/reference, say for instance I want to paint a strange pattern, you don’t have to be a professional photographer to get it, you just type in what you want and there it is. But yeah, the Paradox video is fantastic and I still want to do another piece influenced by it…when the weather gets better and I can put in the hours, as I don’t feel I did it justice last time. 

BombingScience: You seem to have travelled to and painted in many places- is there anywhere in particular whose scene has blown you away? Any particularly memorable incidents?

Bonzai: I’m lucky to be able to get about a bit, last year was about developing a style, so I didn’t get out of London to much, but this year I’m planning to get out and do as much as possible in different places. Amsterdam in 91 was pretty dope but for me the French scene has to be the one that really stands out. I first went to Paris in 1990 and the scene there was crazy. I think the French have a natural artistic flare, and it seems to be encouraged. It was people like Skki and Lokiss that really caught my attention in the way they were not scared to try something different, there work looked to me like it was from the future. Also the Mode2 walls out there were crazy.

BombingScience: Any upcoming gallery shows? How do you feel about painting canvas as opposed to concrete? Also, where can we see some gallery work?

Bonzai: I used to find canvases hard in terms of not really knowing what to put on them; I was struggling to squash everything into a small space. Recently I have become more relaxed painting them and just treat it as I would when I paint a wall. I’m working on a few at the moment and will continue to produce them throughout the year; they will be available on my site ( soon. As for up coming shows, I am working on getting a show together in Ireland towards the end of the year.

BombingScience: Have you worked any particularly rewarding commissions?

Bonzai: I guess the most rewarding commission for me was spending a week painting the Breaking Convention at Sadlers Wells a few years back with Nash and Tumki (LoveLetters) and Blade. Painting a wall with Blade was pretty big! But main thing from that week was the chance to paint with and learn from Nash, it was a really big turning point for me.

BombingScience: What future plans do you have for your work?

Bonzai:Push myself as far as I can.

BombingScience: Any shouts…

Bonzai:Thanks to you guys at BombingScience for interviewing me.
Shouts to everyone I know, you all know who you are.

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