An Interview with D*Face

November 8, 2021

Have you always aspired to create art, or did you discover your calling later in life?

I’d say it was an inevitable direction for me, whether I aspired for it or not. I wasn’t a fan of school to say the least, I was always far more occupied with skating and girls than math or English. I loved skate graphics back then, and I think that’s really what steered me in the direction of a creative career. I started off in graphic design, boring stuff mainly, a pen for hire but it did help steer me in the direction of creating stuff of my own. I was making wonky stickers and cutting them out of sheets – sticking them up on my way to and from work. Apparently, people saw them about and liked them because it kinda all took off from there to be honest.

Did you study art as a student or are you self-taught?

Some and some really, I did go to college to study design, but I mean no one was teaching you how to go out and paint a wall, let alone how to get away from the police when they spotted you. There were so few people in the world of street art at that time, it kind of had to be a ‘figure it out yourself’ situation, no one was gonna show you how. Even today, I’ve seen artist’s paint a wall in all manner of different ways because there was and still is no pre-established method to it.

Last Embrace Before Departure, Long View Sweden 2014
Image Courtesy of D*Face.
What artist or artists informed your development? And what artists do you look to now for inspiration?

As I said, skate graphics were a really important part of what inspired me to become an artist and start creating images of my own. Jim Phillips and Vernon Courtlandt Johnson really were my two greatest artistic icons back then and I still find the brilliance of some of their work hard to believe. Obviously, I have to also shout out Liechtenstein too for opening the doors to using comic book imagery on a canvas. Nowadays it’s tricky to pin any one influence down, I seem to unconsciously spend (or waste) so much time scrolling through Instagram, I’m sure I’m picking up some form of influence through that and there’s a ton of artists I respect out there. Don’t think I could pick any one name out for you though.

What was a pivotal moment in the evolution of your work?

Hard to pick out just one, first up I’d have to say meeting Shep [Shepard Fairey] in the late nineties, more specifically running the streets with paste-ups all night long in around 1999 – that really opened my eyes very early on in stepping it up, not putting a ceiling on what I do or where this can go.

Then I think around two-thousand I got my first screen print set up and learned all I could about that process – that gave me a kick like nothing else, when you pull your first pristine print… and it meant I was able to screen print my first stickers – they’re a real gem to find now, sometimes I wear a jacket that I haven’t for few years and find a clutch in the pockets, they’re too good to be stuck now though, I keep a private stash in my studio. There was something very special about those early and somewhat naive years.

Dog Save The Queens (pink) _ Mortuus Vivens Regina
Image Courtesy of D*Face.
Tell us about your process. Do you begin with an image or a concept?

My work tends to be image driven but there’s often a general theme floating around at the same time. If you take a look at any of my previous solo shows for example, there’s a visual thread throughout the works that ties them all together, so I guess that informs the work as I draw it up. When it comes to murals I tend to try and take some form of inspiration from the location of the wall, but equally, if the wall’s a weird size or shape I kind of have to run with something that fits. I guess the real answer to the question is that there isn’t an answer, it depends on the work at hand.

What informs your work? As a visual artist, are you inspired by music, film, science, literature or other art forms?

Music is for sure a big influencer on my work, it’s a constant topic of discussion between me and my studio team. It’s just energising when you have good new music to listen to whilst you work. Unfortunately, it feels like it’s been a good while since anything of standout quality has dropped and I’m convinced the likes of Spotify are hiding it from us.

It’s just a big motivator to me, especially when you’re painting a mural, there are many walls which I associate to a specific album because it’s whatever we were blasting on repeat at the time of painting.

Left: Love Won’t Tear Us Apart, Paris 2017. Right: Turncoat, Paris 2018
Image Courtesy of D*Face.
What was the most challenging project that you worked on?

Two projects come to mind, the first being the cover for Blink -182. I was having to juggle three very focused musicians, each with their own agenda and ego and that, perhaps unsurprisingly turned out to be a bit of a headache. Good fun nevertheless though and an experience I wouldn’t think of trading.

The second big challenge was my Vegas mural, Behind Closed Doors, just because of its sheer enormous scale. The logistics were hard enough but the vertigo was something else. No one should be that high up for that long, it’s not natural. Unforgettable experience though and still one of my favourite murals to date.

What do you enjoy most about the work you do?

Working for myself, doing what I love, meeting people around the world, be that other artist or just the general public come to see a show or a mural.

Image Courtesy of D*Face.
How do you think NFTs will change the future for artists?

I see NFT’s as becoming quite a versatile tool and I also think we’re only really just seeing the very tip of the iceberg in terms of what they can become. Obviously if you’re an artist who works predominantly in a digital format anyway then it would seem like NFTs are a no brainer. Similarly, if you’ve never produced digital work but have been considering it, now for sure seems like the time to get acquainted with it. For me personally I see them becoming a new and exciting form of authentication that is inextricably linked to a physical original. For instance, for a piece of work I painted back in 2018, we set it up in AR, so that when you held your camera to the canvas, it looked like the characters in the piece were moving. Wouldn’t it be awesome if part of any physical, original artwork that you purchased was an NFT that not only proved the works legitimacy but also could bring the still work to life.

Image Courtesy of D*Face.

Instantly recognized as one of the UK’s most prolific Urban Contemporary artists, D*Face (Dean Stockton) has occupied the forefront of his practice since his first sell out show in 2005. Born and raised in London, his childhood interests of graffiti, Californian skate culture and punk aesthetic were well nurtured from an early age. Having come across the likes of Jim Phillips and Vernon Courtlandt Johnson amidst the pages of Thrasher Magazine, he was initially inspired to follow a path of graphic design and illustration, before eventually taking a more freelance approach to his art.

After learning to screen print his own stickers, he took the public domain of the street as his canvas, blending art, design and graffiti in a manner that pre-dated the emergence of street art as it is known today. It was in this newly founded outlet that D*Face quickly gained attention from others, mainly for the clean, vivid nature of his designs that quickly spread across the city. Even today, D*Face continues to approach his work with the same anarchic energy that drove his career from the outset. His murals can be found across the globe and his subversive-pop style and iconic D*Dog logo have become an inseparable part British Urban art and it’s ever expanding medium.