The BAF is proud to present the VMF Insider Series – a series of micro-interviews with Vancouver Mural Festival artists leading up to the festival’s opening on August 20. For the first instalment, Ben Tour, Shallom Johnson and Tim Barnard will speak about their practice, style, and festival projects.

BEN TOUR

By Ben Tour - courtesy of thetourshow.com

By Ben Tour – courtesy of thetourshow.com

Ben Tour’s work uses loose, gestural brushstrokes, primarily in ink, to create depictions of humans and animals that are filled with energy. He combines sharp angles and swaths of colour to create dramatic and striking images. His work has been featured in Juxtapoz magazine and his illustration clients include Absolut and Burton.

1. Tell us a bit about your work and who you are.

I’m Ben Tour. I’m a painter, drawer, illustrator, contributor, and collaborator.

2. Describe your Vancouver Mural Festival project – where is it, and what are you working on?

I’m painting the rear wall behind Parallel 49 coffee shop on Main Street. I’m continuing to paint animals and Wolves have recently been very inspiring. I love their dynamism and strength of character. To me, they’re the quiet kings of the Pacific North West’s animal family. I want people to feel uplifted and energized by my mural and hopefully take some of the powerful Wolf spirit with them throughout their day.

3. How does working on a large-scale mural fit into your existing practice? How have you had to adapt your style, and what challenges does that present?

Painting big is always a challenge. I want the fluidity and gesture of my foundation ink sketches to transfer into a large-scale piece. I try to paint wet on wet and move quickly between bucket paint and spray paint and make a huge mess which hopefully my outline will clean up.

Everything Must Go by Shallom Johnson - courtesy of cargocollective.com/indigoindigo

Everything Must Go by Shallom Johnson – courtesy of cargocollective.com/indigoindigo

SHALLOM JOHNSON

Shallom Johnson’s multidisciplinary practice is informed to its core with activism and human rights. Johnson works as an arts educator and administrator as well as a visual artist, musician, and choreographer. Much of her work depicts humans, and she uses her sense of justice and compassion to bring true personality to all her subjects.

1. Tell us a bit about your work and who you are.

My name is Shallom Johnson, and I have been making visual art for both indoor and outdoor environments under the alias Indigo since 2008. I work with pretty much every medium I can get my hands on, spray paint and acrylics being the main common threads. The past few years I’ve been working as a mentor, educator, and administrator with a strong focus on youth and community development. Lately I’ve had the time and space to put more attention towards my own creative practice, both in visual art and in music.

2. Describe your Vancouver Mural Festival project – where is it, and what are you working on?

I am painting the alley-facing wall at BAF, above the car park. This work, as well as the work hanging in the VMF exhibition, is created in solidarity with all those who continue to face violence, discrimination, and persecution at the hands of those sworn to protect. It is made in support of those who are fighting for change, with words and actions both large and small.

In this day and age, just demanding the room to live, to claim our blackness and our worth is a political act.

3. How does working on a large-scale mural fit into your existing practice? How have you had to adapt your style, and what challenges does that present?

I’m used to working large scale, however the dimensions of the wall create an interesting challenge.  In the past few years I’ve been moving away from photorealism as a modus operandi. This will be the fourth and largest work I’ve done that relies on silhouettes and flames to create a narrative, which in this case will be abstracted further to leave more up to the interpretation of the viewer.

I am interested in sparking conversations and thoughts about something that is for many uncomfortable to confront; but is for me an integral part of my identity and my family history.

As another means to this end, I’m helping organize a series of events at Calabash Bistro called Real Talk. It’s a platform to come together to start a conversation in response to the recent violence against the black community in the United States. No music, no djs, no live performances – just the sharing of thoughts, feelings and experiences. All are welcome, please come with an open mind.

Systems 9 by Tim Barnard - courtesy of timbarnard.com

Systems 9 by Tim Barnard – courtesy of timbarnard.com

TIM BARNARD

Tim Barnard works primarily in black and white to create detailed, unbelievably intricate large works. Fascinated by our cultural shift from analog to digital, Barnard compiles cultural signs and symbols into complex works that could be seen to function as a psychological landscape. He has shown extensively throughout Canada and the United States and has created work for clients including Marc Jacobs, Red Bull and The Royal Canadian Mint.

1. Tell us a bit about your work and who you are.

Tim Barnard. I do black and white drawings and paintings.

2. Describe your Vancouver Mural Festival project – where is it, and what are you working on?

It will be a 96 by 8 foot wall at the Rize building construction site on the corner of Broadway and Kingsway. I’ll working on large chloroplast panels.

3. How does working on a large-scale mural fit into your existing practice? How have you had to adapt your style, and what challenges does that present?

I have not adapted my style much because I have been doing these characters since I was about 6-7 years old and now do large-scale murals.

The BAF’s current group show, Vancouver Mural Festival: Year One, will be up at the gallery until August 27. The festival’s offficial starting date is August 20.

Text by Genevieve Michaels, Ben Tour, Shallom Johnson and Tim Barnard.