Interview with Martin Whatson

Martin Whatson (b. 1984) is a Norwegian born and based stencil artist. While studying Art and Graphic design at Westerdals School of Communication, Oslo, he discovered stencils and the urban art scene. After following graffiti and its development, he started his own stencil production 10 years ago in the winter of 2004. Martin has a continuous urge to search for beauty in what is commonly dismissed as ugly, out of style or simply left behind. He looks for inspirations in people, city landscapes, old buildings, graffiti, posters and decaying walls. This interest for decay has helped develop his style, motives and composition and he enjoys creating either unity or conflict between materials, backgrounds, motives and human intervention. His artistic expression started more political, but has developed into a more subtle expression blending graffiti, stencil art and decay together. Inspired by artist like Jose Parlá and Cy Twombly. His abstract graffiti and stencils are a mix of urban scenes showing the development of a walls lifetime. He use grey tones as a basis but add’s vibrant colours to break the monochrome concrete expression and bring a splash of life to his motives.Since his artistic debut in 2004, he has had several solo shows and participated in many group exhibitions, both nationally and in international metropoles like Tokyo, Paris, London, New York and Los Angeles.

Hi Martin, today MoW selected 2 of your artworks that are inspired by music. Can you tell MoW, what is the music behind the artworks ? How did music inspired them?

The obvious reasons are of course how music inspires my art, I always litsten to music when I paint. Try to vary with everything from pop, to hip-hop and punk/rock. There is something really powerful with both instruments and the music movements. But there is no deeper meaning. I really like the visual aspect of the "Cello Player", its a really unpractical big instrument but that"s one of my favorites if used correctly. And the reason I covered the cello with tags, it's to give the impression the guy is using another creative style to create a new meaning or feeling.

The "Punk's Not Dead" statement is such a famous quote, and I liked the fact that even the hardest punks have to grow up, get older and start a family on their own. So basically just a twist on the quote to fit the grown up punkers! 

 How does music impact your life ? Why is music important to you and your art? 

It impacts my life in a massive way, you hear music everywhere, stores, cars, buses, on the streets. So it creates another dimension to life.

I normally attach certain memories to songs, so when I hear that song again, it can remind me of the memory thats attached to that song, either if its because I heard the song during the experience, or if the song text reminds me of what happened! As I said, I listen to all kinds of music when I paint, so I'm sure there is an importance in music for me!

If you had to choose between the two, which of your artwork from this project would be your favorite ? 

This is very difficult, they both mean a lot to me. The "Cello Player" was one of the starting points for the direction I'm still working with now, a couple years later. And the "Punk's Not Dead" I made it for a show in Japan. And I painted it on the streets here in my hometown of Oslo during the T&J Artwalk, that's where it all changed for me. And I've been living of making art ever since!

Can you tell MoW more about the techniques you used?

I've used stencils, spraypaint, markers and acrylic paint to create these pieces.

Do you have plans on creating new artworks insipired by music ?

If the right images and inspiration come up,I will make music inspired artwork for sure!!

 Do you listen to music when your working ? If so what kind of music ?

I listen to everything, but lately Ive been listening alot to 70's funk and soul!

What is the song you liked the most lately? The album ? What was the last gig you went to?

I haven't been to many gigs lately, the last one beeing a Norwegian rapper with some mates. To be honest I remember the drinking more then the concert! 

I don't know what my favorite song has been lately. Think I need to research some more on what's happening out there! But I've really enjoyed listening to the John Grant's 'Pale Green Ghost' and 'Queen of Denmark'.

Are you a musician yourself ? If so can you tell MoW more about your music projects ? 

I haven't got a musical muscle in my body, so I'll stick to painting!! 


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