12ozProphet Exclusive: Nixon Solo Show at Espace Robert Poulin
If you find yourself near Montreal, here is a must see show of illustrations and cartoons that dives into Nixon’s universe. We were fortunate enough to catch up with him for an interview to find out what’s going on in his fantasy world.
How did you first get involved in graffiti?
I was always looking at graffiti when I would go to Montreal with my parents. When I started college (CEGEP) I lived in the east and Sober became my friend and I met Da crew. At this time Da was bombing a lot. I really wanted to be good at drawing characters. I looked for a name and then met all the graffiti writers in my CEGEP. That’s how it started. I was from the South Shore so I didn’t know anyone who did graffiti besides those guys. I started on my own doing trains and tunnels around my parent’s house. Then Sober showed me spots near the tracks. That’s how it started and became an addiction.
Nixon is a particular name, how did you choose your name?
Before I was writing Khro. In my suburb no one was doing graffiti so I wanted to be really low key, no one could know, and I was kind of paranoid. I introduced one of my friends to graffiti who wanted to write Bob Dole, the senator who was against rap music, and I wanted to have a name that would go with him. I thought we could be a team so I chose the name Nixon. Some friends saw it and said yeah, that’s a real name. It’s a different name than a sound or an object. At the beginning it was related to political things and I was into this kind of political critique. Now it’s just a name like any other one.
What sparked you into starting to make art?
When I started doing graffiti everyone (DA) was doing canvases in the winter time. Some guys would do a character, the other would do a background and they were always doing little stuff.
About a year later, I started doing canvases at my parent’s place. During the winter time I was always doing small canvases. I would take a picture of a train and paint it like Van Gogh. My parents lived next to the St. Lawrence River so I would paint that, and then my cat and cartoon things. I would always paint with marker. I was always trying to find something to paint.
I look at my first sketch book and I see that even back then I was into dragons (from Dungeons and Dragons) and then more into dinosaurs. I was not good back then, one liner tags, my hand was shitty.
What artists inspired you early on?
My friend Fone. I was always sketching with pencil and he was doing quantity with pen. He introduced me to the NYC style, the west coast style, the Philly tag, that I didn’t know. He started before me and showed me magazines. Scan and Causr stuff inspired me too. I looked at more people in Montreal than around the world. At this time Internet wasn’t so big and people were doing different kinds of stuff. Then I started painting trains and looking at freightofiles.
And now who inspires you?
All those French guys from the PAL, Horfe, Saeyo. When I went on my first trip to France I met my friend Theo. He was doing a Horfe style but in a different way. I was walking in the city and I saw Horfe on the rooftops. I really wanted to do a similar style to Horfe. It was a big influence but it’s kind of like I shot myself in the foot because people keep telling me I’m doing the same stuff. It’s been 2 years that I’m trying to find my way and I think through my painting I found a new thing. Illustration is really hard because there are a lot of cartoonists who are doing the same stuff. I find influence through Crumb and Disney stuff. It’s hard to find your own way.
What’s your favorite kind of place to paint?
Any place. I like to paint everything.
Describe your perfect day.
Wake up, have a coffee, go paint all day, have beers with friends at night then go bombing all night. Next morning you wake up go take pictures and start over. It’s always moving.
What do your characters represent to you?
Sometimes it’s just an idea about something…. I did the toothbrush which for me was like a couple, because a couple is like 2 toothbrushes together in the same place. I wanted to start doing something I don’t see. Now I started doing the dinosaur. It didn’t mean anything to me but other people think it’s something about my childhood, but it’s not.
If you could collaborate with any artist who would it be and why?
Anybody who wants to paint. Collaboration is hard but I’m happy to meet people and paint with anyone. You can learn from whoever you paint with.
What would you rather eat a grilled cheese or poutine?
Both, together. I really like grilled cheese with ketchup but poutine at the same time is good. Maybe half half like pizzagetti.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m doing more paintings. Graffiti is harder for me. I’m going back to school to do my MFA. I would like to do some installations, more murals, and some big murals.
Nixon’s solo show at Espace Robert Poulin is on right now and runs through the end of June.
Espace Robert Poulin: #411 du 372 Sainte-Catherine Ouest (édifice Le Belgo) à Montréal
Nixon’s Fine Art Blog
Nixon’s Graffiti Blog
Photography: Guy L’Heureux