Art Nerd New York | Los Angeles

Interview with My Dog Sighs

UK street artist, My Dog Sighs is currently being featured by Vertical Gallery at Scope. The artist sat down to discuss the years spent doing Free Art Friday, the current street art landscape, and breaking onto the US scene.

MDS_our lips are sealed group_Vertical Gallery_2014


Art Nerd : Can you describe your current pieces on display at Scope?

My Dog Sighs: For this edition of cans, I have the girls hiding behind a stripe of paint, each color matching the paint in the old can – a full rainbow of 30 cans. The western view of beauty achieved through make up intrigues me but the stripes can also refer to war paint. A mask to hide behind or an aggressive gesture? It also frames the eyes; the (cliche warning!!) windows into the soul with their glassy reflection giving a tiny glimpse into what the cans see. The rusted panel they sit on nods to the urban landscape roots of the Free Art Friday project that inspired them. They are a reminder of the beauty that can still be found in decay; beauty in the discarded.


Do you remember the first time you felt that you have the gift to draw? 

I’ve always loved my own head space and taking time to sit and scribble. I remember being about 7 and getting a star sticker reward added to a drawing of a fish. I didn’t often get rewards for work so it stayed with me. As I grew up, I was always the kid that could draw stuff.


What does art mean to you?

Art is the freedom to explore in intricate depth the finest detail and nuance of line, colour, texture and from. It is knowing more and more about less and less until you are intimate with it. It’s about throwing paint around with the abandon of a child, the tactile and visual play we were all so good at when we were 3 but sadly lost.


What kind of materials do you use to create such different art?

I’m definitely not a purist. I use whatever is at hand. Spray paint, acrylic, ink, graphite.


 How did you decide to draw on tins/cans?

I fell into place when I was working on my Free Art Friday project. Once a week, every week for years, I’ve been painting something and leaving it out on the street for a stranger to find. I loved street art but it felt wrong to damage property so by leaving work out in the street I had all the advantages of the beautiful urban landscape and open audience that street artists get, without the damage. I couldn’t afford to leave canvas out and didn’t want to add extra trash out so began finding trash left out by people, bringing it back to the studio, painting it and putting it back out. With the tin cans, shoulders and body forms are there, half of the work is done for me, and all i need to do is add the facial features.


Do you think your art is ecologically oriented because you recycle items?

Yes, of course. Society is so wasteful. Things once useful are thrown away and discarded. I’m sure it’s a metaphor for life too.


How do people react seeing your art pieces?

I hope that it is a feeling of connection; of recognizing the feeling abandonment and being able to rescue something thrown away by society. I want the pieces to find homes with people who are willing to pick them up, take it home, and love it. To make a stranger form a bond with an empty tin can is a fun way to work as an artist.


What inspires you?

Most often, I imagine a finder reacting when they stumble across my work. I try not to wait around to see who picks it up because in my head the story is so romantic. In reality, I’m sure not all my work makes it into the hands of someone who really loves it. In the early days, I did stay to see who picked it up. I worked for a week on a big piece and left it opposite a cafe so i could sit and watch. After about 15 minutes of being ignored by the public, a street sweeper came along with his cart and swept it up without giving it a second glance. I was gutted, but when work is on the street, it is fair game. I have no control over it. That’s kind of exciting.


Are there any messages hidden in your work?

My work holds messages that are quite melancholy. I imagine the pieces have been left out on the street to fend for themselves. In my head, the time between being left out and being found must be a desperate one, not unlike the feeling many homeless people must have. We all want to be loved and all understand those moments of melancholy and loss. I think that helps create a bond between the work and the finder. If the work can tug a heart string then maybe the finder will be more likely not to leave it.


Is there anything stressful about being a street artist?

Despite the idealistic view that being an artist is a carefree existence, quite the opposite is true. I worry about rejection, panic that my next show will flop. Should I frame the drawing I just did in natural wood or a neat black frame or add a little more yellow ochre to the canvas I’m working on? Despite all that I am living my dream and have to pinch myself daily for a reminder that I do spend my life and support my family throwing paint around.


Who are some artists that inspire you?

The balance of perfection and freedom of Herakut, the soul deepening melancholy of Julian Kimmings, the utter abandon of Funns and the epic, empty yet intricately natural landscapes of Los Dave.


What do you think about the current state of street art?

By its very nature street art is always in a state of flux. With no curation other than the effort and drive of the artists, there are always exciting new works by incredible artists helping to keep the scene fresh. Of course with the the explosion of street art comes a plethora of copycat kids in it for the wrong reasons but they soon loose interest. It seems people are either looking to go big, seriously big or scale things down so they are tiny. I’m always walling round with my eyes peeled for the smaller stuff. there’s no way I can miss a massive piece but it seems a little more intimate to find a tiny piece.


Do you think social media has an effect on your career?

Of course, my work is a relationship between one finder. Due to the short lived transient nature of Free Art Friday only fews people physically get to see it on the street. With social media, everyone can share in that solitary moment when i leave a piece of work out on the pavement.  When one small eye piece I did on a door in some back street hit The Huffington Post and a bunch of major blogs, it went viral and was seen by millions. I doubt more than 100 people have seen it in the flesh.


How do you feel about breaking into the US market?

I’m really excited. I’ve had a growing following over the last year or so over in the US and frequently get fans frustrated that they are unable to see the work in the flesh. A few US friends have helped me get some free art pieces out. I’m excited to have work shown, especially in something as respected as Scope . I’m also planning a couple of trips over to Chicago and Miami this year to paint some walls, show some work and of course hide some Free Art Fridays!



2 Responses to “Interview with My Dog Sighs”
  1. “: Interview with My Dog Sighs –” via @verticalgallery @SCOPEArtShow

  2. SCOPE says:

    Check out My Dog Sighs at SCOPE open today 11-8, tomorrow 11-7 at 312 W. 33rd Street!

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