A big thank you to 17th Ave SW RED for the interview this past month. I am loving the new scenery that is around me here in New Zealand, yet reading this and seeing the photos from home are heart warming and also very cool as a reminder of how great Calgary is. Many thanks! Online interview here, or in full, as follows:
Tell us a bit about yourself? (What gets you up in the morning?)
I enjoy creating. I enjoy people. I enjoy stories.
I enjoy culture. I enjoy diversity. I enjoy growth. I enjoy the pulse of a city and also, the easy breath of nature. I enjoy the questions this life holds and the ever present pursuit of knowledge and experience to discover truth. Oh, and I like coffee.
Spending 20 years here, what was it about Calgary that inspired you and fueled your art?
I believe at the time of my move from Edmonton, I had an opportunity for a new start and at that time, nearly 20 years ago, it seemed best to make the move and start fresh, in a way. Calgary was and is a lot more corporate than Edmonton, and so I had a big challenge ahead of me with not knowing anyone within the art scene here, all the while painting a style of art that most considered childish, a form of vandalism or otherwise unofficial and less than desirable. Calgary became more and more like home as I forged into my field, making new pathways for my art form and other artists, alike. I am inspired by the “challenge” and Calgary presented many challenges and still does, culturally, though its grown a long way.
Formerly a graffiti artist, you’ve expanded your works into fine art. How did that transformation come to be?
It’s been an absolutely incredible journey to this day, let me tell you! I had no idea that I would end up where I am today! I had no concept of formal schools of thought toward art, fine art or anything of that matter. In fact, I still am very classically unschooled in my definitions and history, but now I am a little more well versed in the actual aspect of painting, use of light and color, materials and so forth. The actual story as to how this transition came to be is too long to print, and though some know it well, most would still view me as a graffiti artist, and that definition does suit me well, though I have started my transfer into fine art (though, could someone please define that for me…). I believe that pursuing what I love to do, with resilience and with desire, with total commitment and courage with a willingness to learn a lot, is the foundation to success, in any field (as well as having some actual talent).
Where do you sell your Le Hvy Styl Est clothing brand?
Le Hvy Styl Est., or The Heavy Style Establishment, is an ongoing hobby craft of mine. In actual fact, so far all my brands besides my personal brand (David Brunning/TheKidBelo), are other outlets for fun, creative express, whether it’s LeHvy, Death Defeated or Fades For Days. I would like to set up a shop online, but so far, it’s quite niche and therefore more scarce than common. I like it that way for the time being…
What is your favourite thing about the 17th Ave?
My favorite thing about 17th Ave is the accessibility for all. It’s a hot spot through the spring to fall, and it comes wonderfully alive in the summer. I truly enjoy my corner, my podium, at 7th and 17th (Analog Coffee).
Favourite place to shop on 17th Ave?
I do not have a favorite place to shop on 17th Ave, though I do enjoy so many places and I make sure not only to visit them, purchasing from them time to time, but also recommend them to many others. I am more the type to peruse the strip, wander the blocks, connecting with many at restaurants and shops alike, poppin’ in with a smile and a hug. You see, 17th Ave has been in my neighbourhood for over a decade now, and it’s home to me so I want others to see it as such and treat it as such, whether they shop, eat, drink or just hang out.
Best place for a night out, and hidden gems?
I truly enjoy Una so much (both sides); the Ship, once and a while, because it’s such a staple; National, when Devo or one of my friend’s is playing music; Analog always, for that corner stop sippin’ tea type spot is great for conversation and meeting up (it’s perfectly situated), and the list could go on, as again, it’s home and very familiar.
What would you like to see on 17th Ave in the future?
I would love to see 17th Ave more walkable, both in the summer and the winter. I would like to see more parks/green space, wider sidewalks accommodated by a generous single lane road, rather than the two lanes presented now. I would like to see creative architectural layout towards its structure, beautiful murals (not advertising painted everywhere), heat lamps (for winter) in certain areas, and the ability to enjoy this close-to-the-core space.
I would love to see more unique retail stores intermixed with those big box retailers. The price for rent PSF on the Ave can be quite monstrous, which can easily destroy small business and start-ups. I don’t think the cost of doing business on the Ave allows for many great, creative ventures to get up and running, which in turn takes away our ability to add to the culture and presence of this unique area of the city. In order to sustain and grow this area, I believe it each business needs to be dealt with differently, before it becomes a Robson street (if I may say that).
You recently celebrated 10 years at your studio and are making the move to New Zealand for an extended stay…tell us about that.
Yes, thank you! I left a really good and successful job position at Holt Renfrew in September of 2006 to pursue my artwork full time and as of this past September, I celebrated ten years of that pursuit and the reality of my now, career. To mark this event, I have decided to not only travel within the realm of a professional sabbatical, but also release “Decade”, a short film captured in two parts, filmed by Nick Thomas with DDG (Deluxe Design Group), as well as the very colorful and sculptural backdrop that has hosted the creation of my paintings in Studio 302 for the last ten years. All this information is found on my personal site, with the videos on my Vimeo (under TheKidBelo), or hosted to my Facebook page.
New Zealand hosts a few people I love dearly, and desire to be around and about with, as well as numerous artists I’ve desired to meet, study under or create with. I am excited to see the country, to learn more of its culture, to soak up the art, the stories, the views and learn what comes next in my journey.
Thank you for the interview and the opportunity to share.
See you soon, in the future, Calgary!