1xRUN Thru Interview
False Profits by Mear One
1xRun: Tell us a little bit about this piece, was there an original created?
Mear One: This silkscreen is based on a 2012 mural I painted off Brick Lane in the Shoreditch community of East London. I originally titled this piece “Freedom For Humanity” and experienced loads of controversy over the subject matter at the time of its creation. The mural, done entirely in spray paint, depicted a group of fat, old, decrepit white men playing a game of Monopoly on the backs of the working class.
My critique of the elite banking cartels brought a standard response from the conservative contingent in London who swiftly conspired to have the piece silenced, but not before the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) was able to televise the developing controversy surrounding the mural. During the filming of the BBC coverage, a man in a business suit holding a white spray paint can apparently walked right up to the mural and tagged the word “Haganah” over my piece marking the beginning of its removal. The term “Haganah” apparently is the name of a now defunct Jewish paramilitary organization. Members of the local neighborhood rallied behind me in support of protecting the mural, claiming its relevance to the current global situation. It has been suggested that certain conservative East London factions devised a covert attack in order to 1) discredit me by suggesting that I was anti-Semitic (which by the way is far form the truth) and 2) deface my work so it would have to be removed.
This heated debate went on for about 4 weeks until finally my mural was buffed by the local governing authorities, thus silencing the message and preventing the conversation from reaching anymore viewers. The story they were claiming was so far out and out of touch with reality – that I’m anti-Semitic and was trying to incite reactionaries and violence?! The message was too strong for some to cope with, but I know it was timely and relevant and it needed to be said. With the global economic situation collapsing financial systems across the planet we need more critical thought that shows resistance to this blatant disregard for humanity.
For this silkscreen, I have re-named this piece “False Profits” with the understanding that these charlatans are the real criminals who need to be dismantled. The support from many intelligent and critical minded journalists including Abby Martin from RT’s Breaking the Set has been tremendous and showed a different story and helped me to immortalize its message so that it wouldn’t be forgotten. “False Profits” is my interpretation of the excesses, greed, and manipulation by the ruling class of planet earth. The original “Freedom For Humanity” is out there in the digital realm and will continue to be heard as long as we have the internet.
1xRun: Was this piece part of a recent theme, series or show that you had?
Mear One: The work I do is really one long expression of my thoughts that takes many walls to work out. This is my subject matter and in a sense, it is my life’s work.
1xRun: What materials were used to create this print?
Mear One: These prints are from a drawing that I inked and digitally separated. I used a split fountain technique to achieve more colors. So for the sky, which was just a single separation, I got 3 colors giving it some depth. We also pulled 15 from the original edition to gold foil them up for some extra banker bling and played around with how the separations lay down getting the closest to my original inking detail.
1xRun: When was the piece created and how long did it take to get the separations right?
Mear One: The original was created in 2012 as a mural and this print is a new drawing. I worked for a week straight drawing and separating this piece, but it has taken me a lifetime to define the message – I think it’s crucial to interweave the aesthetic life with the thinking life. I have had so many people ask me if I would ever make it into a print and the thought had never really entered my mind until recently. It’s a hard image to print because of all the details, but by working it out several times I found the perfect balance of thick to thin details.
1xRun: Anything immediate you would like us to highlight?
Mear One: Some of my political and spiritual beliefs consist of the idea that the subject matter should reflect one’s intellect, meaning I don’t paint pretty pictures for the sake of money. I paint a philosophical approach to speaking about reality and humanity that is far more interesting than a half-naked girl holding a samurai sword, riding a unicorn. That is what I call stupid shit. I need a deeper purpose for creating art and sharing in a conversation that many are afraid to have. I am a rebel by choice and conscience. Basically, fuck the system.
1xRun: Tell us how the idea and execution came about?
Mear One: I have been studying the deeper esoteric teachings and meanings of life since I was a child growing up in Hollywood. Politics have always been an important part to my understanding of society, and my psychedelic journeys have unveiled a perspective on reality that have given me a complex methodology by which to communicate those thoughts. Art allows me the ability to use visual imagery as my form of protest in life. Thus, the idea of “False Profits” was derived from my studies into these various subject matters.
1xRun: What is unique about this piece?
Mear One: This is the most controversial work I have ever created and it makes me proud to use my art as the basis for confronting global human issues. It would be so easy to just encapsulate and package my post-hip hop culture and re-sell it back to my customers and fans, but I see a very real opportunity to incite change and that is more exciting to me than some dumbed down design that is just popular for the sake of fame and fortune.
1xRun: Why do you feel people should buy this print?
Mear One: People should collect this piece if it speaks to them, if they have had these inclinations and felt there is something inherently wrong with the system that governs us all. I want to inspire people to become more conscious of themselves and their community to hopefully one day form a healthier society.
1xRun: Describe the piece in one gut reaction word.
Mear One: Fearless!
1xRun: When did you first start making art? What was your first piece?
Mear One: I have been creating art ever since I was a 3-year old child. My mother was an artist/painter and she taught and influenced me from the start and continues to guide my artistic soul from above. Well, as I said, I have been drawing since I was 3, so I can’t remember after the 10,000th piece, but what I became recognized for after being a graffiti artist for a decade was an acrylic painting on canvas called “Common Sense” which debuted at the 0-1 Gallery in 1995. It depicted a psychedelic vision of the social reality that lies beneath the veil of secrecy and an awakening of human realization.
1xRun: What artists inspired you early on?
Mear One: Robert Williams is my favorite contemporary artist because he uses narrative to express a story throughout his work. His work is meant to be read like a book and it’s information blended with imagery to communicate the artist’s message. I love Hieronymus Bosch, Alphonse Mucha, Salvador Dali, M.C. Escher, H.R. Giger, Maxfield Parrish, Norman Rockwell, and Irving Norm. These artists have shown me a way to communicate within the art world to a degree that neither school nor society had been able to achieve for my curious mind. I was encouraged to go into a less intentional route by becoming less interested in the story and become more ambiguous. And what I discovered pissed me off and helped me to become more of a Supernatural Realist, as I often describe my work.
1xRun: What artists inspire you now?
Mear One: I find myself no longer looking to other art for my inspiration, but to books, philosophers, shamans and activists. They seem to speak to me more, offering a deeper perspective. I no longer like to reference other art for it has an effect and influence on my work that I don’t need. I tend to search within myself as well as outwards to the reality that surrounds for inspiration now.
1xRun: Do you listen to music while you work?
Mear One: Music has been crucial to my work, starting with my early childhood heroes, Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa. I listen to everything from Gaslamp Killer and Daedalus to Wagner. I like electronica as much as underground hip-hop and jazz.