Alex Peter Maw, going under the alias APM, first grabbed my attention a few years ago through Stencil Revolution forum and his Flickr account. I picked up a few pieces of his which hang just out the corner of my eye now, and then as I stopped frequenting Flickr as much. Then I clocked onto him again, and was completely blown away by how much his style had changed and developed! From origins in Skateboarding and Graff, he’s now pursuing a fine art career, with incredibly detailed surreal visions painted with oils. I caught up with him to find out how life’s been treating him.
Hi Alex, can you explain a bit about yourself and what your passions are?
Hey. I’m a young artist who’s about to turn 21, currently building up a body of work I’m happy to push forward with and see what’s up. I’ve got a fair few passions in life, main one being art, closely followed by skateboarding, music and hip hop culture.
What did you really start to get into in a bit way first, Skateboarding or art, and was you’re early art all graff based?
I’ve always had interest in art, due to my father being an artist back in the day, although I personally didn’t take it too seriously until later on in life, only a couple of years ago in fact. I started skateboarding when I was ten and have been doing it pretty consistently ever since! I got into graffiti when I was about twelve and got stupidly addicted to it… I took a couple years break a few years ago due to a big crack-down which happened, but things are picking back up.
What are the differences and advantages to you between working outdoors with a wall or street setting, and a canvas based piece designed more for a gallery?
Well it’s two completely different styles and I haven’t tried to merge them together at all. The fine art type paintings I’m really trying to push myself, purposely make challenges I know will be tough to over-come, learn as much as possible along the way, and genuinely try my hardest to put out flawless pieces – which hasn’t yet happened! Ha.. Wall stuff however, well for me it’s strictly about letters, putting some funk back where it should be. I only write on a chill tip and I’m not trying to break any boundaries, just having fun and injecting some colour into the world!
When I think about the canvas work I’ve seen of yours over the last few years, and look at the progression on your website, I notice a distinct move from geometrically based patterns and characters, to them forming more lifelike figures and then eventually a more recent style with further realism. You’re works still got that surreality but in a different sense. Would you say this is a fair statement and was that a conscious or natural progression?
It’s most definitely a fair statement, as well as a conscious decision on my behalf. When I decided to take art seriously and try to make something happen, I had a distinct learning curve in mind, based on the fact that you can’t run before you can walk. So I solely concentrated on pen and ink pieces to get an understanding of tone, lighting, figurative drawing ect. About 7 months ago I was confident enough to take on the challenge of painting with oils, and I can imagine most if not all of my pieces in the future will be done in that medium.
What for me ties all your canvas work together is a distinct surreal element, what do you think encourages you to produce work of this nature?
A few different things play a role in this. I’m often daydreaming, thinking of bizarre scenarios which could make for interesting paintings. Unlike photography, you have complete control of a painting, you can twist and play with reality and make the impossible; possible!
You’ve designed a few decks for Karma Skateboards, how did that come about and have you had any other more commercially based commissions? How have you found the transition into that world?
Karma got in touch after seeing my work on my website, they like what I do and asked me if I’d be down for designing some decks. After being a skateboarder for nearly 10 years, dreaming about an opportunity like that, I was fully stoked and jumped at the chance. I’ve done a few things for Karma now and I’ve done a couple of decks for my local skate shop, but other then that I haven’t branched out into the commercial world of art and design. It’s rad seeing your work out there, on a skateboard or t-shirt, but ideally I’d love to make my sole income come from the paintings that I do.
How do you think your backgrounds in skateboarding and graff have influenced you’re aesthetic and way of thinking? Do you believe there’s a strong relationship between skateboarding and art?
A skateboarder’s perspective on things is completely different to someone who doesn’t skate. For example, a skater would walk past a bench and be thinking of all the possibilities of tricks that could be done on it, whereas to anyone else, a bench is simply a bench. Skateboarding and art are very tightly knit, the bottom of the deck is a perfect canvas for designs and logos. It’s a chance for companies to get not only their name out there, but also their vibe/image. Decks are often released in a series where there are individual boards for the team riders, but they’re all based on the same theme, which is then often derived from the general art direction of the whole company. Each company has got it’s own vibe so the contrast of graphics which are out there is amazing, there’s a lot of people who will buy decks purely based on the artwork, then have the skateboard as a wall hanger.
Who would you consider some of your favourite artists right now? Be it photographers, writers, fine artists or anything else.
“Look to the past to see the future”… Big up the mans like Titian, Botticelli, Raphael, Lord Leighton, all of the Pre-Raphaelites ect…
A lot of your work is of a very time consuming nature, what helps you get through these long slogs of doing the sometimes repetitive or simply very detailed parts of your pieces?
Rome wan’t built in a day! Ha.. I’m not sure where my patience comes from, but I have done a number of pieces that have taken well over a month or two to finish, painting every day. I drink a lot of coffee and I can smoke in my studio so that certainly does help! I’ll spend a 4 or 5 days painting solidly and then have a day art free, go skateboarding and forget about everything, then back to painting the next day. I just fully enjoy painting and get a lot of pleasure out of it, something which I hope will never fade.
Cheers for taking the time for this APM! Any links, thanks or final words you’d like to share?
Big ups to my dad for being a huge inspiration and essentially tutoring me. Massive thanks to Decimal Skate Shop, Karma, and of course all my friends and family. Cheers!
Check out Alex’s website by clicking here.