Hicks learned all about the spray can with the 54 Crew and still adopts the number as a part of his artist signature. His prolific creation process often means his studio was overflowing with paintings, so he left them out on the street for people to help themselves to. He has perfected his brush line and the results have been numerous exhibitions and being crowned the winner of Secret Wars. With fans and commercial jobs all over the world he spends his time illustrating, painting murals and singing the blues. You can always count on Hicks to get it done right, make it look easier than it is, and do it wearing an impeccable suit.
Take us back to the beginning...
I grew up in Mansfield, a nowhere armpit of an ex-mining town. I got out of there as soon as I could. Growing up in a place you don’t fit in is the best advantage anyone could have - or the worst. If you are there right now, you are wasting time you will never get back.
What made you become an artist?
Painting, drawing and writing music is just something I’ve always done. Its like a kind of skin, it grows on me and falls off a bit at a time, making its way out into the world. On my first mural job I was able to work with one of my heroes and he told me “just do it, just say ‘THIS IS WHAT I DO’, then go and do it, nothing else, just that.” It’s a need, I gotta do it, there’s nothing else. I’m going to have a rant now. Pull up a chair… I learned more after University by just scribbling late night with friends than I ever did during. A strongly creative network around you is the greatest thing that can happen to you. Stay too long and you all look the same, but its good when you start. When I started I wanted to be part of a scene but as time goes by we become more self reliant.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I love Chinese watercolours, Russian poster art, Eastern European book covers, bits of manga like Junko Mizuno, Mike Mignola, Denis Hopper, some African art, Modigliani…. You can find beauty everywhere if you look hard enough. Don’t stop looking.
I only listen to audio books when I work. Check out Haruki Murakami. When you listen to a story your logical brain keeps busy and you can work off intuition. When I write I listen to Chopin and when I compose, I look at photos and drink.
We of course had to include Hicks and his immaculate skills to create for Dudebox. Above is his work on one of our special Giant Dudes which he painted live at the Dudebox launch party.
Which of your artwork pieces has been your favorite to create?
Whenever possible I don’t like to plan my work, just get there and do it. This is best when doing live painting, walking into a venue, pushing through the crowd, getting on stage and to freestyle a huge mural is the best. Also, you get way more attention from girls doing live painting then you ever would playing gigs. Fact.
What would you describe your style as?
Having only ONE style is a dead end. Who wants to be doing the same street art character for the next 10 years? I don’t understand that. When I stop teaching myself new things I may as well give up.
Hicks worked his mystical magical ways on our Big Dude Ted, to fulfill a lifelong dream for him to design for a vinyl toy.
Which artist do you most relate to?
I’m not an artist. That’s an ugly word. Most art students I’ve met are idiots and people calling themselves “artists” are pretentious and vague. I paint things & decorate things. So, that I guess that makes me a painter/decorator? My advice for anyone trying to get into this game; get an accountant and an agent and be critical of yourself and what you see. You make the rules. You set the standard. Plus, I have no boss! This is the best and the worst thing. If I had to pick someone to call my favourite, it would have to be Tom Waits.
A word to the masses?
Never accept bad work. Even when done by your friends or peers or heroes it should be pointed out.
Nothing progresses when mediocre, banal work is exulted - don’t pander to your audience.
Tell people to their face (in a nice way). It’s not arrogance, at best it is uncouth, at worst they will come to expect it. I can’t remember who said that… lets pretend I made it up.
Head on over to the Dudebox store and grab one of Hicks' Neesh
Limited Edition vinyl figures.