An Interview with D*Face

Posted on July 18, 2017

Collaborations with Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II and the pope: check. Being owner of the Outside Institute (London’s first contemporary gallery primarily focused on street and urban art) for several years: dubble check. Dean Stockton, aka D*Face, is a well known English multimedia street artist, who uses spray paint, stickers, posters, and stencils.

Born in 1978, Stockton grew up in a working-class London suburb. Thanks to Henry Chalfant – an American photographer and videographer, and his documentation of subway graffiti in New York City in Spraycan and Subway series, Dean fell in love with the culture of graffiti. Later as a rebellious teenager, skateboarding and Thrasher magazine’s coverage of skateboard deck graphics led his interest towards stickers and the do-it-yourself mentality associated with skate and punk fanzines.

While attending an Illustration and Design course, the artist worked part-time as a freelance illustrator and designer. At the same time, he was slowly developing his street-art style. Some of his early influences included skate culture, hip-hop and punk rock music, and popular animated cartoons.

In his own words, his aim is “to encourage people to not just to ‘see’, but to look at what surrounds them and their lives, reflecting our increasingly bizarre popular culture, re-thinking and reworking cultural figures and genres to comment on our ethos of conspicuous consumption. A Pandora’s box of bittersweet delights – sweet and sugary on the surface, but with an unfamiliar, uncomfortable, taste beneath.”

By rethinking, editing and reversing imagery drawn from decades of materialistic consumption – currency, advertising and comic books, the artist subverts these now iconic motifs, cultural figures, and genres in order to comment upon our conspicuous society. 

D*Face constructed the term aPOPcalyptic to describe his artworks, which can be seen in a variety of different media applying his playful, tongue-in-cheek imagery with anti-establishment values.

After seeing this artist working for almost an entire day, there is only one thing I needed to ask:

“Dean, what is your definition of creativity?”

“Creativity for me is first of all taking nothing and make it into something. It has always fascinated me: having a blank wall and than fill it with something. Creativity is the freedom to explore, produce, recreate, rebuild and destroy. All fo this can be done over and over again endlessly, both mentally, physically and metaphorically. The most beautiful aspect of my creativity, is that I leave something behind. Not just the painting on the wall, but also the interactions I have with the people.”

Text: Mike Warrink / Capturing Creativity

Photo: Henk Warrink / NCO Photography