Acclaimed London street artist D*Face, aka Dean Stockton, sat down for a candid conversation at Extra Butter Monday night to discuss the 40-year-old’s prolific career, how the graffiti landscape has changed over the years, and why his relationship with Clarks Originals was always a natural fit from the beginning.
For anyone unfamiliar with D*Face’s work, the contemporary artist’s illustrious professional career spans over 15 years and draws inspiration from New York’s pioneering graffiti scene of the 1970s and ‘80s. D*Face’s oeuvre is characterized by pop-inflected imagery with a bright, graphic aesthetic, but he’s perhaps gained most notoriety for hand-drawing stickers and slapping them all across London and cities the world over.
Hosted by Highsnobiety’s own Jeff Carvalho, the pair dropped extensive knowledge on the rise of the British graffiti scene, what it was like bombing (graffiti parlance for throwing up a huge piece) the streets of NY, and how Clarks Originals and the Wallabee tied seemingly unrelated pop culture moments together.
“I think Wu-Tang is the hip-hop connection that’s synonymous with Clarks, and that’s what makes it interesting,” explains D*Face. “It’s one of those brands that manages to straddle The Stone Roses to Wu-Tang Clan, and those two things in my world would never have existed together, but somehow Clarks united them.”
D*Face reps the brand heavy to this day and while he still loves his Wallabees, he’s evolved with the brand as Clarks continues to innovate their range of footwear for the modern age. On display at the panel discussion were his paint-splattered Trigenic Knit Evos which he wore while painting in Paris and Los Angeles.
Watch everything that went down above and check out the photos below with additional choice quotes from their intimate conversation.
On D*Face’s life before graffiti:
“I wasn’t very academic; my parents tried the best they could to make me academic. They realized quite quickly I was never gonna be academic and then sort of gave up on me. My mom never gave up on me, my dad was just like stop wasting your time.
The system did not work for me, I didn’t like being told what to do. The more I was told what to do the less I wanted to do it—it wasn’t because I was stupid, it was just because I don’t like being told what to do.”
On the hurdles of being discovered & meeting new artists during the pre-social media age:
“There was no social media [back then]. If you had a website early on good for you. I always remembered Shepard Fairey having a website, and I think at the same time the Royal Bank of Scotland didn’t have a website. For me it was like, this artist has a website and this massive corporation doesn’t, so the ground was very unsure and uneven.
I only met people through being in the city, and the only way you could get a hold of them is by calling them, telling me to text them, “do you know any spots, where can we paint, what’s good, what’s bad?””
On the scariest place to go bombing:
“New York. Especially as an English person I’ve always looked at America as a kid wanting to be here. Coming here it’s fast-paced, not too dissimilar to London, but the idea of being arrested and not being allowed back, it’s not so cool.”
On how he discovered his calling as a street artist:
“The process started as an escape from boredom. I had a job where I was critically bored; I was a designer and illustrator working for an advertising/graphic design agency. I realized very quickly that everything I was doing was being diluted to a point of super frustration.
I sat at my desk doodling just to kill time and one of the guys I was working with was like, “That’s kinda cool that character, what are you doing with that?” I was like, “I’m thinking of making some stickers,” and that was the seed.”
On why his relationship with Clarks is a natural fit:
“Clarks is a brand who’s been around since day one, they were a brand I’ve always had in mind. The Clarks Originals Desert Boots were worn by Steve McQueen, and the Wallabee. Those silhouettes are icons and I see Clarks as an iconic English brand. I think for me as an English artist it’s really important I represent England, and a British collaboration was really important.”