The Fanakapan interview: THE SOAK UP #5

Who is Fanakapan?
Fanakapan is British graffiti and street artist most notable for his hyper-realism 3D mural work.

What is Fanakapan known for?
Fanakapan invented "Balloon Graff", his style of painting reflective murals as balloons, in hyper-realistic fashion, often creating optical illusions on the street.

Where can I buy artwork by Fanakapan?
Fanakapan works for general sale are rare these days, but any new releases will probably appear on the Our Types website here

The Fanakapan interview: THE SOAK UP #5:

VATC: How did this all begin?

Fanakapan: I’ve always been an artist for as far back as I can remember. I think I used art as escapism.
My father died when I was 6, so I think I went inside my own head to a certain extent, creating fun things to escape the sad times. Further down the line after working in a few kitchens and skateboarding with my spare time, I moved to London and found work as a prop maker for Nickelodeon, BBC, MTV etc. I also sculpted for an aquatic company (there is a full size whale skeleton in the London aquarium that I made single handedly that is still there.) I also worked for big name artists like Anish Kapoor and the Chapman Brothers within a company called MDM props.

VATC: For someone discovering you for the first time, how would you describe your work
FanakapanI have described my work as “nostalgia on acid”. I think that explains the general vibe. There is usually some element of humour or a reason behind the bright shiny things that I paint. It’s definitely pop art, almost swerving towards pop surrealism. I like to mix it up to keep myself entertained and hopefully people don’t get too bored looking at it.

VATC: Is there any one in your family that has had an influence on your art?
FanakapanMy friends inspire me, humour and music inspire me too. I let my head get completely full of nonsense and eventually I churn out my own nonsense.


VATC: Who are some of the artists that most inspired you to follow this path?
There are too many artists to name but, for example, I have a whole wall of Vic Reeves original drawings. These are more precious to me as I’ve bought them and not simply swapped work with another street artist.

VATC: You work at quite a speed. Is that important for the flow of the piece?
Fanakapan: The pieces I paint vary from a quick illegal piece with 2 spray cans to a giant mural with a cherry picker and 4 days to complete. I try to do the best I can disregarding payment or legality.

VATC: You’re sat staring at a blank canvass – where do you go for inspiration?
Fanakapan: I never sit and stare at a blank canvas! I’ll sketch and scribble  own ideas that come to my mind in daily life and then order the canvas!

VATC: Do you like to make anyone in particular proud with your work?
FanakapanI’m very happy that my family are proud that I’ve gotten so far with my art. I was a tearaway (to put it lightly). I think most of my friends are surprised I’m alive. I’m happy that those days have passed... it took a long time.

VATC: Is there any element to your work that you feel people sometimes miss?
FanakapanI do find it quite funny when people make up their own titles when posting my work, especially if I have made the title clear. Most of the time the title is stronger than the visual but it’s also quite fun seeing what other people come up with.

VATC: Your work is becoming increasingly elaborate, complex… what should we expect to see next?
FanakapanI feel my work goes round and round in circles, I circle back to old ideas and re-work them with a higher level of detail and skill, also maybe finding ideas shuffled may land in a more suitable place the second time around. I’m going back to my 3D roots with the extra “lockdown time” so expect to see 3D work slightly more often this coming year.


VATC: You’ve had so many great collaborations – some of your favourites?
FanakapanI have been lucky enough to collab with quite a few friends with high levels of skill. 1up crew, Cranio, insane51, Nuno, OG slick, Voyder, to name but a few. I learned a lot and each time very different from the other!
I’ve also been very lucky to have painted in the places that I have. All over the world, up mountains and even the World Trade Centre in New York.
My favourite location so far has to be Tokyo. The place, the people and the respect with art being left alone and not destroyed in a few days like London or New York.

VATC: Describe your mind in one word
FanakapanThere is no way I could describe my mind in one word. It would probably be easier to pick out the one word it isn’t...(relaxed).

VATC: What did your art teacher think of you?
FanakapanMy art teacher in secondary school didn’t like me and he was far too busy waffling on about teaching Ryan Giggs before he moved to my school. To be honest he had no clue, so I didn’t listen to him anyway.

VATC: What advice would you give to an 18-year old you?
FanakapanI did go to art college, but I was up to no good. I can’t say much more than that. I rediscovered art later on in life and tried harder the second time around. If I could give my younger self advice, it would more likely be reassurance that things will get easier and the self-destruct mode will ease off.

VATC: You jump off lots of high things. Do you have a death wish?
FanakapanLast year I decided to quit drinking and take up BASE jumping. I have a 1-on-1 tutor for this. It’s fun to learn something new and with a lack of snowboarding in my life, I needed the excitement. I used to have a death wish, I don’t anymore so I’m able to do these things without my family being too upset.

VATC: Tell us about the funniest time you got busted?
FanakapanThe best story by far would be when I slept rough after painting trackside by myself in Brixton. I fell asleep wrapped in tarpaulin but had an open bag of beef jerky in my hand.
A fox must have smelled the meat because it tried to eat my head through the tarp.

VATC: Who would play you in a movie about your life?
FanakapanI’ve never been asked so many funny questions before! If someone played me in a movie it would probably be Gary Oldman. People say he looked like me when he played Sid Vicious and Drexel from True Romance has been my go-to for fancy dress.

VATC: What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
FanakapanThe best advice I’ve ever been given was from my Grandad: “try and be sensible”. I obviously ignored it but nevertheless, it’s still the best advice.

Listen to Fanakapan's playlist on Spotify here

Check out Fanakapan on Insta here


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