Subvertiser dr.d interview at Venus & the Cat

The dr.d / Subvertiser interview: THE SOAK UP #16

For THE SOAK UP episode 16 we bagged some words from the original British brandalist, dr.d a.k.a. Subvertiser.

Who is dr.d a.k.a. Subvertiser?
A true artist of the street who has used public spaces to take aim at social injustice, brand failures and political and governmental failures.

What is dr.d a.k.a. Subvertiser known for?
Mimicking official council, police and government street signage to convey his messages.

Where can I buy artwork by dr.d a.k.a. Subvertiser?
You can pick up limited edition prints of dr.d's street signage from his website shop here.

The dr.d a.k.a. Subvertiser interview: THE SOAK UP #16:

VATC: Your past – I’ve read billboard poster, rat catcher, labourer, cabbie office, burger van man, professional guerrilla marketers… what’s true and what’s not?

DR.D: Yeah all true, plus wedding DJ, postman, bill sticker, drum n' bass vinyl distributor... I could go on.

VATC: What’s the story about the agent grabbing you by the throat?
DR.D: I met this guy selling a Banksy graffed door that I’d salvaged from disappearing under a ton of fly posting whilst I was working the east end. Before I knew it he’d bought the dr.d domain name and offered to be my agent. I fancied the idea of making a living out of art and after some minor successes (i.e. doing a show in Berlin with Goldie and some other great artists) his mental health got out of hand. I’d seen him do some very questionable things, but when I finally parted company with him I asked for the login details for the website. He grabbed me by the throat and said “I made you. You’re scum”. I left it there with him keeping all my artwork.

Subvertiser curfew

VATC: What has happened to Worship the Ground?
DR.D: I couldn’t get enough people interested in buying the services. I painted messages on the floor outside someone's house, simple as that. The spoof Russian Embassy menu I painted 100 yards away from the entrance to the Russian Embassy was a funny highlight. DINE AT THE RUSSIAN EMBASSY, PASTA POLONIUM, SARIN SPAGHETTI & NOVICHOKOLATE, WHO KNOWS WHAT WE PUTIN. This was at the time of the Salisbury Poisonings, it made the free London Papers.

VATC: How do you decide who to go after? When does a poignant issue go over that tipping point?
DR.D: It's a combination of frustration at some societal bullshit that’s going on and the chance occasion of me coming up with a catchy slogan about it. That’s why I don’t produce masses of work.

VATC: Is it important to be a voice for the voiceless?
DR.D: For things like the Grenfell survivors yeah, although I wouldn’t say voiceless, I’d just say in need of amplification.

VATC: Who have been your most enjoyable and trusted colleagues and inspirations?
DR.D: Away from the art game, so I’ll ignore all those lovely people, I’d say my old fly posting boss. He taught me everything I needed to know about taking the piss with your posters and getting away with it.

Subvertiser Grenfell

VATC: Is it important to be humorous?
DR.D: Yep, if you don’t want to sound like a preachy art prick.

VATC: How important is reportage in amplifying the message? If it is, how enslaved are we to facebook, Insta etc. for this?
DR.D: I limit it to Insta and Twitter really, but a ton of people will see a post online that wouldn’t see it in the flesh.

VATC: Is what you do a kind of personal therapy?
DR.D: Totally... busy hands, quiet mind.

VATC: Is it quite internally focused, or do you feel a need to be heard?
DR.D: I’m a shy megalomaniac, all of the above.

VATC: Can you separate who you are from the Subvertiser or are you one and the same?
DR.D: Its all me.

VATC: Do you hate advertising? Or is it a creative message/ political / brand thing?
DR.D: When I’m helping on an advertising stunt to do with awareness around depression, or an author like Jon Ronson (who I made some human sized hash tag medieval stocks for) I don’t see a problem with that. Advertising that makes people feel they’re inadequate I do.

Subvertiser PLT
VATC: Who are your favourite contemporaries?
DR.D: Darren Cullen, Spelling Mistakes Cost Lives, Benjamin Irritant, Ted Baden, Brandalism, Dotmasters, Nuart, Dog Section Press, Shangri-La, Carrie Reichardt and crew, Skeleton Cardboard, War Boutique, Giles Walker, Edwin that Lazy Cunt, Kennard Phillips , Bortusk Leer.. lol just going through my messages, this is horrible - I bet I’ve forgotten some key figures.

VATC: Is there anyone under the radar that we should be aware of?
DR.D: Andrew Gibson makes amazing art out of upcycled street lighting:

VATC: What’s your main focus right now?
DR.D: Paying the mortgage.

VATC: Will there be a show in 2030?
DR.D: No, I’m never going to do a solo show, too much pressure takes the fun away. BSMT are the only gallery to convince me to do it and I love them but covid f’ed it up.

VATC: What advice would you give to any kids just getting started?
DR.D: Wear a hi-vis jacket, not a black hoody.

Subvertiser Tories
VATC: Is there anything you’re up to that we can promo?
DR.D: I’ve got some bits in a show at weekend long event at Rockaway Park, Friday 23rd, Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th September. Bands and entertainment, workshops Basically South Of Bristol, have a look at it online, it looks mental.

VATC: What makes you laugh?
DR.DThe Blindboy Podcast, The Adam Buxton Podcast, What Most People Think Podcast.

VATC: What’s your best bust story?
DR.D: After being busted for fly posting (opposite a police station) I was represented by a duty solicitor. She seemed really familiar like I knew her. When she finally got me out of the cell I thanked her and asked her if we’d met before. She told me she was Hattie's mum from Eastenders (what can I say, it was the 90’s you couldn’t avoid seeing it in the house).

Find dr. d aka Subvertiser on Instagram here

And check out Subvertiser's banging Spotify playlist here

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