For THE SOAK UP episode 17 we managed to track down Foka Wolf for a few words. He's a man in demand and we were thrilled to get a few insights into the way his mind works.
Who is Foka Wolf?
Fluid thinking, free-acting, reactive street artist, part brandalist, part subvertiser, part political and social justice voice, entirely funny, the man in the balaclava, the guy behind all your favourite funny posters and tube ads, about to enter your top-five, if he wasn't already there.
What is Foka Wolf known for?
Offering penis enlargements to SUV drivers and cutting homeless people in half.
Where can I buy artwork by Foka Wolf?
You can get all Foka Wolf art including his limited editions at his website here
The Foka Wolf interview: THE SOAK UP #17:
VATC: What was your art school style?
Foka Wolf: Illustration. I was obsessed with drawing as a kid as it was the only thing that made me sit still.
VATC: What did your art teacher think of you?
Foka Wolf: I think they were impressed with my drawing skills. Art was the only subject I really enjoyed at school.
VATC: Did you go on an art hiatus out of college? What happened?
Foka Wolf: I just did dead end jobs really. I went to Uni in my early 20s because I was sick of working.
VATC: What advice would you go back and give to an 18-year-old you?
Foka Wolf: Don’t smoke as much weed. Trust yourself and go out there and get involved. Don’t be so judgmental of hipsters and be more open.
VATC: You’ve done some Secret Walls. Are you still into competing? Next UK Illustrated Champs?
Foka Wolf: I haven’t done anything like that for about 7 years. I really don’t think my drawing skills are up to it. I think back then I was winging it! I am trying to get back into drawing as I do love it and it’s a great way to relax.
VATC: Your illustration work really reminds me of Hatch. Any favourite illustrators?
Foka Wolf: Ooooo... Mcbess, Skinner, Ermsy, KRIME, Mike Giant...
VATC: Were there any significant life experiences that started you on this path?
Foka Wolf: I was working in a dead end job labouring for steel erectors on a building site for 4 years. I lost my job and had a tax rebate. I thought, this is it now, I have to make it work, so I went door to door with a portfolio doing chalkboards and murals. That gave me more free time so I focused on putting stuff up in the streets more. Just before lockdown I got sick of chasing invoices, so I decided to try and sell online instead and now here I am.
VATC: Do you ever get stuck for inspiration? If so, what’s the first thing you do?
Foka Wolf: I carry a notebook everywhere and fill it with ideas. I have loads of these. If I get stuck I go back through my notes and see if they can be recycled into something more relevant.
VATC: Does the reaction matter to you? Have you ever filmed it?
Foka Wolf: Yes, the reaction is one of the driving forces behind it. It has been on film yes.
VATC: What does it feel like to get a death threat?
Foka Wolf: Brilliant. I like to think it’s the jackpot.
VATC: What would make you stop?
Foka Wolf: Death.
VATC: Is it an addiction?
Foka Wolf: Totally, going out sticking stuff up is a lot of fun and I’ll always be doing it in some capacity.
VATC: Do you get any kicks out other similar artists, maybe MOBSTR or Dr. D Subvertiser?
Foka Wolf: Yes totally, absolute inspirational people.
VATC: How much is it planned out in advance versus spontaneous hits?
Foka Wolf: Some of the stuff I do quickly usually hits better as I think it can be more true to the time.
VATC: Do some people in the press take it a bit too seriously? Do they overthink it?
Foka Wolf: Yes, I think they do. They think there may be reasoning behind some of it but in reality it’s just me dicking about.
VATC: Did you expect all this fuss? What do you make of it?
Foka Wolf: Yes, I live for it.
VATC: Some pieces of your work make a serious societal point. Others are a good laugh. So, are you comedian? Activist? Brandalist? Artist? All of the above? Or does it not really matter?
Foka Wolf: I try to be anchorless and indescribable. I think that’s important.
VATC: Do you ever feel like a kind of superhero? Graphic designer by day, balaclava’d brandalist by night?
Foka Wolf: No, but I would like to think it inspires others to do similar.
VATC: Who’s going to play you in the movie about your life?
Foka Wolf: Matthew McConaughey.
VATC: You seem to have moved on from illustration and graphic design a few years ago? Is that accurate? Has Foka Wolf completely taken over?
Foka Wolf: No, I feel like illustration might come back in my later years.
VATC: Do any of your graphic design clients know what you do? Would it matter?
Foka Wolf: I am a terrible graphic designer haha! My bread and butter was sign painting. And no, I don’t think some of them know. I think they’d be pleased if they knew.
VATC: If you were approached for a banging graphic design project for a large SUV manufacturer, would you take it?
Foka Wolf: No way. I might lead them along and document it but I am not interested in that shit.
VATC: How has the Birmingham art scene changed since you’ve been around?
Foka Wolf: It’s going well. I think it’s doing really well. Lots of things are appearing in the last few years that enable artists.
VATC: Is there a burning artistic ambition that you’ve yet to fulfil?
Foka Wolf: Big massive murals in an international setting.
VATC: Describe your mind in one word
Foka Wolf: Fluid.
Find Foka Wolf on Instagram here
Check Foka Wolf's shop here
And check out Foka Wolf's Spotify playlist here