Thirteen Questions From Organ. The idea is simple, an ongoing series of thirteen questions sent out to people who’s creativity we’re rather admiring and enjoying at the moment – artists, musicians, film makers, cake testers and who knows who…
Naomi Edmondson is a graphic designer and wall painter, an ex-pro freestyle skier, a London cyclist and beautiful wordsmith, we knew her work long before we know who was responsible for the striking work on London walls – “Survival Techniques is a legal street art project that aims to promote hope and optimism and bring a little light to people having a dark day.work”
The first wall she painted and the first we saw of her work was down by the canal in East London on the edges of Hackney Wick, “Hide Less Chat More” it read. “words from the friend I’d first shared my list of Survival Techniques with”. There are now many of her paintings and words spread right across London, we’re always pleased to see a new one, to see the very considered colours, the words.
We invited Naomi to come and take part in the forthcoming Interact show, we being Cultivate and Interact being the latest group show from Cultivate, and ahead of that show we invited her to be the latest artist to answer our thirteen questions
1: WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU DO?
My name’s Naomi and I paint typographic murals on London walls under the name Survival Techniques.
2: WHERE ARE YOU TODAY? WHERE ARE YOU MOST DAYS?
Today I’m in my studio in Peckham. I’m here a few days a week and other times I work near the river as a book designer. I like to be moving and my work place varies throughout the week. I love cycling around London for meetings and to check out new painting sites.
3: WHO OR WHAT IS EXCITING YOU RIGHT NOW?
Summer has arrived and I can’t wait to get out there and paint some more walls. I’m always happiest outside and working with physical materials so can’t wait to ditch my laptop and paint some big spaces.
4: WHY DO YOU MAKE ART?
Because it makes me feel good. Everytime I paint a new wall, the magic of being able to transform the feeling and the meaning of a space with paint, words and colour is so exciting.
5: HOW DO YOU WORK?
I always have lots of different things going on so I work in bits on each project. I’d love to have more time to spend painting but have to balance it with my job as a designer. The idea for a painting will gradually come from lots of snippets of things I’ve heard or people I’ve spoken to. Once I have a wall that I can paint I’ll work out my artwork on paper first. Working at mural scale expands the implications of every mark I make and I like to be able to arrive at a site and begin painting straight away.
6: TELL US ABOUT THE ART YOU MOST IDENTIFY WITH?
Colour is such an important factor for me. David Hockney’s paintings of Yorkshire were the first landscape paintings that I really got anything from and they blew me away. I think there’s something about the colours he uses that to me, shows how it actually feels to be in those places. I also remember first discovering the incredible work of Paula Scher, who illustrates with typography. Her Public Theater posters are so exciting and dynamic and full of movement and life.
7: WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT YOUR OWN WORK?
I like that once I’ve painted words into a public space they become for everyone to use. It makes me feel good to be painting words of kindness and hope that people have told me they’ve connected with. I want to create work that is celebratory of all the bits of being human, not just the usual parts we publish to everyone else.
8: WHAT DO YOU DISLIKE ABOUT YOUR OWN WORK?
Sometimes I feel limited by type and words. Words are complex and immensely powerful, but sometimes I’m not able to express in words what I want the painting to be about. I would love to develop another side of the Survival Techniques project that doesn’t include words.
9: WHAT HAS BEEN THE HAPPIEST MOMENT OF YOUR LIFE SO FAR?
I don’t think I could narrow it down to a single moment, but I’ve noticed that often my happiest memories are from successfully breaking through something that was hard with a resolution that felt honest and authentic to myself. It makes me look forward to all of the things I’m yet to discover and explore and a sense of immense potential of the future. That or running through the woods with my dog!
10: WHAT MAKES YOU ANGRY?
11: WHICH SUPERPOWER WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO HAVE AND WHY?
Definitely would love to be able to fly. Before I lived in London I was a professional freestyle skier, which was the closest I could get to flying without wings.
12: WHAT COULDN’T YOU DO WITHOUT?
My family. Sunshine. Fresh air.
13: WHAT IS IT ABOUT WORDS ON WALLS ANYWAY?
For most of human history walls have been spaces where everyday people can express themselves at whatever scale they like, whether it’s caves, toilet doors or whole sides of buildings. I want to paint words on walls because I want them to exist in the public space. They’re words that have come from my own struggles and I want to express them in a public forum with the hope of connecting with someone else who’s been through the same thing. The bigger the scale the more significant each word seems to be. I’ve got a few phrases that have been particularly important to me that I would really like to paint onto giant walls.
And finally any future shows or events coming up that you wish us to tell people about?
This weekend coming (2nd June) I’m going to be painting in the Brockley Street Art Festival which I’m really excited about. I’ve got a huge hoarding ready to be filled with some new words. I’ve got a few other walls lined up for summer, final painting dates tbc but will be posting updates about everything I’m up to on Instagram. In October I’m having a solo exhibition of Survival Techniques paintings and some brand new screen prints. It’ll be at Atom Gallery in Stoke Newington (London) from 7 – 28 October.
Naomi will be taking part in Cultivate‘s Interact group show at Coate Studios, 37 Coate Street, Hackney, London, E2 9AG. The show opens on Thursday evening June 15th (6pm until 9pm everyone welcome), and then runs from Friday 16th until Sunday 18th June, 11am until 6pm.