This One is a street artist known for his paintings of the natural world. Often working in black and white he says that he enjoys bringing nature back into the city. Taking inspiration from tattoo art, illustration and LA style American graffiti you can see this play out on the wall. Painting a mixture of birds and animals his works fits in between graffiti and street art.
Growing up on the outskirts of Ilkley, ‘This One’s journey into graffiti is a familiar one. Starting with tagging at school, he got into skateboarding which led to an interest in graffiti. Developing even further, he would travel to Leeds, to find more like minded artists. The scene in Leeds though has never been that large. It would be a short trip to London that opened his eyes to different possibilities. A trip that soon turned into a longer term fascination with the city.
Interview with This One
This One’s name also stems from his Yorkshire roots. “It comes from not being able to get a good name to stick” he tells me. Confessing that he’s had some terrible tag names in the past. “It’s like a Yorkshire term for not remembering something or someone’s name. They’ll say ‘oh I’m with this one’ and that was me. The guy with the forgetful name”.
Wanting initially to be a tattoo artist, the influence of this art form in This One’s current work is undeniable. “My graffiti wasn’t of the level from the people I was hanging around with” he tells me. This is when I ask why he made the change from graffiti in Leeds to a more illustrative style in London. Looking for something that he would feel comfortable painting on the street, he created his tattoo designs and it stuck.
Nature in the City
“I really enjoy bringing the countryside back into the city” he tells me. His birds, bushes, sea creatures and animals can be found everywhere. He is prolific and looks for every opportunity he can to paint on the street. In particular he seems to have a fascination with swans “It’s my equivalent of a throw up” he tells me about his paintings of them. It seems odd but ‘This One’ can paint a swan on a wall in a matter of minutes. So used is he to the form and figure of this elegant bird.
Graffiti and Street Art
It’s an example of just how much This One’s art really does straddle the work of graffiti and street art. Certainly he paints like a graffiti writer and indeed this is where his roots lay. The end result however is the type of art that he knows people will not be intimidated by. “I generally paint things that my mum likes and from around my home area”. People enjoy his work because what’s not to like in seeing a swan or a finch peeping out from a wall.
“I don’t want my work to have any meaning” This One tells me. The artworks he paints are genuinely just for the love of it. Perhaps it would be nice if people recognise the animal painted but even that doesn’t seem important. The main thing is that people enjoy what he creates. “I hope that people who see the flowers that I paint and the birds that I paint, notice that. I hope it just becomes something in their community. Like a focal point or a meeting point. That’s all I can ask for”.
This One was interviewed at his home in South London on 27 March 2022. He was also visited whilst painting murals in Penge on 2 April 2022.