First of all, your eyesight isn’t going mad! It’s the blurred effect that ACHES so carefully builds his murals out of that’s causing it. All you have to do is stand back, take a breath and stare into the mesmerizing color combinations that this young graffiti artist of a superstar creates. His visions are well thought out, organized and expedited as if he’s a surgeon performing surgery on his walls. The Irish wall-slayer has only been on the scene for a little over a decade but has traversed the world of graffiti and fine art. We can go on and on about how awesome his work is, but we’d rather let ACHES discuss his style, process and opinions with crystal clear transparency; of which, is quite the opposite of his glitched-out and blurry imagery that we know him by. Read below to find out more!
SprayPlanet: Let’s begin with the very basics: What do you write, how did you come up with the name, and how long have you been writing? Where do you call home? Do you have a favorite type of food? Guinness, is it better for dinner or breakfast (Just kidding, you don’t have to answer that if you don’t want too)?
ACHES: ACHES: I write Aches, I wrote Akes for a year in 2008 after picking those 4 letters out from the alphabet, after a year of writing that I wanted to have 5 letters so naturally changed it to Aches. Dublin is my home and sushi is my favourite food.
SprayPlanet: Would you mind telling our readers when you decided to use sprays to create your more intricate work? Was there a “A-HA!” moment or was it something that you gradually grew into? Do you have any one specific mural or burner that you made that, when you stepped back and looked at it, that—in a way—punched you in the face and said “this is what you need to be doing?” Give us the guts and grit, if you don’t mind. How has Ireland’s graffiti scene changed over the years and what can be accredited to helping this shift?
ACHES: I have been using Spray paint since 2007 so it was never a decision to use it for more intricate work and murals because it was already my medium of choice. Yeah, I painted a piece in early 2017, it was my first letter piece using the CMYK colour theory. I was visiting my friends in Cork who throw a jam every year, before heading back to Dublin me and a friend stopped off at a Water tower and painted the pieces, my friend ended up having to wait for me for about an hour to finish that one haha. The Jam in Cork is a really good jam, it has no funding at all so its really just like a get together for a lot of Irish writers from all over the country. Shouts to Crack and Chase for the jam. Graffiti in Ireland has changed over the years, there are a lot more active writers getting involved, people are bombing spots a lot more than when I started. There are also a lot of guys travelling and bombing different systems which is great to see.
SprayPlanet: At what point did you decide to take the leap from graffiti being a hobby to you painting as a full time artist? Can you describe to us the emotions that went along with that decision? Were you frightened? Excited? Is there anything you can suggest to younger muralists/graffiti artists that want to be full time artists?
ACHES: I had been painting a lot and realized I needed more time to focus on my painting so decided to leave my job in late 2018. Yeah, I was definitely worried, the thought of not having a weekly or monthly wage was off putting, but I knew I wanted to do it at some point and didn’t want to put it off any longer. It was exciting to know that I could put all my time and energy in to creating what I wanted to and see where that takes me. I would advise people to invest in themselves, both with time and money, paint as much as possible at a consistent level and don’t wait for people to offer you walls or jobs. Find your own walls and opportunities. Always aim to paint a piece better than your last.
SprayPlanet: In regards to your more elaborate walls (like the red/blue 3D murals), if you’re talking to a bystander or someone who doesn’t understand graffiti, how would you explain your style and art to them? Do you feel you have a specific style? Also, in your opinion, how important is style when it comes to your paintings? How has computer graphics played into your creations? Can you give our readers some examples or some advice?
ACHES: My murals and a lot of my graffiti pieces focus on subtractive (CMYK) and additive (RGB) colour theories, they aren’t actually 3d, a lot of people assume they are. These colours react when they overlap by either getting darker (subtractive) or brighter (additive). I like to experiment with these colour theories and have a few style that revolve around them. I’d say I’m definitely still in the experimental stage with this and will be for a long time. I use the computer for all of my designs, it makes everything more efficient and helps me to visualize pieces without having to waste time or paint. I sketch a lot of my handstyles on a tablet which saves me a loooooot of paper and markers.
SprayPlanet: When it comes to the execution of your murals, do you have a specific method? The intricacy and details in your paintings seem flawless, but has it always been like that? Can you explain your method when attacking murals? Also, what makes your murals stand-out so much more than most? Lastly, how do you come up with your ideas—especially the 3D/glitch and multi-layered murals? To date, which of your productions is your most favorite? Why?
ACHES: I break my designs down into line work and usually separate the lines into red, green, and blue. I then use a common technique by marking random shapes on the wall, and take a picture of the wall. Then I photo impose the line work onto this picture and use this as the reference for painting. It’s a great way to scale up work. I tend to use almost every colour in my murals, when painting a portrait in RGB the different shades of red green and blue over lay to create lots more colours. The ideas behind my murals are usually to paint people I know, friends or family. I like painting people that mean something to me instead of random strangers, but I have painted some people I have never met but have a cultural relevance to the location I am painting in. I think in the future I will paint some more abstract murals that are more in line with my studio work. I think my favourite mural so far is my mural I painted last year in Dundalk for SEEK Mural Festival. I painted Edward DeBruce in Dundalk, close to where he is buried. This was the biggest mural I have painted to date and it was great to have that challenge. I was happy to fit more detail in the piece than I usually would have been able to. Shouts to Omin, Killian and Martin from SEEK.
STYLE, PROGRESSION and WHAT’S NEXT:
SprayPlanet: Your Instagram account has quite a lot of followers! We know that you have been around a lot longer than social media, has this type of notoriety changed how you operate on an artistic level? Do ever come across uplifting comments that help push you into the direction that you need to go? How do you handle negative comments (if there are any)?
ACHES: I don’t like to think it has an effect on me and how I work, but there’s no doubting I wouldn’t have had some of the opportunities I have had without it. These opportunities have lead me to be an artist--which is great. Yeah, some comments are great, it’s always good to know you have inspired people. I love reading negative comments, they are mostly from close-minded people, who I like to laugh at. I especially love when people call my pieces out for being fake, they are inadvertently the best compliments I could get.
SprayPlanet: Also, in discussing the issue with other artists, when a person seems to reach a certain point of having thousands of followers, they begin to be called influencers would you say that you’re one of those “influencers”?
ACHES: No! When I think of influencers, I think of people advertising products that they have probably never actually used or show up to events just to have their pictures taken, I couldn’t imagine anything worse than having to do that. I see a lot of artists online who pose next to their pieces too, I just want to see the art, if you want to put up a selfie start a personal account, haha.
SprayPlanet: Is there any added pressure with having a high-visibility social media account?
ACHES: I think there probably is but it hasn’t affected me much thankfully.
SprayPlanet: Since we’re discussing social media, do you ever find yourself falling into any personal traps; such as: comparing yourself to other artists in a negative way?
ACHES: I always compare myself to other artists, I think it’s good to hold yourself up to artists you admire. I try to keep up with artists that I see and think are super productive. Sometimes it can put you down, but also a lot of the time it pushes me to do more and work harder. I’m definitely my own worst critic. When I finish a piece all I focus on are the bad bits that I could have done better.
SprayPlanet: Are there times in your life that you find that your life begins to lose balance? How do you deal with these types of moments?
ACHES: Yeah there are times like this. Sometimes if I’m not creating as much as I think or want to I feel like shit, it’s hard to get out of that loop. I think the best thing to do is just focus on painting and creating.
SprayPlanet: You seem to have a fast amount of growth in your productions in over the past few years, where does ACHES see himself in the next couple of years? Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years? Are there any BIG projects in the future that your fans/our readers keep their eyes out for?
ACHES: In the next couple of years I want to start painting bigger murals. In Ireland we aren’t fortunate to have lots of big buildings and any we do have are definitely off limits to paint. A big mural in Ireland is 2 or 3 stories. haha. In the next 10 years I would like to have created a good body of work both in and out of the studio, hopefully have some shows in different countries and just be able to still enjoy painting art, murals and graffiti.
SprayPlanet: Is there a game plan in how you progress your work or are you “just going with it”?
ACHES: I always just go with it, I do what I can and see what comes to me from that. There are some but I can’t talk about them. My most recent Project was a collaboration with Guinness, I painted four walls in the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin that was a great honour. I have a show opening up in Stolen Space in London on the 2nd of April so I’m focusing a lot of my energy on that now.
SprayPlanet: If you could do one single project with an endless budget, what would you create and why?
ACHES: One project with an endless budget, I don’t know if I could justify that right now but I would love to maybe take over a full building, painting the inside and out and create a fully immersive installation.
SprayPlanet: Having traveled to many different places and festivals, where has your favorite place been so far? Have you noticed if different people in different countries take-in graffiti and street art in different ways?
ACHES: I have a few, Barcelona was great. I got to go see the MTN factory and meet all the head guys there. I then got to paint a collaboration with Musa which was really fun (and stressful haha). Yeah’ there is definitely different approaches to graffiti in every place I’ve been to, some more bombed than others, some have more murals than others, some are completely buffed, it’s all different.
SprayPlanet: Originally European graffiti was very inspired by American graffiti and the graffiti culture; do you think that concept has flipped? Do you think that American graffiti has become very much inspired by European graffiti? Is it possible that something like this was going to happen eventually; especially, due to most of the top spray colors coming from outside the USA?
ACHES: I don’t know if I have spent enough time in America or visited enough states to make a comment on that. The Graffiti I saw in America seemed really authentic and stuck to the traditions and styles of graffiti which is great. I think in Europe people probably don’t feel any pressure to stick to these traditions and tend to experiment with their styles more which is also great. But there are always writers from all over trying out all different things and bring new ideas to the table.
SprayPlanet: Recently, you teamed with Montana Colors to design your own Limited Edition Collectors’ can late last year, how would you relate the emotions to this process? On an even more personal level, how has working with MTN been and how would you say the impact on your artwork been?
ACHES: Collaborating on a can with Montana has been the highlight of my experience painting graffiti for the past 13 years. It was something I wasn’t expecting to happen so when it did I was both surprised and excited, it was a real honour. It was a great feeling to be included on a really great line up of artists and writers who have created cans in the past. Thanks Montana.
SprayPlanet: Every now and then, you’ll post a canvas painting on your IG account, is there more work that you keep out of the limelight or out of public view? Mid-last year, you released several portraits with your “.jpg” series, where was your inspiration drawn for these images? When creating these works, do you use a different process than you use for your walls? Do you ever grow tired of a certain style, maybe put it on the shelf and then re-attack it later on to see what you can do with it?
ACHES: Yeah, I have a lot more work on canvas that I haven’t posted yet, I will post some of them in the next two months, some of them I will keep between me and the buyer. These paintings were done for my show in Atelier Maser here in Dublin. The works focused on Distorting identities, something most writers do by hiding their true identity. The idea also revolved around humans’ heavy use of mobile phones and how we tend to socialize and communicate through digital devices more so than in person. I was playing with the idea, how these devices have been designed to bring people closer together and easier to communicate but are pushing people further away from each other in the real world. People think a few messages in a group chat is sufficient enough and may go longer without seeing friends or family in person. I have a love/hate relationship with the digital world. haha. The faces were made of sub pixels, a single pixel which contains a band of red green and blue. Up close you can see these squares of colour but from far they look like a low res black and white image of a face. Thanks to Maser for inviting me to have a show in his studio/gallery, it’s a great addition to Dublin and something that we were missing out on for a long time. Yeah, I like to swap styles sometimes when I run out of ideas for one, then come back at it later with a new approach, or if I have learned something new in the mean time that I can add to it.
SprayPlanet: Before we end this interview, is there anything you’d like to say to your fans, readers or younger artists? Is there anyone you’d like to give a shout-out to or give a little bit of shine?
ACHES: Thanks to everyone who supports me. To everyone who is part of the community, keep doing that you’re doing and pushing forward.
Shout out to Ampes, Deks, Dope, Esko, Reak, Sufek, Zuas.
Shout out to Olan, and all the lads in All City Dublin.