Evond Blake is a Canadian multidisciplinary visual artist who has worked under the pseudonym MEDIAH for 25 years.
An Internationally renowned visual artist, MEDIAH is a trendsetter sparking new ideas and originality by blurring the lines between post-graffiti and dynamic abstraction. Blake’s work consists of weaving traditional street art forms with traditional painterly techniques and mixed media printmaking using many forms and approaches found in digital art and design. Heavily inspired by avionics, mechanical engineering and schematics, the artwork glorifies and captures the essence of speed, motion, dynamism and force to create movement in the image surface. Blake’s work provides the viewer with not only this glorification of speed relating to the thirst for a faster and more streamline world but also its unavoidable repercussions of collision, disaster and chaos.
Interview with Mediah
What was the first mural that you ever worked on? Can you tell us about it and the experience of putting your work on a wall for the first time?
The first mural I ever painted was in my friends basement almost 25 years back. I felt nervous and unsure of myself using Krylon and Color Creation spray-paint. It turned out horribly. Lol
Your scope of work is extensive – from gallery exhibits to digital projection to vehicle artwork and beyond – what compels you to create murals in addition to these other outlets?
Murals are the base foundation of my artistic heritage. The action and process of translating artwork onto a surface much larger than yourself is challenging while at the same time giving a massive sense of accomplishment if executed well. Mural work is also very public, so your audience isn’t limited to the high or middle socio-economic classes that may or may not visit a gallery. It’s freely accessible to everybody during their day to day life. Public art injects life and energizes its surroundings, thereby changing and improving the community. In essence I paint murals to create a positive spiritual impact on a mass population.
You describe your style as “blurring the lines between post-graffiti and dynamic abstraction”, can you describe that and let us know a bit about how your style and your medium that you choose to work with has evolved over the years?
My work is born from the high-contrast aesthetic of graffiti art, but has evolved past it in a sense because it has completely abandoned letters. My major influences come from my professional background in Visual effects, design and animation and these influences have merged with my abstract, mechanical style. All of my work is now one genre that I label as Dynamic Abstraction; ‘dynamic’ because of the various tempos of speed and movement and ‘abstraction’ because of the abstract nature of my work. I have always liked to experiment and push myself to use various mediums. I started out drawing with markers, then painting with acrylic, then painting walls with spray paint starting in 1994 to now incorporating all of these techniques with 3D animation, modelling and digital compositing to create cinematic environments. Cinematic hybrid murals are the direction I’m headed (God willing). Stay tuned
You speak about the Creative Force and Intelligence behind the pieces that you create. Can you share a bit about your process of designing and painting?
This may sound weird. My artwork has a life of its own. My most authentic pieces have a way of communicating with me a set of ‘instructions’ on how to create the work. Actually, it’s so bizarre that most of my large scale murals will name themselves before I start and give me a specific number of ‘moves’ that are required for it to be complete. For example INTEROH GALE, the large underpass mural I painted in partnership with Mural Routes gave me a specific number of 1350 moves until completion. At other times (like right now), I have to pray and ask for the ability or ‘anointing’ to paint my pieces. Sometimes I have it, and sometimes I don’t. I can feel really low and lethargic when my spiritual creative power is low and it can take some time to return. My design process always begins with a ‘feeling’ of the colour scheme. Then I proceed to make a vast number of black ink drawings that I then composite together to create the base foundation of the piece. From there it’s about following the instructions. Sometimes I don’t have the anointing so I force it…and it’s never the same.
What is your favourite part of the whole mural-making process?
The best part of the mural process is when the black line work is laid out and structured on the wall. I call this the ‘SKELETON BUILD’. When this process of skeletal translation is complete I begin to feel a sense of peace. I CAN’T HEAR ANY INSTRUCTIONS UNTIL THIS PROCESS IS COMPLETE. Often times I can’t listen to any music until I reach this stage of the creation process. I also love doing the ‘psychic details’ which are the very fine brush details created using a blend of fluid acrylic and graffiti ink (meant for vandalism but I re-purpose it for art!). I’m always in my element at that time
Which artists do you most enjoy and how have you been influenced by them?
My favourite artists are Robert Proch (Rest in Peace), VESOD, CHAZME, DOES, SAT ONE and Chris Ganter (Jeroo). These artists push their work to high levels and their work touches me on a spiritual level. I only like art that I can feel, so these are some of the artists that push me to create artwork that people can feel and experience
What role do you think public art plays in society?
Public Art is an unexpected mirror. It tends to be an artistic response to the World at the time of its creation. Whether the artwork is realism, political or abstract it is always a product of its time.
Your work takes you all over the world. Do you have any advice for emerging muralists who would like to paint internationally?
The only advice I can give is to NEVER GIVE UP. A wise man once said the only way to being a successful artist is ‘Pressure over time’. There is no easy way to get to where you want to be. The only way is to create a brand for your work (a style, aesthetic or voice) and stay on the path no matter what challenges you face. It can be brutal but it’s achievable. Keep going!
Can you tell us about one mural project you have created recently that you are especially proud of?
No. I’m never REALLY proud of any of them. I simply follow the instructions, do the best I can at that time and move on. It’s unfortunate but true
Do you have a most-memorable reaction to one of your murals that you can share with us?
Yes. One client came to see what I had created for them and they said ‘I feel like I could cry. You’re a REAL artist”. That one hit me very hard. It still does.
What is the value of having a Mural Routes membership for you?
The value is immeasurable. I can say one of the many things I appreciate is the ‘Call to Artist’ emails. They go deep to find mural opportunities from all over and I really really appreciate them. Secondly, it’s great to have a strong network of people in the same field that share a similar creative vision. It’s inspiring.
Check out more of Mediah’s work:
Mural Routes member page