Glen by R. Hart
Artist of Theory – Glen Fox
Interview by Isaac McKay-Randozzi
Photos by Richard Hart and Zach Chamberlin
Bruce Lee famously said, “Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” Glen flows with the force of a river, each trick like water over a rock effortlessly leading to the next. Rapid of foot when needed and able to hit a big set of stairs as easily as water falls. A similar fluidity can be seen in his art as some of his pieces look to be made in one motion. A continuous thought expressed in a black line that twists and turns until completed as a finished idea. Constant motion mixed with a consistency has filled his video parts with almost unending lines and torrents of quick-footed agility that had some speculating if his footage had been altered. From all reports Glen’s spark is infectious and his presence a welcome addition to any session. How could you not get hyped skating with this Jersey version of the Tasmania Devil as he rifles off a dozen tricks as easy as most ollie, all with an ear to ear smile. His enthusiasms for skating, art and life in general has a lasting impression, smiles form on the faces of his friends when ask about him. As his art has grown to include murals and brand work for shops and Magenta, we can only theorize about what he will do next. Given his wandering ways we might just see a three storied building ablaze with his work in some remote part of the world or in NYC.
Hi Glen, how are you doing today? Yo Isaac! I’m doing well thanks mate! Been working a lot towards my artwork recently. I’ve been trying to scale up my work for street murals. I’ve also been lucky to have short skate trip in between!
How do you go about making a sketchpad idea into a mural that cover a twelve foot wall? I usually just produce a brief sketch, then when it comes to the time to scale it up I follow the sketch to a certain extent then free flow the rest, it always so much more fun!
Where are you living now?
I’m currently living in Jersey, Jersey's a good place to be based sometimes because of the beaches and the easy living but as I’m traveling often it enables me to enjoy more freedom and explore new scenes!
When people ask you where you come from, how do you describe Jersey to them?
I say it’s a small rock in between England and France, it’s 9 by 5 miles and there isn’t much to skate haha.
I understand it’s a place with mushrooms of the mind-opening variety. Is it true they grown under the bushes there?
Mate they sprout up everywhere! When the season is right the mushrooms grow endlessly! I remember they used to grow on the football field back when I went to school! It was an experience haha!
What was the first spot you skated off the island?
We went on a jersey crew trip to Murcia in the south of Spain, I think it was the summer of 2013 maybe… It’s a small city full of spots but I think the first spot we skated was the local everyday plaza called Glorieta.
People have commented that some of your footage looks sped up? Has it been sped up or did people just not get how fast your feet are?
People just didn’t get it haha, speeding up footage is something I just don’t understand, I have know idea why anyone would ever want to do that!!! JUST BE REAL TO YOURSELF! But I still appreciate people opinions haha.
If your school didn’t have the kind of arts program it did, would you have looked for another source to learn different techniques and sought out influences?
Producing art was always something I did as a kid, if I wasn’t in any school I would have continued the saga! I was into painting even before I started skating 15 years ago. But I was lucky to find an arts program for 2 years where I was able to work through so many different mediums like print work, glass, painting, sculpture and photography.
You’ve mentioned that you dig Soy’s work [Soy Panday, pro and art director for Magenta] but who else inspires you? Whose images spark you off?
I was originally inspired by a Jersey artist called Karl Payne, he was also one of the older skateboarders to, his work was made up of simplicity and lines the pieces that got me inspired were his continuous one drawings, he also owned Jersey’s first skateboard company which was called subterranean, this was the company I rode for before magenta.
I also love the classic Picasso’s, Dali’s, Klimt and Escher pieces!
Five things you must have when traveling?
Pencil, sketch book, music, board and coffee!
You’ve traveled to many countries, which one inspired you the most artistically?
I would say Japan of course! It’s one of my favorite places, the attitude, spots, streets and motivation they have are all inspiring to be part of.
Are you still in the habit of making art and leaving it in random places when you travel?
Yes! That is one thing I will never stop! That was the original way I started to get myself about, I feel like I should only make and improve that! I have so many ideas to produce a video with one of my good friends to tell the story of how I started as an artist and it will be all about how I started self promoting myself whilst pinning work up in the streets!
If you give them away for free like that but then have an art show with a price list, what is the difference between the free art and something in a gallery with a price tag? Or is it just a DIY marketing tactic?
The difference is that most of the street pieces are usually like my sketches, they are the pieces that give me the ideas to produce the final canvas pieces which will then be exhibited, I guess this makes them more valuable as they are the mind of the pieces, but also I choose to produce work that can be a lot more complex and deep with detail which are made for galleries. But yes it’s is also a marketing tactic as the streets is where you will find the biggest audience!
Do you prefer working with white on black, or black on white?
I enjoy both but the classic black on white is always going to be apart of my work.
Favorite pen, marker, implement to use?
I like the soakers often used for tags, they hold a good amount of ink and flow really nice! Pens I like the Japanese brush pens! There are so many ways to use them! But over all I enjoy the pencil and the brush!
Paper, canvas, cardboard, wood or something else? What feels the best to put your marks on?
They are all completely different, each material absorbs paint differently, but again stick to the classics canvas and paper, I enjoy using cardboard for my streets pieces as it’s free and I find I don’t have to concentrate to much with them as they are all experimental.
How did you get on Magenta and why did Vivien take two year to put you on?
I got on Magenta in the most natural way, I was just asking Vivien about Tightbooth productions clothing as they were in touch with those boys out in Japan. He then told me that he was actually out in Japan at the time and that he would pick up a couple things for me and then would send it over to me….. but at that time I was about to leave Jersey for a while, the motive was to travel down through France and Spain then settle in Murcia for a year, we then came to a conclusion that it would be better to meet up on the journey!
So we met up and skated a bit then parted, I finished the day with some locals like Aymeric Nocus who was filming at the time, we managed to stack a few tricks together and then Vivien then saw them as was hyped, I remember I was in Barcelona at the time when I got the email about joining Magenta, I was so gassed!
The two year period was just time we were getting to know each other I guess and at the same time we were just out filming spontaneously and eventually pulled together that introduction part.
Graphic for Loophole Wheels
They have been pretty supportive of your work, how many boards have you done for them?
I think I’ve done 9 now! I have so many more to come to!
Have you done your own graphics or has it just been artist series decks?
Always artist series!
You lived in Amsterdam for a while, what was you favorite part of living in that city?
Yeah Amsterdam was for about two years! My favorite part about Amsterdam was the skate crew there! The Botticelli boys are the most humble and welcoming people, they made that part of my life so chilling, everybody was on the same vibe towards skating, gassed to get out early to skate and film!
I understand they have some good ganja there, did you ever get lost in time at one of the cafes?
Haha I had my Sunday joint, I didn’t want to get lost in the smoke so I decided to take it like my Sunday roast dinners haha
Do you have a good spliff rolling technique? I’m as useless as tits on a rock and have to use a rolling machine.
Yeah I can make a biffta!
Z. ChamberlinYou edited your own part that came out on Thrasher recently. Had you done any video edit stuff before and why edit your own part?
Yeah mate it was so much fun! This was actually one of the first parts I’ve edited, I started editing for fun then I became well drawn into it and actually found it just as addicting as drawing and painting, so I decided to try it! Also I was gassed to be able to choose a track I got hyped on and reps the UK!
In recent months Adidas has been sending you on trips and has been pretty supportive. How was the Japan trip?
Yeah Magenta and Adidas have both helped me to carry on my obsession with Japan, as I’m writing right now I’m actually on a plane to Japan where I will be arriving in two hours time.
Every Japan trip I’ve done so far have always been fun! I’ve been 5 times now and every time is always so different, I feel very comfortable there for some reason, all the skaters are legends!
I find myself fulfilled with energy every time, motivation is another level there, at this moment I’m currently working on a Lens 3 part with the Tightbooth crew! Those boys are the mafia of skateboarding!
You’ve done work for skate shops like the Atlas shop (San Mateo, CA), covers for Push Periodical and Japanese musician Yoshiharu Yoshida, art for Colin Read’s masterpiece, Tengu not to mention multiple murals for retail locations. Which has been your favorite to do?
It’s hard to decide on what was my favorite to be honest, I love them all, they have all been so different from each other, I always find it exciting to see how my work can grow through different mediums and people...teaching kids was also A fun project, introducing young creative mind into art interpretation.
But I definitely enjoy the mural projects they tend to be the bigger scale pieces which involve a lot of movement to paint them, always such a luxury to get my pieces on the streets.
For Atlas Skate ShopYour work has an echo of the dada and surrealist movements in it. The free form, that it looks to be one continuous thought and idea expounded upon with each furtherance of the brush. How do you go about creating a drawing and painting? Are the methodologies of both similar?
When I start a painting I start with a background (usually black and white) mix with different depths of shading and lines, I build them up until I start to form a composition I’m happy with. Once I’ve figured out that part it starts to become a lot more like the drawing method I use where I just build details and shades and make lines clearer. Painting is defiantly a longer process but I find it much more of an accomplishment when they are finished.
What do you think people get from your work? What do you hope they get?
I hope they get inspired to create work them self’s also that they find my work never ending, the motive I used to paint with was to create a piece of work where there were so many different ways to look at it, almost like a painting that always changes. This is more towards my old style though, nowadays I like to simplify my work but I still find it very hard to tell my self to stop when needed.
Do you think art can change the world? If so, how?
A world with art is a world without women, we would lose it!