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As a nation, we’re going back to life, but not as we know it. It’s time to celebrate the little things we couldn’t wait to return to, as well as adjusting to the new normal. Acting casual in relationships is no longer cool, day uniforms are anything but basic and every outdoor moment is truly great! We’re championing the real people who have supported us in this 5-part series. 

During lockdown art brought joy and creativity to our communities, guerilla artists that were once covert had free reign of the city and used it to spread optimism. Nathan Bowen is one of those artists and we spoke to him about his passions, why creativity is so important and what’s next… 


Hi! Please introduce yourself. 

Hi! I’m Nathan Bowen, I’m a London street artist. I paint street art across the world. I believe in reincarnation and I like to put that into reality. I like to find old walls, walls with tags, graffiti and posters on them, anything that looks shoddy and give artistic love to that wall. The first life of that wall is horrible and then I give it a new life, an after-life. It’s all about changing these walls – out with the old and in with the new! That’s my main ethos.

 

What are you most passionate about?

I’m passionate about my art. I live it, I eat it, I breathe it. It’s my therapy. I’m only human, I have emotions, I do get angry but art is my therapy and it gets me through things. Instead of attacking somebody, I attack a wall with art. Painting opens my heart and soul and I think more people need to do that! Every human being has a creative ability inside them but it’s whether they’re ready to accept it and get it out there. 


How did you tap into your creative side?

As a kid I was always making art and my grandma would always say that I’m always inventing things and creating things. When my family would be chilling out I’d be always doing something, coming up with new ideas, trying to work things out artistically. I was doing so much artwork at home but no one was seeing it. My release was hitting the streets and using the streets as a gallery. I don’t care about getting my artwork in the best gallery, the street is the best gallery because everybody sees it. Old people, young people, but not everybody goes to galleries. Some people might feel threatened by a gallery or think it’s pretentious so the street is the way for me. 


How was your life affected by lockdown?

The only thing was I had to queue up for shops really! I run my own art business and that was fine. People were still buying pieces so it didn’t really affect me, it just made me go out and promote messages with my art. Messages for the keyworkers, NHS and things like that. That’s what street art is about, it’s about communication and when you get things like this happen in the world, this is when the street art needs to be done. You get all these ads everywhere about staying at home, but I make my own adverts and that’s what I wanted to do during lockdown. 


What’s the message of your advert?

One of my adverts was about staying positive and that we can beat this together. People dealt with lockdown in different ways, some people couldn’t go out so they got other people to do their shopping for them etc, so the idea was that while these people were out shopping, people would see the artwork. There was no vibe at this time, so the street art raises the vibe and that’s what was really important to me, raising the spirits, keeping the spirits high for people out there that maybe needed it. 


Was there anything that you couldn’t wait to get back to?

I wanted to go away and paint abroad, it’s been a while! A few of my trips got cancelled so I would like to actually go to those places. I was going to go to Athens and Bulgaria. I’ve really been missing not being able to paint abroad.

What did you learn about yourself and your art that you’ll take forward?

Before I wasn’t getting political with my artwork but it’s made me think about doing more art that’s about the current subject. I like to relate to the time and it’s all about being versatile as an artist. Also, years ago I realised that with street art, nothing lasts forever, nothing in life lasts forever, and when I do my art, some people vandalise it or spray paint and ruin it, but I just go back and keep painting it again and again. I used to get annoyed at the fact that my work’s not lasting but like I said, it doesn’t last forever and you’ve just got to enjoy it while you’re doing it. If you go to a club all night, that’s about 8 hours but I like to spend 8 hours painting. 8 hours of fun. At the club you have photos and memories and for me, it’s the same with the paint. Then it’s on to the next piece. It’s all about constantly moving on to the next piece. One after the other. 

 

What are your plans for now and the long-term future?

Keep on making street art, find new walls, currently doing a UK tour as well, so I guess it’s all about spreading the art love, spreading street art throughout the UK. I like to keep my art organic, raw and that’s what it’s about. Rough, ready and raw. It’s also about maintenance. You live your life and you get to a certain level, but you need to maintain that level. People think ‘I’m there now and I can just chill now’ but nah mate, you’re there now, you need to maintain that. If you’re a UFC fighting champion, you’ve got the belt, you need to keep that belt but you know that one day someone is going to take your place and take that belt. It’s similar with art, but with art it’s less competitive. What I like about doing art is, you become your own king, your own star, no one can touch you. It’s a non-competitive thing. 


Is it important for you to have creative freedom?

As human beings, we need freedom to express ourselves, to open ourselves and I think art is a good example of that. Art is like a soul-cleanser, you do art and you feel content. The art sets you free and it’s a release of what’s inside you. If you paint rainbows, you paint rainbows, if you paint dogs, you paint dogs, if that’s your thing, you do that! That’s the source of the freedom there, doing what you want to do because you feel like doing it, not because someone says you should.

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