The Old Mine Residency is located in Outokumpu, North Karelia in Eastern Finland. I stayed there for a two week period in July 2020. While there, I painted a large wall in the middle of the town. The painting was part of the International Meeting of Styles event.
In 2020 most of the International Meeting of Styles events were cancelled or they happened as local events only, due to COVID-19 pandemic and travelling restrictions caused by it. Copenhagen event was also organised locally but with handful of quest artists participating the event remotely. I was one of those invited artists. When I was invited and got the date of the event, I already knew about my visit to Outokumpu and that I had a larger wall reserved for me. So combining these two was more than natural.
When planning the wall back home, I had only few pictures of the reserved area and the size of the wall looked much smaller than it is on the spot. I thought it’d be just a bit below two meters in height and probably a ten or so meters in length. If I’d taken paint for 2×10 meter wall with me, it would’ve been left unfinished. But luckily I planned on doing couple of more paintings during my residency visit, so I took few extra six packs of paint with me. Well, the wall is over 30 meters wide and over three meters high at the highest parts and it descends down to 1,50 meters in the other side of the wall. Large part of the wall is over two meters high. So paintwise I was in trouble. The solution: rollerpaint from a local hardware store. I went and bought blue, beige and white rollerpaint and used them. I used the white as a blend in colour for grey primer as well as the blue and beige paints I bought. This enabled me to do a lot of the groundwork with the rollerpaints.
Even though this wall looks like a combination of few normal Acton pieces, it definitely is a theme wall. I had the idea thought out long before my visit, the only two factors I hadn’t decided was should I paint characters and if so, what. The 2nd, undecided factor was what to write in the small “pieces” and ornamental texts around the Acton-paintings. The whole concept is based on the album cover of Twisted Sister‘s “Come Out And Play” album, or the back cover of the said album. This album, which was released in 1985, was my first encounter with graffiti. It has commission paintings by The Subterranea Crew and I think it’s safe to say that this very artwork more or less laid the base of my future graffiti career. I just didn’t know it then, as a ten years old kid I was, when I bought the album. But looking at the artwork later on, decades years after I laid my eyes on it the first time, I’ve realised it holds many graphic gimmicks that I ended up using myself. Of course I’ve added my personal twist to ’em, but now I know where the ideas did evolve.
For the last few years I’ve created a bunch of paintings with direct, intentional references to the original artwork, paying respect to the NYC artists and the culture. But this was my first attempt to do it on a wall on this scale, basing nearly everything on the variations of the original artwork, from the tags in the background to the fill in patterns of the main pieces.
The smaller texts/tags around the three main pieces are my crew mates and fellow writers I’ve met during the Meeting of Styles events. The miniature pieces are city names related to the concept: Copenhagen (the Meeting of Styles event), Outokumpu (the actual location of this piece) and Helsinki (where I live).
Original plan was to do the whole wall without characters. Mainly because there aren’t any in the original album artwork. But once I realised how large the wall was, I thought few characters would balance the wall. The other reason was a promise once given. When I was painting at Good Vibes Jam / Meeting of Styles afterparty in Greve, Denmark back in 2018, I told the organiser that if I’d ever be invited to the Meeting of Styles events at Copenhagen in the future, I might as well paint a piece with characters. I like doing all sorts of cartoon-like characters, but for the last five years or so I’ve focused solely on letters and in the Meeting of Styles events I’ve never done characters. So I thought now it would be the time for a change.
I’ve chose Finn, Jake and Ice King from the Adventure Time tv-series. My kids love the series and have watched it a lot during the 2019-2020, so I’ve gotten quite familiar with the series and the characters in it. And realised they’d be perfect for graffiti styled paintings. So this was my way of tying family into the theme.
Finally, the last Acton piece. It was sketched on a paper by Taser, a killer writer from Finland, who is excellent in doing old school graffiti, mainly mid/late 80’s Finnish style. So I asked a few Acton-sketches from him. And used one of those on this spot. This was my way of keeping the 1980’s attached to the painting, making another reference to the original artwork from the “Come Out And Play” album.