Interview: SLEEP

Take a stroll through the streets in the shoes of SLEEP, a street artist whose television-with-legs has become an icon and can be recognized in states across the US and countries around the globe alike.

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Your work can be seen on stop signs and at crosswalks across the globe. It’s clear that you enjoy travel and diligently bring the stickers to leave your mark. Do you generally take trips for business or on your accord?

 Usually my trips are a combination of business and pleasure.  I love having the opportunity to experience different cultures and customs, and leave behind some Sleep.

Recently, you held a silk-screening work shop in Austin, Texas at “Something Cool” Studio. How did you coordinate this event? How was the turn out?

 The sessions at Something Cool came together with the help of a friend of mine, Uloang, who runs the studio.  I had been looking for a space to do some classes, and he was interested in bringing in some different art programs for the community.  It was a perfect fit!  We had space for 15 people per session, and all three classes sold out. 

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You have many different modes of application that you put to use. I’ve mainly seen stickers and paste posters. You’ve also done some spray paint pieces/tags, canvases, and even picket signs. Which is your favorite and why?

 One of my challenges with the Sleep project is to constantly find new ways to convey the message.  The first public expression of the Sleep TV image was a series of hand drawn matchbooks.  Stickers were a favorite for many years, but lately I’m more focused on fine art and fashion.

You’ve linked up and curated with some other artists especially in the Seattle area that are up. I’ve seen your partnered work with Acodd, Blink, Abot, and recently Keper. If you could partner up with any artist, dead or alive? Who would you want to work with? Why?

 I wanna do a track with Jay-Z.  No further explanation needed.

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You’ve shared some tactics of getting up in clear daylight and seemed to have had some success. What’s the general mission flow when you get up? Any major run-ins with the law while conducting work? 

 Yeah, daytime missions are my preference most of the time.  If you look like you’re supposed to be there most people won’t give it a second thought.  Creeping around in the dark always looks more suspicious.  If it’s something larger scale I’ll scope out a spot in advance, take measurements if necessary, then come back later to execute the piece.  I was arrested in NYC a couple years ago…for a STICKER!  I know it sounds absurd but the vandal squad in New York is relentless.  Luckily the DA’s office doesn’t share the same passion for prosecuting “sticker crimes”.  Still, it was a pain in the ass and cost me attorney’s fees.

Have you been sleep since the beginning or have you carried other aliases and used other imagery?

 There have been other aliases.  That’s all I’ll say, haha.

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Do you pursue your brand as a full time career?

 Working on that.  I still have a regular job on the side.

When you aren’t pursuing anything art or outside work, how do you spend most of your time? 

 I’m usually reading or researching. It’s all art or design related.

Have you always silk screened your own products? Did you find it easy to pick up or did it take some time to learn? How did you go about the learning curve?

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 I’ve always been fascinated by screen printing.  I was a couple years into the Sleep project when I learned how to do it myself.  For anyone in the Seattle area, I recommend taking a screen-printing class at The Vera Project.  It’s relatively low cost and they provide instruction, equipment, and supplies.  Having that resource made it really easy for me to get started.  I also read and watch a ton of online tutorials.

Which artists have inspired you, who do you look up to the most? 

 In Seattle, BLINK and A.BOT are long-time influencers and friends.  Beyond Seattle, I’m a big fan of Shepard Fairey, Tavar Zawacki, Barbara Kruger, Christopher Wool, Warhol, Duchamp…

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Have you had any beef in the industry?

 Sure have!  (You know who you are)

You’ve grown a strong social media influence over the years, did it come steadily with time or did it take a lot of concentrated effort?

 Both, I suppose.  A lot of effort over time.  Funny though, I remember when I refused to use Instagram because I was a photographer and objected to the “square only” format.  But now it’s become an invaluable tool.

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Was there a “big break” event that you’ve experienced as an artist that brought a rush of success?

 Still trying to create the big break.

What’s your biggest goal you’re currently striving for?

 Being able to work for myself 100% through a combination of art and other ventures.

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What does art mean to you? 

 In addition to being visually appealing (often), art has the power to reshape or reexamine ideas and concepts that we’ve become complacent to.  Producing and experiencing art is a critical element of the human condition.  Could you imagine the world without art or music??

Biggest piece of advice to someone just starting out in public art? 

 Just do it.  There are very few barriers with unsanctioned public art.  Be respectful of your environment (nature, people, other art, etc).

Anything else?

 Everything is an illusion.

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Let’s give it up for Sleep! Be sure to share this page with friends, family, strangers on the internet, & beyond!

Follow Sleep on Instagram @sleepisfamous

Buy Sleep’s merch! www.sleepisfamous.com

As always, Peace and Love