A Candid Interview with Joel Van Moore aka “Vans The Omega”.
Guest blog by Fatema “Tema” Sitabkhan
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Having lived in Adelaide for over 7 years, it has become my mission in the last 4 years to track down every single mural that exists in Adelaide and its surrounding suburbs. Bit ambitious? Absolutely. Doable? Hell yes.
If you’ve walked down the streets of Adelaide for long enough, you’ll notice the street art culture that has flourished and boomed over the last decade.
One such artist who has always captivated my attention is the works of Joel Van Moore – aka Vans The Omega. You’d know his work – it’s unique, it’s large-scale, and it is well-loved by the people of Adelaide.
I had the fine opportunity to get acquainted with the man himself and was fortunate enough to have an e-interview arranged with him.
Walk us through your life in a couple of sentences – the journey of how you got into street art.
As a 5 year old, I was obsessed with graffiti and graphics from the 80’s skateboard industry and futurism design. These passions didn’t change and as I travelled, my visions widened as I painted streets all over the planet. It hasn’t been a journey of street art as much as it has been a journey of Art on the streets.
What inspires you to create the beautiful art that has decorated a number of cities in Australia?
There aren’t many things that don’t inspire me. Every part of life informs me and presents something different daily. Nature is; for sure; an element that will always feature heavily in my ongoing work.
How did you get involved with Wonderwalls Festival?
I am close friends with the guys who first set up Wonderwalls. I had a drive to progress the festival and head the festival in Port Adelaide.
How did you decide on the artists who would be involved as part of this colourful festival in Port Adelaide?
Like I approach most of life – I look for balance. I’m fortunate to meet many of the artists prior and understand their nature, their work ethic and their ability, which I want to support. Sometimes it’s just a feeling that an artist will really suit a particular space and bring a quality you believe will benefit the festival.
Where have you taken your talents – within and outside Australia?
It will take too long to name all the countries. My count has reached around 43% of the countries around the globe. Realistically, I love painting wherever I go and the people you meet while traveling are what make it the best time.
What is the driving force for the content that you produce? Do you tend to come up with a concept based on the space where you place your art, or do you tend to follow your instincts and see what direction the art goes towards?
It’s a combination of both elements. A space and/or wall dictates the aesthetic and then the energy and feeling informs me of the next step. I’m a builder; not a planner. The only thing I may take to a wall is a photo for reference. So, everything else is done in real time, which is fuelled by fear or inspiration, love or passion, stillness, and mastery.
Do you have a piece that is part of this year’s Wonderwalls Festival?
Let’s just say that it’s a work in (slow) progress. I have the idea and colours ready to go. My plan is to finish the new work out there in the next few weeks.
Do you have a favourite piece that you have created? Or does each one have a sense of individuality that is attractive to you on different levels?
There are a few where I really hit the mark, as I had the time and condition to execute what I set out to do. Most of my work is a journey or bridge to the next place.
How do you manage juggling as a parent / an artist?
It’s not easy, so with the time you have, it has to be productive in one way or another. I used to believe that I used my time wisely. However, after having a child, you realize that’s bullshit and that alot of time is wasted. Now, multi-tasking on numerous levels happens 24/7.
How do you find people to create the portrait pieces? I realize some of them are based on real people.
Most of the time, it’s friends or someone who inspires me. Other times, it seems by accident…until something is revealed along the way and makes perfect sense in the end. It becomes extremely important and personal for both the subject and myself as the artist.
What advice would you give to those who aspire to enter the arts industry, particularly the street art industry?
Stop looking for guidance from other artists work. Experiment and make as many mistakes as possible while traveling the world. Don’t conform. Don’t rush. Don’t stop.
What do you think of the street art industry in today’s day and age?
It’s become an industry that – as an artist – I don’t like all the exploitation. This is part of my reasoning to create events myself these days.
Has your work been entered in any national / international competitions?
Yes, but honestly, competitions in art don’t really make sense and aren’t a reflection of the industry and how it works. In Australia, it’s a stepping-stone for some and completely subjective, so I don’t really like to put too much weight on them.
Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about you?
I’m a simple human being with passion and love for what I do. It’s surprising how far that can take any of us who are willing to keep that dream alive.
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