Artist, illustrator, designer. Three facets that can be seen intertwined in his work. Alex Le Hours’ pieces play with cleverly presented collages of different illustration styles alongside typefaces. Our homies from Montana Colors Australia present this interview to get to know the personality and work of this artist in depth.
- Name: Alex le Hours
- Country: Australia
- State: NSW
- Favourite surface to paint: Smooth rendered wall or canvas
What got you started in graffiti/street art? Was there a particular artist/person who motivated you to start or inspired you to pick up a can?
I started in graphic design but always loved art and public art. I painted a lot as a kid, throughout my school days and during University but stopped when I started working full-time as a graphic designer. While I was working as a designer, I started following a bunch of international and local artists online. Graffiti writers, street artists and traditional artists. I really loved what they all did but had no idea how to get involved in those scenes. As painting and mural art was always a big interest of mine, I started creating more drawings and paintings in my spare time. Picking up some digital illustration work on the side as well.
A big opportunity came when I was asked by Shannon McKinnon (Aisle6ix Industries) to take part in an event in Sydney called Secret Wars. Almost like an MC style battle, it had 2 artists head-to-head, drawing and painting live on large panels for 90 minutes. The idea was to diss the other artist and then the crowd would vote for the winner. From that event I met so many local artists and connects who I had been following for quite some time. I started getting asked to take part in exhibitions and a few small jobs came from the contacts I had made.
“I love mashing different visuals and styles together. I am influenced by classical art, pop art, comics, manga, pop culture, typography, tattoos, signage and branding.”
In 2012 I was approached to take on my first mural job for an office space in the Sydney CBD. With some help from 2 mates (Teem and Mr Sweet) I completed my first mural. It was an absolute punish using cans for the first time but I’m glad I took it on.
Lucky for me, from there the work started to snowball and I ended up leaving my design job to focus on my freelance art career.
What’s your favourite style? What do you like to do the most, and what is the most challenging style for you so far?
I love mashing different visuals and styles together. I am influenced by classical art, pop art, comics, manga, pop culture, typography, tattoos, signage and branding. I love it all and I love combining elements that seem to oppose each other. I guess mash up is my style.
“I feel you can express so much by using a face as the subject matter.“
Are you painting for pleasure, or do you have a purpose or goal to achieve with your art?
I love painting. It is an absolute pleasure. For me it is an outlet. I am totally free when I’m painting and I am just lucky I get to do it for a living. I just want to keep pushing myself and keep developing.
How often do you find yourself painting, and what is the most enjoyable subject matter for you to paint?
I paint almost every day. As it’s my living I find myself painting something new almost every week. Depending on the work I have. I do both digital and hand-painted art. Some days I’m at my desk and some days painting, either in the studio or on site.
I love painting faces and figures. I feel you can express so much by using a face as the subject matter. It really can tell a story in itself.
Are there any artists you are keeping an eye on right now?
I have always been a big fan of Sofles, Adnate, Pichiavo, Primal Graphic, Ben Frost, Scottie Marsh and Cobre.
If you could paint with any artist right now, who would you want to team up with?
I would love to paint with the Pichiavo guys. Just to see their process firsthand would be great.
In your opinion, what artists do you think are killing it ATM?
Some of the artists who I think are killing it at the moment are Cobre, Mattybro Art, Sid Tapia, and Primal Graphic.
What’s your favourite surface to paint?
I love all types of surfaces. My favourites would be a smooth rendered wall and canvas. I enjoy a nice textured brick wall every now and then. I like the way the texture adds to the feel of the work.
What’s your favourite/most used cap?
I like the MTN super skinny caps, Pink dot caps, NY fat cap and Astro caps.
If you could choose only one colour palette – what colours would you use?
Black, grey (dark and light) and red.
What is your perfect painting day? What was your worst painting experience?
The perfect painting day is a nice, slightly warm, cloudy day. Not too hot, not too cold. Painting goes smoothly, things pan out as planned and cap it all off (pun very much intended) with some ice-cold beers.
“It really gets to me when I paint something knowing it isn’t my best.“
I don’t know if I have a worst painting experience but there are definitely days where no matter what you do the piece just doesn’t turn out the way you had imagined it. You keep trying and trying and just can’t figure out what’s going on. It really gets to me when I paint something knowing it isn’t my best.
On the other side of that when you do get it right it is extremely rewarding and satisfying.
Also, you would be amazed at the amount of times I have rocked up to paint a wall, unpacked everything from the car including ladder, caps, brushes, drop sheets, speaker, esky and then realized I have forgotten the paint. You know, the one thing I actually need to paint!
My head is all over the place sometimes. The life of an artist.
You have one choice of paint, MTN 94 / MEGA / Hardcore / Water Based – which will you choose?
I got 94s every time. I love the low pressure of the cans and I think it’s one of the best colour ranges out there.
If you could choose anywhere to paint, where would you go?
Anywhere? Wow that’s tough. I would have to say either NYC or somewhere in Spain.
What was your most favourite piece/art done so far?
I have been really fortunate to be able to work on some incredible projects. My issue is I get really tired of my art really quickly. Never 100% satisfied with what I have done. I guess I’m too critical of my work, but I think every artist is like that. Always looking at what I could have done better.
“I judge my best pieces on the ones I can stand to look at the longest.“
I judge my best pieces on the ones I can stand to look at the longest. There is a large privately commissioned public mural I painted last year in St. Peters, Sydney titled “How’s the Serenity” I like that one because the subject matter is everything I love. I am also happy with the way each element or aspect of the piece came out. The wall is huge as well which I love. The bigger the better. It was almost the perfect project.
There is one other piece I painted for the Mickey Mouse Arthouse Exhibition last year, curated by Eddie Zammit down in Melbourne. I can still look at it with satisfaction. So that is a good sign!
Lastly, What soundtracks you got bopping while you paint? Can you list 5 tracks to share with the MTN family?
I have such a diverse mix on my playlist. Anything ranging from The Eagles to Mac Miller. It all depends on the mood I’m in. Sometimes I want something to hype me up and other times I want something smoother just to chill with for the afternoon.
If I had to pick 5, they would be: