Freddy Sam

The street’s your canvas

Photo: Freddy Sam

So you want to make street art? Four of South Africa’s finest artists tell us how… 

1.Come up with a name

Like a rock star, you can’t simply go by the name that’s in your ID book. Whatever you choose, make sure you give it plenty of thought though, because if you’re as prolific as the following artist, you’ll be writing it a lot.  

“I called myself Toe because I liked the letters. It’s good to have some numbers because there might be people around the world with the same name as you. So I was Toe007 for a while. You’ll see certain English words crop up all over. There are maybe 50 Risks in the world. Names like Bomb or Tag, there’s thousands… so try and choose something a little bit different.”


© Toe

2.Find a mentor

Freddy Sam latched onto Gogga, a pioneer of South African graffiti art who had some simple yet effective advice for the aspiring street artist. “Gogga the Devastator!” says Sam. “I asked him how I should get started and he said, ‘Get a book and fill it up. And when that’s full, get another book!’”

3.Learn from yourself

And while Freddy Sam was happy to gain knowledge from those who’d already travelled the path he was setting out on, the guy understood that to be the best there was a large element of DIY involved.

“The fifth element of hip hop is knowledge of self,” says Sam. “That’s knowing yourself. You can’t learn that from other people, you teach yourself. With street art there’s no coach, no teammates – it’s like skateboarding, you just practise.”

Freddy Sam

© Freddy Sam

4.Follow the order

The normal route that a street artist follows is to practise in a notebook, then start tagging, then do productions in a legal park and after that, the sky’s the limit.

“I went from sketches in a notebook, to tagging, to simple pieces on trains and then practising more elaborate pieces in legal parks,” says Toe. “You can still go to Sill Street park in Woodstock. Everybody paints there and it’s good to go there and meet up with other people.” 

“With street art there’s no coach, no teammates – it’s like skateboarding, you just practise.”
Freddy Sam

5.Stay humble

Having been around the block, and with thirty years’ experience to his name, Falko says he has no advice for the younger generation because nobody ever listens anyway.

“All the younger kids come up and think they’re here to chop off the world’s head,” he says. “To be great and invincible. But they just become one of the many who have tried.” 


© Falko

6.Challenge the viewer

Faith47’s murals have the ability to change the way people perceive both street art and the world around them. It’s like Banksy says, “A wall is a very big weapon. It’s one of the nastiest things you can hit someone with.” 

Says Faith: “I don’t think that because art is in a public space it needs to be tamed. It’s there to provoke, inspire and cut open hearts. Otherwise it would just be another watered down, politically correct image with no real impact.” 

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02 2016

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