#452 – Poster Boy Peter Drew/
- September 11, 2019
Peter Drew – Author, artist and advocate renown for the ‘Real Australians Say Welcome’ and Monga Khan posters.
Peter’s infamous posters, ‘Real Australians Say Welcome’ and Monga Khan, have highlighted and raised awareness across Australia around the unfair treatment of indigenous Australians and asylum seekers.
Peter’s artwork has been featured at the National Gallery of Australia, although his most notable work is installed on city streets.
Peter has also recently published his own book, Poster Boy: A Memoir of Art and Politics, which explores the parallels between Australia’s past and the conflict he’s experienced throughout his life.
On today’s episode of The Daily Talk Show we discuss:
– Art and propaganda
– Making a living through art
– Going into a project willing to learn
– Screen printing
– Peter’s artwork, ‘Real Australian’s Say Welcome’
– Peter’s book, Poster Boy: A Memoir of Art and Politics
– Finding your voice as an artist
Peter Drew’s website: https://www.peterdrewarts.com/
Peter Drew’s book, Poster Boy: A Memoir of Art and Politics: https://www.blackincbooks.com.au/books/poster-boy
Email us: email@example.com
Send us mail: PO BOX 400, Abbotsford VIC 3067
A conversation sometimes worth recording with mates Tommy Jackett & Josh Janssen. Each weekday, Tommy & Josh chat about life, creativity, business and relationships — big questions and banter. Regularly visited by guests and friends of the show! This is The Daily Talk Show.
This podcast is produced by BIG MEDIA COMPANY. Find out more at https://bigmediacompany.com/
It's the daily Talk Show Episode
452. And we've got special guests in the studio. Peter Drew, what?
Do people actually call you poster? Boy?
It has happened. But it hasn't happened more because of the book. So yeah, it does happen.
Well, so you've just released this book, is it? It's out this month, right? Yeah,
no, I came out in August, August. So end of August. The thing
that caught my attention straightaway, is the cover. And the poster that says rz. I saw this all around my neighbourhood. So when I saw it straight away, didn't know much about you, but straightaway, knew that the image,
I have put up a lot of them.
Well, these are the posters that you traditionally say music festivals, events, yourself slapped on the wall, I mean, offers an outstanding do that. So the Barefoot investor had his sticky posts around it. And but it
might be struggling is the cookies. I
can't sell enough books. But you you're an artist. Is that what you yourself? Yeah. And so you've developed these posters that you've slept you You did a fundraising and not a fundraising. I mean, it's fun that you will have and you're raising money for it to stick 1000 of these across Australia.
That's right. Yeah. So the image comes from the Australian National Archive. The man in the poster is manga con. And he had his photo taken in 1916, for his exemption to the white Australia policy. And I found the image in the archive, along with a bunch of others, made them into posters, did a crowdfunding campaign to stick up 1000 of them. And I've just been doing it ever since.
Yeah, I mean, I used to do graffiti, and cause all sorts as a kid, but I never got paid for it. I mean, I wasn't an adult I didn't, I didn't get to do things like this. I mean, I just say this, you having heaps of fun, or there's
a lot of truth to that. I mean, because I've been doing this for a long time before I started doing it kind of seriously, and wanting to find meaning in it. And I think that sometimes when you find something that you really love doing, you find an excuse for doing it forever. So what really came first, for me was just the joy of sticking stuff up in public space and getting that reaction. And after a while I found I can't keep doing this for just silly reasons. I need to find something that, you know, will sustain me keep me doing it for a long time.
That's where I start. I got no other reason that I'm just being silly at this point. I think
there's something interesting because that you you're then taking an active approach to intervene to complex conversations. Did you feel equipped with that when you when you start doing it?
Yeah, cuz I always, I've always thought a lot about things. But I just, it wasn't always that way with the street art. It sort of started as just just for fun. And yeah, just not taking it seriously. Because why would you assume that you could make a life out of sticking stuff up on on walls? So but yeah, all my serious thought just sort of went elsewhere, and eventually just sort of it just gravitated towards the straight up?
So would you be likely at a party before you started this? To enter into conversations that sort of political?
No, no. I mean, I can see where you're going. Because I mean, the in, in the book, I talk about this a lot. And I think that's probably what people will people that know me will find that surprising about the book is that I'm not a political person. I mean, I don't really like that's not true. I mean, I don't like political art, broadly speaking, because a lot of the time it is telling people how to think it is comes from a set perspective, which is certain of itself and has a vision that how to change the world. And I don't I mean, that's, that's propaganda. And I think that what I try to make is, is art, it should be curious and come from a position of curiosity. So I really think of it as being disguised as propaganda, because people, you know, people, people want propaganda these days, because there's so much anxiety about what's happening to the world where we going, I want some certainty, somebody give me some certainty. And so my see my posters as being sort of playing at certainty, but really, what an Ozzy is, what a real Australian is, these are things that outfit debate. And I think that if someone comes at you saying, this is the way it is, this is where it should be. You should be sceptical. I said,
you said this, and I was quoted an article I was reading that criticism can be more useful than support in helping clarify your own position.
Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, I just, there's so much silly rhetoric on Instagram about, then listen to the haters, you know, I've listened to that is now really listen to them. Because even if even if what they're saying is completely wrong, if they're passionate about it, it will tell you something about the fees that they're going through. So yeah, it does, it really helps clarify things, but you shouldn't sort of just silo your thoughts and block out all dissent that just makes you weaker in the long term.
How do you come up with what the messaging is going to be? does it start with writing down a bunch of things that you're excited about or passionate about? And then distilling it into a
lot of that? Yeah, I mean, usually just sort of, you know, when something is fascinating, or whether it's a debate or a subject, which is just sort of bubbling away, I'll dive into it as much as possible, read and absorb, absorb as much, especially the stuff I don't like, really get into that and go find out why don't I like this? what it what makes it work, what makes it appealing? What do I agree with, and then I'll just sort of write things down, and then things will bubble up. And if I have an idea, I usually stick it up on the wall. So there are some every day and if it's sort of It empties itself, and doesn't. This is gonna sound a bit silly, but I mean, It empties itself instead of it doesn't have any sort of energy after a while, then it's not an idea worth pursuing. Because you get tonnes of ideas, and sometimes they're just junk, you know, but some things just sort of hum. And they stay that way, for a long time ago, there's something there is like a trick to it, which doesn't exhausts itself.
Does that is that a warning sign or a indicator of something? That will be a good idea that will travel?
Yeah, no, I think so. Because it has a life. I mean, art is sort of this magical stuff that sort of captures life, makes it hang on the wall. So if it sort of holds it and mean it because you know, paintings that are hundreds of years old, they still come. And so you've got to just find those little nuggets. And yeah, and it's just, it's sort of more of a process of being involved, and just paying attention. And that stuff just pops up.
Yeah, I mean, doing art is interesting. And you talk specifically around the monetization stuff is a whole bit on money. One thing that we can relate to is you do video production stuff as a as a way to fund your art. And for us, like, we do video production on the side to make the daily talk show happen. Is there ever a goal to say, Okay, I want to get out of the video stuff? Or is it always going to be part of the equation?
I don't know. I mean, I love that too. And I sort of go into that in the book, because I always thought it would be great to just live off the stuff that I love. But I do love making videos as well. But it's sort of It's nice having that separation, because I can make videos for people without it needing to be my voice. And I can if the client comes back and say we want this terrible song, and we want these changes I can I can just smile and say yeah, that's because it's your video, it's not doesn't represent who I am. So having that separation is good. And at the same time, not needing to sort of squeeze a buck out of manga con and the things that I care about I I think that would corrupt that in some way. So I
I always thought that silly, you should be able to able to sort of
put everything together, but I actually quite comfortable with that separation.
What if you to, I mean, a lot of things happen organically for artists or people that then sometimes can convert into lots of money, which then is seeming like you've won the jackpot because you do the thing you love and you get paid a lot of money to do it. And I think you're right, where you start injecting the conversation of money into the thing, it can start to slowly die. dilute it. Have you found that I guess the momentum of the street art that you've been doing and what you just see his art for the best part? Have you seen that sort of shift in your mind thinking? Or maybe I can maybe I've convinced myself now that this can be a real thing. And I've and other people are starting to see it?
Yeah, no, I mean, I get what you're saying I've never I'm just good at spending money. When when the projects make money, you immediately come up with ways to go all right, well, I can do this big extravagant thing and that will add to it and and the money you make from art very quickly this is disappears when you think that way. But um, but I think it can be a trap if you do something which is so popular that that it brings in so much money that you're then you kind of can possibly get trapped into then fulfilling the audience and then they're leading rather than you leading. Whereas I think Yeah, when lots of money comes into it, and sort of make that decision more difficult
I could imagine and what I read where you were talking about the adventure the going to the city, it's light at nice, can you because I love that shit. I've done that before. I reckon Josh will get a real buzz out of it.
Yeah, I don't leave the house after.
Just run us through, say a time where you've you've gone to the city or you've gone on a bit of a mission to put up or do
it less now just because I don't know I just have less of a need to like I think, especially when I was young, it was just this rebellious thing of you get a robots out of out of doing that. But I used to paint rollers and the right Scott roller because use a big paint pole, bigger so Atomium extended pole with a paint roll on the on it and then buckets of paint and you write your name or whatever you want on the side of buildings, the best way to do that is to get into a building, abandoned or otherwise, and get onto the roof and then lean over the the top edge and then paint on the outside wall. And you can I did a couple of really big ones in Adelaide. And it was a huge honour. So took planning to figure out how do I get into this building, it's better, it's abandoned. And the one my favourite one ever did, I found a way to climb up on the second floor. But I couldn't sort of then I had to carry up the paint pole and the paint. And so I had climbed up with a string attached to my ankle, and I pulled a string string and then the string string knows that the strings attached a rope and then that can hold the heavy stuff. And then gang top these cans of paint and the paint pole which hold tied together. So in sequence and then got those up and then I could get up to the roof. And then once you're up there you pretty much safe as no one's looking up in the middle of the night. And then you can Yeah, spend hours painting the thing. So else it was fun.
We were filming a guy who revealed that he used to do a bunch of graffiti, and I started asking him about what his tag was. And Tommy schooled me on the white bag, man, of course he's not going to tell you is
engaged the pushback.
I was trying to understand, but
you're in an interesting position where people know you. You're saying hey, yeah, it's me who does that? Yeah, no,
it's it's weird. It's it's gotten weirder and weirder, the longer I've done. I mean, back in the day, I found these photos in the state archive of criminals in South Australia. And I stopped them up. And I thought this is people going to love this because they're old photographs. And they look terrific. They're all sort of Grizzly looking people. And but some of them, you know, had some criminals as well. And you know, the sort of people you got a wonder what it's like to be them. Stop them all around Adelaide. And the council who sort of knew me, they said, they called me up. I said, Peter, you've done this wrong and say, Well, yeah. And they said, Well, we have to we have to clean them off. Like it's our responsibility. It's in our charter or whatever, just civil conversation. No, honestly,
you have to claim this. All right, what do you say back to them? Oh, they
what they were calling was they they didn't want to clean them up. But they had a responsibility to do it. So they said, Look, Peter, if you promise to go to the property owners and and ask permission, or what you've already done, then we can win, then we don't have to clean them off. You save life. And they knew that I wasn't going to do that because it was ridiculous. But because that asked then they could sort of forego their responsibility. So you have to play the stupid bureaucratic game sometimes.
And when when does the law come into
it? The law comes into it when I get caught doing it. I mean, there's no Rififi Task Force trying to chase down anyone. That's what the whole sort of the whole sort of Banksy thing is kind of it's it's great, like, you know that he's anonymous. And that's sort of what makes them interesting, but at the same time, no one really cares The police have got real problems. Especially with what I do that just posters they come down in the weather eventually, so no one's but if the cops catch me doing it, then I get fined and that has happened a few times, but otherwise, there's no real risk.
We're talking about cost different fines and why they cost certain amounts $317 for dumping later on a train track. What what's the fine for putting up a poster in state of Victoria?
It depends. I've never been caught victorious. We've been
So South Australia if you've been caught in South
Yeah, go on to Australia and in Canberra and in New South Wales.
Mr. Nice David, can you look it up? See if it comes up in Victoria. Be curious tonight, just in case we want to branch out and do a talk show nice
to get away. I'm not comparing myself to you. But I did do a sticker bomb the other day of the daily talk show
you guys get caught putting up stickers. Oh, yeah.
I've never like you. It felt very weird. But I was just like, we're getting people doing that. We had people in South Africa all over the place. Putting the daily talk show sticker on my car wash? I should probably do the same thing. This certain no go zones, places that you want stick something. Yeah.
Well, I mean, you play it by ear and you just sort of, sort of you train up your eyes, to seeing the way things work in the landscape. Because I'd walk around and I'm doing all the time, even when I don't have posters on me just looking for spots where you can get to where you can see something. But um, yeah, and but you just learn to play it by ear. I mean, there's places where there are other stickers or tags. And obviously, you can go for it. But it's spots are ugly. And you know, it's not really going to upset anyone. I don't really do sort of residential homes or places of worship or small businesses, at least not you know, like, sometimes I will have a side wall. You just sort of sometimes you can ask I'm with the posters. And it's it's weird, like more often than not people go Oh, yeah. Like, if I'm just asking for some soft spot. So um,
yeah. What's the criticism you've received from putting up these posters? That if that has been ups teachers, in terms of what you think about this stuff?
Yeah, cuz I mean, the you do get the confrontations which are just almost meaningless. But even those are interesting. But the latest one was, is in Sydney in muslin as a construction site that was covered in posters. This is an easy spot, I'll check off a poster here. And the site manager came up and he got robbed with ice and said, Get out of here.
I'm going to shut these prices off. You're the only one he said. But he was really angry. And I sort of,
you know, it's just one of those weird things when he was sort of getting angry at me. But at the same time, you could see that he was simultaneously ashamed of what he was doing. Because there was no need for it. I was just I was already leaving, and he was sort of pissed off. So I mean, it's I just think every confrontation you learn stuff, because it's intense, you know, and confrontations online, you can't see the person and it's just, it could be a bot, you know, like, it could be nothing that you're getting angry about. But um, but in the book, I sort of a detail, I try to give wouldn't even spread because of bumped into all kinds of different people and their political pathologies on all throughout politics. It's not just your stereotypical racist, old white guy. I mean, there's certainly out there. But there are plenty of other ways in which people use politics to sort of satisfy a sort of a personal emotional need. And that's not really helpful for politics. And it's, it's not really helpful for them, either. I think, personally,
what's been an interesting conversation that you've had.
Well, I mean, I mean, the most common conversation I have is like, it's someone come up, and they're a little bit sort of defensive or unsure about what I'm doing because like, here's this photo of this guy, he doesn't look like a typical was he I mean, that's why I chose him. And, and then I talked to people about the Australia policy and who Mongo tan was, and then people sort of know something about the camelina is I mean, mogul con wasn't a chemically, he was a, it was a Hawker, but people sort of recognise that Australian history had these interesting moments that people would want to sort of identify with or that they find. Yeah, interesting, and sort of non typical, and, and as soon as you sort of have that conversation, it becomes something that people aren't afraid of anymore. And, yeah, that happens all the time that I'll be speaking to someone and they, they're not sure, but then we have a chat and they go, Oh, yeah, the Cavaliers and then they're okay with it. And that that's, that's quite common.
The Hawker I've seen signs on don't know, hawkers. I didn't know what I just throw someone who Cameron hand out flyers or, you know, like a no junk mail. Hawker is a
seller. Okay. I mean, someone who sells Hawking products, but a Hawker manga con, was a so he had would have had a horse and cart. And all these were a little travelling general store basically go around and selling stuff.
My general store knocks on the door here, when we're hungry, just kind of bunch of things
we need. That'd be fine. You, you mentioned in the book as well, about the original video that you did, and you mentioned the camels, staff and you had to correct part of what you'd said. Has that been a learning process of realising when you put yourself out there? Sometimes you might take a misstep. Yeah, absolutely.
I mean, the mistake that I made was that in South Australia, hawkers around that time did use camels or isn't Victoria, they use horses? I didn't know that I quickly found out fucked up.
I mean, in the grand scheme, main thing is the grand scheme of things. It doesn't seem like much of a fuck up. But I guess when you put a strong message, and you and it does have that political element, people holding you to a higher standard, maybe Yeah,
I think the thing you ultimately learned from that is that you can't ever get it right. Because I mean, he Malecon was born in India, and the political situation in India, and the geopolitical situation over there is so complicated, and changing and then you bring 100 years of history into it. You can't really ever get it completely right. So you've got to go into a project like that, or anything political with a sense of I'm in it to learn as well. I don't have all the answers. So I will be corrected. If that's your attitude from the start, then you can
You make your own glue. Yeah, ya know, how do you make glue?
That's a good question or not?
Yeah, no, not at all. Have some kind of plant maybe some kind of bulky said flower, you
know, you have to buy a big pack bags of flour from supermarket and then cook it up stove. So I usually stay in hostels because they have kitchens, and big pots. And yeah, I inevitably get the question. All people like to say, Oh, it's a lot of porridge and so many times. And what else do you add? Or is it that's it, you just cook it and then all this sort of the gluten in the flowers releases? All of a sudden it just becomes sticky? And I can go through 50 I think over about 30 litres of glueing a day if I'm really going for it. Is that like a standard? Like a PVA glue? No, no. So it's it is just the flour and water like there's no chemical no, yes, no. And it's it's much easier to use a PVA glue it sort of it's super strong.
will use it. Why don't more people make their own glue? Because rotten does it?
What does Yeah, I mean, the flag is that what flag is Yeah, flag is a kid. It's what it's what you used to make, like paper mache is the name of that guy is that stick up band posters. They get this stuff imported from Europe, which is made from potato starch. So it's the same stuff. It's really a vegetable product, but they there's has preservatives in it so it doesn't go off. But it's essentially the same thing.
I've been walking down the street past one of those just freshly done, and I'm just stepping through that stuff. If you had that. Yes, just like this spray off. You know, they just paint it slapping it on.
What do you do on the ground permission wise for them. All those band posts it like as we're even thinking of doing like the daily talk show, like paying someone to go into the posters. You talk telling your storey makes me feel like
make our own glue. I mean, that's that's what I got sucked into this whole thing is that you can just do it yourself. And the scale of your project is completely up to your will like if you just go right I'm going to put month into the thing. I'm going to stick up thousands of posters all over the country, you can do that. And it's no one's going to move people down. I will stop you but you will get away with it. So
they paying someone though they paying that building to put them on? No,
I think sometimes they are and then a lot of the time they just they'll see a spot and then to try it out. I mean yeah, the guys that stick up posters that dodgy dude in the nicest possible way though they're there they're sort of finding spots and and just seeing what what
someone's paying them to do.
It feels very official. like seeing them do it doesn't look official,
was it guys double packs around here like fully puts the van and you see the map just doing it. So they they're not legally allowed to do sometimes.
I mean, a lot
of the spots they are trying to reach underneath a train bridge.
But you see them do like hoardings and construction sites and just an abandoned buildings. And a lot of times they just give it a go and see what they are. I mean, I assume because they're the same spots that I and they're not sort of because they see the way they do it though a few posters will pop up and wait a little while and then put them in a few dozen. Yeah. So yeah, I sincerely doubt they're asking permission every time
it's if you haven't been involved in the graffiti landscape you wouldn't be aware of not you. But Josh, I'm talking about you, Josh. You're not aware of the subculture and the things that come along with that. Like there's rules
and surfing or something
like skating has it surfing, has it other sporting things have it but graffiti, which it seems unusual, but you know, there's like train yards that are owned by a certain group. I mean, they don't own it, buddy Metro trains on it. But then there's like, if you you know, if you if you put posters or if you put a tag up on someone else's, it's a no, no. What was there a subculture that has similar rules around it?
No, absolutely. I mean, it's like you your writers, you know, parallels of surfing or skating, there are the subcultures that are territorial. And it's like a, you think about it, it's always the pretty male dominated subcultures and a lot of ways and it's like a sort of a surrogate, sort of way of getting respect. It's always about respect, you know, that's the thing that guys want in subcultures, that's the currency is respect. And it's from other men, especially more established men within that subculture, and then everything everyone else's excluded. So the sort of people who are attracted to that people who feel slightly disenfranchised from the larger world and the respect that they get from men in you know, in, in the wider world, I think, I mean, that's, that's definitely sort of my own experience going into is that sort of some people, especially young men need like a surrogate brotherhood, and, and sort of a game which you can play within that in order to get respect. And it's usually because they have sort of tried to get that in the wider world. And it's somehow been the nod for some reason. Yeah, it's
a weird thing. Like I had some friends that were quite big graffiti artists, well known. But it's almost like the equivalent now of building up your social media following like, all those are new years. So there was all eyeballs on this person's a graffiti that was absolutely everywhere. It's it's really, really bizarre.
are you even talking Peter in the book about when you worked in kitchens? And how the you weren't necessarily feeling connected with males outside? Or had those dude friends? Is that what the experience was for you doing the this art? Do you actually have a tribe of people? Or is it a solo operation?
Well, I mean, these days, I'm on very much on my own as well like it. But I mean, I was saying before about graffiti and subcultures. I sympathise with that, because I think that's the thing that a lot of young guys especially go through is just bit feeling, looking at the world and going at, not for me, like just that some gut feeling of just, I don't want, I don't see myself in the world, I don't see myself taking the world seriously, or myself, seriously, I want an alternative. And I want to know how it works. I want to know that if I'm, in my case, working in the kitchen, if I do my job, that I get respect, and it's it's foolproof, there's no, I'm not gonna get cheated out of it. It's just a fair exchange. And I sort of, I think that's it, I think that's a super interesting thing of why men are sort of young men especially attracted to these alternate sort of ways of getting respect in the world. Is that what sport is,
is sport just a version of that? What
is it I mean, sport, it is a game it is it, it's like a it's like a simulation for the rest of the world. And some ways that you sort of, there are these roles, you play by these roles, and you will get respect even if you lose in the game, if you sort of play honourably. And it's, it's like, training wheels for, for real. And I think that Yeah, a lot of people in in the graffiti world, they'll go into it, they'll get totally addicted to it, because it's just this, this game that you can totally buy into, but eventually you sort of graduate from that. And then you can apply those what you've learned, like that system of respect, and being honourable within the roles, it applies to the wider world as well. So
some of the some coaches are life saving for people, because they haven't found their place. And that's fine purpose. Yeah,
all those things. Downstairs in our garage, have been pushing the guys to set up a screen printing facility. We got our hoodies done through an external company, but I like the idea of being able to do some form of merge. posters, your screen print, is it called screen printing and printing? Yeah.
And I, I'd recommend, I mean, it is super addictive, being able to make anything and what I love about screen printing is you can make it on math. Like it's, it's once you realise I get this system, I can make thousands of these were that's t shirts or bags or, or posters? Yeah. And that's a great feeling that it's there's just no limit other than your own sort of will.
Yeah, I think that's a very empowering thing. How do we make the plight the, you know, the plastic bit, the one that's like, the one I'm not sure on is I get the I was watching videos of you doing it, and you sort of place it down and you get the, the ink or the paint or whatever it is. But those plastic bits, like the actual cut out the stencil thing, how do we make that as a slightly
more complicated, I've got a video on my website how to do the manga. com one and it's not, it's not too bad, but you have to use this stuff called photo emulsion. So you have a frame, and there's a mesh across the frame, and then you have a negative of your image. And you put that on Friday, and then you hit the cover that the mess with photo emotion. And what that does is it reacts to UV light, and it sets on UV light. But if you put an image in front of the light, it protects that part of the mesh and so then you can wash out where the image was. So everything where the light touches, hardens. And so you have this whole essentially where the paint can go through where the image was that's it's really pretty simple.
What's the cost in that direction?
Well, this is like the setup costs is
it can be expensive because you have to get the the if you're seriously thinking of doing it the way to do it is not
entertaining. I want to do the post I think that I'm not confident yet doing like expensive hoodies and stuff. But the idea of doing the host is because I want to do some work experience at Walsh slate where they do this and I've watched Dion do the centre and the light exchange in the in a special room clean again. It's it's pretty serious. Yeah. Okay, succeed in
it. Just imagine if because I was thinking about Okay, talking to your point of, you know, these young kids want some purpose. They're not getting paid. Normally, if we were defined young people who want to do posters, who understand the process of ways that I play them switch they're not in the garage, they're out and about putting them up because that will know the same they doing the criminal. We know that someone's like, over there. someone's doing Collingwood trying if if we find the people who sort of look after Collingwood train station regards to graffiti and stuff, and we say, hey, we'll give you 10 bucks a poster? May I don't know the finance, like,
yeah, that's what it cost us to make the posters each. Oh, it's getting very technical, it's very cheap and sort of economies of scale. So if you're doing thousands, they get cheaper and cheaper. But if you really wanted to do it, the way to do it would be to get somebody else to make the screen for you. And then the actual part of holding the paint over the the T shirt or the hoodie or the poster is very, very simple. And yeah, and CPG
I find these things are, you really need to be into them, you really need to have a keen interest, I guess your interest is there. But then it has to see you through doing the action of buying all the stuff and actually sending it up. There's always all the fine points of fucking a bunch of them. And then
the data you would there would have been a time where you got all that stuff like what was the Do you remember when you first bought your like screen printer? And how many like eight like I was thinking like a four. So we can I can do for and swift?
carousel Yeah, I never had one of those though friends did but I started at a share studio. So there was about 20 artists and shared equipment for screen printing, which was perfect. And I didn't even know that I was going to get into screen printing. When I moved into the studio. I just gotten back from overseas. And I just wanted to read Connect. So I got a shared space at a studio called tooth and nail in the CBD in Adelaide. They had screen printing equipment. And so I thought, Oh, yeah, I'll give screen printing and go and then right after then I had the idea for real Australian say welcome. I thought you know what, I'll do 1000 posters. And that will sort of kick things off. So if it wasn't, it was really serendipity in some ways. Was it the craft, though?
Was that part of it? Like for a lot of young people, they get into making films, and then they're like, oh, what can I make a film about? Was it that was that the, the path for you? It's, I mean, what really
the sort of the pinpoint, like, I mean, my post is actually very simple to make, like, you can a lot of hunters do sort of get sucked into the craft and, and it's that's kind of a trap in some ways as well, because it's it's infinite, how complex you want to make prints. But what I thought was great about screen printing was the, the the ability to see thousands of them. And I saw a thought, well, that's Let's not make it too complicated. But what really attracted me to it was the street. I mean, that aspect of the craft of putting the posters up on the street and going, how can I get a poster up there is that it's going to make people because it tells a storey like a poster on the street on a wall. It's just a poster for a band or whatever, but a poster three storeys up on a ledge. That's a storey of a person going up there. And why does that person need to do that? That's more interesting that that's part of the craft as well. That's that's the part which I will always hang my hat on.
Do you think it's also easier based on? It looks like art, and you're saying a message versus the difference between, say, a logo. So if we did the logo, it looks a little bit more commercial. Do you think there is a distinction? Yeah, definitely.
That's what I was saying sort of at the start about whether it empties itself or not. Because if it's a storey, it sort of empties itself, you read the sign and go, that's what it means. There's nothing else there. Whereas if you have, hopefully an artwork, it should have something about it that that hums, you know, sort of there's this value there, which doesn't exhaust itself and it just pulls you in. And you are applying your imagination to it like the poster of a Mongo con you look at him and go, he's an Ozzy, he's got a big moustache wearing a turban. Why does he look so heroic? It looks like it was taken a long time ago. It's sort of it pulls you into him. And yeah, I think that's I mean, it's very difficult to say what is art, but it's got something to do with that sort of pulling the audience in
for any creative endeavours. Timing plays a big part for you and what you've been creating. Do you think timing has been?
Yeah, absolutely. Well, because I mean, the the first big project I did was real Australian, say welcome. And that came out in 2015.
My wife shared it on the Instagram account. I just saw her and she's like, I know that I shared this. And then she saw on your 25th day.
Yeah. And it's, it's, it's easy to forget, like just how things felt at different times, but 2015 and 2016 years of the sort of xenophobic sort of unease, and especially the next year after the link cafe siege, but even in 2015, there was just sort of this feeling of xenophobia coming out, Pauline, Pauline, Hanson was sort of she disappeared for like, a decade. And then all of a sudden she was back.
Do we know she went to jail for a little bit? And?
I think she did. Did she? Is that true?
Can you look it up? I'm pretty sure she did. Giles, didn't I there was some form of taxing years ago. Really? I'm sure of it. Well, we find out we have not confirmed everyone. Mr. Nice if
there was the slogan of turn the boats around and all.
Exactly. It was just, I mean, your question to Tommy, there was just this feeling at the time. And that's how I come up with projects as I sort of try to find like gauge the design, guys, you know, the feeling overall? And what's the what's the thing that's going to help collect people's attention and push in the direction that they want to go?
Or where is it already? Yeah, that people just naturally going to and and sort of catching on?
Well, yeah, it's it's it's difficult thing to describe, because it's super abstract, but it's sort of slept people's enthusiasms sort of gather. What anxiety is, I sort of gather collectively, and then you can sort of come out with the thing that helps prick that people go, Oh, that's the thing we wanted. We wanted somebody say that's Let's gather around that. And that's sort of what politicians do is what art does, in some ways. So yeah, that's that's what I the way I was thinking about real estate and say, welcome that. I think that, yeah, people were frustrated when national identity gets hijacked by a collection of people who are operating on fear being there like the organising principle, because I think that Australians, we'd love to regard ourselves as being big hearted. I think that's one of our defining characteristics. And then when these people come along, who are sort of close minded and unwelcoming the rest of us feel like Well, no, you don't get to speak for us. We bigger and stronger than that. And so I'm real Australia say welcome was a way of trying to twist that xenophobia on itself and show show itself the way it looks.
These people who have never met anyone who was a refugee are usually just scared. You met a group that took you to the airport was they back when you putting up posters that were helping you and they took you're in the car? Did I read that role? Yeah, yeah.
Yeah, I had help from people along the way as definitely.
But they had they were new to Australia. And I read a article was quite some time ago. And it was about they gave you a lift somewhere.
Yeah, I've had I've had help from a bunch of different people. I'm having trouble remembering the bit that you're
remembering many times,
Tiffany Lyft from strangers,
or the thing is that our lives on beyond you as well, right? Like I saw the Ozzie poster, specifically, all of a sudden, you say Rolf Harris popping up and or something and you assume that this is the same artist spreading the message? further? Really? Is that what you thought I saw? There are literally Yeah, I mean, I literally thought I didn't. I mean, you see, one I didn't even understand the thing is that I sort of knew the top line. You know, I saw a guy who, quintessentially doesn't look Australian. Yeah. Or, you know, what, you know, what the, the tanned Bandai sort of, you know, version that the international people would say. And so I got that message. And then, yeah, I just assumed that when I see other versions, I'm like, are this? Yeah, it's saying something like this. There's another part of this message me, I'm probably a bit of a dummy. But there are a lot of people that were saying, hey, if you got a new one.
But I mean, you're right, like because it's, you're creating a meme and somebody and that's what happened with real estate and say welcome is that people? That's the way what I wanted to happen with that is that people absorb it make it their own. And it spreads. Yes, how ideas spread, but it also means that that's a way that people can criticise the idea. And I think that was a good example of somebody having a sort of a fair criticism of it, though. I mean, I don't I don't agree with that perspective. I think I mean, there's some truth to it, because there's something that I mean, the posters are a bit taken at face value. They're sort of the platitudinous like they like, you know, this is a noisy, it's sort of a bit easy and lacking in nuance. And it sort of pumped up and optimistic because I picked this one guy from the archive, he was proud there are plenty of other fighters in the archive of people who did not look proud. He just looked like why taking my photo for this racist policy.
So I type that, that's fair criticism. But um,
so you pissed off when you heard that there was this other version?
That wasn't pissed off? Because I think it's it's a good point, but it's not it's sort of it's also but I understand the temperament behind it because the view behind that is that why using Australian this to sort of as something that we should aspire to because Australia has his pot of pot is a colonial state it's it's therefore it's, it's beyond redemption. It's it can't be you know, it's it's somehow impure. That's that's what
that's speaking to the far right then to the nationalist who wants to who sees themselves as as Australian. You mean they're posted there are no as in as in the what what you're doing using the the Ozzy language, it's like
it distracting them,
it's just random person who is on Australia Day,
of course, but it's it's to someone who's on the farm, like the person that made those Rob Harris post is definitely someone that's on the far left, that doesn't like anyone trying to use anything Australian as being as being something that we should aspire to see, what my post is do is try to pull people to the middle and find some middle ground that the the nation state is it's a lot better than the sort of the feudal systems which it sort of came out of. And it gives us the liberalism that allows art like mine, and like the, that was critical of my work to exist. So there are definitely good things about it. But the point I'm getting at is that sort of its puritanical to go on nations have done bad things. Therefore, let's get
rid of nations
word what was that we were technical, just meaning wanting things to be pure, not not being completely being completely sort of intolerant of
what's like a black and white
got to be this way versus some form of nuance. Exactly. It's, it's a it's a, I mean, I cant rember who said it, but somebody said that fascism is a an intolerance towards nuance or the inability to accept nuance. And peace, peace is always a compromise between things that are essentially imperfect. And I think that most people can sort of sense that and what I'm doing, but I think that for someone to criticise this project, which is obviously promoting and trying to be accepting towards somebody who doesn't look like a typical was a, I just think that shows a certain intolerance towards any compromise, let things have to be black or white, and people that think that way. Children, you know, they're they're not they're not sort of a serious political thinkers, they are sort of the people that want the world to be simpler than it is.
When did the books start coming about? What was the process of that?
All right, yeah, I was gonna tell you, I did a panel discussion about Australian identity. And I sort of felt like I had a lot of things to say. And on a panel discussion, you, you get a chance to say a little bit of this a little bit, and then at the end of it, but I didn't say anything. And then at the same day, I had a right after the discussion had a really good chat for friend of mine about all this family stuff that hadn't really spoken about other people, it was sort of unresolved family secrets and conflict. And then I suddenly saw, that's a great analogy, that because Australia is like a family, it has a troubled history that we sort of, is very difficult to resolve or even to think or talk about. So we sort of tried to avoid that. And I thought, well, maybe I can discuss them both at once. There's a there's an interesting analogy. So that's when I started writing the book, I then contacted somebody, my editor at black ink, I didn't know at the time, and I sort of said, Hi, I'm I'm writing a book, and I'm at the stage that I would like to sort of find a publisher, but at that stage, I had not written a single word. Yeah, I just needed to hear that maybe someone would be interested. But like, just to give me the confidence basically. And Chris was very generous said odds interest. Can you send me a sample? I said, Yes, I can, and then got to worse, writing it and managed to catch his interest. And he was very encouraging. And so the book sort of came from there. What was the process? Like? Like, is it?
Yeah, a bunch of dot points? Is that working out a narrative?
Yeah, it's, I think it must be I'm riding again. And I think it's going to be different this time. But what made this I think I'd been thinking about it for years, just sort of bubbling away. And the book does follow a pretty chronological order with the poster projects. And into woven in that is, is the family stuff that really gives it its emotional core, I guess. And so I think I just been thinking about it for a long time. So the first half just rushed out in a few months. And then the second half is much harder to sort of tie all the threads together and try to make sense of it all.
Did you see yourself as a writer editor, like you know, your tool being the paint brush on the building the posters and then picking up the pen or Bobby,
I mean, you know, with with doing video stuff, it is you are telling a storey it's all very similar. When it comes to editing, you're sort of rotting. In a white, you're sort of telling a storey my posters use words, something up, it was a different process as obviously 60,000 words, yeah. And then just for on the poster, but um,
it was it was, I learned a lot through doing it.
And I just might my guiding principle for the holding is what I'm not an experienced rider. I'm not a trained rider. But if I can be completely honest, that's kind of a that can actually help a lot if I mean, because in doing that, if you sort of commit yourself to being honest, you go through a storey and eventually get to things that you really didn't want to talk about. But you go well, I said, I was going to be honest, now I have to try to reconcile this thing that happened. And that you have to make a bunch of calls to people before the book went out and said, Hi, I'm talking about this. We haven't even discussed it or not. I didn't do that. Because I mean, like the posters, I just I don't really ask permission. I
just, I trust that
the truth is, is going to be better for everyone in the long term, I think. And so I and obviously, you know, books are written by people, not by committees, I this is my view, the way my life is in the way Australia is. If people don't like it, then they're absolutely Welcome to and I don't want to, I don't aim to upset people, I aim to sort of make people feel better, really?
Is it hard trying to get to a universal truth?
What's impossible. That's I mean, that's,
I mean, that's a, if there are any universal truths, that's gonna be one of them that it's the world being infinite, and I'll mines being finite,
we're not going to have,
we're not going to find things that are these set roles that work every single time. And so that realisation gives you a bit of humility, doesn't mean don't try, it doesn't mean like, Don't try to improve the world. It just means Be humble while you're doing it, because you are human, and you will inevitably fail or, and in some cases make things worse, you can't sort of, and you'll make things worse for sure if you go out there completely convinced that your righteousness. So yeah. Do you feel like when you were writing the book, that you would start to call bullshit on previous truth? Like, I guess once you go further back and you start creating a narrative or working out, can you start to say, actually, this probably didn't actually happen like that? No, absolutely. Yeah. I mean, there's a lot of me sort of questioning my, my previously strongly held beliefs in the book. Because I mean, really, I got caught up in the enthusiasm of what I was doing, and ran with it for years, because because I'd sort of needed something like that. And the book was really a chance to just do a an audit on everything I've done. And all my thoughts and to should have collate some sort of sense out of it all. And absolutely, like, if you're not willing to do that, and sort of interchange your views, then you're not. How can you really be trusted? In a way I think?
I just want to close the loop. Mr. 97. Pauline Hanson, did she go to jail? 11 weeks in jail,
not for the holiday. She was it for?
It was for that rice, electorial fraud,
which was later overturned? Yeah. After she spent the time in jail authorised. And then also defined in Victoria, did you have $193? That's pretty high at St. Hi, how did I get to those unit points are working at the penalty unit alpha units, they they give a certain amount of penalty units to something and then that calculates the the price of the fine. So there's a bunch of penalty. I mean, I can go and throw an old TV onto the train line and only pay 317. Yeah,
so that's a better investment from an art installation. Definitely. Then.
There is an old Macintosh computer down there. Yeah,
whatever. Ridiculous. What's the most embarrassing piece of art that you've ever done? Ah,
I mean, things. Yeah, I mean, paintings. I mean, I used to paint in acrylics on canvas. And I've done paintings that, you know, I have to deliberately forgotten because
you the classic artists that are that looks back at something like a for, I guess, what you can relate with is making videos and looking back at stuff from ages ago, where you thought at the time? Yeah,
absolutely. You like, Oh,
yeah, absolutely. And yeah, the more you thought it was fantastic, the more embarrassing it is.
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, every every artist must have that stuff. But
what do you what do you see when you look at this photo now? Or the poster?
Or no, I still, I still love this stuff. I mean, the stuff I'm doing, I think I'll be doing it for a long time. Because I think it will certainly be relevant for a long time. Because, you know, these divisions are very hard when it comes to sort of race and ethnicity. It's, it's very hard for people to overcome those points of conflict, I guess. But um, yeah, as I said, At the start, that's really why I gravitated towards it, because I wanted something that I could work on for a long time. Whereas before. Yeah, I think the stuff was making this more abstract and less direct. It's sort of easy to do that, as an artist is to sort of, say stuff in a vague way. So you don't have to say, stand up for it. It's a devoted way of hiding. In a way,
finding your voice is something we here try and find your voice as an artist, as a video person as a, you know, a graffiti or whatever it is, you know, find your style. Is this you finding your footing, do you feel like it is you have found my voice? This is? This is where I'm at?
Yeah, well, I think if Finding Your voice is something you want to do as an artist, then it has to be something that is evolving as well. I mean, because ultimately, you want a audience that wants you to take them on a journey. And they like it when you slowly changing and taking them somewhere they didn't expect. So I guess, yeah, when it comes to finding your voice, you don't want it to be something which is putting yourself in a box. But I think what that where I've wound up, it's just just where my abilities took me, I guess, I guess, if you feel like you're holding back, and there's other things that you can do, then you need to find a way I have less suing them into what you're what you're putting out there as well. Whereas I mean, the because I always think about things philosophically or politically, but they that wasn't really upfront earlier on, that was very much in the background that was sort of hiding, it didn't really want to put it on the line. So I guess that Yeah, when it comes to finding a voice, just get everything in your arsenal and and put it on the lawn,
but then we asked some subconscious beings acting in our subconscious as well. So it's like, injecting bits of that in whether we think it's, you know, a certain way, but then all of our past experiences makeup, what is the result? You know, today. And so you know, all the things we've done in the past, it led to this and for you to,
yeah, and I guess that means that you can't ever really know, like, that's the thing, you've got to give up, as well as that the audience is probably going to be able to see more of you than you're willing to reveal, you know, and you have to be all right, that, that that sort of accepting that vulnerability that they're going to see into you. And that's kind of what people that's what you want, isn't it if you're an artist, you want to be seen, you want to be recognised, and not not in terms of fame, necessarily, but just people seeing who you are. Because if art can do anything, that's it can sort of reveal something which, which cotton, cotton normally be saying
it's a good authenticity, it's a good explanation of what people push for in art and creative endeavours is being authentic. It's like, that's, that's kind of what is the result and you get authenticity out of that. But to try and do that on purpose is I think, where some people go wrong, they go, I want to be an authentic, and I want to make this just put myself out there reveal at all. Sometimes it does the opposite right side sure shows the cards in the opposite direction.
Well, I think people who say that they're like, work or authentic, I probably like lacking like, is lacking something of self awareness or whatever or they're signalling something that may be feeling they don't necessarily have any from a content consumption point of view. I'm guessing that would play a part to the things that you are watching day to day listening to what is your consumption, like when it comes to media? Oh, I
just let it wash over me like a storm. I mean, like, it's, it's kind of fun to do that. Because that's that I think that's the way that people get into media these days is they just let it bombard them. And they get into a frenzy. I mean, I'm I'm not like that all the time. But I just I couldn't see many people on Twitter, especially that they're just in it, and completely consumed by it. So I think it's good to do that to sort of come up with new ideas. You spend time on Twitter. Yeah, but not not heaps. But I just sort of dip in and out. Because that's where a lot of stuffs happening. And I like to sort of see how people use it. And the way, the way the tool makes them think. Yeah, you know, because the way we use tools changes the way we think Twitter is pretty like Twitter brings out some interesting characters. I mean, I watched the Adam good stock. Oh,
over the weekend. Yeah, it's amazing. And the Twitter is used a lot as a way of showing the the Australian conversation, you know, around him, I just think it's like, it does bring out the worst. Yeah, because it's the toilet wall made.
Made a mortal, you know, like you meant to be able to clean the toilet wall. You know, it's meant to be on to forget that garbage. But it's just is there forever.
Score squawking birds that have been that's what I've heard it explained as, like, that's the conversation just birds getting shit out of the being. And
that's for sure. So from here, you've got poster boy, you're off to Sydney later in the week. What's a two hour for a book? Like what's what's the deal?
Well, it's on sort of discovering, because I didn't really know the book world. But I mean, Sydney later this week, so Sunday 3pm at better read than dead. And after that we haven't set dates yet, because I've already been in Brisbane and, and here in Adelaide. I'd like to go to Perth, but I just haven't said it yet. But these things, I mean, books, these things, books have a long tail. So instead of
I can sort of keep promoting it for a while.
Is there anything about Is there a subculture of authors? Is that a thing?
Well, I think so. Absolutely. I mean, book world is, is definitely a thing, because they're not everyone reads not everyone goes to book festivals. So he did TEDx as well, too, right? So yeah. So you got
TEDx, author, artist, like, these are a few subcultures that you're entering, hey,
you just need to start surfing and the ICF semana, you know, breaks that are protected.
And so once once the books are done, will you just go go home? And start like, making some glue?
Well, I mean, we're
trying to get a picture of what it is.
Yeah, like on the previous times that I was in was in Brisbane here last I stick out posters at the same time as going to the book launch. I mean, yeah, these things can overlap quite nicely. It's saying you're currently putting posters up around Melbourne. I'm not this week, which is weird. I mean, it's such a part of my life. It's not it's weird for me to be away from home and not have posters with me because it's so easy to just sort of, Oh, yeah, I'll do posters in the morning and in the afternoon, I'll
catch up with people. I'll need a store anything you can store stuff here.
stuff. Yeah, you don't. You don't know what you're getting into.
Printing villages. Peter and I work together. One daily talk show one OZ.
I get messages from people saying Oh, yeah, I'd like to know. Come come and stay with us. Sure. Because I you know, cooking up 30 litres of glue each day it just it's a pain in the ass for me and you don't want that in your kitchen.
So it doesn't have the smell because you Here
I have been by sniffing glue because that's the chemical one. This one you can cook and it's fine. It just smells like plaque.
And you get it you get a that
you call it? Let's see if you're desperate. Yeah.
Well, thanks for coming on the show. It's a it's so interesting saying other people doing the things that they love. And I love the fact that you're around it's got a message to it and and I think it's really cool Max is think
you know that you've thought about it. And it makes people look at it and go what that and then interpret then internalise and then think about it. That's Yeah, it's awesome.
Awesome. Thanks for coming on the show. today. Talk Show high the daily talk show.com is the email address if you want to send us an email your Peter drew arts on instead of that, right? check you out there. If you enjoyed the show, take a screen grab put it on Instagram, tag us up so we know that you're listening. Otherwise, we'll see you tomorrow. See you guys