Nottingham-born contemporary graffiti artist Dilk will release the first print of his 30-year career this week, a milestone in a journey that has seen his art created and commissioned across the walls of his home city, the UK and the wider world, from Paris and Barcelona to Sao Paolo and Beijing.
Growing up in the UK in the 80s, Steven Dilks was fascinated by American culture, initially breakdancing and partially the hip-hop scene, but very quickly the emerging world of graffiti. Glimpses of tags in the back of music videos, and eventually the revelation of the book Subway Art, shown to him during his school classes, changed everything.
The early impulse to create – paired with a dream to travel far further than the UK – has remained a driving force in Dilk’s life to this day. Early days working in his dad’s mechanical workshop meant access to both paint cans to practice, and money that would be needed to see the wider world. Meanwhile, his style was evolving, taking cues from wildstyle and old school graffiti ideas, paired with his own experiences and uniquely British influences.
Travelling into Europe meant access to new art, new people and new paints. While there were opportunities to stay in the UK and follow a very different path in art, for Dilk there was no better education than immersion in new cultures, learning from other artists, collaborating within graffiti communities, and getting work up on walls around the world.
Ultimately he would put in vast air miles in the 90s and 2000s, at a time when far-flung travel was rare, particularly in the graffiti world. Ironically, the connections that those expeditions created and nurtured would lead to him starting the UK’s only official Montana paint shop in his home city. It has become a staple of the UK art scene in itself, encouraging new artists both nationally and, importantly, in Nottingham.
His ever-evolving contemporary art style – combined with a personality hungry for new friendships and the ideas they bring – has established Dilk as an important part of the UK’s graffiti history with works featured in leading contemporary museums such as Straat Museum, Amsterdam. Each new piece maps an ever-changing amalgamation of abstracts, dreamlike colour pallets, sharp lines alongside technically spectacular drip work and pieces that come from an instinctual love of creation, of being out and about, and making something new.
Dilks first print, Started Again launches Thursday 3rd August at 3pm BST. Based on a large scale 3.5 x 5m canvas on permanent display in Straat Museum Amsterdam, the print will be available in three highly-collectable editions.
Tim Stet Fotografie