3Dom 22 is one of Bristol’s new generation of street artists, who regularly paints amazing pieces in a liberal city that has a history of supporting artists. 3Dom is an appropriate name - He regularly combines disparate images in the same characters, ranging from lemons to weight’s bars, treehouses and cages. 3Dom’s vivid imagination, combined with his sense of humour, makes each one of his characters original, unmistakable and a pleasure to find on the street.
Check out this awesome 3Dom slideshow…
The road to 3Dom
I’ve lived in Bbristol for about 8 years – officially I came here to study art at university but in practice I was really coming because of the graffiti I’d seen when I came down for university open days.
When I was at primary school I asked my Mum if I could draw cartoon characters on my bedroom wall that I’d been doodling. She let me so I got loose with a marker and it felt good - real good. It was first time I saw a character bigger than me – I had a Frankenstein moment! Then I found the book Subway Art when I was 16 and realised that there was a name to drawing on walls!
I went through a few names when I started to get into ‘graffiti’ - I didn’t intend for it to be a name, more a powerful word that I could write quickly. There was a legendary writer called FREEDOM so I thought I’d use a 3 instead. I really don’t like it now but I’ve built it up now (i.e. people know me by that name) so I can’t really drop it. That’s kind of why I used Mike 22 for my first solo show at King of Paint in Bristol - it was to separate my outside graffiti name and my inside gallery work.
I was working in call centre for years and despised that side of my life: the clocking in, being told your late back from the toilet and all the bullshit of that side of reality. I used my time there as a muse; I could sit at a desk for 10 hours and just work on my sketching, building ideas to paint when I wasn’t working. I felt like a battery hen with a sense of purpose.
I’ve invented odd characters since I can remember - random shit! I only started painting letters when I first came to Bristol. I think it definitely shows, especially when you’re surrounded by people who’ve been working on letters for years. It puts you in your place but I do do letters when I run out of characters (as a sort of chilling stage to clear my head). When you’re painting you can get moments of forgetting everything; it sounds cliché (but cliché is the most cliché word). I’ve spoken to a lot of writers who get that same sense of escapism.
My characters take a while to sketch. I get a lot of inspiration from poems, song lyrics, etc: anything that plants imagery into my head. As for the brains in bubbles, I think they kind of speak for themselves. We’re 90% water after all and I enjoy the idea that our consciousness can escape that bubble at times. I also enjoy how you can portray emotions and ideas by linking contrasting imagery.
I’d like to think my art is always developing – I’m always trying to take in new ideas and images. I’d like to spend more time doing canvases but I just love seeing big characters. The bigger the better, out there enjoying the sunshine and the rain!
Bristol has definitely nurtured me in ways it will never know, from the positive to the negative; it’s all a giant learning curve. It’s been an amazing place to grow creatively; most artists seem to have links and know each other in one way or another and everyone helps each other grow (and then helps each other get drunk). It’s like a big town where everything melts together. I see Bristol as an amazing example of what could happen when the public and authorities recognize the true value of aerosol art. Bristol is definitely taking the right steps towards it.
I had a solo show at Weapon of Choice gallery a few years back and really enjoyed it. With my recent King of Paint Gallery solo show it was a bigger venue and gave me a bit of space to try some other ideas out. I plan to never stop. If I did I’d just become some shell walking around. I don’t see it as a sprint, more of a marathon. I could rant for years about the amount of people who saw graffiti as a gold rush, running around producing hollow art hoping for a quick buck, but I’m happy enough in myself and my work that I kind of sit back and laugh. I just want to travel the world and paint walls, spread ideas and laugh until my ribs hurt!
Big shouts to Lee and Global Street Art for the interview. Shouts to Soker, Epok, Sepr, Haka, ASK, KTF… I could pretty much shout out every artist in Bristol I know, but I’ll leave someone off and get an ear full, so for that reason IM OUT! Also, I love broccoli.