Meet the Artist: Lady Pink
We are always fascinated to learn the inspiration and drive behind artists’ work. Our Urban Contemporary Art & Street Photography auction features artwork by leading contemporary urban artists and street photographers, including iconic graffiti artist Lady Pink. We met with Lady Pink to learn more about her incredible life as one of the first women to be involved in the street art movement in New York.
You were right at the start of the street art movement in New York in the late 80s when you were just fifteen and one of the first women to be involved - how did this come about?
I was in the right place at the right time, the underground graffiti scene which existed mostly in subway stations was growing and coming up above ground. There were many artists that came before us in the late 70s/80s and many of them were women, but as the scene grew I was pinpointed as the woman of graffiti.
It was fun, I was just 15 and at this stage in life I wanted to be cool, I wanted to be famous and with boys around me telling me I wasn’t good enough - this made me want to graffiti more, to prove them wrong - I think this awoke the feminist in me.
I fell in love with the adventure, I was meeting so many people from all different parts of the city and by the time I was 16 I was hanging out with older guys who were more interested in getting their work shown in galleries, this was the first time I showed work in a gallery. I was living between two worlds at this point, one week I would be underground painting subway trains and the next I would be dressed up going to fashion parties with the likes of Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Cities are a big part of the street art world, how did growing up in New York influence your work?
Subways were the moving canvas of ‘my generation’ - it was the only way for us to get our work out there to be seen. NYC was incredibly important part of this - graffiti was in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and beyond - and each neighbourhood had their different styles, everyone was recognised by their tags - you could decipher which area they were from, what era and distinct styles said ‘I’m cool’ and you could borrow other peoples styles, but you had to gain permission first.
I’m from Queens which was known as a ‘softer neighbourhood’ and at the start of my career people from the Bronx were the coolest so I’d try to disguise myself as someone from the Bronx by copying their styles, but as I got older I was proud of the fact I was from Queens. My tag nods to this - the curly, feminine ‘Lady’ shows that I am for one female, and secondly from Queens, the curve on the n of ‘Pink’ is a nod to Vinny the Queens street artist and the big curl before the P represents the era I am from - the early 1980s.
How has your style developed since then?
The work I was doing when I was 15/16 was mostly focussed on my name, my tag - everyone had their own distinct style, font - there was a big focus on lettering but now I work differently with more illustrations than just lettering, my style has stayed pretty much the same though.
In comparison to your large scale works, how did you find creating this postcard sized work?
I do everything on a small scale, even if its my large murals I do lots and lots of small drawings and scale them up afterwards so the postcards weren’t a particular challenge for me.
What does it mean to you to be producing work to help raise funds for The Hepatitis C Trust ?
I don’t have any particular connection to Hepatitis C Trust but I really like donating to charity when I can, most artist I know do, it’s just whether they have enough time to donate rather than take paid work.
What are you working on at the moment?
There are a number of projects in the works at the moment but right now I’m working on illustrations for a story for Heavy Metal Magazine which will be called The Chronicles of Brick Lady - I have done many brick characters over the years and this will be a mix of all of them, with characters ending up in random cities - such as troy, Atlantis… I will be illustrating and my assistant Matt will be writing the text for the story - that’s for July.
Is there anywhere you’d like to paint where you haven’t had the chance to yet?
I normally get invited to Northern European countries but I’d really like to go to make work in the Tropics, maybe the Caribbean - somewhere hot. I like the warm weather more, I particularly like going to Miami for Art Basel.