What’s the story behind your pseudonym, 23rd Key?
I'm always a bit embarrassed to explain how I landed on that name. I feel like pseudonyms are always really hard to pick for yourself. They're kind of like nicknames you have to make up. A lot of people know me as Keasey out side of the 'art world'. They both came about as variations of my real name. 23 is just a lucky number that has a lot of meaning to me, so I tacked it on the beginning to change things up a bit.
Was there any particular trigger that pulled you towards stencil art?
It happened as a happy accident! I learned how to cut my first stencil when my brother taught me the ropes in high school. I'd dropped all arts subjects and was taking some up again because I needed them for what I wanted to study at uni’. I learned how to stencil so I'd have a bit of a trick up my sleeve that I'd be able to use to get by in class. I took quite a liking to it and have been doing it ever since.
What makes a good stencil/paste up spot?
I think the 'spot' is underestimated a lot when it comes to putting work up 'on the streets'. It's actually really quite important. It's almost like trying to visualise billboard space where there isn't any. I try to hit spots that already have stuff there and try not to pick private properties or residencies if I can help it. Usually my work is situated near freeways or popular esplanades and depending on what it is, I also try to target the audience of the area, if that makes sense. Technically you just want people to see your work when they're walking or driving by.
What/who inspires you to create stencils?
I'd have to say, myself... I know that's a bit of a weird answer. Being an artist, I think the things that make us create or think creatively are quite insular. I'm definitely inspired by a lot of different artists. Especially growing up in a place like Melbourne and growing up with the boom of things like seeing the Everfresh boys work everywhere. But I honestly just do it because I find it cathartic and relaxing. I guess it's more a hobby for me than a job. If you love doing something you don't really need inspiration to do it.
What’s been the most influential moment in your career and why?
I think I've had a few influential moments in my career. Sitting with one of my idols, Chris Cheney from The Living End, entering my first Archibald Prize, the first time I won the Stencil Art Prize, and then winning it again this year. Being involved in Project 5 Volume 6 this year was also pretty influential, working along artists I've respected for years.
This year has definitely been pretty major for me, and I think that has to do with having the time to really focus on my art, which I haven't really had the opportunity to do in the past because I was studying or playing roller derby or distracting myself with too many things to really focus enough time into one thing.
Any interesting projects in the works at the moment?
My solo show coming up in Melbourne on the 5th of December at Juddy Roller is pretty much the major focus for me at the moment and hopefully I'll get the chance to tour the show up to Sydney or somewhere else before I head over to Europe next year. Definitely have a few exciting things planned up until mid next year when I've got a short stint of down time planned. The concepts I'm working on for the show are pretty ground breaking and I'm excited to get them out there, I feel like people will (hopefully) really enjoy the show. They're definitely going to see some things they haven't gotten to see at a stencil art show before.
You can catch the opening of Keezus Friday 5th Dec 7pm at Juddy Roller 226A Johnston St, Fitzroy. Enter via stairs on Chapel Street
Show continues Sat & Sun 12-5pm.