Top image: Hasworld
Hasworld, graffiti artist-turned-painter started out by slapping his signature phantom design paste-ups on the streets of London over a decade ago. Today, he is working on large-scale canvases in a free-flowing manner that serves as a cathartic process. Art is something that enables him to negotiate and communicate what it means to be a young father and full-time artist in 2018.
The same mission is the priority of Azekel, an East Londoner who counts Prince and Massive Attack as fans, having recently accompanied the later on a tour. Preparing to release a studio album that tackles mental health, youth and fatherhood, the artist is on a personal mission to redefine fatherhood for the future generations.
Together with Hasworld, they are eager to explore themes of fatherhood and responsibility amongst young creatives, resulting in a series of audio and visual pieces that tackle the positive aspects of one of the most universal and life-changing roles in one’s life.
We caught both friends converse about fatherhood and its impact on their craft and personal lives. Tune in below.
Hasworld: How did we connect, bro?
Azekel: I remember you coming to my show back in the day.
Hasworld: Notting Hill Arts Club.
Azekel: Yeah, you and Sampha. That was literally the first time we met.
Hasworld: From what I remember, our first conversation was about music because I also do music. We were recording in my house in Morden and I showed you some of my art. Correct me if I’m wrong, brother.
Azekel: Yes, no doubt.
Hasworld: Yeah, that was in 2012 but I started as a street artist in 2008. I started doing graffiti but I wanted to go into the fine art direction. I changed my medium from using spray cans to working with watercolours and oil. I still do that on the street, but I’m focusing more on canvas work at the moment. Back in 2012, there wasn’t really a subject matter, I was doing a lot of doodling. Now, I’ve kind of slowed it down and am looking more at spiritual concepts of life, death and duality, as opposed to doing a little doodle and putting it on the street. But there’s nothing wrong with that either.
Azekel: I started out making music recreationally and then sent it to my friends who encouraged me to put it out. It kind of happened one building block at a time. But, in an art career, nothing ever is solidified. Eventually my work also gained more direction.
Hasworld: Just life, having a baby presented in front of you when you have no experience, it gets your mind racing. There’s a lot of pressure being a father, good pressure.
Azekel: Initially – and I was thinking about this a few days ago – the themes have always been what I was going through, whether those were relationships or sex, or spiritual themes. I try to be like an open book, I care about my music and it helps me make sense of my reality. It’s carried over to my album, whether that’s about race, marriage or fatherhood. That’s all I know how to do.
Hasworld: I think my work has definitely become more manic, like abstract expressionism. Before becoming a father, I had a lot of time so my work was a lot more detailed. Now, they’re a lot more rushed but it’s expressionist in a quick manner and a lot more expressive. I use it as a release and escapism as now I’ve obviously got a lot of responsibility.
Azekel: For me, the sources of inspiration have changed. My album will be based on three parts, family, mental health and youth, those were parts of my reality being a young father, being young and married. Things like my mental health as a young creative.
Basquiat by Hasworld
Hasworld: Yes, before becoming a father there was no structure to my life – I would wake up at crazy hours. Now I work towards the final product.
Azekel: I remember like Basquiat, he first made street art and then went into fine art.
Hasworld: Yeah, SAMO.
Azekel: And now you’re transitioned into galleries.
Hasworld: The street is the gallery, take places like Brick Lane.
Azekel: I think being a creative today, it’s a weird existence. When you’re a full-time artist you always have to make sure that you’re productive, you’re your own boss.
Hasworld: And God bless Instagram and Facebook, those really help to pay for a lot of stuff. But fatherhood is kind of hidden away from those platforms. It’s like, we’re young forever, we have no responsibilities… That is shying away from the reality.
Azekel: It’s true. I came to know that there’s a lot of young creatives that are fathers, but I guess it’s not often voiced. It’s to do with sex appeal. I remember a music exec telling me not to talk too much about fatherhood, shy away from showcasing that because of the female fans. But I still try to speak about that through my music, visuals and by working with artists like you.
Azekel, photography by Undine Markus