By Jo Rittey


Street artist David Booth, aka GhostPatrol, will add a touch of personality to the residential project planned for 11-15 Brunswick Road.


Brunswick East B.E. is a creative residential project of 9 storeys. Developed by Jameson Capital and designed by Melbourne architects, RotheLowman, the B.E. façade provides the perfect blank canvas for artistic expression and GhostPatrol has been commissioned to create five mural panels for the building that will be an interpretation of Brunswick East’s community spirit.


The decision to appoint GhostPatrol was driven by a desire to connect to the culture it is surrounded by. Inspired by the local diversity and cultural ‘mash’ of Brunswick East, GhostPatrol’s finished works of art will feature on the façade, foyer and public spaces throughout B.E.


David Booth is a key creative in the Australian contemporary art scene. Born in Hobart, now living in Melbourne, he has built an international reputation from his large scale murals and street art. He is also a renowned illustrator, painter, sculptor and installation artist. For David, it is not about the projects he says Yes to, it is about the project he says No to – as David is determined not to compromise his art.


I had a chat to David to get some background to the man himself, his art and why B.E was a project he didn’t want to say No to.


Hi David. Let’s talk about your path so far as an artist. You’ve come a long way. How did you get to where you are now?


I was born in 1981 in Tasmania. Growing up in Tasmania was very isolating. I didn’t know anything about art. I didn’t go to art galleries, I didn’t know what studios were so I was just always making stuff as an artist but I didn’t really know it was art. What we were taught at school seemed really boring so I just thought the art I was into was something you just did for fun when school and work were over.


In my late teenage years I started to be aware of the zine culture and graffiti. The world opened up for me. So what I was doing wasn’t just a weird little hobby. I’d never really thought to pursue it. I thought art and skateboarding were things you did after hours; you’d never get paid for it.


When street art came along in the early 2000s, there weren’t any books about it or many websites, it was never in the press. I just slowly worked my way into that. I travelled a little bit and spent time in Europe. I was meeting a lot of people doing the same thing as me. And then it just started to blow up. Street art meant people were doing it for free and getting it out there instead of waiting for a gallery or a magazine. We weren’t doing it to make money or be famous or anything. We were just all enjoying making work. Most of the people I know from that background didn’t study at art school. We are kind of from the outside. The world changed. Our art was on the street, sometimes up for a day, sometimes up for months. People who had never been to an art gallery and weren’t interested in art were contacting me to buy my art and to find out where I was showing or have me come and paint their house. It was a totally different audience. At the time it was just lots of fun really. I was with my friends and I was just interested in making more work. The more work I made, the more progress I made in terms of my style and learning new skills and working with new people.


What is your process? You’re working on big walls. Where do you start?


For me, drawing is the starting point for all my work. I’ve been drawing non-stop since I was a kid. I always keep a sketchbook and have thousands of ideas so when it comes time to produce something, I look at my sketch books. Some of my background includes design. When I used to code databases and stuff like that design comes first which is helpful. My father is an engineer so I’ve grown up with someone sketching things out on paper and then expanding them, so that has been normalised for me.


It’s only having to articulate it in the last ten years that I’ve realised the things that have let me understand the power of good design. Also I’ve been around a lot of artists who have done the same kind of work and we all share knowledge about tools and when it’s appropriate to splash out on a big 100 foot canvas.


For some thing like B.E., do you have free reign or do you work in with a theme or the surroundings or the function of what you’re painting on?


That situation is always different. When I show in a gallery, it’s about my artwork and I can pursue any idea I want. The job for the apartments has a brief and there is a conversation about what I think but also about what they want to do. What is the role of the artwork? Is it just pure decoration, is it communicating something, or is it to make people feel good? Every time that conversation is different. I like that as well. Some people wouldn’t like being challenged in that way but I like it because my ideas are just my ideas but that doesn’t mean they are right. I like that my work will have a function.


What was it about the Brunswick project that drew you to it?


It started off as a small idea and then grew into something bigger. There are now 5 or 6 large works and I have been drawing them since January and refining the design knowing that at some point we were going to be standing inside that building painting them. It’s really appealing to take on that scale of work and they are going into a place where people are going to live; it’s their home so I like the idea of making it positive. That building will have a personality.


* If you’re keen to check out the process for yourselves, GhostPatrol will be working in Brunswick East over the next few weekends.



Display Suite: 11-15 Brunswick Road, Brunswick East



Jo is a French teaching writer, has a PhD in Medieval French Literature and is caught up in the myth she can cram as much as possible into every day.




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