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Interview: Smallkid

20 November 11 words: Tom Norton

From creating iconic flyers for Detonate to massive pieces at Glastonbury, Nathan Bainbridge - under the nom de spray of Kid 30 (Smallkid) – has become one of the city’s premier street artists. Here’s a chance to have a nose through his scrapbook...

Left: A big piece for Glastonbury 2010. This was a really big project with a lot more scope than usual. It’s an Oxygen Thieves project that I did with Kaption1 and Deam. This was done through Bassline; they had the marquee tent there. Right: Chimney. This was done around six months ago, seeing a space and interacting with it. The thought process is quite minimal.

You were featured in the V&A street art show at the Castle recently…
It was great to be involved. I worked with Ging Inferior on two installations – one was a 48-piece paste-up based around character faces, and the other was small silhouettes of different characters in different situations. They got hung in the Long Gallery around the other pictures, from a pirate peering over a dinosaur to someone abseiling off a portrait.

You first came to people’s attention with your flyer work for Detonate. How much do you think their success is indebted to you?
I think it’s the other way round, to be honest - I owe Detonate a lot. At the time, all the other rave flyers were small font and end-of-rave artwork. We did more photography and tried out different ideas with bigger fonts with blockbuster line-ups.

So what are you up to at the moment?
Some stuff for the Headstock Festival and Alley Café, and some Highness Sound System banners, and I’ve been back to Kings Mill hospital to do more artwork. Me and Kaption1 painted all the kids’ wards and I’ve done workshops there too.

You’ve been doing this for a decade now. What’s changed?
When I started ten years ago, I was heavily into the flyering scene - we’d go out and put up hundreds of posters on lampposts and derelict buildings. The internet has changed that culture and brought more styles to people’s attention; there’s not as much of a street presence. Everything to do with street art is photo-based now - it’s on the internet and people don’t go out to see the work anymore, which is lazy.

What’s your inspiration now to take on work as opposed to when you started?
Just that your interests change; when I was younger I was happy just absorbing graffiti and wanting to fit into that. Now, it might be things that I watch or read that are far removed from graffiti.

Pirates In The Sea: I go to a lot of house clearances and car boot sales and buy old pictures. I’ll either take them out the frame and put my own work in, or I’ll change them. This is a bit of a fascination I have at the moment with pirates – of being in a little vessel, and you can’t escape.

There’s a running motif throughout your work of weird, quirky creatures. Is a level of humour important to your work?
Yeah, massively, I don’t take myself too seriously and ultimately you want people to enjoy your work. It’s like a mystical little world that might represent different friends or things that have happened.

Your workshops with kids sound ace.
That’s something that I’ve done for years. They vary - one I did recently with Ging in a primary school was about Harry Potter-esque characters with witches and wizards. Maybe on a foster care day, I’ll draw people’s names; I do the outline and they colour it in. Kids want everything now and instantly, whereas this is something where they sit down and it takes them an hour and a half but then the reward that they get is huge. Everyone likes the word ‘graffiti’ because it sounds a bit risky.

What is your motivation nowadays to take on a job, besides money?
Because half my work is a half hobby and half of my hobby is half work, there’s certain jobs – like workshops – where I have a set fee. With artistic jobs, the rule tends to be the better the job the less money it pays, so you have to weigh up whether you can fund the paint yourself. Socially it’s about who you’re going to paint with, whether the weather’s nice. It’s always nice when something exciting comes up that you’ve never painted before.

Old Man: I paint quite a lot of old men faces with my graffiti. I like doing moustaches because it instantly makes it humorous.

Which Nottingham artists are you currently liking?
Definitely Boaster and Ging, and people like Kaption1, Dregs, Max Rocks. There were tons of new artists at Salon des Refusés at Surface Gallery that I hadn’t seen before, and their work was all of a high standard.

Looking forward then; what’s in your future?
For me, Switch studios and the Shrunken Heads collective, as well as stuff with Oxygen Thievez. I want to put a lot more time into Switch and do events with Shrunken Heads. We’ve got a few new big concepts for shows but I don’t want to jinx it. I have a few works in Upfest Gallery, Bristol, Old Jam Factory, Oxford and Alley Café in November but these are all small things, it would be nice to do a large solo show at some point.

So what’s your message to up-and-coming street artists in Notts?
There’s still loads of legal places to paint and you don’t have to be doing artwork on the streets. Don’t try to conform too much; there aren’t really any rules. Just keep doing it - you’ve got to be in it to win it!

Smallkid website

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