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Joe Hill Interview

Joe Hill interview

Kia has partnered with 3D street artist, Joe Hill for their ‘Inspired Reality’ campaign to showcase their new SUV, the Kia Seltos. Joe Hill who goes under the moniker of 3D Joe & Max, travelled to Melbourne to create a stunning 3D artwork based on the Kia Seltos.

Hill has been working as a street artist for more than a decade and has created immersive anamorphic street art across the world. He is even a record-breaker, having painted the ‘World's Largest and Longest 3D Street Artwork in 2011’ for the Guinness World Records. Who better to capture the bold lines of Kia’s concept car?

HISTORY spoke to Hill about the campaign, his life as a 3D street artist and found out what is his favourite city in the world for street art.

Can you tell us about the 3D artwork you created for Kia, as part of their Inspired Reality campaign?

The theme of the campaign was about taking street art outside the galleries and onto the street, that's completely my ethos - making art more accessible to everyone and making the gallery experience, which can be exclusive at times, more open to all. And so I really liked the concept.

For the campaign, you travelled to Melbourne’s Federation Square. Can you tell us how the location inspired the work?

I love Melbourne, it's a brilliant blend of modern architecture, but with that street art aesthetic that I like. It has a rich history of street art, it was everywhere. When I was driving around for the actual shoot, we were seeing all these fantastic murals everywhere.

How did you go about creating the 3D effect in your Kia inspired piece?

What I do is, I created the vanishing point outside of the picture. And in this case, around two metres out to the left. We keep returning to that vanishing point and painting it from that point of view. It’s all done by eye, we don't use rulers, we use long pieces of stick. When I was out in Melbourne there was this wonderful joiner that made me a stick from a local tree, specifically for the painting.

What was it like painting the Seltos? Was it a good subject for a 3D painting?

The Kia Seltos is an attractive car and it's very tactile, it feels like quite a sculptural car with very nice curves and lines. And also because it was yellow we were able to play around with some really fun tones. The difficult thing to get right was the scale because you want to make sure you're reflecting the right side of the car. So, we were trying to get the scale right which is really key. It wasn't the easiest, but it was enjoyable because of the lines and its aesthetically pleasing shape.

The Kia Seltos is good to look at but what was it like to drive?

I'm not as regular a driver as I'd like to be because I just don't get a chance because I'm always travelling around different places. But I enjoyed it. It feels very spacious inside and it was a smooth drive. And fortunately, it’s got these nice, big windows, so I could see the architecture and street art around me. And then it has this extraordinary display panel. It was all there, it all made sense. When you reached to press something it was in the right place. It felt like the interior design time was well considered. It was a smooth drive. I'm not an expert but I wouldn't hesitate buying one myself. I think it’s a very nice car.

How did you get into being a 3D street artist or an anamorphic street artist, to give it its proper title?

We started doing drawings on the ground and really small little illusions. And then they just gradually got bigger and bigger. The first big step up for us was when they started putting cameras on phones. And we suddenly realized, people like taking pictures of our paintings but more importantly, they like taking pictures of pictures of themselves with the artwork. So we started to design all the anamorphic images to work with somebody next to or it on it.

And then when we realized that people wanted to be on the picture as well, chalk wasn't going to cut it anymore, because it would rub off and get on people's clothes. So that's when we switched to paint. And paint just opened up all sorts of new good opportunities for us because we can just bigger and bigger and really start to play and go back to the way we started doing art but suddenly we were treating the street like our canvas.

It must be very rewarding seeing people interact with your pieces.

In galleries you're not even allowed to touch your picture, we encourage people to roll around on our work, and properly interact and take photos with them. I've said this a million times but we do have this motto, which is ‘a picture isn't finished until there's somebody in it’.

The Kia Seltos picture wasn't finished in my mind until that shot in the video where I'm leaning on the bonnet. You've got to have a person in it, it's the whole point about making it inclusive and accessible and not too hallowed. When I was a kid art was fun. And then when I started getting a little bit older, and I was thinking about pursuing art as a career, I suddenly realized that it can get a little bit serious. And sometimes the fun can go out of it. And I suppose what I love is that I'm able to find that same child childlike fun that I used to have when I was a kid.

There’s always a debate around street art about whether it is a ‘proper’ art form. What do you think?

Everyone's entitled, to their opinion. I was talking to a colleague of mine just a couple of days ago saying, ‘what do you think that this period will be remembered for?’ In the 90s people think about Damien Hirst, while the 1890s is associated with Impressionism and Cubism in 20s and 30s. I wonder if street art isn't going to be something that that will be quite significant that people are talking about in a few decades to come.

I don't mind if people are snobby about street art because I have my opinions about the form for myself. You don't have to please everyone and if you do start pleasing everyone you then I think you might be doing something wrong.

What do you think is the best city in the world for street art?

My favourite city and apologies to all the other cities that I adore is Philadelphia. There's this amazing public art program where wherever there's a big wall, they put something beautiful on it. I always get a kick out of going to Philadelphia.

If you could paint a street art piece anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

Annoyingly I’ve got two answers. I’d like to paint the roof of Madison Square Garden. We were approached to do it once and I got so excited, I had all these plans about doing something extraordinary. And I can't remember what happened but for some reason, that didn't happen. But any kind of massive space in the heart of the city that can be viewed from afar, I find appealing. The other option is, and this is probably even more appealing - and it doesn't really matter where it is - but I would love to create almost an outdoor art gallery in the street.

So if somebody said to me that’s your street, do what you like to it. I’d make a complete promenade experience where people walk along the streets, and they're looking at different 3D illusions, and it becomes a kind of a place that people can come and interact with and photograph. Any street where I’ve been given free rein to create not just one picture, but the entire experience would be amazing.