Artist Profile: Aaron Grech

Sometimes when I’m out in the world, going about my day, I’ll catch a glimpse of someone immersed in creating. Doodling in a field book on the train, taking a photograph in the middle of the street, scribbling notes on a scrap of paper. This is engrained making; when being creative is so innately habitual that you are consumed by it. I admire these people, I strive to be as liberated as they are. These are the people you look at and know that they must be wildly creative. This is what I see when I see Aaron, both in person and through his work. A mad creator who thinks in pink and blue visuals.

Aaron Grech is the young powerhouse behind Patch Squad (an artist collaborative patch label) and also does his own work under the pseudonym FFIVE. The medium of his work is interchangeable – ranging from postcard sized musings to large scale murals – but the colour palette and playfulness of his subjects remains the same. Personified fruit, cars, houses and stars; Aaron puts his recognisable brand on everything he touches. It is impressive to say the least.

I always feel very lucky when I can call an artist I admire, a friend, and getting to know Aaron has not only fuelled my passion to make but has reminded me of how humble and human artists are. I’m stoked to feature and share his work for my seventh On Jackson Street artist profile. Sit down, gaze at his beautiful work and read about his suburban Australian influences, the logic behind his teen hotmail address and the best artist profile playlist shared yet.

  Photo by Michael Souvanthalisith

Photo by Michael Souvanthalisith

Hi Aaron! Thank you for being part of an artist profile with On Jackson Street. Can you start by introducing yourself – telling us a little about what you do and where you’re based?

Hi : – ) My name is Aaron and I draw pictures of things with faces on them, mostly. I currently live with my girlfriend out in the south eastern ‘burbs of Melbourne (on the Mornington Peninsula), but most of my Big Boy art squad are in Melbourne so I’m kind of stretched between two annoyingly distant places.

What is your earliest memory of creating?

My earliest memory of creating is probably when I was a toddler, watching my brother drawing cars on a stand-up chalkboard, and then trying to draw cars as well as he did. My Dad was a car nut and so my brother was too. I was a sleepy kid and didn’t like loud cars racing around tracks, but I was pretty keen on drawing them for a vast period of my early life.

I like that your work is never restricted to one outcome. In my eyes, what sets apart an artists’ portfolio from modest to prolific is the ability to swap seamlessly between mediums without disrupting their vision. This way you are always growing and expanding. Whats your favourite medium and scale to create in?

Thank you. I like to pride myself on always trying new mediums; it’s good and bad. I get obsessed with finding new mediums and then insulting the traditional method by doing everything my way – as naively as possible I guess. That’s probably why everything has the same flavour. The reason it can be bad is that I’m kind of a jack-of-all-trades, but a master of none. It sounds dumb even suggesting that I know a lot of ‘trades’, but to be honest I have briefly tried a lot of things. While most people I know spent their late-teens and twenties partying and socialising, I was probably at home trying to make a circular backpack out of orange PVC or embroidering dumb pics. Heck, my girlfriend’s at a party right now and I didn’t go because I have art to make. SUE ME.

What are some things that consistently influence your work?

My biggest influence is probably home and all that suburban Australia shit. As a kid I was on the fringe of Mambo’s hayday – so Reg Mombassa is probably someone who’s art I really got inspired from. Probably just that really naive, loose, caricature style, heaps of dry humour, a lot of pensiveness. Garfield as well. I was introduced to the concept of depression by an overweight cat – isn’t the world beautiful? I also wanted to be a cartoonist for a lot of my childhood. I’ve always kept that cartoony theme through my work – I couldn’t shake it if I tried.

My work has kind of gone full circle. As a kid I was pretty free and drew just whatever I wanted or I thought was cool, like cars and peace signs and marijuana leaves (I was obsessed with the 60s as an 11 year old, before I had any idea what drugs were, or what ‘free love’ meant… but that didn’t stop me drawing those things all over my sketch book and making my email ‘‘). Then I got into highschool and everyone made me feel like an idiot and I kind of burrowed in and went a bit crazy. Now I’ve said a sweet fuck-you to education and I’m slowly regaining that childish shitkicker attitude that made me such a hit with the ladies back in grade 5 (I’m lying I only smooched a few people… I wasn’t that skinny). I don’t really like going outside and talking to people I don’t know and all that – so my influences don’t really feature doing LSD on a contiki tour with 10 people from 10 different countries – but I try my best to be inspired.

In terms of what inspires me RIGHT NOW – I’m listening to a Northern Soul compilation called ‘Stand in For Love – 16 Sad Moments in the Cool Kent World’, I’m looking at my studio wall with all my friend’s artwork and a Beach Boys lyric that I printed off and put on pink fluro paper that says ‘Don’t worry baby, everything will turn out alright’.

What is your experience with forging your own path as a young creative? What are some obstacles you’ve encountered along the way and how you work on overcoming them?

Well I don’t know… On one hand I feel like I’ve done a lot of ‘hard yards’ in terms of going it alone and not relying on the amazing tertiary education ‘golden ticket’ that everyone keeps harping on about – but at the same time, I’ve just been me and flailed around for the world to see. Somehow it’s got me typing out answers to questions like I’m actually somethin’ special. I’m definitely yet to have major obstacles (I think?) I’ve definitely made LOTS of mistakes in my creative pursuits – but due to the fact that I’ve rarely done things for people other than myself, it’s hard to say. My biggest obstacle is myself and it’s a daily battle.

Detail your ideal/favourite day.

Usually the best days are the ones I don’t expect to be good. I had a pretty great day last week – I went to the beach with my friends – we all are obsessed with each other I think. There was lots of filming and photo taking and laughing at each other. My ideal day… probably making art that I’m happy with in some capacity, and also hanging out with friends. Art and friends. That makes a good day.

What are some things helping you to create at the moment?

Music, definitely. Getting good results also helps me a lot, which actually sucks, because if I can’t seem to get anything right then it’s a bit hard. I’d love to mention an amazing book or some kind of poetry but to be honest I’m on the tail-end of a massive creative block and some damned result is what I need to stay afloat. Seeing my friends make some really cool art helps push me as well.

Best advice anyone ever gave you?

I was told by a really lovely teacher that I can’t do anything that feels disingenuous – which is why I’m more of an artist than a designer. That stuck with me.

Good things coming up in the future that you’re stoked about?

I have an exhibition coming up next Monday with Sydney artist MartinaMartian at Rooftop Artspace! Martina hit me up when she came down to Melbourne a few months ago and then set up this exhibition so that’s really cool. I made a giant embroidered patch with a car smashing through a wall which will be on display which I’m stoked about.

Me and my friends are also planning on this big group show early next year which could either be the biggest disaster of all our careers or the best thing Melbourne has seen since the FCUK billboard near the Westgate bridge.

Can you share ffive songs that would summarise your quintessential day creating?

At the moment:
When I Grow Up (To Be A Man) – The Beach Boys
IT G MA (remix featuring all those hard motherfuckers like ASAP FERG and Waka) – Keith Ape
Neptune Estate – King Krule
Grindin’ – Lil Wayne (with Drake – the 6 G O D)
Wet Vision – U ROY

If you listen to those songs in succession you will be me.

  Photo by Michael Souvanthalisith

Photo by Michael Souvanthalisith