Locals Only: Peat Wollaeger - Stencil Graffiti Artist
And now for the second in our series of "Locals Only" spotlighting local stencil artist Peat Wollaeger. You're going to be familiar with Peat's work if you've ever traveled south of 44 or drank Mountain Dew in the past five years. Enjoy.
Who are you?
Peat Wollaeger, Stencil Graffiti Artist
What is your creative discipline?
EYE'm not quite sure...maybe it's my fam, and the powers above....eye jus do what feels right and trust my SOUL to create what moves me.
What town are you from?
Grew up in Webster Groves but left when Eye was 17 - went to New York, then out to the country, and then for Chicago for some years.
What brought you to STL?
Was about to head to SF but my Gal and I found out we're Preggers with our first son....always wanting to raise my kid in a house, we moved to the Lou and bought an amazing house on the Southside that never in my dreams could I have been able to afforded if I lived in Chicago or the bay.
In what part of St. Louis do you create?
Everywhere...but mostly on Cherokee St.
What do you do? Describe your creative process and the product that results from it.
I'm an artist who does a mix of stencil art, street art, murals, videos and also print/web design. For the stencils, I create multiple layers of stencils, and spray them with various colors of spray paint I love the stencil medium. It take a lot of preparation, and usually I will spend from 40 - 80 hours designing and cutting a stencil before it even reaches the canvas or wall on the street. But once the stencil is cut and ready it is easy for me to knock out a very detailed image in a very short period. I get hired a lot to paint live because I can rip out the piece, and when I pull the final layer, the crowd goes wild.
Describe your workspace/studio; the environment you create in.
My studio on Cherokee was once an old Sewing room for Woolworth's and for some time it was the old green room for the legendary Casa Loma Ballroom. The front area is more of gallery/viewing area for my collectors to view my art, it also has stylish furniture and a couple pinball machines. In the back I have storage and have also built a spray booth, that helps keep the fumes ventilated and prevents overspray from getting on my work.
Where did you learn your craft?
Around 2002 when I left the Agency art game in Chicago to pursue my own art of my own, I created this illustration of my son that I wanted to transfer to glass. I looked into silkscreening it, but the process did not lend it self to do a one-off, plus the access to the equipment was limited. About this time I saw the work of then the fairly unknown artist named Banksy, who was using stencils to reproduce his work. But his stencil work was mostly one color, digging a bit deeper I saw the work of Logan Hicks (workhorse) who was doing amazing multilayer stencils that almost looked liked photographs. So, from that point forward I was addicted, but there was no "textbook" for learning stenciling, so I had to take what I learned from the print world. I would draw each layer separately in illustrator/Photoshop, add in registration marks, print them out, glue them down to thick cardstock or oilboard and them cut them out. Once all the layers were cut then I would spray the first layer, and tape down an area for the registration, and then line up the next layer to the previous registration and continue until the final image was created. The final results were very gratifying!
Who is your greatest personal inspiration?
God and my family are def my biggest inspiration in life. On the Artist level it would be Keith Haring (haring.com) he was the first guy I saw putting up art beyond just a tag on the street. He would created this chalk drawings of engaging people popoing out of the black advertising panels in the subways of New York. And to this day his bright colors that he used can be seen in my work.
Who do you admire in your field?
Banksy (banksy.co.uk) has def put stencil art on the global map. When people ask me what I do, I ask them if they have seen the work of Banksy, and 9 times out of 10, they say yes. I then say, well it is kinda like that.
Anyone else in STL that you think is doing great work in your field?
The STL is going through an Art renaissance, when I first moved, St. Louis maybe had one or two art shows a month. But now it seems like there six to ten shows a weekend. Seems to be so many artists huSTLing here and doing great things. Some of my favs are Phil Jarvis, Daniel Gaeng, C'babi Bayoc, Dave Langley, Gaucha Berlin, Peter Pranschke, Alicia LaChacne, Chris Sabatino, 18AC, Amy VanDonsel, Ryan Frank, and my wife Kris!
What do you consider your greatest achievement or success to date?
That is a hard one to pinpoint. I guess commercially, I was invited by Mountain Dew to create a LImited Edition Bottle which they distributed over a million bottles nationwide.
What is the best thing about your creative endeavor?
Well as of December 2010, I am a full-time artist...so eye get to do what I want to do!
Well as of December 2010, I am a full-time artist...so it is either Feast of Famine!
What are your top 3 STL spots?
The 2 mile long Paint Louis Graffiti Flood Wall (the worlds largest just south of the St. Louis Arch), The City Museum (nothing else like it in the world), and the third is a tie, the Gateway Arch or Cherokee Street.
Of all the places you could be creating, why STL? Why/how is STL a great place to create?
St. Louis is such a raw and gritty city with some amazing architecture and culture. One of the best things is the affordable housing and studio spaces. When out-of-towners visit my studio or house (which i own) they are amazed by the size and accommodation, similar spots in NY or SF would cost thousands per month and would be out of reach for most artists. Since we live world of the interwebs, you do not need to live in the NY for your work to be seen by the major galleries, all you need is a good site and marketing of your online presence. And if I have a show out of town, the STL is pretty much 2-3 hour at most flight to any major city in the US. We are also a short drive to Chicago, KC, Nashville, Memphis, Minneapolis, Indianapolis, and Detroit.
Do you have a philosophy and/or words you try to live by?
The Eye is the Window to your stenSOUL!
Where can we find you?
Stencil Videos: http://vimeo.com/peat/videos
Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/#113868125184069869732/posts
Facebook Fan: https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Peat-Wollaeger-stenSOULcom/157354443109
Studio Photographs by Jerren McKenny