“ A lot of people only own a Warhol or a Pollok to show off to others, it’s a status thing. I think it’ll be the same with NFTs. "

We headed to a rooftop in Shoreditch, East London to meet Neon street artist David Speed as he was just completing his latest mural. David's work can be very easily noticed all over Shoreditch and beyond. His Signature Neon portraits slap you in the face and then give you a nice warm hug. We sit down and have a quick insight into the man and his work.

So tell us who is David Speed? What’s your background? 

I’m a street artist, or ‘neon’ artist as I only work in neon paint. I’ve been painting with a spray can for the past 21 years. The first ten years were very much as an illegal graffiti artist, the next ten were as a commercial artist, trying to find opportunities for myself and other artists to do what they love as a career, and the last year has been as a neon 'street artist', experimenting with my own work through the pandemic.

When and how did the signature neon Pink come to fruition? 

I first came up with the idea by total accident in 2018, working out how to paint a realistic portrait, using neon even though it has no tone. I then sat on the idea forever because I was too busy etc etc. In early 2020 a few friends bullied me into painting again - because I had really only painted for work for so long and had lost some of the enthusiasm. I took them seriously and painted a few pieces. Then we had a pandemic and I had unlimited time, so I started experimenting and rediscovering my passion for painting. I bumped into Goldie while street painting and he commissioned some canvases from me on the spot. He gave my confidence a massive boost and has been a really supportive figure for me. After that, I started painting consistently and the online reaction spurred me on.

What and where would be your dream commission? 

It sounds cheesy but I’m kind of already living my dream. I’m able to do what I want to do most days and I have enough patrons that support and collect my work that I’m able to live comfortably, paint the streets and work on projects I enjoy. I like commissions with artistic freedom because my work for the prior ten years has been very regimented. I’m in the lucky position now that I only say yes to work that excites me. I almost feel bad for saying that, I have to remind myself that I've worked for 20 years to get to this point.

In your opinion has graffiti succeeded in attaining a unique position in the institutionalised contemporary art? 

TBH It’s not something I’ve ever thought about. 

What’s your opinion on NFT art? 

It’s great that some artists have a new means to make money. It’s not something I’ve had the inclination to get involved with, I’m much more analog. I think when a platform arises, allowing people to really show off what they own, NFT art will get much bigger. A lot of people only own a Warhol or a Pollok to show off to others, it’s a status thing. I think it’ll be the same with NFTs.

What is the best thing about creating art on the street? And the worst? 

Street painting is my favourite thing that I do, I have painted on abandoned buildings, railway sidings, busy high streets, motorways and every space has a different energy. I can't really think of anything bad.. getting caught in bad weather is the only thing that sucks! I like the freedom, the instant feedback from people and the size and scale I can paint at. 

Here at The Hobo Journal we LOVE to travel - hence the name, Where is the best place you have ever been and why? 

Canada, Banf and the rocky mountains. I've never seen anything more beautiful. I also think that one of the best things about travel is the people - and I happened to be with some amazing people over there. 

More images below from Danny Woodstock Photographer  


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