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#ForTheLoveOfArt Series: Interview with Graffiti Artists Mike Eleven & Ruskidd

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Graffiti: Is it art? Is it vandalism? Is it something only someone on an LSD trip can create? The answer really depends on who you’re talking to. Around the world, there’s city, there are buildings, and nine times out of ten, you’re bound to find at least one of those buildings with awesome bit of street art. If you’re anything like me and love your graffiti art, then you’ve gotta check out a brand-spanking new addition to the city of Melbourne’s street art at Ovolo Laneways! Located on the hotel’s roof, this trippy piece of art was made Aussie duo Mike Eleven (ME)& Ruskidd (R). Wanna learn more about the art and its artists? Have a read of our latest addition to the #ForTheLoveOfArt series…


Where did the inspiration for the Artwork come from?

(ME) Coincidentally, Ruskidd and I are housemates and have known each other for a long time, so we’re very comfortable working together. We understand each other’s work, as well as how each other like to think. In approaching the wall, we spent a lot of time looking at colour references to determine our overall colour scheme. We both like to work spontaneously, so we use colour as a unifying guide to our very contrasting styles. By speaking to each other throughout the process, we weave in and out of each other’s work and create a seemingly fluid harmony of styles.

(R) I find myself inspired by the progression of painting the artwork, especially being a collaborative piece. It can be a very rewarding feeling watching the painting grow and take shape, cutting back and forth into each other’s work and building up layers that slowly develops into a complete and well balanced artwork. Mike’s style of painting works fluidly with my own, as we get a deep insight into each other’s process and techniques that goes into the finished piece.

Image: 1 Courtesy of Mike Eleven

Courtesy of Mike Eleven


How do you see the project blend into its surrounding space?

(ME) What better way to battle the sea of red brick and steel on the building than graffiti art? We did take into account the location and made the flow work with how the eye would follow the artwork out towards the skyline.

(R) The finished painting sits colourful and vibrant among the rooftops and buildings in the surrounding area. It is interesting to see the work breathe in its own space without much of the distractions of graffiti, street art and advertisements that can be found in most alleyways and areas we paint in.

Image: 2 Courtesy of Mike Eleven

Courtesy of Mike Eleven


What has the general reaction to the artwork been?

(ME) No bad news yet, so we’re guessing it’s gone done well with the general public! The hotel seems to like it and our client loves it. Street Art photographers have also snuck their way up onto the penthouse terrace to photograph the wall, which must be a good sign!

(R) Personally I am very happy with the finished painting, as I feel it is a new development and discovery in my own painting style, in comparison to my older stuff – It works well in harmony with Mike’s section of the work. I think it is our best collaboration yet!

Courtesy of Ruskidd


How long did it take to produce?

(ME) It took us half the day, with breaks in-between for lunch and constant re-evaluation. As we don’t plan too strictly, we like to massage the process and allow for creativity to flow naturally. It’s not often we force an end product.

(R) We thoroughly enjoyed the juice and yogurts Ovolo had available in the fridge, it definitely helped us ponder and decide on some of the key elements in the painting!

Image: 4 Courtesy of Mike Eleven

Courtesy of Mike Eleven


Sydney vs. Melbourne…Which town do you reckon carries the most striking/impressive collection of street art?

(ME) I feel that both Melbourne and Sydney house great artists, but due to the over-saturation in Melbourne, a lot of our great murals are quick to be trashed. Sydney’s street art scene is a little more tightly watched and so big walls usually stay in good condition. Until Rone’s huge mural in the heart of the CBD disappeared, I would’ve said Melbourne was the place to be, but although Sydney’s work is more scattered around there are some real gems to be seen.

(R) I haven’t yet explored the streets of Sydney so I may be biased in my opinion, but naturally I think Melbourne is best for seeking out graffiti and street art. Being such a huge and thriving culture, there is more activity with new (and destroyed) works to be witnessed around Melbourne which keeps the walls interesting and refreshing!

Image: 5 Courtesy of Ruskidd

Courtesy of Ruskidd


If there’s one place (city, building, statue etc.) that you could tag with graffiti art in the world, where would it be?

(ME) I recently saw Seth Globepainter paint on these beautiful old buildings in China. I’d love to paint onto some unique/quaint architecture in a different country.

(R) The lost city of Atlantis.

Image: 6 Courtesy of Ruskidd

Courtesy of Ruskidd


What’s your recommendations on the top 5 street arts around Melbourne? Where are they located?

(ME) My favourites are:

  1. The huge ‘Da Mental Vaporz’ wall in Chinatown
  2. The Everfresh Mural just off Johnston Street, Fitzroy
  3. The Rone pillar on Little Collins Street
  4. The Adnate & Shida wall above Section 8 in the CBD
  5. The Sofles wall off Victoria Street on Mackenzie Street in the CBD#

(R) In no particular order:

  1. The Keith Haring wall off Johnston Street, Collingwood
  2. Any piece along the Cragieburn train line
  3. A walk through the Gardenvale drains
  4. The Bradmill factory in Yarraville (unfortunately no longer accessible)
  5. The Fintan Magee wall in ACDC Lane (CBD)
Image: 7 Courtesy of Ruskidd

Courtesy of Ruskidd

ovolo-laneways-featuring-melbourne-street-artists-mike-eleven-and-ruskid ovolo-laneways-featuring-melbourne-street-artists-mike-eleven-and-ruskid-2
Behind the scenes of their latest work at Ovolo Laneways



Ellie Kate

Amadou is an American-raised, Hong Kong-based writer, communicator, and all-around lover of travel & food. He speaks four foreign languages and loves recommending new and exciting things to people whenever they go somewhere new. When not managing  his day job, you’ll probably find him at a happy hour or at the park with his Maltese Terrier, Maxx.