Meet the artists: an interview with Flox

Flox (Hayley King) is one of the leading stencil-based artists in New Zealand today. endemicworld is lucky enough to be one of her few chosen stockists – selling open edition Flox art prints and limited edition screen prints. Flox’s distinctive vine and floral style has also made its way onto her own women’s fashion line, and onto album covers, billboards, massive interior murals… even a limited edition NZ stamp! Recently back from adding her signature to the streets of Berlin, we caught up with Hayley to ask a few questions – and also to grab some shots of her new studio space to share with you…

Hayley King, aka Flox. (Image from Designworks.)

Can you tell us a little about your process – from inspiration to realisation of a finished work?
My process varies depending on what type of job I’m working on, whether it be an interior mural job, a commercial brief, or a private commission.
Fundamentally however, my initial inspirations are normally dictated by the brief that I’m given and then I work from there.  My work is very decorative and my main medium is stencil spraypaint, so I love finding visual inspirations that I can then transform, applying my own style and artistic language.

I spend a lot of time on the net gathering visual info, but I think also now that I have 8 years of experience, I often draw from previous examples and jobs, recycling, developing, evolving and collaborating to come up with new ideas.  I work to briefs, but there is also a very apparent intuitive component to my work… I’m still fundamentally a painter and not a designer.

What’s your favourite piece of work you’ve done?
It’s hard to pick a favourite piece, but what I can say is that I hope the pieces get better and better as time goes by.  I look at some of my old work now, from say five years ago, and think “arghhh, I wouldn’t do it like that now, or I wouldn’t use that colour with that colour, or there’s some mid-ground elements seriously missing from this piece…”

I’m particularly proud of my recent stencil works for the latest Fly My Pretties 4 tour.  I had to re-brand for them, and come up with a really strong single colour image of a fantail for them to use on everything from advertising, album covers, animation and merchandise.  And then using this image, I began a series of large, one-off, hand cut pieces.

Flox’ massive hand-cut pieces inspired by the NZ band Fly My Pretties.

What has been the coolest experience of your career so far?
One of the most beautiful places I have been to recently was the new Cloudy Bay “shack” down on their Marlborough vineyard.  They flew myself and a bunch of other artists and designers who had input into this place, to be wined and dined for the evening.  Fine wine, amazing food, Nathan Haines, passionate people, picture perfect afternoon.  What more could you ask for?

Mural for Cloudy Bay.

You’ve recently been in Europe. Tell us a little about the trip…
I recently went to Berlin with my partner who is a film maker, so we went over prepared and with the intent of collaborating somehow.   I took four large letter stencils spelling the word HOME over with me, so I was able to make street posters, and very fortunately got to paint an interior piece with them too.  We got it all on camera, including a couple of time lapses, so as a result made a short process doco. Berlin was incredibly inspiring especially for its famed street art scene.  Every wall, alley and lamp post is covered from head to toe in art, stickers and paste ups.  So, it was a really integral part of my journey that I add to that, as I wasn’t going to go half way across the world and not do any art!

Pasted street art in Berlin. See the making-of video here.

What was the last thing you saw or experienced that got you really creatively excited?
Actually, this is probably going to sound pretty geeky, but there was this multi level store called Modular in Berlin, which just totally blew our socks off.  It’s an architects/designers/art makers wet dream of a store!

Flox has a light-filled studio space in Auckland city.

What are you working on at the moment?
I started this year with a resolution to really get back to my roots as an artist, and put more time into developing some of my own ideas.  Here’s my latest artist statement, that will sum up what I’m working on at this point: Inspired by recent travels to Europe, the UK and Southeast Asia, Flox has begun a new chapter that reflects on the word home and marks a return to her roots as a fine artist. The series was initiated with a piece Home Is Where The Heart Is, a response to the renewed sense of ownership and community in Christchurch following the earthquakes. While in Berlin, the city’s turbulent history prompted her to consider the word home as its antitheses: displacement and dispossession. These new textured works also form a narrative of her travels, incorporating the New Zealand waxeye, the European swallow, the British robin and the Asian kingfisher. Next, Flox intends to repurpose the work in abandoned spaces, to investigate what home means in environments that were once precious but now lost and forgotten. The implications of the word home will alter and distort in new ways when she positions the work as street art, where home and homelessness coalesce, and in the formal confines of gallery spaces.

Some of the Flox art prints available at endemicworld

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