We recently caught wind of a graffiti artist named Silent Hobo out of England that does some sick work and incorporates BMX into his paintings. We hit him up to get a gallery of art along with a short interview to learn more about the man behind the spray can.
Name: Silent Hobo
Age: Thirty something.
Location: Bristol, U.K.
What came first, BMX or art?
The art came first. It was always something I did when I was little. I used to copy toys from Argos catalogs. My brother used to collect comics, so I had loads of weird 70s comics to feast my eyes on.
I’m a pretty short guy, so I didn't get into BMX ’til I was 15. It took me ages to find a frame that didn't feel too long and super heavy, and in the 90s everything was definitely built to last. I'm riding a flatland frame now, and it's perfect!
I really liked watching Joe Tiseo ride as he seemed smaller than average, and I figured I could emulate his stuff.
Do you still ride?
I still ride in between being married, surfing, working, and painting. I love riding street, and there is a lot of it in Bristol. I live right next to a motorway and there are some nice ledges and steps to have a go on. Were I came from in Kent, I would have to cycle three miles to catch a train to Ramsgate to get to any decent spots to ride. I’ve always had a BMX all through my 20s, just the same one; constantly upgrading parts when I could afford them, and it's only now it’s how I want it. I got some new spokes and a rim recently trued to an old hub and the guy was well shocked that I was still running 48s. I’m nowhere near as good as the guys who post up on your site…but it’s not about that in the end.
Is that barspin photo you?
Nah, that's not me…I wish! Basically, that's a guy called Colum Walshe. I saw this BMX ad in Bristol for Crucial BMX, liked the photo, and got in contact asking if I could use the photo as it's got a bit of my work in it. So full props to Andrew Browning for letting me use it. He does loads of photos for BMX, and they are all amazing.
How long have you been a full-time illustrator and artist, and when did you start incorporating BMX into your work?
This is my third year freelance. Before that I was working in bars, but always doing drawings and paintings on the side. I met some illustrator guy when I was at collage and he was saying that you don't start making a living out of it ’til you’re about 37. I realized then that it wasn't going to be easy. But I kept at it and now I’m doing a job where I work from home, have no boss, and get to travel all over. I think in the early 2000s I sent some sketches to Ride Magazine and got some stickers, but I always doodled something to do with skating or BMX.
Besides spray paint, what other kind of mediums do you work in?
Pen and ink, acrylic and water colors, paint pens, and oils. Also, Photoshop and Illustrator.
Have you ever done artwork for BMX companies?
Not yet. 🙂
Where do you draw inspiration from when you paint?
Chatting with friends, people I meet, those moments in time when you don't have a camera…those are good ones. With the majority of my stuff I try to give off a positive vibe.
Before starting a new painting, do you have a sketch of what you want to do, or is everything done freestyle on the spot?
I will have a sketch if I’m doing a piece. I think freestyle is good to a point, but if you want to get elaborate, a theme and a sketch is important. With the Bristol graf scene, it’s all about replacing what your painting over with a better piece than what was there before. A sort of friendly competition, but a right to that space. I always tell the kids to do their drawings and copy stuff they like before they touch a wall. A few people do it the other way around, and you can tell.
I find the graf scene similar to BMX in that it’s done out of passion, some people are lucky to be making a living from it, and even if they don't it's about having fun, meeting new people, and hanging out with friends with the same interests. But wherever they go, it's in them for life.
Check out a time-lapse video of Silent Hobo painting some BMX graffiti…