An Interview with Anthony Lister
By: Zuzu Perkal
We caught wind that street artist, Anthony Lister was spending some time in Austin, so we did what we always do. We reached out. We invited him to the SprATX shop to shoot the shit and ended up doing a mini interview and in the process learned some pretty rad things about the artist and life itself.
When he rolled up to SprATX adorned in all black, unruly bleach-blonde hair, and sunglasses that made me feel like I had suddenly time-travelled into the future, I knew we were going to get along just fine and our conversation was going to be an interesting one.
We introduced him to our team and a few of the artists in the collective and started the conversation. It was like butter. When asked to explain who he was, he responded, “Well, as you know, I’m the Easter bunny, so I spend a lot of time on the road, lot of eggs, delivering, hopping around. Need to keep my ears clean, ya know?” He later told us, ” I’m Anthony Lister, an adventure painter from Australia.” — We liked both responses.
Not only can you enjoy viewing his artwork on walls and galleries around the world, you can now wear his art in the new Lister x Volcom apparel line. The limited edition line, “explores the themes of money and corruption as it relates to the modern cyber-state” –Volcom.
His style, in his own words, is like, “A wet piece of wood that has deteriorated and become every soft, and has then been smacked across a kung-fu master, and then he kind of…squints, a little bit…you know? It’s not like you’re just beating up someone–there’s some softness to it.”
Every question asked was countered with a thought-provoking response.
We were curious to how he first discovered he was an artist and why he spends his life creating. First clarifying that he is an adventure painter and the word artist isn’t one of his favorites because it contains judgement, he went on to say, “I’ve always been really into inventions, so I guess art is the closest way I could be any kind of proper engineer, and that’s exciting for me. I like to fiddle with new things, to move things around, and solve problems. From a very early age I was building things, drawing them and imagining them to be real.
Sure. I would say, that from the earliest point on, I only wanted to make things about what I wanted to talk about. I have a lot of questions, and I’m not necessarily sure I’ll ever find the answers.”
He then openly expressed his disinterest in judgement systems and amusement in creating work that reveals the parallels and the differences in real life situations and issues. For example, “between, say, a stripper and a ballerina. A ballerina is kind of like a stripper who doesn’t take her clothes off.” When asked about the ballerina/stripper he painted on an East Austin wall he said that it “started out to be a disaster, as many good ideas begin, you know, not so great. So I switched it around to be beautiful enough to say, ‘okay, that’s it, I’m finished for now.'” It’s title; ‘Slanted Building Double Edged Sword Meets Ballerina’.
In a closing, we were told, “There’s far too much cleaning and not enough making going on. And, you know, it’s all propaganda. It’s always easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. And [do] not to get too excited because it stems from there being some sort of expectation involved, and that can lead to disappointment. Just get ready. It’s not until we lose everything that we realize what we had. The first steps of being a painter are the steps of difficult pleasure. Best advice? Just keep making stuff and say yes a lot and
As Barry Mcgee told me in 2004, “Keep it illegal.”
There’s a lot one can learn from Lister. We’re grateful to have spent some time delving into the brain of such a talented, versatile, funky-ass gentleman.
You can find Lister in Mexico City next week for another exhibit and then LA, NYC and finally back home to Sydney, Australia. Check out more of his work here.