Some people catch your eyes quicker than others. I can not recall when I first heard about the in Ireland born Finbarr Notte (aka Finbarr DAC). It was probably via the infamous photo community site called Flickr, where almost every self respected urban artist is exhibiting his/her work. I do, however, remember when I first saw the man at work. It was at the Wonderland Collective show at London’s Light Bar earlier this year. I guess I can say that I was more than a bit impressed by his way of working and the final result. So, a good reason to expose Mr Finbarr Notte on CFYE.
Finbarr Notte is originally from Ireland, but has been living in London most of his life. He lived in Ireland only for a short period of time in his teens and his plan was to return back to Ireland after he had left school. His passion and interest for art started at an early age. Notte: ‘My mum tells me I was really lazy as a child and did not want to move around much. So she just gave me some crayons to keep me occupied. The passion started from there I guess.’ It wasn’t until last year June that one of his paintings got exhibited at Brick Lane Gallery’s Free For Wall group show. His creative director, who he worked with at the time, saw one of his pieces and instantly said that he should exhibit it. ‘It was a shock but it spurred me on even more,’ says Notte. ‘The first urban art piece I did was a diptych entitled The beginning and the end. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, but was determined to make it work.’ Did it work? Yes it did, as well over a year later it is no stopping him. And spare time….? ‘There’s no such thing for me. Every day is art related.’
Ever since Notte’s first exhibition he got noticed by not only art lovers, but also fellow enthusiasts. He became from a newcomer to the urban art scene, an extremely respected artist. Notte: ‘For me it had nothing whatsoever to do with becoming part of a scene. I had just reached an extremely unhappy juncture in my life and felt the only way to get myself out of it was to start expressing myself through my painting. The rest was and is just a happy coincidence.’ Urban art seems to becoming more of an acceptance nowadays. You can call it being somewhere at the right time and the right place. ‘It is definitely more mainstream now, but for me that is kind of irrelevant. Being a newcomer, I haven’t known it any other way,’ says Notte. What is important to him is that he want to live positively and his art is his method of choosing to do so. Notte: ‘I would like to add that 99% of the artists I know are exactly the same.’
As Finbarr DAC you will find his work on murals in shops, in gallery’s and with a bit of luck out there on the streets. DAC stands for Dragon Armoury Creative, which was originally the name of his web portfolio. ‘A Chinese friend, that I started the freelance venture with, came up with the name. He returned to China and left me with the trademark.’ The portfolio has always included every aspect of his creativity and he saw therefore no point of separating it from doing the urban art. Notte: ‘I also wanted to use the ‘dragon’ logo as a form of signature.’ DAC is also part of his storytelling girls, the Dactown Girls. Recently he started doing storyboards with them and wants to implement all those ideas when finding the time. Notte: ‘I wanted a mix of Frank Millers ‘Sin City’ with the attitude of ‘Suicide Girls’ in a post-apocalyptic future ala 2000AD. I have a lot of fun with them. Making-up character names, what gang they should be part of, etcetera.’ In another part of his work the centre of attention are rock- and film stars such as: Dave Gahan (Depeche Mode), Kurt Cobain, River Phoenix, Sharon Tate, Marilyn Manson and PJ Harvey. ‘I have an affinity and obsession with dark song lyrics. I also do find that my focus is always towards the troubled souls and those who struggle with fame and fortune.’
For those who are familiar with Notte’s work, will also know him for his collaborations with FarkFK. Not only does he see him as a real friend, but also a big inspiration and a great teacher. ‘My mate T.wat invited me to paint at a Pictures on Walls event last year and we met both Fark and Stickee and just hit it off immediately,’ says Notte. ‘We have very different styles. I think, both being perfectionists, we work together with ease. I can’t imagine doing half the things I have without him.’ Besides collaborating together a lot, they are close with friends such as Dan K, Snik, Snub and Nine-0. ‘Sometimes we invite them to paint with us and other times the situation is reversed. We don’t need to put a name on it to know that we enjoy painting together and enjoy each others company.’ In the past twelve months it can be said that a lot of cool places have been painted by Notte and mainly together with his fellow enthusiasts. His best memories are the Snub organized day at Hellingly Mental Hospital, The Beautiful and the Canned in Brighton, painting the Bridewell Police Station during Bristol’s Upfest and his recent trip back to his hometown of Cork with FarkFK. ‘I mean, we take our painting very seriously, but we also have a great laugh doing it,’ adds Notte.
Last June the loading bay of the Royal Albert Hall was taken over by the man himself and his friends from the Wonderland Collective. In a period of four days the murals were being painted with images by the likes of The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Pavarotti and Jimi Hendrix. Notte: ‘It was organized by a company called the Daydream Network, who had been contacted by the Royal Albert Hall to do something completely different for them.’ Once invited, there was no way for Notte to ever say no. He does, however, admit that it was a daunting prospect. ‘That said, eating, sleeping and painting at the Royal Albert Hall for four days has to be one of the most bizarre things ever. Ben Slow, one of the collaborating artists, has the worst smelling feet,’ says Notte. ‘That it all went smoothly was mainly because of having Snik and DBO on the board.’ As said before, some people catch your eyes quicker than others. Whether he fires, drops or throws paint on canvases. Creates his work as to be considered as ‘painting by numbers’ illustration. He does not shy away from using any type of material, even if it is not ‘street’ to do so. Notte: ‘Whatever fits the bill really, there is no set way of doing it for me.’
Want to see his work? Here are some places to spot them.
- His Dactown storyboard at Streetfest over in Paul Street (London), which is still there.
- Recent re-did at the Gallery 90 frontage in Finsbury Park (London).
- Indoors: Children of Vision on Portabello Road, Shunt nightclub in London Bridge, Ghost nightclub in Farringdon and The Globe in Brighton to name but a few.