There is no monkeying around when Wellington-based Ash Sisson a.k.a Chimp has an aerosol can in-hand. Considering that he is only 18-years-old, the graffiti artist has already amassed a large back-catalogue of work, on top of which, he has two exhibitions under his belt and a stream of commissions to his name. “I’m never too busy,” he says, confessing that he finds it hard to sit still.
He is also adamant that he is not one to turn commissions away— and no matter the brief—he seizes any opportunity to continue his growth as an artist: “I want to make art for everyone to see, whether they like it or not.” For Ash, this brazen statement comes from a place of pure dedication to his art form and an enduring commitment to doing what he loves, because why make art if no-one can see it?
Friendly, imaginative and driven, Ash possesses a disarming dedication and confidence that is simultaneously admirable, enviable and difficult to fathom for someone so young.
In his first year of study at Design School (which he refers to as his back up plan), when he’s not studying you’re likely to find him either sketching out an idea for his next piece, or honing his style out of his family’s garage-cum-studio. His parents are supportive of his creative endeavors, and so too, when he started a business at the tender age of fourteen: painting and making long boards. Did he consider himself an entrepreneur? Only in hindsight.
“When I’m Chimp, I feel like I can take over and conquer the whole world.”
Pulling out a longboard which features a Chimp original Koi fish, he says that much of his early work was inspired by a love of Japanese Anime—a genre that he still enjoys, but one that doesn’t necessarily play a factor in influencing his style, today. Colour takes centre stage in his work and he has a penchant for unexpected combinations, reinforcing that he is grateful to have myriad options at his disposal. When he set out on the graffiti path he would savour his box of 12 colours, making each can last to the very final spray.
Bright, graphic native birds and wildlife feature heavily in his work, hence, the reason why he has also been granted the title of Artist in Residence at the Wellington Zoo. It is an opportunity that excites him, and thus far, he has completed two works, with more to come.
Talented, focused and with business nous to boot, Ash is insistent on continuing to extend himself and his practice, developing his style through private and public commissions—and naturally—he has his sights set on sharing his work across international waters.
“Chimp has no limitations…when I’m Chimp, I feel like I can take over and conquer the whole world.”
To find out more about Chimp, head to his website: http://www.chimpartist.co.nz/
Images 1. New Plymouth graffiti festival Get Up, photographer Alex Barber, 2/ 3. Concrete Bar, photographer Sam Gorham