William Grob


William Grob is a prolific multi-disciplinary artist with a punk rock DIY approach to technique, spanning fine art photography, to graffiti, comic illustration and some serious world wide sticker bombing! He combines these different approaches into a unique style, and utilises it to a critical reflection on modern society.

He’s spent the last few years vagabonding around London, Bristol, New York and spending great deals of time hiding where no one could find him, deep in ‘The West Country’ - The English Countryside.

We caught up with him to hear about his recent mask series, and to find out what's in store next.

Lodown: Your Recent work seems to be focused around masks, masks we wear in our daily life, uncovering the mask of society, our behaviour. What got you interested in this topic and what are you exploring through this work?

Society should be something we always question, masks hide an identity so the use of masks within my work gives my characters the ability to respond honestly, to say their true words knowing no judgment will come their way. They are not hindered to respond as society expects them too.   

The series is about the social issue, to generalise modern life as fickle and superficial is no longer an outrageous statement, the Orwellian society is no more a fictional idea, it has become entangled with the society as we see it today. Suits walking like robots, quiet and predictable, out of fear of the watchful eyes.

‘Make money, fuck, eat, repeat’

Lodown: You do everything from fashion photography to creeping around cities at 4am spraying the walls with colour. Why do you choose to work in so many different mediums?

I think its important to test and play with as many mediums as possible, they all have a different flow, a different canvas and each ones a different type of fun. Different approaches mean you can reach other audiences and I’m always looking for better ways to communicate.

Lodown: You have an aesthetic style reminiscent of Basquiat and Picasso, and an intellectual curiosity that seems to question the world a lot. Could you share any strong influences you’ve had, and what effect they’ve had on you?

I think the similarity would be the immediacy of how I work, I feel that I have to work fast other wise I give chance to corrupt the original idea. I have a huge soft spot for Basquiat and Picasso because their work seems so instinctive, its art for arts sake with all the meaning in the world or no meaning at all really depending on how the viewer reads it.

With this series the greatest inspiration was leaving the shire and living in New York City. Commenting on the social issues as an outsider became even more apparent. The grit of the city brought out a more cynically, bleak side of myself which I try to transfer to the photograph and project onto the people within it, to show their true intentions or their honest responses.

Lodown: Theres recurrent themes of social media in your Mask series, but we see many artists embracing social media, such as yourself and Ai Wei Wei, do you feel social media is a bad thing?

I guess it’s a love hate relationship, every hashtag I type feels like I’m one step closer to death. There is an element of conforming with social media which pulls my distaste, but then again when you live in the middle of nowhere social media can be the only thing that keeps you in contact with current issues. I think the root of it all is that in a very short time we’ve developed a dependency to it, and as an artist you have to stay up-to-date with technology without losing ones touch. 

Lodown: Through your lens your a constant observer of life, but through painting you create scenes, and you use painting to satire the situations you observe. Do you feel each can do something the other cant, and why do you feel the need to combine them?

I think they complement each other, with photography we used to believe that the image we saw was honest but this is when manipulation was difficult and within a darkroom, but since the digital revolution we are constantly losing the physicality and honesty of an image. We’re lured into thinking that a photograph of a pretty girl is real but it’s pure lies, carved and chopped to create the ‘ideal’, not the honest. I’m just trying to create a more honest photography that doesn’t try and hide the manipulation.

So what we perceive is not what we necessarily see when we live in a world which holds no truths and no answers. By synthesising painting with my photographs I project a visualisation that captures both the instant, and the immortal.  The real and the surreal.

Lodown: Outside of your Masks series whats your favourite subject to work on?

I loving painting landscapes and still life’s, which I’ve been pretty slack with for a while but that’s where I really find my zen.

Lodown: Do you have any up and coming shows we can catch you at, or exciting projects that you want to spill the beans on ?

I’ve been working in series, first the Masks Series which began in NY and currently I’m working on Nude Series which is based around found vintage Polaroid images. I am excited to be producing the first series as a book, which will be available as a limited edition.

I’ve also been asked to show at D+H Contemporary’s exhibition in LA and I’m in talks with Atlas Gallery about showing my work.

We're seriously excited to see his future works, follow him on instagram to keep up to date with his daily creations.