A can-do attitude and a love of skating is propelling a young Wellington artist to early success.
Graffiti artist Ash Sisson, 18, is taking part in his first exhibition at Matchbox this month as part of the gallery's street art show.
An avid skateboarder, the Hutt Valley High School student discovered his talent for graffiti art after making and spray painting his own skateboards.
Sisson began making skateboards when he was 13 and by 2011 he was selling up to 30 a year.
He says decorating the boards meant he was always practising with a spray can, and painting soon became his priority.
"I pretty much [spray painted] every day for a year until I was good. I hadn't drawn for ages and I started doing that, and now I do it everyday."
He has since been commissioned to complete several large murals around town, including one for Punch coffee bar and several at youth centres around Wellington. His smaller pieces are also popular, with three sold on the opening night of the street art exhibition.
The speed of spray painting is part of what makes it exciting, Sisson says. "I never really got into painting with a paint brush - it's really tedious. [Spray painting] is really fast, you can create or destroy a piece within seconds."
A large piece, such as the Vibe youth centre mural, takes him about five hours to complete.
Some people find word-based pieces alienating, so Sisson, who paints under the name "Chimp", opted to paint animals. "Animals portray emotions really well and their eyes have a lot of emotion, if you do it right."
Graffiti art seemed to be increasingly popular. "It's definitely a trend at the moment . . . hopefully it sticks around."
Sisson plans to study design at Massey University next year, but his ultimate dream is to travel around the world creating murals.
The street art exhibition runs until August 31 at Matchbox in Cuba St. More information about Sisson's work can be found on his "Chimp" Facebook page.
- The Dominion Post