Taranaki Arts Trail back for its fourth year

Cameron Shennan first got into graffiti art as a youngster, which was admittedly more vandalism at the time.
ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax NZ

Cameron Shennan first got into graffiti art as a youngster, which was admittedly more vandalism at the time.

The tools are the same, the locations are equally public but there is one huge and deciding difference between graffiti art and vandalism - consent.

The rapidly developing art form can detail rainbows of abstract words, also known as "tagging", or elaborate pictures plastered usually on a wall in public view with spray paint.

Artist Cameron Shennan, or Odjobs as he's better known, is a graffiti artist. This year he is one of 61 creatives from around the region opening their studios to the public for the Taranaki Arts Trail next month.

He churns out about a dozen canvasses a year but is also commissioned for wall art.
ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax NZ

He churns out about a dozen canvasses a year but is also commissioned for wall art.

Shennan first picked up a can when he was a kid living in Bristol, England.

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Admittedly it was more vandalism, he says. 

The name Odjobs was inspired by a villian from an old James Bond movie.
ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax NZ

The name Odjobs was inspired by a villian from an old James Bond movie.

"I was a bit of a toe-rag," the now 41-year-old confesses.

But with age he's come to realise and appreciate the difference between the two. He'll happily spray up a picture but it's always a sanctioned piece.

The New Plymouth resident, who moved to Kiwi land 12 years ago after visiting on a one year visa and deciding Taranaki was too awesome to leave, has contributed many intricate and beautiful designs to the city's walls.

Sometimes Odjobs uses up to 30 cans of paint for a wall mural, which could take him about 12 hours to complete.
ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax NZ

Sometimes Odjobs uses up to 30 cans of paint for a wall mural, which could take him about 12 hours to complete.

He says graffiti's a funny old thing, and mostly misunderstood. He loves what a tag looks like - the twists and turns of the letters. But it's not for everyone, he says.

"I can look at a tag and look at how they did the swirl at the end and how they did this and did that." 

"But I hate tagging on buildings and schools and public property, that's no respect man." 

Graffiti artist Cameron Shennan, aka Odjobs, has been honing his skills for the past eight years.
ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax NZ

Graffiti artist Cameron Shennan, aka Odjobs, has been honing his skills for the past eight years.

Shennan's well-known for his portraiture and has accepted people appreciate this variety of his art more.

"When I started putting the portraits up on social media people loved that stuff, especially when it's all done with a spray can and no brushes touch the canvas."

He's dead against using a paint brush on his work and sometimes he'll use up to 30 spray cans in an array of colours for one mural.

The father-of-two has been seriously practicing the art form for the past eight years. Picking the can back up after a lengthy break he says he "re-found his love of art".

He was watching some artists doing their thing and then was taken under the wing by one of them who showed him some tips and tricks.

"I love it, I've kind of cracked it now," Shennan, who works as a self-employed builder, says.

He produces a dozen or so canvases a year but says the wall murals take him fewer hours.

"The bigger the better," he reckons.

Doing everything freehand, he maps the picture out on the wall and he will usually have it completed over the course of two evenings.

"I'm dead against projectors, man, I just think it's a cheat, man, ya know anyone can get a projector out and chuck it on the wall and paint by numbers."

It's the second year Shennan, whose alias Odjobs was inspired by a baddie from an old James Bond movie, will show his work on the trail.

After having about 800 people view his art last year he's keen to be involved again.

He's been invited to exhibit his work at Artistic Expressions on Gover St where he will also set up a wall for people to graffiti.

"Everyone wants to have a go on the cans, ya know."

In addition to the artists opening their spaces there are 15 places of interest for art-lovers to check out on the trail, which takes place on June 10 and 11.

Organiser Emma Crofskey says response to the event, now in its fourth year, had been huge and there were many groups coming from outside of the region.

The trail was now quite established and Crofskey says the calibre of artwork going on display was "eye-opening".

"There's lots of emerging artists as well as established artists and world-renowned painters and sculptors," she said.

"It's going to be a real mix."

For more information on the trail head to www.taranakiartstrail.co.nz

 - Stuff

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