Who is the real Milton Springsteen?

19:57, Mar 16 2014
Milton Springsteen Fries With That
SOLD OUT: Limited edition prints of Milton Springsteen's Fries With That have been hugely popular at Christchurch's RISE exhibition.

Milton Springsteen is the breakout star of the RISE street art festival, but the artist's true identity is a closely guarded secret.

Milton Springsteen's mashups of classic New Zealand paintings with modern imagery have been a hit at the RISE street art show.

The artist, whose Corrupt Kiwi Classics have their own section at the Canterbury Museum exhibition, has created a buzz in Christchurch and his prints have sold out at the museum gift store.

But any details about the artist behind the Milton Springsteen alter ego are hard to find.

The Press made a request through RISE director George Shaw to meet the artist in person for an interview, promising to keep his true identity a secret. But this was declined.

A request for a phone interview was also declined, as was a request for a live chat on email.


The artist would only agree to a list of emailed questions that would be answered in writing.

The emailed responses were amusing, but utterly unrevealing. But if you scrolled down, the name of the person who wrote the answers and their email address was still attached.

So, now I know the true identity of Milton Springsteen, but I'm not telling.

An alter ego is always much more interesting, curious and romantic than the boring truth. When the Daily Mail revealed the true identity of graffiti artist Banksy, there was a huge backlash - it felt like a fun and romantic illusion had been needlessly shattered.

It spoils the fun if you reveal that Zorro is really a plumber from Taupo, (which isn't a clue, by the way).

And there are often good reasons for an alter ego. Street artists commonly use alter egos because their work often breaks the law.

And, ultimately, the artwork is always more interesting than the artist.

So don't worry, Milton Springsteen, your secret is safe, wherever you are . . .

Q: When did you start creating the Corrupted Kiwi Classics?


Q: Where did the idea come from?

A: Ask Peter Kennard, he started it!

Q: How did you choose the classics you wanted to corrupt?

A: A big art book, a blindfold and sharp pin.

Q: How do you choose the modern elements to mix with the classics?

A: They are the things that keep me awake at night.

Q: How are the paintings created?

A: Fuelled by vinyl-driven anthems and the odd curse.

Q: When did you first start creating art?

A: When I was 2, I drew all over my mum's flock wallpaper with Crayola crayons - she wasn't happy, my career was over before it began.

Q: Do you have any formal art training?

I spent a week working with an anti-graffiti team in the UK.

Q: Which artists inspire you?

A: Just the bad ones.

Q: Do you have a background in street art?

A: There is always a background to my street art.

Q: How do people react to your work?

A: The silence has been deafening.

Q: Why do you use an alias, rather than your real name?

A: I prefer anonymity and respectful mimicry to tiresome public gimmickry.

Q: Can you tell me anything about your true identity?

A: I don't stumble in the dark so much since I stopped wearing sunglasses.

Q: Milton Springsteen is the name of a fictional new town in an Alexei Sayle comedy album. Is that where you got the name?

A: No, I once heard it in a song and it sounded like me.

Q: Do you go to the Oi You shows to see your work on display?

A: No, I go to see the work by the other artists involved, I see enough of my own stuff.

Q: What is the most interesting thing about having an alter ego?

A: It's a bit like having a smartphone but being somewhere without any signal.

Q: Do you have to keep your art studio secret?

A: Shhhhhhhhhhh!

Q: How many people know you are really Milton?

A: 923 or 842 I can't quite remember.

Q: Do you have a day job?

A: I write the poetry that people put inside greetings cards, probably.

Q: What do you think of your work's great success at the Christchurch show?

A: It's amazing and very humbling. Thank you, Christchurch.

Q: Why do you think your work has inspired such a strong, positive reaction?

A: Maybe people identify with the sentiment of the work and hopefully it makes them smile a little, too.

The Press