We recently decided to open our WontoWatch series to not only musicians, but to all artists of all kinds. But what is ‘art’? Our first non-musician WontoWatch feature is a painter, amongst other things, named Tim Hunter A.K.A. Suprfiscal (pronounced Superficial). He is based in Toronto and is on the rise as one of the more talented and intricate artists in the city.
Speaking with Suprfiscal was like looking at his artwork – beautifully complex. His mind seems to be always be racing. Thoughts changing by the second, grabbing ideas and concepts from every word he hears and making it into something more. “I feel art is just this human thing of channeling your ability, and people channel it in different ways.” Suprfiscal channels his abilities through creating. Creating paintings, graphics, sculptures, and bucket hats. I thoroughly enjoyed my conversation with such an interesting mind, and it only confirmed the need for us to explore the realm of artistry outside of music. With that said, music will always be the backbone of AllWon, and thankfully Suprfiscal is a fan of sounds, not only visuals. We spoke about his love for music, the meaning behind some of his pieces, the importance of taking risks, and more. Read the full interview below.
AllWon: For those that aren’t familiar with you and your work, what do you do?
Suprfiscal: A look at contemporary society. Its really kind of like an invitation to my perspective on the world.
AllWon: And in terms of your craft – we want to spotlight what type of artist you are…
Suprfiscal: Sometimes I paint, but I’m also interested in different realms of visual art. …I don’t really box myself in, like ‘I’m a painter’ or ‘I’m an illustrator’, even now I’m working on some sculptures. I do clothes too. So my idea is using the art as visual language. Appealing to that visual sense of people and using that to communicate messages – maybe even deconstruct and reconstruct messages through visuals.
AllWon: Why Suprfiscal?
Suprfiscal: It’s something I’ve always thought about. How visual arts, say painting for example, it’s a visual medium first and foremost, and basically it’s like how do we interpret things through visuals… acknowledging the superficiality of just life in general.
And its breaking down the context. Like, usually superficial is understood in a negative context, like someone who just looks at things on looks alone, but it’s also just a really natural part of being a human, seeing things and interpreting things by vision.
AllWon: When did you realize you had such artistic talent?
Suprfiscal: I’ve always drawn, I was into like Dragon Ball Z and stuff as a kid, from around 9 years old. So I’ve been doing it since then, but really the key point that I started calling myself an artist was when I turned 20, so like 4 years ago. To be honest, it was just that moment when I became consumed and had this mission with making a consistent body of work. And it was just a meditation thing, to get through the things going on in life.
AllWon: Your paintings all have a similar aesthetic to them. And the people in many of them seem to have similar facial structures. Where did this ‘look’ come from?
Suprfiscal: That developed over time. It’s funny you ask, we were in the park today talking about it. Looking at some of the Yoruba African masks, and I realized that that facial structure, like the bridge of eyebrows to the nose is one motion, and that’s how I start all the faces. I use orange as a primary colour, that’s my main colour, and the characters skin might be orange, I don’t use skin tone naturally found in nature, but I’ll use these similar face structures and so it’s like an exploration of race, and what defines race outside of you know, the colour thing. That’s where it kinda conflicts with the superficial thing, because its like when you see somebody you can tell what they are by skin colour, but how else can you tell? Maybe bone structure.. facial features and stuff.. So yeah, those features [I use] come from African masks. And it took time too – finding the colour was really the most important thing for me, finding that orange, that warm energy.
AllWon: What is art to you?
Suprfiscal: Art is really flexible to me. I think anything can be art as long as there’s like, a meditative aspect to it. Even a banker might find what he does as art… I guess anything with a unique technique and something that’s studied. I’m really familiar with what I think is art, because some people might think what I do at time’s isn’t art… [Laughs]
AllWon: And why do you say that?
Suprfiscal: For example street art, say I’m working on a wall, even though I have permission some people may not know that and think I’m just vandalizing something, they don’t think it’s art. I grew up skateboarding as a kid, I still do, and it’s like people just think you’re out there causing trouble or whatever, but there’s an aesthetic to skateboarding. I realized that all these things that people do are more similar than different. I see painting and like, Usain Bolt running as the same thing – there’s an art in everything.
AllWon: And that’s exactly why we opened up the WontoWatch series to not only musicians, but all types of artists. Exactly like you just said, whether you’re doing graffiti, painting, running the 100m, or singing a song – art comes in all these different ways and we wanted to spotlight all of those.
Suprfiscal: Exactly. I feel art is just this human thing of channeling your ability, and people channel it in different ways. Yeah, I think art is just a way of channeling your human ability, your abstract ability…
AllWon: So it definitely sounds like you’re a fan of art as well as a participant.
Suprfiscal: For sure, I’m always looking at art, its excessive [Laughs]
AllWon: Do you have any favourite artists?
Suprfiscal: I don’t want to get her name wrong [Laughs], but it’s Wangechi Mutu. She’s New York based but from Kenya. She’s had some beautiful collages, like if theres any artists I’d recommend for someone to look at it’d be Mutu for sure. I’m a fan of collages too, sampling from all these different places to create one image, it’s a cool thing to look at.
AllWon: I want to get into your art. You have a couple pieces, one called We Make The News They Make The News, and This Is Why I Can’t Sleep. They’re very similar, but they are also the two of the more out-there pieces and have a bit of different vibe than the rest. Can you talk on those deeper?
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Suprfiscal: Those are my collage pieces, they’re part of an ongoing series, it’s like trying to capture almost the chaos of life. I Can’t Sleep is a reference to adolescence, and the things that would keep me up through my adolescence up till now, my early adulthood. You know, things that are being worried about or obsessed about. There’s a lot of small things that hint to that [within the collage]. It’s really an overall body of work with those collages, it’s just trying to capture the chaos. They’re different from the paintings forsure when you look at it, but also conceptually [because] it’s a collage, so it’s a collage of thoughts – different imagery, different spaces, and like, really trying to capture the chaos of the world. There’s a lot going on, I know you can feel it when looking at it.
AllWon: Yeah you can definitely feel it, and definitely a lot going on [Laughs], which is why I wanted to single them out. I want to talk about one more piece, “Mr. Me Too”. Tell us about that one.
Suprfiscal: Well, it’s like a reference to the Clipse song…
AllWon: [Laughs] that was the second part to my queston…
Suprfiscal: [Laughs] Yeah, one thing is like music, especially rap music, for me is a big influence in all my work. That one definitely. I was listening to [Mr. Me Too] a lot during that period last year. And also it’s an Obama type character, and I was watching him in an interview on 60 Minutes or something, he was just stating America’s place in the world.. and it was basically a combination of listening to that song a lot and hearing Obama speak a lot that year and just putting the two together.
Some of [my] pieces, they’re definitely meant to ask the viewer to create [their own] story to it. And for me, its just a way to like synthesize two worlds. Like rap music and politics into one piece, you know? Bridging that gap.
AllWon: Nice. And you do a great job at leaving your work up for interpretation with the abstract vibe you have.
So I was going to ask if you’re a fan of music, but that Clipse reference kinda answered that.
Suprfiscal: [Laughs] Yeah for sure I’m a [music] fan.
AllWon: What type of music? Who would I find on your iTunes?
Suprfiscal: I’ve been listening to Vince Staples a lot, LA kid. I was in Mexico in April and I didn’t have any music on my phone at all and my friend uploaded a bunch of stuff for me to keep busy on the plane… There’s stuff I’ve never even listened to before, he put like Radiohead on, In Rainbows, musically I’ve been really into that, like ambient kinds of music. Oh, and theres another rapper from Chicago his name is God, I’ve been listening to him a lot.
AllWon: Vince Staples is definitely a favourite of mine right now too. That new album [Summertime ‘06] is crazy. And it’s great as an artist that you’re able to diversify and listen to that as well as things like Radiohead…
Suprfiscal: Yeah and that album cover [In Rainbows], the colours hit me too. Sometimes I judge a book by it’s cover type of thing.
AllWon: Do you listen to music when you’re creating?
Suprfiscal: Yeah yeah for sure. Sometimes I won’t even know what I’m listening too, I’ll just look up something random. Like I’ll need some energy and just YouTube search [Laughs].
AllWon: I want to get into the clothing. I noticed the bucket hat you have for sale on your site, it’s really tight. Is clothing something you want to branch into more?
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Suprfiscal: Oh hell yeah. I’ve made t-shirts in the past and stuff, but these reversible hats are definitely the furthest I’ve gone. It’s more dynamic, like you have an inside print and the other side to it. Right now I’m working on some 3D stuff, like mannequins and sculptures. What I wanna do is develop some sort of like, costume clothing thing. Clothes [are] definitely my next venue, I’m sitting on a bunch of fabric right now.
AllWon: That’s cool, man. I think, we’ve been touching on it, but the ability to diversify yourself as an artist is so important – especially in this digital age we live in. For example, inline with the Radiohead cover you mentioned, musicians making sure their artwork is on point and making sure you have good graphics to back up the music, I think that’s never been as important as it is right now.
Suprfiscal: Especially with all the resources and stuff. Like see, what I’ve realized, with the clothes and everything else, it’s just all turned out exactly the way I wanted it. And so like, the idea of all of this is just that realization that anything you’ve conceived in your head can manifest in a real world sense at any point. You know, just taking advantage of your ability to do that. Sometimes I’d be like ‘Oh clothes, I dunno if I can do that’ and sculptures, even the paintings, I didn’t know I’d be at this point, you know?. And then I look around and that’s exactly what’s going on.
AllWon: It’s all about taking those risks and trying different things, and you’ll never know if you don’t give it that attempt.
AllWon: A couple more things here just to wrap up. Where can people see or purchase your art?
Suprfiscal: My website for sure, www.suprfiscal.com. My instagram @suprfiscal. Also, August 20th, 416 Gallery run by Jimmy Chiale, we’re gonna do a show, him myself and Philip Saunders we’re gonna have a shared exhibition there. It’s gonna be pretty crazy, so we’re working that out right now. August 20th is the temporary date now, but end of August for sure.
The pieces will also be available at Community 54 and at Brimz on Queen West.
AllWon: That’s great man. We look forward to all of that.
AllWon: Last question, why is Tim Hunter, AKA Suprfiscal WontoWatch?
Suprfiscal: Basically, because I have to be apart of the movement – to help bridge those gaps and help bring all the worlds together.
//words and interview by david leigh. follow on twitter @bigleighchew.