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Q+A with Lloyd Roberts AKA Lloyd the Graffiti

I recently had a chat with my friend and all round top geezer Lloyd Roberts. Lloyd is a super-creative, talented, family man who is also one of the most genuine, nice blokes you could ever meet.

I first met Lloyd several years ago through a mutual friend when we both lived in Cardiff, with many mutual friends in the music, art and surfing scenes we kept in touch and when I'm down in Pembrokeshire we will often meet up for a surf and bit of banter.

Lloyd is a full time graffiti artist who travels around the country painting walls, buildings and everything in between. He works closely with councils, schools and youth projects, teaching children and young people graffiti and art as well as having a side project recreating the beautiful beaches and landscapes of Pembrokeshire into paintings using spraypaints. Lloyd's a super interesting guy so I had to grab him for a few questions.

Lloyd the Graffiti

How did you get into Graffiti art Lloyd?

When I was around 10 years old, a mate of mine Danny his stepdad had two books "Subway Art" and "Spraycan Art". The former focused on the early days of the New York train scene and the latter on how graff had spread across to Europe. We used to spend our time copying out the designs and trying to come up with our own. Then once in our teens we decided to have a go with some paint. We didn't have the pocket money to cover the cost of the paint but had a mate who was a prolific shoplifter so soon had all the paint we needed. Once that had run out I didn't pick up a can until I moved out of Pembrokeshire to go and study geology in Plymouth.

Plymouth had a small, but good graffiti scene. I soon bumped into a few of the locals, some had been painting years and some just starting up. It was at this point I started painting properly.

Flower Power.

Lloyd on the tools.

When we first met we both lived in Cardiff. The graff scene in Cardiff is quite small and super tight with some incredible artists, you being one of them. Growing up in Pembrokeshire, how did you end up in the Cardiff?

I moved up from Plymouth to Cardiff in 2004. I was dating my partner, Abby, who lived in Cardiff at the time. I'd already started meeting up with some of the Cardiff writers on my frequent trips up from Plymouth.Oner signs(Cardiff's legendary Graffiti / Sign / Print shop) has got to be one of the UK's oldest graff shops, was and still is a good place to hang out and meet other graff writers.

As a full time Graf artist, you travel all over the country painting. What sort of projects are you involved in?

Ha! Anything and everything!!. I'm really lucky to get away with doing graffiti as a full time job. It takes me all over Wales, meeting a wide variety of interesting people. I seem to be working alot with primary schools painting outside spaces, classrooms, corridors and pretty much any space they have available. This usually involves workshop sessions so the pupils can get involved, which is always very popular!. I've just come back from a long weekend in Bridgend working at the Roots Festival. I've known the organisers for aaaaages, back from when I had a "proper job" over a decade ago. I ran some workshop sessions for the kids to get involved and did some live painting too.

This weekend I'll be down at Freshwater West for the "Festival of the Sea" again running some more workshop sessions. Over the past couple of months Ceridigion Council have provided me with some massive walls to decorate including Aberystwyth promenade and a 180 x 8ft wall in Cardigan town centre. I also do lots of work in bars, restaurants, nightclubs, businesses, peoples houses, bedrooms, gardens, wherever will have me!

An awesome nursery scene.

As well as the traditional graffiti on walls, you have been using spray paints to recreate photos of beaches and landscapes around Wales. Can you tell me more about these paintings?

For ages I'd been trying to develop work on a smaller scale, but found it to be a real struggle. My old art teacher got in touch as they were doing a fund raiser for the department to get some new equipment for the kids. They were getting loads of artists to submit a postcard (6x4") size piece that would then would all be out for sale at £5. They had loads of different artists involved as well as the students submitting pieces. All of the work was annonymous so you didn't know whose work you were buying until after you purchased it. So I thought about what I could do and it wasn't actually a landscape. One was a puffin and the other a daffodil, but the process used to create them where I had to to mask off certain areas got me thinking about doing a landscape. I like to spend my spare time either paining or surfing so my immediate thought was to have a go at doing one of Newgale. It's only a few miles from my house and a view I see on a daily basis so I can pretty much draw it from memory. I did that and was happy with the results so began painting a variety of the amazing beaches Pembrokeshire has to offer, with a focus on the ones that have the best surf. I've been at it a couple of years now and would like to think that my style has developed over that time.

I'm always busy taking new reference photos and particularly enjoy sunsets to work from. I've recently started stocking my work in some of the local surf shops, galleries and cafes. It's more of a sideline to my bigger jobs at the moment but something I'm spending every spare minute devloping. Since last year the majority of the original pieces have been sold throughMoosey Artwhich is a graffiti / street art gallery based in England.

Aberieddy, Pembrokeshire. Original photo by some guy called 'The Freesoul Project'. Never heard of him?...
Sunset at Rest Bay, Porthcawl.

Lloyd charging a hefty one somewhere in Pembrokeshire.

Art and Music are often synonymous with surfing. Do you find that surfing inspires you in an artistic sense, I remember us talking about you experimenting with some weird and wonderful boards a few years back or is it just nice to get out in the water and switch off from that?

Ha! Nope, I think surfing definitely helps me understand the energy of a place, if that makes sense? When I'm doing a painting of a beach I love I'm not just trying to recreate a likeness of the place, I'm also trying to capture the way it makes you feel... like when I've been working up the line for several days, but return to that view of Newgale I can feel myself unwind immediately. So I try to get that into my paintings.

Also, when I'm surfing I'm often cursing because I don't have my camera with me, especially on the sundown surf when the light in the sky can create the most amazing colours as well as the textures on the water. I'm often working out how I can recreate what I see when I'm waiting for a set and what methods I can use to try and recreate cloud formations and what colours they'd be on my spraypaint colour chart! Instagram is also a really useful tool, if I've passed the beach a little to late / early for the sunset I know there's a good chance someone else has caught it and posted it up there. If I see one I like I'll offer to trade a print in exchange for using their photo as a reference.

Lastly, there's a saying: 'Find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life'. You are super - talented, successful and great at what you do but the creative world can be very hard to succeed in, what is your advice to aspiring artists or creatives?

Do stuff! Whatever it is you're into keep at it. Don't wait around only doing it something if you're going to get paid for it. It's so hard to get a break, when I moved back to Pembrokeshire 5 years ago there were a fair amount of boarded up shops in the local town, so I took it upon myself to paint as many of them as I could. I did it for fun, but it was the best bit of marketing I could of done and picked up a load of local work off the back of it.

When I started doing the landscapes I decided to organise and promote my own exhibition. I sold a load of pieces and subsequently oragnised other group exhibitions. Don't get me wrong though, I know there's the old complaint about constantly being asked to do things for free in exchange for "exposure" that's a whole different kettle of fish, but at the same time don't wait around only doing things if there's money to be made. Take a risk, but don't devalue what you do. I think that makes sense?!. I always remember reading an interview with a friend of mine Matt Sewell did and the bit that stuck with me was about being a bit cheeky and taking a risk, it's true the worst you can be told is no. If there's someone you'd like to work with, drop them a message...if there's someone who inspires you try getting in touch with them. You may hear nothing back but without taking a risk you will never know.

Say it again...

This could be your house...
Puffin power..

Lloyd, thanks for speaking to me and it's great to see someone doing a job that they love as well as spreading good vibes and making the world a much prettier place. If you would like Lloyd to work his magic on your walls, buildings or anything that can be spray painted get in touch using the links below.

Facebook - Lloyd Roberts

Instagram - Lloyd The Graffiti

Instagram - Skot

The Freesoul Project 2019 - Made in Wales