Live event artist – painting neon art mural in Bangkok, Thailand
I was hired to paint live at the ‘Phatfunk 3rd Anniversary party,’ the concept & briefing were fairly straightforward; design, install & create a UV reactive, wall sized art piece during the duration of the party, which meant around 4 hours of actual painting time. It depends on your technique however generally speaking 4 hours is not that much time to paint something large scaled, especially when no having the option to use spray paint (fumes in club=bad). UV reactive meaning artwork that reacts by glowing neon when exposed to black light not to be confused with glow in the dark, which also reacts to black lights but doesn’t have as a great a colour range and is much more expensive, UV paint comes in a basic 6 colour range, but one can achieve tones by mixing the colours.
As with all jobs I get painting live art, I went to visit the Glow venue way before the event in order to take closer look at the venue as to figure out a plan of action. It’s always important to make sure you can paint in an area where you are not obstructing any important areas in the club (especially fire escapes). It’s important for me to see the venue in order to figure out how I will be able to setup a canvas on which to live paint during the event night, obviously I need to measure the space to figure out what size of mural I’m going to be painting. Sometimes venues and promoters will provide the surface or canvas for me to paint on, but in many cases I need to provide and source all that myself, this was one of those times.
I talked with club owner and managed to find a great spot on the mezzanine style second floor walkway, I was at a dead end on a balcony, overlooking the bar and dance floor, perfect for viewing the art from both club levels and for not getting in the way of any main walkways for club human traffic areas. It was really the perfect painting spot, secluded yet highly visible, no interruptions from people unless they wanted to come and speak with me, which I always welcome, but to a degree, there’s always a point in the night where I need to knuckle down, concentrate and finish the art piece.
I painted on a specially prepared custom made canvas (2 meters wide x 1.5 meters high) due to the effect I was going for I pre-sprayed some of the canvas with UV glowing neon spray paint colours. The idea was I laid down a faint background image upon which I would accentuate and bring out the main form and shape details of the art piece. Due to the time available for me to paint I needed to work fast and in this case pre-spraying visual guidelines was the best way to go about it. More importantly it didn’t diminish the visual impact for the spectators and I still found it challenging.
The other issue as aforementioned is using spray paint…for the size of the piece using spraypaints would be easy, however using a paintbrush for this kind of size mural makes it a bit tricky, especially when doing complex details and using many UV colours. Also the effects I create using UV spray paint I cannot make using UV reactive paint and brushes and because I cannot spray paint inside the club during the party because of the toxic fumes I do the next best option; prepare the UV spray paint layer at my art studio before bringing to the club.
Once all the measurement and installation issues were taken care of I had to prepare a visual mock up presentation as to what the painting might look like. Often when I paint live at events I create the painting completely freestyle (no plan in mind), other times it will be a 50/50, as in, there will be a rough plan of action but no concrete end point or even colours scheme. In this case I created an art proposal that I would say is around 80% accurate to the final art piece… That is often the case, I usually say to most of my artist clients; ‘the proposal sketch is a rough guide, it shows you the rough colour, layout, size and shape but the actual feeling and finish of the piece will be done in a way to reflect the atmosphere where is it painted, it can’t be helped, it’s how I work as an artist, consider the sketch to be a photograph and my brain to be a filter, perhaps that’s what some people refer to as style, and the main difference I make when distinguishing what is “art” and what is a “photocopy”, I never really understood why some artist choose to do something a printer or camera can do, that is “artisan” not “artistry” IMO.”
Anyway, without being too much of artist about things the proposal I was putting together had to reflect the sentiment and theme of the night. Phatfunk is a long-time established grass roots DNB and bass orientated music party event, held every month in Bangkok, Thailand, since 2010. A jolly lovely and talented bunch they are too! This was to be Phatfunk’s 3rd anniversary party, the event’s theme was set to be ‘Camouflage’ and this became my keyword theme for the art I was going to paint live at the party. A little ironic seeing as UV glow in the dark paint is about as camouflaged as Predator’s blood in a subterranean jungle ruckus with Arnie, but there you go…
So being aware of the dimensions and positioning of the live art piece in the venue I had a good idea what to design for my proposal, all art I paint live is created in a way to complement the venue and the event rather than to distract and detract guests from enjoying the main event. Besides I have a lot of fun listening and raving along while I paint…
The theme and design brief was simple, the art had to include; camoflauge, the phatfunk logo and the number 3…
The idea for the art came to me almost immediately; it just seemed very obvious…Who is nature’s number 1 camouflage expert? The Chameleon (well perhaps it’s the cuttlefish…but I am biased, I really like chameleons and I did own two chameleons at one point). Also the chameleon in cartoon sketch format lends itself to great possibilities…the tongue, the eyes and the tail are all very malleable. I made the tongue stick out to form a 3 (referencing the 3rd anniversary) and finally I decided it would look good perching on top of a huge urban camouflaged Phatfunk logo, urban being the operative word (urban music, urban art). I came up with 3 colour versions for the proposal, after all, 3 is a magic number.
I made the proposal design in Photoshop and used document dimensions that match those of the final art piece which would be painted live in the club. Once the art was approved I went about preparing and sourcing all the UV colour paint I needed for the job and waited for the night of the event.
The event itself was really fun, lots of really great energy. The Phatfunk DJs did an excellent job of providing some top quality beats and basslines, the crowd was receptive and the guest DJ (Sabre of metalheadz fame) did a blinding job of playing prime time set. In Thailand the club music scene isn’t exactly great so it’s really refreshing to be able to hear some quality drum n bass in nice intimate venue in the heart of Bangkok’s urban sprawl (it’s even nicer to be hired to paint at such a party)
Glow has a great feel to it, it’s where you’ll find some of the more honest parties, made for the music and crowd in mind by honest promoters, but that’s just my opinion, I’m not saying it’s the only one of its kind, but it is somewhat of a rare thing in the fine city of Bangkok. I would recommend both the venue and the party for anyone looking for a good night out in Bangkok, especially if you enjoy a bit of dirty and liquid DNB.
Anyway… the video and photos or the UV art mural will surely do a much better job of describing and explaining the concept. For the soundtrack I’m using a cut by Sabre – “100 Teeth” (Dubphizix on the remix) I do not own the soundtrack! I just think it’s really good, I did ask if I could use it as a soundtrack and it is offered as a free download on the Dubphizix website.
Thanks for taking time to check out the work and if you read this far…Hearty congratulations! Here are some links you might find useful
Phatfunk’s official facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/PhatFunkBKK
Glow Nightclub Bangkok FB page: https://www.facebook.com/GlowBkk
Sabre soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/sabre
Dubphizix official website: http://www.dubphizix.com/
Some of the photos in the article were taken by the talented Pavel Khon