Interview: ROID and INSA Discuss Their "Paradise" Street Art GIF From POW! WOW! Hawaii 2014


Last week, longtime friends and collaborators ROID and INSA came together at POW! WOW! Hawaii 2014, the annual street art festival in Honolulu. The two planned out a very precisely executed GIF-iti piece on a widely-seen wall in the retail district of Kakaako. While conducting our video recap with WEREHAUS, we spoke to both ROID and INSA about the process of making the GIF, how long they've known each other, and what "paradise" means to them.

It's funny that we are painting out in Hawaii, because we live very close-by each other in South London.

What are you two doing here in Hawaii working together?

ROID: We are in Hawaii at POW! WOW! Hawaii 2014, and we are doing an animation. It’s basically a four-frame animation GIF. We are changing various elements inside the piece each day. 

INSA: It's funny that we are painting out in Hawaii, because we live very close-by each other in South London, which feels a million miles away right now. It's like the opposite place, but it's part of the inspiration for our painting. It’s our perspective from South London and what paradise might be based on actually coming to paradise and experiencing it.

How did you guys decide to do a GIF for your collaborative piece? 

INSA: The GIF idea is something I came up with a couple years ago. I was playing with the idea of what people see, how they see art, where they see it in real life, and where they see it online. I know a million more people are going to see it on the Internet, not here in real life. It’s a way to make the best of your platform rather than the way that people see it by default because they look at the Internet. I wanted to make the Internet the actual, ultimate viewing platform for the final piece of work.

ROID: It's a nice balance of trying to create something that works really well online and leaving something that is going to physically last, too. The piece is going to be here for a year or maybe longer.

INSA: I’m a huge fan of ROID’s style—I think he has one of the best styles going—so to work with him is exciting. It's great doing the GIFs. When I came up with it, it was a great way to collaborate with lots of different people because I got kind of into my own shit. I'm a big fan of ROID even though he does live around the corner from me. 

ROID: Likewise. We’ve known each other for about 15 years. We started painting illegally together years and years ago. If we were back doing what we were doing 15 years ago, I don’t think I ever would’ve imagined that we’d be in Hawaii together painting an animation on a wall on this main street.

We have to get it done in time. We have a time limit. We have to paint before the sun goes down.

How have you both grown and developed from painting illegally in the street 15 years ago?

INSA: Again, South London feels a million miles away. That time feels a million miles away, but then again, it's not. It’s the same thing. We’re painting quickly. I think it was all training for this right now, because none of this would’ve happened without what happened in the beginning. The fact that we’re doing the frames means we have to paint super quick; we have a 5 p.m. cutoff everyday because we’re photographing for the GIF.

ROID:  It’s kind of like we’re painting illegally all over again.

INSA: We have to get it done in time. We have a time limit. We have to paint before the sun goes down, because we’re trying to shoot at the same point everyday so that the shadows are the same and the sun is the same. It's kind of fun having that training—the discipline.

ROID: In terms of where we come from since we first started painting, we both went quite different routes I think. INSA basically got fed up with the graff quite early and moved on to do different stuff.

INSA: ROID is still very heavily in the graff world, and even though I stepped out of graffiti a bit, I still watch it and love it; it was my upbringing. I still consider myself a writer even though I removed myself from it. I think it's quite interesting that maybe we did take different paths, but we are at a similar crossroad at the moment.

How does being in Hawaii specifically influence this piece?

INSA: The piece is directly referencing a vision of paradise through a broken window, or an '80s idea of what paradise was. As kids growing up, this notion of Hawaii was just... 

ROID: It’s the stuff we see—a depiction through graphics like those in advertising and postcards. It's almost like all of the cliché things about Hawaii and trying to push it in another direction. We're missing surfboards and a few other bits, but yeah, it’s all of that.

It’s the stuff we see—a depiction through graphics like those in advertising and postcards.

What music do you listen to while you paint?

INSA: The first choice is Prince "I Would Die 4 U."

ROID: The second choice is Prince "Lady Cab Driver."

INSA: The third choice is a toss-up between "Ballad of Dorothy Parker" by Prince or "Little Red Corvette" by Prince.

Why is Prince's music good to paint with?

INSA: That's a bigger question than we can answer.

RELATED: Photos From Days 12 (I and II), 3, and 4 of Painting at POW! WOW! Hawaii 2014

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