10 Questions with Oker, the Legendary Graffiti Artist Collaboating with Coach
When Peter Andre sung about a “mysterious girl” back in 1995, we’d like to believe he was serenading to an anonymous underground artist. Perhaps it was a really early guess about Banksy’s identity? Who knows – unfortunately we don’t have Mister Andre on speed dial. What we do have in our close proximity is Coach, currently working on spotlighting UK’s most revered underground artists through creative collaborations. At the beginning of the month, the streets of London were postered up with colourful imagery by Hackney-born artist Pez, known for visual promotion and flyers for some of the most iconic raves like Helter Skelter, Raindance and Biology. Up next on their underground train (get it?) is Oker, the London-born, NYC-bred graffiti artists whose “OK” tag is synonymous with contemporary urban cityscapes of the two cities. Celebrating decades of his work painting the towns and his name being one of the best-known on the scene, Coach have asked Oker to interpret their Signature C-print via their London flagship storefront at 206 Regent Street.
The two stories interact harmoniously on the tall glass wall of the store, but we couldn’t just stare in silence. Instead, we asked Oker 10 questions – about him, about the collab, about his choice of music… And just like that, he’s mysterious no more.
Dino Bonacic: What’s your favourite song to graffiti to?
OKER: This question has made me think! As crazy as it sounds I’m not sure if I have ever consciously listened to music whilst doing graffiti. There may have been background music though… But when I’m drawing indoors, it’s usually just reggae or hip hop.
DB: London or NYC?
OK: London, because it’s home, but New York is where a lot of my graffiti influence comes from and I’ve some good friends out there.
DB: If you weren’t a graff artist, what would you do?
OK: I’d run an animal rescue.
DB: What’s your favourite place you’ve ever put a graffiti on? And you can’t say the Coach flagship!
OK: Me and a mate painted a huge inflatable pig for a Roger Waters concert (formerly of Pink Floyd) in Hyde Park. It flew around the whole crowd at one point in the show, it really looked marvelous and I got to make my dad, a Roger Waters fan, very happy.
DB: Which artist – dead or alive – do you wish you could collaborate with?
OK: IZ the WIZ (RIP).
DB: If you could turn back time you would…
OK: …have taken graffiti more seriously as an art form earlier in life, not just a pastime.
DB: What was the most fun part of creating the artwork for Coach?
OK: The most fun part is standing in the middle of Regent Street in Central London, on a ladder, without looking over my shoulder or having to run away, then knowing it will bring a bit of cheer and colour to the commuters the next day, something different to talk about.
DB: Which film character do you relate to the most?
OK: Sloth from the Goonies.
DB: Is there a place you would never put graffiti on?
OK: Lots of places! I would never write on nature, homes, National trust properties, religious buildings, graffiti festivals, NHS buildings… The list of things I would never write on is probably longer than the list of things I would write on!
DB: What’s not OK?
OK: The environment.