Back in October we revealed the launch of Umbros search for fresh new street art talent, and the fact that The Mill resident director, artist and all round champ mcbess was participating as a mentor to one of the selected finalists.
His mentee, the street art supremo Ewa Mos, took the battles by storm to win the search and have her artwork feature in Umbros latest campaign, one of which currently towers over Old Street roundabout in London. I caught up with her to learn more about her journey… and what mcbess was like a mentor!
Tell me a bit about yourself?
My name is Ewa Mos. For friends Moscva, from Poland, but now Birmingham based. I'm a young graphic designer, illustrator, videographer and photographer. I just finished 6-years at Fine Art School in Cracow and now I'm graduating from Graphic Communication & Illustration at Birmingham City Univeristy. I have worked with many dj's and events agencies. I've collaborated with Don't Panic, MISBHV, DesignWars, SUPERSWEET, wall-over, DIM MAK and ADIDAS. I am the most happy I am when I can join photography with illustration.
I love to create extraordinary images thanks to my quite unique mixed-media style; weird things, skulls in candy colors, hands, hearts and skulls. All of my works are hand drawn and colorized in digital. I also love to paint, because of my Fine Art background so street art is a way to continue this passion.
In the future I would like to become magic mermaid, pirate, skateboarder or ninja.
Tell us about your fellow shortlisted street artist finalists?
From the first moment we met I knew they were cool guys. We were very open and you couldn't believe we are going to compete in a few hours. I had a great time and mostly because of awesome company! Georgia, Dyox and Kris are amazing amazing artists! Honestly I didn't think I have any chance (especially when I was looking at Kris do his mural during the battle to get to the final) The funny thing is none of us is actually from the UK; Georgia was born in Australia, but now she's based in Berlin, Kris is from New Zealand, but now lives in London and Dyox is Spanish. After the semi-final we were saying we should make a funclubs of each other, I'm so impressed with their mad art-skills!
Georgia Hill is great typographer - the fact she can draw so many straight, perfect lines is uncanny for me! Her videos speak for themselves and more than that, she's lovely and chilled out girl. Kristian Douglas is an amusing guy! I don't think there's any person who wouldn't like him. He's also amazing at drawing. He just knows what to do. I love his cartoon style… Funny, but very professional. And DYOX (hyperlink to www.dyox.es) the most chilled guy in the world I reckon! When I saw his mural work I thought it was Aryz another huge Spanish street art creator. He's master of colour and details! I told him whilst we ate sophisticated 'dinner' in McDonald before the final battle that I didn't care if I lost because he absolutely deserved to win.
What's the biggest similarity and the biggest difference between you and mcbess?
I don't even dare to compare my work with mcbess as I can stare at his art for hours and analyze. He's been one of my main inspirations for years! So you can absolutely see his influence at my work. I think the biggest similarity you can find is round, soft shapes and same taste for often dead weird things, with a love for tattoo culture and style. Also neither of us take it too seriously. The biggest difference is 'temperature' of our work. mcbess' art-works are always a bit dark and mysterious thanks to amazing shadings and b&w, whereas my style is more obvious and colourful.
What's mcbess's teaching style?
I'm not saying this just to be polite, but I have truly loved mcbess's work for a very long time. So, I wasn't excited about photoshoot with Mitch Jenkins, even with the battle (!) as much as meeting mcbess. I got to meet my hero! He's extremely nice person, so it was an honor and pleasure to have a chance chat and then draw with mcbess. I was a bit tongue-tied, but then I realized there was no reason to be because I didn't feel he was coaching me to be honest; it was more like meeting with friend and discussing ideas with no pressure! He gave me very useful advice regarding the composition and details and helped a lot during the battle when I was so stressed (he got us a proper dinner during the battle!) I really didn't want to let him down.
How did the battles go?
It's a huge adrenalin rush, almost like an extreme sport. It's 90 minutes (in the final only 60!) and you probably think that's a lot of time but actually it feels like a second. I was also busy trying to ignore the crowd behind me.
At semi-finals I had kind of outline idea, I had something in my mind, but then got another cool idea just before battle in the morning at train to London. I also found it very helpful to have a chat and sketch with mcbess just before the battle. But even if you plan something… there are too many emotions, so it looks completely different then you assumed in the end! In the final I had perfect idea prepared, but just before the battle we found out we had to match a theme so that design was completely freestyle which is quite hardcore for me as I like to be prepare. I decided to stay with skull motif as they bring me luck before (and I like creepy stuff!)
What new things did you learn about street art?
I always was very close to Street Art but gave it up for a while. Thanks to Secret Walls I found passion again and this kind of adrenaline, excitement and spirit of making live art. The new thing I learnt is that streets are open for anyone and any kind of art. There are no boundaries! Also it doesn't have to be planned, it can be more spontaneous. Finally, it's huge shame but I had never been around Brick Lane before, so that was a great experience and very inspirational.