D7606 is a new face on the London street art scene, pasting up his first piece at the end of last year. You may have noticed his work – the iconic London telephone boxes in a Crayola box range of colours housing some people who are icons themselves like Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn. I’ve tracked him down to discuss.
Read on to find out the meaning behind his unusual name, what he thinks of the street art tours storming the East End of London lately and, well, where he’d like to store his ashes… And if you have a chance, head down to the What If Gallery in Dartford to see his first two framed pieces in a show – Don’t Hold Back. It opens tomorrow at 6:30pm.
LLO: Tell us a bit about your background. Are you from London originally? Which area of the city is home for you?
D7606: I am not an artist by trade. In fact, this is just a love of mine. I am a relatively new boy to town and although I have always loved art and street art, it’s only recently I have found the time to actually start creating my own work.
I am from Hertfordshire originally, but found myself living in East London a few years ago before moving up north to Lancashire where I currently live, although most people think I still live around London as I’m rarely away from the place! Thank god for Mr Branson’s Virgin Trains!
LLO: The next obvious question has to be about your name: D7606. What’s the story behind it?
D7606: The question I love to avoid?? Well, D7606 comes from my former life when I was a railway photographer, D7606 being a class 25 British Railways diesel locomotive. Enough said there in case you all thought I was a closet trainspotter!! (Honest, I’m not!)
LLO: Famous ladies in colourful versions of iconic phone boxes have been popping up constantly in London lately. What do you hope to communicate through your work?
D7606: I’m not into deep meaningful art. If I see something I like, then that’s it. Don’t get me wrong; I appreciate art and some pieces do take my breath away for sure, but my work is more of a visual statement. I merely want to bring a bit of colour and fun to the streets of London and what better way with iconic people, especially ladies, in bright and colourful telephone boxes?
LLO: Who can we expect to find hiding in a D7606 phone box next? How do you choose?
D7606: I chose the first few I did, Marilyn Monroe and Liz Taylor, but mostly they are requested by friends and people who like my work. The theme is mostly iconic women and my telephone boxes have so far included: Rihanna, Princess Diana, Audrey Hepburn, Barbara Windsor, Gwen Stefani and Emeli Sande.
So what can you expect next? Defiantly more iconic ladies, maybe the American movie star Dorothy Lamour or the Spice Girls?? But there will be a change to more iconic guys I think. I have just done Ian Curtis from Joy Division and there are many more from the world of music I would love to feature. Then there are a number of collaborations I have been asked to do. They will bring something new and different to my work. I am very sure of that.
LLO: Where did you put your first paste-up, when and what was it?
D7606: It was in Manchester’s Northern Quarter next to the well known music venue Band on the Wall. It was early November 2012 and was a red telephone box with Liz Taylor. My first in London was shortly afterward in the dark alleyways of Brick Lane. Again, it was telephone boxes with Liz Taylor plus Marilyn and Rihanna!
LLO: Why is street art important to both yourself and to the community?
D7606: Important to me? That’s a hard one. I’m not sure “important” is a word I would choose. For me, I just love street art. It’s so much fun creating your own work then going out and pasting it up. It’s such a great feeling when you create something new, print it, cut it out then finally paste it up in the right spot.
As far as the importance to the community, yes, it is very important indeed. There are so many dull and run down looking places around our cities. Street art brings art out of the galleries so all people from all walks of life can see and appreciate it and it certainly does brighten up our communities. When you walk through East London or Bristol, for example, on a Sunday morning and you see rows of shops with their anti-vandal shutters down proudly displaying work by some of the best street artist around, that surely has to be a good thing?
LLO: What’s your opinion on the influx of street art tours in London lately?
D7606: Best be careful here as I know some of the guys who do the tours! Personally, I wouldn’t go on one, but if it brings tourist to Brick Lane and the Hackney Road rather than Oxford Street or the Tower of London, then it can’t be all bad. I think if they are done right by the right people who do actually love street art then it’s okay.
LLO: Outside of street art, what are your hobbies?
D7606: Apart from street art there is very little time left in my life for much else. I love travelling and photography, but if I were to travel and take pictures, it probably would be to take more pictures of street art!
LLO: Which other London-based artists do you most admire and why?
D7606: There are so many I admire. I love most of the work by the well know paste-up artists like St8ment, Donk and Mr Fahrenheit. Their work rate is phenomenal and the work is ever changing. Every time I visit London, there is something new of theirs to see. I also admire the likes of 616 and Obit. They just know how to bomb a city with street art! 616 especially; each piece he does is so creative and individual. Finally, some of those who paint and bring that much needed colour to our walls, Stik being the absolute genius with such simple but stunning pieces. I also love the recent work by Kayleigh Doughty (Artista), Irony and Sky High.
LLO: Best London discovery?
D7606: All those back street cafes and of course Blackall Street in Shoreditch – a paste up artists heaven. If I die tomorrow, feel free to paste my ashes to one of the walls down there!