Graffiti has always had a strong connection to hip-hop, obviously being one of the recognized elements, and with many prominent MC’s dropping their 2 cents on the art form ever since rap has existed.
In the young Australian scene, its involvement was always hand-in-hand, as you would be hard-pressed to find an MC or DJ that wasn’t once wandering the train lines with a marker before pursuing the musical side of things.
Joel Van Moore a.k.a. Vans The Omega has managed to turn a childhood obsession into an adulthood of travel, adventure and color. With his artwork scattered on walls the world over, the prolific Australian artist has built a reputation with a style that is uniquely his own. His evolution has seen the gradual move from traditional graffiti lettering to large-scale geometric prisms of color and vibrancy, and bold portrait work that has its own unmistakable aesthetic.
Not content with just traveling and pushing his own art he is also the curator of the famed Wonderwalls Festival, which started in Wollongong, Australia in 2012 and traveled to his home state of South Australia in 2015 and 2017. The three-day live art festival has helped transform Port Adelaide, one of South Australia’s most bleak yet historic cities into a giant art gallery with the canvases being the walls of abandoned buildings and new apartment complexes.
Over 30 artists from all around the world make the trip down and transfer their concepts and creativity to the once lonely and desolate walls and the festival has been a major factor in the transformation of the district from derelict to hip as it’s now fast becoming a waterfront hub of food, nightlife, music and creativity. This year he set his sights on a new project and was a driving force behind Big Picture Festival, which splashed its colors and imagination over the Victorian town of Frankston for three days this past March.
Graffiti has always been a public (and temporary) art form by nature and in 2018 the social acceptance of graffiti or “street art” as certain circles refer to it is as liberal as its ever been and its also become a highly monetized commodity.
Like any counterculture, when it becomes in vogue and economically viable there will always be culture vultures trying to capitalize on it until the next ‘big thing’ comes along so it is extremely refreshing to have someone like Vans, who’s been in the game for the better part of 30 years, who grew up alongside and involved in hip-hop culture, be the one to take these Australian cities and give them their own flavor and character.