1.When you first laid down your first stencil, the bike path symbol, did you imagine it as some sort of artwork?
No, I did not think of the first stencil, the bike symbol, as “art.” I thought of it more as a kind of activism although in retrospect I realize that there was something artistic about the impulse.
2.What were some things were running through your mind when you sprayed your first stencil/piece?
My heart was definitely pounding as I had never really done anything openly illegal before but was nevertheless driven by a feeling of conviction and a certain amount of righteousness.
3.After the bike path, you started to lay down many other types of stencils playing around with the existing elements on the streets, what was your intention with all of that?
I think my intention was similar to that which led me to create bike paths insofar as I still felt strongly about issues related to public space and the tyranny of “car culture” (for lack of a better phrase) But I think my approach was becoming more sophisticated and “artistic” in the sense that I was trying to communicate feelings about my environment/the city/society that transcended words or classical notions of activism. I think I was also trying to emulate a little bit the work of one of my favourite artists at the time, Andy Goldsworthy.
4.Were the placements of your stencils arbitrary? Or does each stencil’s placement have some sort of history or background?
The placements were for the most part arbitrary in the sense that they did not relate directly to a specific intersection or store etc. but they were definitely tailored to specific patterns that can be found in a city’s road markings, sewer covers and other infrastructural elements.
5.What did you think when the city starting giving you commissions to do these stencils around the city, the very same work that got you arrested?
I was definitely surprised but in retrospect it makes sense to me. I think that the City (at least the City of Montreal) is generally lacking ideas and when an idea comes along that has public appeal they generally want to endorse it (as long as it doesn’t challenge the status quo too much. ) Getting hired and not put in jail though is mostly due to the public support I received following my arrest. I think there was a political motivation too in hiring someone that had gained this kind of public support.
6.Do you think that the situation for artists who want to follow your type of art still face challenges? Challenges in terms of art and public space.
The challenges are definitely still there. The laws against “graffiti” and vandalism are as stringent as ever although perhaps there is more tolerance towards the idea of street art. I think that artistically the possibilities and therefore challenges have still barely been exploited.
7.The public/community seemed to have played a rather large role, being immensely supportive of your work. Did you think about putting up with a fight in the case of The City of Montreal Vs. Roadsworth because of that?
I thought about it but I was somewhat dissuaded from doing so by my lawyer at the time. He had offered his services pro bono but said that if I chose to refuse the City’s offer that he would not continue to represent me free of charge. My financial situation at the time was dodgy to say the least and I don’t think I had the stomach for a legal battle. I was happy to have escaped the justice system relatively unscathed.
8.I’ve read that you have been invited to speak in classrooms. How did that come about? Considering the fact that you were once a criminalized street artist?
Yes, I’ve spoken in many classrooms and many other contexts. The reality is that a lot of kids do graffiti and I think that some of the more progressive elements of the education system saw an alternative to that in my work.
9.Have there been people who have compared you to Banksy? If so, how do you feel about that?
Yeah, I’ve heard that comparison a lot although I think it’s mainly because he’s one of the few stencil artists that people know and it’s human nature to want to categorize/compare etc. I don’t have a problem with being compared to Banksy as I admire some of what he does but I think that there are a lot of other stencil artists who’s work is a lot more similar to his than mine. I would say his work is more explicit than mine.
10.Do you feel as if you’ve evolved in any way since your first stencils?
I hope so. The commissions I have done in recent years have enabled me to “stretch out” a little more and try things on a larger scale and scope than was possible in the context of illegal street art. Having said that I think that street art in the pure sense and commissions are two different things and therefore require different approaches.
11.Where did the name Roadsworth come from?
It’s an homage to one of my favorite artists (as I mentioned before) Andy Goldsworthy but it’s also a play on the name of the poet Wordsworth. It seemed to me that what I was doing was a form of street poetry, as pretentious as that may sound, and therefore I replaced “Words” with “Roads”. I also liked the almost aristocratic/snobby sound of the name which seemed at odds with someone who could be considered a vandal.
12.Have you considered varying your style, or other types of mediums? If so, do you consider on changing your name to detach yourself from the name Roadsworth?
Yes I have thought about it quite a bit especially as the work I’ve done on the road is unmistakably Roadsworth. To continue to do street art, especially in my home town, would require a name change as well as a new stylistic approach.
13.Lastly, if you were able to blast off into space and explore any planet, without getting harmed from any type of gas or pressure or by whatever scientific means, which planet would you go to? And if you were also able to leave a stencil on that planet, what would it be of?
I would go to Mars and make a massive stencil of an ostrich with its head in the sand to signify the denial inherent to man’s desire to conquer new frontiers when his own backyard is in shambles.