I used to live 15 months in New Zealand, working and traveling through the entire country with my boyfriend and a self-contained vehicle. Before to come I have been approached by one of a French street-art magazine editors. So I have spent more than a year looking for street-art master pieces. I wrote to some of the greatest New Zealand artists and artists who have created in NZ to know more about their style and the street art scene in New Zealand.

Simon Ormerod, also known as « Cracked Ink » is based in Whanganui and answered to me very kindly in october 2019. I have the pleasure to share my interview.

I know my english is not perfect, hey guys, I’m just an amateur and volunteer French woman (not a professional journalist, not a translator), please, be kind with me. 😀 I didn’t touch Simon’s answers.

black and white painted street art wall, cracked ink, wanganui
Cracked Ink, Wanganui

First, feel free to tell me more about your artistic story: I know you have a Degree in graphic design. Did you study in UK? Why did you choose to become an artist?

Yeah, I was born in the uk, lived in Manchester before I came to new Zealand, and studied graphic design eventually as a degree.  I’ve been producing art before I decided to study graphics, when I left school, I didn’t have to many qualifications, so I started to study art as a foundation course, art has always been a strong point in my life, and I really couldn’t see a future for me in anything else, so it was a natural progression for me to go on to study art at a higher level, in my second year of my degree, I met a guy who was really into graffiti, we started hanging out, staying up late, smoking weed, painting under bridges and the rest is history, that was 20 years ago and as things progressed art became my passion And a means of making a living.

Rising sea levels, Cracked Ink | Sea Walls 2018 Gisborne
Rising sea levels, Cracked Ink | Sea Walls 2018 Gisborne

When and why did you come in New Zealand to settle down? What do you like in this country? How do you feel in the NZ artistic scene? Do you have artists living in NZ to recommend me to speak about in my article?

I came to New Zealand at the end of 2006, I met a kiwi girl travelling in Thailand, she was living in London and I was in Manchester, when we parted ways in Thailand, we started seeing each other in the UK and from that we have been together since then. I love everything about New Zealand, I love that you can breathe easy here, there is lots of space with a small population, kiwis are super chilled and I think that has had a big positive on my outlook since I moved here. The Art Scene here is small, but great, I love it, has some amazing artists, and because it’s such a tight community everyone knows each other and everything is pretty dam friendly.

I would definitely say that talking to my good friend Cinzah Merkins and also Elliot Francis Stewart, they both like to chat and both super talented artists.

 Elliot Francis Stewart's work street art new zealand
I definitely felt in love with Elliot Francis Stewart’s work! Here is a picture I took in Wanganui in september 2019
Mr Cinzah in Napier - The bird is a tui (endemic of New Zealand)
Mr Cinzah in Napier – The bird is a tui (endemic of New Zealand)

About your collaboration with Pangeaseed: you have created in Australia, Hawaii, Napier, Gisborne, and Bali… Why did you accept to collaborate with the foundation for Sea Walls festival? Do you feel concern with environment? What do you think your goal is being an artist today face to the climate change? Do you define yourself as an “Artivist”?

 Yeah so I have been working with Pangeaseed for 4 years now, my first time was in Napier just as an “artivist”, my good friend and fellow crew member Cinzah was the guy who ran the activation, it was such a humbling experience to just go out there and talk about stories/issues that are going on in the ocean and I feel that I’ve always been aware of my footprint and concerned about the welfare of any animal and the environment, so it was an easy transition and an important one. Tre and Akira the creators of Seawalls and Pangeaseed are amazing people that I get on with really well, so after the first one they invited me to be a part of the crew on operations, looking after artists, making sure all the access equipment and materials is all there for them, and of course we always get to paint a wall, it’s a really nice way of fighting for something special, not only that I get to travel the world and meet other amazing artists.

big painted wall about Overfishing, Cracked Ink, Sea Walls Napier Overfishing, Cracked Ink, Sea Walls Napier
Overfishing, Cracked Ink, Sea Walls Napier
painted wall with a message : We use over 1 million plastic bags per minute worldwide. Street art in Napier from Cracked Ink
"We use over 1 million plastic bags per minute worldwide", detail, Cracked Ink, Napier, Sea Walls
« We use over 1 million plastic bags per minute worldwide », detail, Cracked Ink, Napier, Sea Walls

More about your style: I watched a video where you talk about the 94 cap (because you can paint skinny lines) and we can see written on the can “Because color is life”. Isn’t it a little bit “paradoxical” as we know all your work is in black and white? Why did you choose to create in black and white? And what about all these little characters, sometimes funny sometimes less (like the crying clouds)? How did you start to create those? That comes from doodling?

Ha ha, funny observation, well I first started painting walls in colour, and I was shocking at colour management, all my friends and crew members would kind of look at me weird, and say, your kind of shit at using colour dude ha ha, so instead of learning how to use it, I was like “fuck it” I’m gona go black and white, it’s such a strong combo, and it just stuck with me, I never get bored of using it, although occasionally I do throw some colour in these days. Since the day I started painting on the streets ive been into characters, I just love creating characters, I definitely started with letters and tagging but always came back to the character design, it’s just amazing the expression you can create with just one simple character, I love that aspect.

CRACKED INK from Big Fish Creative on Vimeo.

About travel and work overseas: Where have you ever been and created around the world? Are you inspired by your travels ? Where do you dream to create one day?

I’ve been to lots of place creating, Canada, Hawaii, Mexico, Australia, Europe, Bali , New Zealand, heaps of places, at this point the States is a place where I really haven’t explored, so hopefully 2020 I will get the chance to do that.

street art new zealand cracked ink palmerston north berryman's lane
This one is very special to me : it was my first meeting with Cracked Ink’s work. And first meeting with street art in New Zealand after Auckland. I have discovered this incredible town: Palmerston North (and its wonderful Berryman’s lane) which has a great community of passionnate people!

What is your favourite mural you have ever done in your life?

I like to think my last mural is always my favourite, because I like to progress and not dwell too much on past works, so I just finished up my last wall in Dunedin which I’m really happy with, if I was to choose another then I think one I painted earlier this year in Maui in Hawaii.

You are what you eat, mural in Maui, Hawaii. Credit to Cracked Ink
You are what you eat, mural in Maui, Hawaii. Credit to Cracked Ink

Which part Instagram represents for your work? What do you think about social medias? Do you think it is necessary to be present on social media today?

I think it’s important if you want to earn a living off your creations, then social media is an important tool, because it has such a large and varied audience, it creates such a big market place, from this it creates opportunity’s that would almost definitely not happen otherwise, at the same time it’s not essential, I get sick of it to be honest, I just post when I want, the people either interact or they don’t, doesn’t bother me. If a fan try’s to interact and spend the time having an opinion on my works, I always try to reply.

Instagram Cracked Ink screen shot | June 2020
Instagram Cracked Ink screen shot | June 2020

What are your next projects or plans?

I’ve just bounced off 4 continuous projects and a popup show around New Zealand, I have another 2 projects up in Auckland, then a few weeks in the studio, and then I fly out to St. Croix in the Caribbean at the beginning of December for a Seawalls project. I spend a lot of time on the Road, I feel lucky every day, I get to live in my own dream and not work for someone else’s. It’s a pretty special way to live, I highly recommend it.  

Find more about Cracked Ink on :

WebsiteInstagram FacebookFlickr

Detail from a giant wall in Taupo, NZ, Cracked Ink
Detail from a giant wall in Taupo, NZ, Cracked Ink
entire wall painted cracked ink taupo new zealand
Cracked Ink for Graffiato Festival, Taupo, New Zealand
part of street art wall cracked ink kell sunshine
Part of a wall in Mount Manganui, collaboration with Kell Sunshine in 2017
cracked ink street prints tauranga
Part of a wall in Tauranga, for Street Prints
weird tales of whanganui cracked ink painted wall Weird tales of Whanganui, Cracked Ink
Weird tales of Whanganui, Cracked Ink
whanganui painted walls street art cracked ink Whanganui walls, Cracked Ink
Whanganui walls, Cracked Ink
Detail painted wall from Whanganui wall, Cracked Ink Detail from Whanganui wall, Cracked Ink
Detail painted wall from Whanganui wall, Cracked Ink Detail from Whanganui wall, Cracked Ink

All the shots are mine (Mélanie Guitton), took during my trip in New Zealand, except when it’s detailed.

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