Street art has the power to inspire the universal consciousness to acknowledge issues through the use of images and sometimes words, on a grand scale, in public spaces. Images might be viewed by millions over the years, some have their own celebrity status – take a walk down London’s Brick Lane at any time of day and you’ll find a tour guide pointing out old pieces from the early noughties by Eine and Banksy.
A passion that took root in her teens, Kashink – in keeping with many artists she never reveals her true identity – discovered a desire to express herself alongside a very clear distaste for authority. The two interests assimilated into the rebellious and free spirited activity of “tagging” walls with graffiti. “It’s very much a part of the game, it’s crucial, it’s defiance against the system,” she says.
Defying and defacing the system comes naturally to her. Drawing two thin lines above her lips, like a John Waters moustache everyday, she challenges the ideas of femininity. An avid comic book fan, her tag name is an ambiguous onomatopoeic word derived from the clash and shink sound effects found in the comics she favoured growing up. You can feel this influence in the playfulness she injects in her pictures; characters emote through four eyes, their skin painted in bold colours unrelatable to any ethnicity. Whether she’s painting cakes around the world in support of same sex marriage in response to France’s protest against it or walls for Amnesty International’s sex and reproductive rights ‘My Body My Right’ campaign, the message in Kashink’s work comes through in all: freedom for all. Here she shares her manifesto for shaking up the status quo.
Be proud to be weird
I’ve always felt that I’ve never really fit in. I’ve always felt weird in comparison to other people – but actually I’m super happy to feel like this. Being a street artist has allowed me to express myself and this sense of otherness. As a teenager my problem with authority, my creativity and drive to be outside doing fun things drove me to start tagging, it was the best way to combine them all. Also, spray paint has always smelt good to me because it just smells like fun. I’ve always tried to question the system and try to do something against the norm, street art is something I’m willing to do on an everyday basis. I consider myself an activist that communicates serious matters in a fun way – I made up the word funtivism.
I’ve been drawing on a moustache every day for the past three years now. Firstly, it’s a physical expression of my personality because I’ve always been an eccentric person. It also questions many things – two symmetrical lines on a woman’s face are ok on the eyebrows or as eyeliner but then when you put the exact same lines above the lip it becomes the polar opposite of what it’s supposed to denote which is femininity. I think it’s funny to question that and how absurd these codes and how absurd this system is that we’re supposed to look good and be pretty. I discovered Leigh Bowery’s work as a teenager and I was amazed. He really challenged the ideas of what defined femininity and masculinity and put all of his energy into his work physically with his costumes and the way he looked.
Think of the future
I’m often asked, ‘why aren’t there more women street artists?’ I have no idea, all I can tell is that there have been fewer women artists in general in history and it’s up to us to change that now. I often ask myself what can I do in my life to share something positive so we all stick together and stay optimistic about our future? I think us women are a little less encouraged to develop into fulfilled people or to express ourselves. We must make our own decisions in order to free ourselves from judgement and all of these rules or systems that don’t encourage us. It’s up to us to encourage each other to be able to make whatever we want happen because we have the potential. I’m convinced that things are changing slowly – to think that 70 years ago women couldn’t vote, now who would question that? We can all work together in sharing positivity that helps us remain optimistic about the future.’