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Artist Numskull Messes with Pics for 'Dangerous Festival'

Numskull makes multimedia work to shake your brain at this year's Festival of Dangerous Ideas.
FODI 2015 Nuclear Delusions credit Elliott Routledge aka Numskull

With roots in graffiti, Elliott Routledge (better known as Numskull) has crossed the pavement and gone into the gallery space. While his work still takes cues from street art and the subculture’s sense of defiance, the Sydney-based artist (whose practice includes painting, sculpture, illustration, video and murals) has exhibited all over the world. Elliott was commissioned by this year’s Festival of Dangerous Ideas (FODI) to create all of their official artwork; a very good match considering their whole aim is to shake brains and challenge thoughts by bringing together big names—Naomi Klein, John Ronson—across the globe for debate and discussion. We quickly caught up with Numskull before FODI returns for its seventh year at the Sydney Opera House this September.


The Creators Project: Tell us about the concept behind the FODI art?

Elliott ‘Numskull’ Routledge: It’s all about taking an idea and messing with it; challenging or adding to the original intention of the photo. In a way these artworks could be interpreted as safe, which is actually sometimes the most dangerous way to be. I tried to convey this as much as possible.

How did you go about actually creating the images?

The process involved a lot of different mediums. For the flourishes and abstract expressive shapes and smears I painted onto paper and canvas etc and then took it all into Photoshop. The central pieces were either drawn on paper first, then taken into Illustrator as vectors, or sometimes just put straight into Illustrator and then I drew over the photo. There was no real strict order, and each photo presented a different visual formula.

FODI is a pretty massive festival. Did they provide you with a tight brief?

The general idea was to source topical imagery or photographs, which I was to then work on top of to create the balance and also contrast of the original concept of the image. The FODI team sourced the photos and pretty much left the rest up to me.

What was the last dangerous idea that you had?

To take a holiday…

FODI 2015 Big Sugar credit Elliott Routledge aka Numskull

FODI runs from September 5-6 at the Opera House in Sydney. Check out the complete line-up here. VICE is proud to be a media and session partner of this year’s FODI event. We’re hosting a panel on incarceration. You can find out more info and book tickets here. See more of Numskull's work here.


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