My first exposure to a real artist came a decade ago, sitting in a classroom at Royal Oak Intermediate, being paired in the swoop of Ms Nabi's hand with Vincent Fasi for a book-creation project. Most pairs ended up working on the story together, printing out necessary images from Google. When I went and sat down at Vincent's desk, seeing his notebook covered in highly-detailed, ridiculously beautiful biro pen drawings unlike anything I'd ever seen, my 11 year old self boldly proposed that we would shun the trend: Vincent would illustrate the story, and I would write it.
Fasi x Naik, 2014
It was in the same schoolyard that I met Bryson Naik, a quiet and similarly talented - although, his drawings reflected a different perspective, playing more with pop-culture icons in Yu-Gi-Oh, Dragon Ball Z, and the like - young man.
It would be several years until we all finally worked together, putting together an art show (without actually knowing anything about putting on an art show) at the sadly-now-defunct Method and Manners Gallery, eventually selling the guy's works to the mind-bogglingly renowned art collector, Sir James Wallace. The idea came off the back of a chance encounter in real life, springing into my trawling the duo's respective Instagram feeds, turning into an intense Facebook convo about whether we could actually make this thing work. Well, we did, and the world got its first taste of Fasi and Naik.
In May of this year, What's Good was curating the debut evening of 1885's Stolen Saturdays. We decided that we'd flip the concept of a club night on its head and get live hip-hop and street art painted. Of course, Naik and Fasi were on the roster. Of course, they both received massive ovations from the swathing crowd (slightly inebriated, but nonetheless), launching them into a final head-to-head against each other.
These guys are the real deal. I've known them for half my life, and seen them grow into sincerely mind-blowing artists.
Recently, I asked Naik to define his and Fasi's style, his answer to which perfectly encapsulating their fluidity, versatility and growth as artists,
"I find it hard to define 'cause I use so many different mediums and I'm into a lot of styles. I think that's Vince and I's strong point - we grew up together learning how to draw in every possible way, I mean I had to learn, I get bored of making art quite frequently so to keep me entertained I'll jump from doing hyperrealism to Manga to 17th century Baroque paintings, then to pixel art."
The guys have in the last few years seriously fleshed out their styles; funnily enough it's their roots - Fasi's in the hyper-realistic, anime-esque world of biros, and Naik's in marker-scrawled pop culture characters - that are the dominant features in their adult styles. Never to be pigeonholed, however, Fasi will just a quickly whip out some tagging, Naik a crazy-detailed hand-drawn video of Drake to the beat of his 1-800-hotline-bling.
Talking on influences, it's immediately apparent that it was their childhood and surroundings that served to inform the subjects and style of their artwork today, which Naik reflected on,
"I still think that takeaways are one of the coolest places in this city, you have cheap as, greasy carb loaded food, poorly hand written menus and decaying signs, and to top it off the 60 cent Street Fighter II cabinet that you know exactly which one of the punch buttons don't work so you let your mate use that side. I've always been quite observant and enjoy soaking in my surroundings especially in Onehunga where I can highlight those special details, whether it's the 312 bus or Dragon Horse takeaways, throw it into a piece of work and make someone say "that's mean", and if I can live doing that well, that's mean."
All said, if you're not following these guys, you're sleeping on some of the finest talent in not only Auckland, but arguably the whole gotdamn blogosphere.
Follow Naik, Fasi, their project Subors, and don't forget to catch their work in the flesh at the one-week-only The Goods Pop-Up Store, 14th-20th December, St Kevin's Arcade.