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Jesse Olwen | Street Artist


Titled ’tildeath’, acrylic on wood, installed on the Han River, Seoul. 


Introducing interdisciplinary visual artist, Jesse Olwen, whose art takes him out to the streets wherever he is residing; whether its Canada, Australia or South Korea . Using cut-out plywood as mediums to paint on, Jesse installs his painted artworks on walls of several unexpected locations where his creativity is best expressed.  Currently traveling through Australia and winning the People’s Choice Award from the Off the Wall street art competition in Tasmania ( http://offthewallcomp.com.au ), we manage to squeeze in a quick e-interview with the talented artist.


Hi Jesse! Introduction yourself.

I’m a Canadian artist currently traveling through Australia.  I worked as a stained glass artist for 9 years while putting myself through university in Montreal. I’m still fresh off a 2 year stint as a teacher in South Korea.


South Korea, what an amazing country! When and why did you move to there?

I did a year-long exchange through my university to Singapore in 2009 and I really wanted to find a way to return to this side of the world – teaching in Korea was my ticket back.

While I was able to produce work there it really wasn’t ideal for art making; I regularly snuck into the schools I taught at during off hours to use my classroom as a makeshift studio. I was sure I’d get caught – someone would notice paint drips or sawdust – but no one ever did.



Titled ‘Punk Not Dead’, installed in Incheon, South Korea. 


Describe a daily routine of a street artist.

A day in my life is usually spent being productive – if not I tend to lose my mind. Every artist is different – every person is different. My thing is that I have a certain level of energy for each day (a relatively high level) that I must find outlets for and a ‘great day’ is one spent focusing said energy toward my art practice.


How’s the art scene in South Korea accepting your works?

I am not in Korea anymore, and I didn’t really make an effort to follow the art scene. The language barrier was a little too tough to be cued into the underground art world, so I mainly just concentrated on building my personal body of work.





Alright last question! Who inspire you to be a street artist?

I would have to say what often motivates me most is a frustration with the art world. Waking through galleries too often leaves me feeling upset with what they’ve selected to be art-worthy, so I began making work where I wanted it to be and where I could be in complete control.

It’s like turning on the radio and hearing nothing but crap and commercials 90% of the time, 5% you’ll tap your foot to, 4% you’ll turn the volume up for… but 1% will make you want to learn how to play an instrument and be a f*#@ing rock star. Artists like Brian Jungen, Michaelangelo and Marc Quinn are my 1%.



You can check out more of Jesse’s artworks here: http://www.jesseolwen.com/




Text by: Erin Riduan
*Images courtesy of Jesse Olwen




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