Profile | Lin Felton is QUIK

(Detail). Artwork by Dr. Revolt and Lin Felton/QUIK.

Born in Queens in 1958, Lin Felton began tagging the walls at the age of 10. He graduated to bombing New York City trains when subway art was at its height, adopting the name of QUIK and bringing his own pop-art style to life. Whether it’s Felix the Cat, pin-up vixens, or American flags, Felton beautifully integrates iconography into the scene, creating a rich tapestry of references brought together with ease and charm. At the same time, Felton is not one to shy away from more challenging subjects such as racism and oppression.

 In 1981, Felton was part of the historic “Beyond Words” exhibition at the Mudd Club, which featured Jenny Holzer, Jean-Michael Basquiat, and Keith Haring, among others. He began exhibiting in galleries in 1983 and has never looked back, with more than 150 exhibitions over the past 30 years. La Galerie Ange Basso will be showing new works by QUIK at 8e Avenue, a contemporary and urban art fair held in Paris from October 22-26, 2015, including a new series of subway maps created with Dr. Revolt.

Artwork by Dr. Revolt and Lin Felton/QUIK.

Here, Felton speaks with Crave about his work:

Miss Rosen: I’ve always loved your visual iconography, the distinctive mix of characters that has a distinctive vibe, like a classic album you listen to when you want to get inspired. I really enjoy the vibes of your work, which combine pop sensibilities with something more soulful. I saw a quote where you said, “I paint sounds, I paint the Blues.” Can you expand on that? It’s a very intriguing idea.

Lin Felton: Unfortunately I am not musically inclined at all, lacking the ability to sing or play an instrument in an aurally pleasing manner, yet I do have a voice in which my melodies are “heard” in my paintings. Perhaps someday people will recognize the thread of popular 1960s, ‘70s, and ‘80s American music in the theme titles of my work! I often listen to music to set the emotional tone of my works.

 

“COULD A BLACK MAN BE A POP ARTIST” is also a recurring theme, and my personal cynical joke in my artwork. I believe the title says quite enough, similar to my musically themed creations.

The subway map as medium is classic. I’ve always loved the way writers were quick (smile) to take things made available (maps, shipping labels, or just public space). Can you talk about what the subway map means to you as your canvas?

 Artists have been creating collages for centuries, as well as the Cubists that used printed matter to fashion imagery. Although FUTURA 2000 created the first “graffiti school” work on a map of Paris in 1985, I chose to work on something near and dear to me in 1986. Not only are subway maps colorful, it also maintains a public sense of surface upon which I have placed my “graffiti” and artistic statements. Perhaps now I have made over 500 such maps in my lifetime.

Artwork by Dr. Revolt and Lin Felton/QUIK.

I love that you’ve collaborated with Dr. Revolt on these artworks you sent over. You both work together so well. What’s it like coming back to New York in 2015? You’ve got so many great people here, your family and friends. I saw you sent over a studio photo. Have you been painting here as well?

 I enjoy collaborating with other painters, reliving the joyous action of subway train painting. I often choose artists that are perhaps more technically skilled than myself, which raises my own quality level. This relates to the painting of trains in the past having a friendly competition whilst mutually working together.

You’ve embraced Europe as your home, and your work is so well received over there. What do you most enjoy about Europe, both living and working there?

 My limited creative ability has miraculously taken me around the world, simply as being a QUIK! Without being a Jimi Hendrix or Picasso, this is quite a gift. I cannot draw anything naturally, yet was taught the technique of illustration in the Pratt Institute and Parson’s design academies here in New York City.

Artwork by Dr. Revolt and Lin Felton/QUIK.

 I often travel and live in many countries to augment the stimuli I crave in order to paint. After several months in one location, my work demands other creative forces. The calm and civilized Netherlands has been the more comfortable place for me paint. The Dutch also embraced me at an early age, and various museums there contain my work. Even my university homework assignments are in their museums. Ha!

 

In Amerikkka, none of my dreams ever came true. In the Netherlands and other places, things have happened for me that I would have dared not dream for myself in the U.S.A.

 

All artwork © Lin Felton.

 


Miss Rosen is a New York-based writer, curator, and brand strategist. There is nothing she adores so much as photography and books. A small part of her wishes she had a proper library, like in the game of Clue. Then she could blaze and write soliloquies to her in and out of print loves.

 

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