Interview with Barry Bangz

Inspired by each other's creative practice and passion - HB Archive recently collaborated with Melbourne based multidisciplinary artist Barry Bangz on a selection of special one of a kind Market Bags and Always Pouches. Holly had a chat with Isaac to deep dive into the process, inspiration, and get some tune recs too. 

HB: Hiya Isaac! How are ya? 

I: Hey Holly, doing good! Chrissy break can’t come soon enough tho, my body's in maxo-relaxo mode and feeling knackered! Also feeling very grateful to collab with you and get to know ya.


HB: Where did the name Barry Bangz come from?

I: Back when I was a kid I loved this song that went, “And there’s another hit Barry Bangz”, I was 10 and thought it was the coolest name of all time and it really stuck with me. Years on I was in uni about to start making my art public and I wanted a name, an alter ego sorta thing and I thought back to that song I loved as a kid. Turns out I’d misheard the lyric and the song was actually about this baseball player called Barry Bonds. The name was free for the taking and felt like it belonged to me, thanks to that misheard lyric, I became Barry Bangz.

HB: I've been thinking about the first thing that made me want to collaborate with you - it was when I was waiting to pick up my freshly printed tags and overheard you talking about your painting on pants with another customer. It was really refreshing to hear someone else speak so passionately about something they are working on. I guess there's no real question here, I just thought it might be nice to note. It helped me remember why I make clothes and how it's the thing I love most to do. Oh! A question... Do you feel similar in your own practice?


I: I definitely resonate with that feeling! My favourite thing about where I work is the strong connection to community, particularly the creative community. I get to meet people who are doing cool things, making things, being passionate and just giving things a crack. When I see other people being passionate and love what they do it only feeds my passion for my own work and brings me back to focus.


HB: I really enjoy asking friends both working in creative jobs, as well as 9-5 yo-pros what their job title is. I read in your bio that you say 'multidisciplinary artist'. When people ask what you do, how do you usually respond, and what is the most fun way that you would ideally like to respond ? For me, I usually say 'I make clothes' if I don't know someone, coz otherwise they end up looking at my instagram and I feel like I'm at a job interview.

I: It really depends what mood I’m in is what I’ll answer. I might say “I print custom t-shirts”, because that’s my j.o.b. But when I’m feeling real I say I’m a painter. To which they’ll often ask me “houses?” and I say “nah, like canvases.” On anything official I’m a ‘multidisciplinary artist’ as my practice involves a range of things, like pottery, printing and painting clothes, animation, film, graphic design, web design and whatever else is called for.

HB: Quick five go - top songs to help you focus / work/ have a boogie/ wind down /all of the above or none of the above.

I: Love this question. I’m going with… ‘Stinking Rich’ by Peter Bibby, ‘I’m Aquarius’ by Metronomy, ‘Stop the Dams’ by Gorillaz, ‘Not So Different’ by Willow and ‘Everybody’s Gotta Live’ by Love, plus bonus song ding ding ding ‘My Song’ by Labi Siffre. 


HB: What was something inspiring lately that you saw/ heard?

I: The other day my girlfriend and I watched ‘Surfs Up’ (brilliant movie), which is about these surfing penguins who needed to chill out and stop trying so hard to force the best waves and instead just learn to have fun and play first before even getting on the water, only then could they catch awesome waves, have a great time and be their authentic selves. Really made me think and realise a goal of mine is to keep bringing myself back to play and having fun with what I do.

HB: I know you've been painting lately on existing garments like second hand jeans or tees. How did you find working with the Markets and Pouches?

I: They were great to paint on! The material took on all the mediums really well, fabric markers, paint and spray paint. It was like painting on unprimed blank canvases. The material the bags are made out of are so nice and moveable already they kept that movement and flex after they were painted which is important.

HB: When my mum visited Ode Collective she pointed out and kept admiring the yellow billy buttons painted on the bag. You then told me they were based on a bunch of flowers from your mum's garden. How did you come up with the other designs?

I: The frog bag, I mean the blue is just so blue, I saw a big body of water and once I thought of lily pads and frogs I was set. While with the black bag and red faces, faces are one of my main subjects that I draw, I love drawing them and they feel very me so I needed to do something facey!

HB: What's your favourite thing you've made, ever?

I: I’ve gotta say “Big Red”. It’s a huge pentagon made of 5 faces that forms a star in it’s centre, it’s bold, big and mathematical, it speaks to me on a deep level and to me it represents the collective of mankind.


HB: One of the first things I asked about was the cost transparency of the final pieces. I sometimes feel really vulnerable sharing the real cost versus time that things take to make, but know it helps people understand and value their hand made items...  How long did it take you to work on each item? Any other thoughts on this you feel comfy to share?

I: That’s something that really stuck out to me when I first used your website was the price transparency breakdown, I admired how upfront and honest it was and really made me appreciate your whole process.


I painted all 3 markets and 3 pouches in one waking day over a 20 hour stretch, stopping a couple times for a snack and once for a quick walk around the city block for inspo. It’s tricky to say how long each one took as I had them all on the go at the same time, painting on one and then putting that to the side for it to dry while painting another.

The billy buttons piece I started first, I didn’t have much of a plan for this one and it required lots of experimentation and adding new layers until eventually the painting was found through the process. This process probably took 6 hours of focused play until I was ready to call it finished.

The frog market took a long time too. I pre-planned the design so there was

no time spent experimenting, what ate at the time here was the many layers needed to build up strong colours on the fabric and lots of drying time in between adding layers and different colours.

The Faces market only needed two layers of paint, one white base and one red base and drying time after each. This was the fastest market, applying the red onto of the white probably took me 10 minutes, however as I have been drawing and studying faces my entire life it’s more like 26 years and 10 minutes. It’s interesting because although this took me the least amount of time, I thought geez I probably need to add more, but the trick is knowing when to stop and it’s probably my personal favourite bag out of them all.

After all the bags were painted I needed to wait 24 hours before heat sealing them all, a process that took an hour for all 6. So that’s 20 hours of focused painting, 1 hour of heat sealing, 24 hours of drying time plus however many hours of thinking before actually putting paint to fabric. Taking out the thinking and drying time we can divide the 21 hours between 6 items and you get an average of 3.5 hours a bag. Even though some take much longer and some are much quicker.

 To summarise it’s really hard to measure the worth of art from how long an artist spends on something - because that’s not what it’s really about. But when you get into commercial products like these bags you really do have to consider it!

Received Sat, Dec 16, 2023, 10:03 AM
See more of Barry Bangz' work here.




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