Ben Eine takes English street art out of short trousers

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

The Moniker International Art Fair opens in London this week. Scheduled to coincide with Frieze, Moniker offers an alternative platform for less mainstream artists to showcase their work – something which Ben Eine, graffiti writer and best pal of Banksy, thinks is a clear move toward taking street art out of short trousers and into adulthood.

The Independent Online had a chat with Eine about his plans for Moniker and his recent brush with fame:

Q. Tell us what happened when David Cameron gave Barack Obama one of your paintings? What was it like being catapulted into the public eye?

Click here or on the image to see works showcased at Moniker

A. From the minute the story broke the phone didn't stop ringing, emails went crazy, the press outside my front door. CNN picked me up in Sussex to drive to their studios in Soho for a live link to Atlanta for a thirty second interview and then drove me home again. Sitting on the train and having the guy in front of me reading about me in the newspaper was quite surreal. The weirdest moment must have been ringing on the door bell of number 10 Downing Street.

Q. Were you tempted to leave behind a ‘signature’ in Downing Street when you went to meet Dave and Sam Cam?

A. No.

Q. Do you know where the piece given to the Obamas is hanging?

A. It is up in the White House. I do hope it’s not in the toilet.

Q. What’s the strangest thing a passer-by has said to you when you are working on a mural?

A. The police always ask if I have permission, but a Policewomen once asked for my autograph. Most people ask if I'm Banksy. Builders always shout out " Oi' You've missed a bit". The weirdest thing that happened was receiving an email from an erotic model with photos of her posing nude in front of my letters spelling out the word erotic. In front of each letter she was in the pose of the letter, very funny.

Q. Do people ever offer to help?

A. No.

Q. How many times have you been arrested?

A. I've lost count, but around 15 times. Being found guilty is different to being arrested.

Q. What is the most elaborate lie you have ever told to get out of a sticky situation?

A. It wasn't me.

Q. How long does it take you and the team to work on a piece?

A. I don't have a team, I do it myself. I don't normally work on one piece. I usually work on a few pieces and lots of different ideas at the same time. I have paintings at various stages of completion and ideas and drawings in lots of different sketch books.

Q. Which country has the most daring art world?

A. New York Subway trains are an ultimate goal for graffiti writers – it carries the biggest risk and the biggest punishment if you get caught. They tend not to be painted by Americans but mostly by Europeans. Germans are the keenest to paint trains. London appears hard because of all the cameras, but if you live here you know they are pretty useless. But street art tourists are put off by them. That’s a hard question to answer.

Q. What kind of art do you have on your walls?

A. I tend to swap stuff with other artists so I've got quite a good collection of stuff. However I recently bought a canvas by Delta, a painting by the Date Farmers, a watercolour by Neckface and a few other bits.

Q. Is it right to turn what was an anarchic art form into something commercial and respectable?

A. It happens and it's called life. That doesn't make it right but at some stage money gets involved and things have to get diluted.

Q. What are you doing at the Moniker art fair which opens this week?

A. I painted a very large wall which said Vandalism on Holywell Lane, where the art-show is being held, about 5 years ago. I'm repainting a giant new work on the exterior wall of the venue with something a little more relevant for 2010. I'm also showing my first new work since the whole Obama thing happened, which is quite exciting. I hope Moniker will be the first time English street art gets out of short trousers. For street art to move forward which it has to, it needs to grow up and reach a wider audience.

Ben Eine is one of the participating artists at the Moniker International Art Fair, 14-17 October, Admission Free, Village Underground, 54 Holywell Lane, London, EC2A 3PQ,

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to American media group
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidate on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
Arts and Entertainment
Kate Bush: 'I'm going to miss everyone so much'
Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

Arts and Entertainment
Pulling the strings: Spira Mirabilis

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Neville's Island at Duke of York's theatre
musicReview: The production has been cleverly cast with a quartet of comic performers best known for the work on television
Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol

Arts and Entertainment
Lynda Bellingham stars in her last Oxo advert with on-screen husband Michael Redfern

Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman

Arts and Entertainment
Tim Minchin portrait
For a no-holds-barred performer who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, Tim Minchin is surprisingly gentle
Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
Arts and Entertainment
Joy Division photographed around Waterloo Road, Stockport, near Strawberry Studios. The band are Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals).
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Harris in 'The Goob' film photocall, at the Venice International Film Festival 2014
filmThe Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Streisand is his true inspiration
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
artAs two major London galleries put textiles in the spotlight, the poor relation of the creative world is getting recognition it deserves
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’


Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'


Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from


Arts and Entertainment
Team Tenacity pitch their fetching solar powered, mobile phone charging, heated, flashy jacket
tvReview: No one was safe as Lord Sugar shook things up
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
    Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

    'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

    The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
    Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

    Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

    A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
    The 10 best smartphone accessories

    Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

    Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

    Liverpool v Real Madrid

    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
    West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?