“I was born in Cheltenham but moved to London when I was real young, I don’t really remember anything but London. I’m not sure if London’s had much of an influence on my work, the things ive taken photos of could really be taken anywhere. Be it kids spraying graffiti or friends getting drunk; mostly you can find this in any city. I wouldn’t trade growing up here for anywhere though, I love a greasy spoon cafe and the pub far too much.”
“I was enjoying life far too much and fell off a roof resulting in a broken back and a smashed up ankle. I spent three weeks in hospital being pumped full of morphine; it fucking sucked. Without my family and friends coming to visit all the time I would of gone completely insane. Staring at the ceiling not knowing what time or day it is really messes with you. I wasn’t going to let myself get depressed or crazy though cos that’s bullshit. A positive head and some herbal remedy made my recovery super quick; I got so bored not being around people talking shit. It did give me a kick start creatively, I stopped taking photos for a good few years before and realised I needed to pull my finger out. I started to see things as photographs again, which was really important in getting me started again. I guess I’d like people to remember me for the art not for being a stupid drunk who fell off a roof.”
“I think I was 13 when I got my first camera, a Nikon SLR I got as a birthday present. I just started taking photos of my friends hanging about, skating, breaking into abandoned buildings, getting drunk, all the things you do on your summer holidays. I was always into art though, before getting a camera I wanted to be a cartoonist; I’d always draw caricatures of people or paint scenes from films. I guess I thought I was better at taking photos than drawing and pursued that, which is good as I cant imagine the dudes in Leicester Square make much off drawing David Beckham loads.
I was never really trying to achieve anything with photography, it just felt like the natural thing, documenting mine and others lives. Now I guess im trying to achieve turning these photos of people, or weird things into an art form..One day I’d like my work to be 50 feet high, and have Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson at my show buying everything to hang in his gym/dojo. Im not tied down to photography though, I write quite alot, mainly drunken poems and two line stories, but maybe if the right situation comes up I’ll pursue that – I’d never stop taking photos though, as I’ve said before, my memory sucks and I like to drink, so its a visual journal for myself. I’d hate to forget all the odd people and situations I find myself in.”
“I think Im probably one of those freaks myself, I always manage to come into contact with these people wherever I go. Maybe we have the same red eyed ‘Ive seen some things man’ look in our eyes.
In America its hard not to meet these crazies, they will come upto you and start telling a story or singing or asking for money. No one would like to be in the situations these people find themselves in, for example all the dudes I met in New Orleans are homeless due to the hurricanes they get there. They didnt choose to live drunk on the streets so why should they be looked down on. When they come up in the street, all they might want is a conversation with someone, to tell their story as some kind of therapy. Then they might ask for a dollar or a beer, which usually helps towards getting a photo.”
“I should be super positive about the area I live and work in, but its getting hard these days. The people who have made Hackney such a great place to live, work and go out in are being pushed out. A lot of friends have had to move South or out of London. If for some reason I had to move out of my place now, I’d have no idea where I’d go. I keep having dreams about Hawaii so maybe there? I still love Dalston though, its great the amount of people that come here as their first stop in London. The tourists that come East arent here for the pound shops, they come for the bars and clubs.
It’s important for people to have somewhere they can go and unwind, forget about the world and their shitty job by drinking a fuck load and having a dance. Some people play golf and fuck lady boys, thats because their income permits them to do so. For the most part, all the artists, fashion designers and musicians I know, earn fuck all, but spend the money they do have on getting pissed. I see so many people who meet eachother by sitting at the bar, who then go on to work together. The Young British Alcoholics came directly from this idea. Our culture will never die, everyone will just need to be more creative in the way they run things. On a lighter note you do see a ton of funny goings on at the bar. One guy was once crawling around the dancefloor on his back looking up girls skirts, he was pretty cool. Telling Idris Elba to fuck off was a high point in my life – I dont want to tell too many stories though, one day I’ll release a book and tell the world of all the weird stuff you people have done!”
“I’ve got a few zines and a few shows in the works. I’m compiling all the writing Ive done into some kind of book; its a bit worrying though as Im not sure if people will understand the insanity. Some of it is readable though, so people can just filter through the shite or chuck it in the bin.
I’ve also started making my own religious literature. It’s really just a stream of consciousness about topics like the Mars mission and people that have pet snakes, along side some photo’s and drawings. I’m not expecting that to go anywhere, I just collect the Jesus pamphlets you get on the street, so it made sense to make my own for the collection..
Im pretty keen to do anything I’m asked so I don’t tend to plan what I’m doing too much. Leonard Cohen said he would like to try everything, if someone wanted him to design a car he’d give it a go, and I think I try to live the same way. I dont think art should be bound to one format or type. People think ‘fucking’ is an art form so why not give Ron Jeremy the Turner Prize? I’m still pretty young though so Im in no rush, if I’m 50 and finally doing what I dream of, I’ll be happy. Right now all I need is good weed, good friends and a place to rest my head.”
Vol. 4 – BNTL Presents: Will & Tom (Done)
Vol. 3 – BNTL Presents: Warren Feather
Vol. 2 – BNTL Presents: Panik (ATG)
Vol. 1 – BNTL Presents: Shy One (DVA)
Photo’s by Tom Spellman