Royston graffiti artist delighted with praise from Son Heung-Min for Tottenham mural
- Credit: ADAM DAVY/PA
“It was a dirty word. It was vandalism, so I kept getting caught and even arrested.”
This was the reality for UK street artists in the 1980s. They saw the walls and sides of buildings in downtown New York covered with vibrant pictures and drawings and wanted to replicate the art form across the pond in England.
And they did, whether authorities liked it or not.
Royston-based David Nash, also known online as Gnasher Murals, was one of these people who picked up a spray can with his friends and started to express himself using a tin.
Nash was so obsessed with the art that it even played a big part in his studies.
He said: "I did graffiti as my final art exam and got an F because it wasn’t recognised as an art form, so I had to do an extra year at college.”
But now as the connotations around graffiti have changed and people have been allowed to take to the street to showcase their flair, Gnasher managed to turn his hobby into a source of income.
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Although it wouldn’t have been possible without his friend persuading him to come back to street art after a 16-year break.
"When my friend asked, my first reaction to it was ‘no, not really’, but he said there were legal designated areas you could do it," he revealed.
"And when I came back home, I never thought I would do that again, but one week later I was out on the street, spray-painting walls again.
"Then things started to progress from there and people started to ask me if I could paint their shop, or their kid’s bedroom and then suddenly my full-time job became my part-time job and I eventually gave it up and went full-time into this.”
And since that decision to leave his job as a photo retoucher Nash has had a variety of work, from encapsulating the city of Liverpool through paintings of players who have starred for the Reds throughout the years, to painting three ducks pooing in someone’s bedroom.
No one day is the same for a professional mural artist and with his work there for the world to see, the Hertfordshire-based artist has had some viral success in the past couple of years.
Nash has used his talents to pay respect to the likes of June Brown, who played Dot Cotton in EastEnders, and Sean Lock, who was a huge inspiration for Nash.
But most recently, Tottenham and football fans went crazy for Gnashers’ depiction of Son Heung-Min Son on a wall in Stoneleigh Road, just down the High Road from the Tottenham Hotspur stadium.
Nash said: “I did it out of my own pocket, only because my son is a huge Spurs fan, and is Asian. He sees Son as a huge inspiration to him and I wasn’t expecting everyone else to go crazy for it as well.”
Despite supporting West Ham United, Tottenham’s London rivals, even Nash was chuffed when the Premier League Golden Boot winner recognised his work.
The 30-year-old said about Gnashers’ mural: "I was sleeping when someone sent it to me. I was surprised that the quality was so good.
"My friend knew that the person who drew it was a West Ham fan, but I think his son likes Tottenham. So, I laughed and said ‘isn’t it harder to be loved by West Ham fans than winning the Golden Boot'?
“I was grateful for the thought that I am loved there too and I thought a lot about how cool it was."
And it shows how far graffiti art has come. When Nash was younger on weekends, he would interact with police on multiple occasions as they tried to put a stamp on "rulebreakers" trying to create.
But now Nash has used that creative talent he possesses to bring to life people’s ideas, however wacky, and even interact with one of football’s best players.