Features
Cat On The Wall 5th Birthday Special Feature!

2012 is here which means it’s Cat On The Wall’s 5th birthday! To celebrate we’ll be running a few special features throughout the year as well as holding a party event in Cardiff, UK at the end of January (more details about that soon!).

We’ve always set out to do what we like, to talk about what we like and to feature who we like. The way we envision Cat On The Wall hasn’t changed in 5 years, on the contrary it’s strengthened. We don’t do it for recognition, we don’t do it for money or power so to continue to garner interest from fellow artists and media professionals alike is proof to us that you can persist with what seems a labour of love in our designing, editing and publishing Cat On The Wall but is in fact a reward in that people other than ourselves care about it too.

Here’s a chance to catch up with some of the creatives we’ve featured in the past and to discover some new ones. Each of them has contributed to enrich Cat On The Wall’s vision of the cultural world. We hope to see more of them in the next 5 years.

Dave Hughes (Ammo Magazine)

Dave Hughes (Ammo Magazine)

So much can happen in 5 years. Looking back, please tell us about some of the most stand out moments in your life since 2007?

Quite a few things have changed in my life over the last five years. Highlights include getting married, starting a magazine, hiking in Peru, celebrating my grandad turning 80 and by far the most exciting; finding out I’ll be a dad in March 2012.

Career-wise things have changed quite a lot for me and I think that’s shaped the other things I’ve done in my life. For over 4 years I worked for BT as a graphic designer in a safe, comfortable, well paid but ultimately very boring job. I’d been talking about leaving for at least 2 years but had no real incentive to make the leap into the ‘real’ world. An opportunity came around to leave with cash in my pocket so I decided to go for it!

The cash gave me the chance to do something I’d always dreamed of; start my own magazine. Ammo Magazine was launched and I’ve now printed 8 issues and a special edition. Although I paid for the first issue out of my own money, sales from that point on have been strong enough to cover print costs for the next issue and so on. It wasn’t the easiest thing to do and there were several obstacles to overcome. Ammo’s now at a point where I can release an issue and be pretty confident that It’ll  sell well enough to cover costs and have a little bit extra to put towards the next project. It’s still very much a hobby as far as I’m concerned which I work on during evenings after work and at weekends too. I’d love to turn it into more of a business which brings in an income and allows me to give more back to the artists involved. It’s difficult though as I don’t really want to include ads in the mags which would be the most obvious way to generate an income. I feel that might change them from art ‘books’ to more something much less special.

When I left BT I also got to experience something I’d always found very appealing – freelancing. For over a year I worked with studios and agencies from Birmingham & London. I really enjoyed it and got to work on a wide variety of different projects. The best thing about it was getting to work from the comfort of home. It also gave me enough free time to work on Ammo too. In summer 2010 I decided it was time to push myself a bit more and set about finding an extra studio to work with. During this search I was offered a job at a Birmingham based digital agency with a focus on web design. Although I’d touched on web design before it was pretty much a new discipline for me so I accepted the offer and am still working there today. It’s great to have a regular wage but I do find myself really missing the freedom and excitement that the freelance lifestyle offered, not to mention the lack of the long commute into town.

Moving forward in time… where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I’m not sure what the next five years will bring but hopefully they’ll be as exciting as the last five.

Something I’m very keen to do is move to Yorkshire. Especially nearer to York to be closer to family, friends and a more relaxed lifestyle. I’ve always dreamt of opening a shop/gallery in the shambles area of York but the costs & financial risks of running a shop today are so high I feel it will probably never happen. It’s a shame as I think it would have been great to run a business with my wife. For now I’ll concentrate on building the selection of products available via the Ammo shop – a much less risky retail outlet…

How do usually celebrate your birthday?

I don’t usually do a whole lot for my birthday. I’m not keen on being fussed over and am happy to just go out (or stay in) for a meal with close family and friends. I also feel that the older I get the less important birthdays feel to me.

What are your aspirations and plans for 2012?

I’ve got so many ideas for Ammo magazine that I’d love to work on in 2012! Most won’t happen due to time and money restrictions but hopefully some of the best ideas will make it into print. Ammo’s continuing to grow and gaining more support each day. I think 2012 could be a really big year for the magazine! There are already very exciting plans forming for the next special edition.

Obviously all those plans will depend on how much energy I have to spare after the baby is born in March. I’m trying to mentally prepare myself for the extreme tiredness that’s coming but know I can’t really imagine how it’s going to feel. Hopefully after a couple of months I might have caught up on my sleep and be ready to work on Ammo again. I always love the start of a new year as it feels like there are so many possibilities out there.

 http://www.ammomagazine.co.uk/

 

Alec Empire

Alec Empire

So much can happen in 5 years. Looking back, please tell us about some of the most stand out moments in your life since 2007?

Oh there were many! First of all 2007 was the year I moved back to Berlin and started The Hellish Vortex studios where we recorded most music that came out since then. Every year has been crazy since then. I produced music with Patrick Wolf, remixed many artists, IAMX for example. We toured with Nine Inch Nails, then the surprising reunion of Atari Teenage Riot and everything that followed…

Moving forward in time… where do you see yourself in 5 years?

That is hard to answer. Of course I have many goals…the music I want to make. But it doesn’t make so much sense to think that long term in our time. I keep a lot of my ideas to myself these days, then get them out when the time is right. I want to do a lot more work with film for example, but the quality of independent films has gone down quite a bit over the past 2 years. There hasn’t been one film that made me really want to write music for it. That can change any day though.

How do usually celebrate your birthday?

Over the past 15 years I have always been on tour or working in the studio, on that day. It doesn’t play a huge role in my life or my thinking.

What are your aspirations and plans for 2012?

There will be a new Atari Teenage Riot album – we are making it right now. We will be going to South America and many other countries. I am looking forward to that!

http://www.atari-teenage-riot.com/

 

Rich Simmons (Art Is The Cure)

Rich Simmons (Artist)

So much can happen in 5 years. Looking back, please tell us about some of the most stand out moments in your life since 2007?

In the last 5 years my life has completely changed. I set up my own art therapy organisation called Art Is The Cure, went on to win the Vinspired most inspirational young volunteer award in 2009, met and produced artwork for Prince Charles and moved to London to move my art career forwards. I’m now selling in one of the biggest galleries in London alongside my heroes like Banksy. I never thought I’d achieve any of those goals but I guess it goes to show what being stubborn and persistent can do.

Moving forward in time… where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Hopefully in 5 years’ time I can achieve my next dream of moving out to Los Angeles and setting up my own art studio there so I can paint and work somewhere warm and beautiful every day. That’s the dream but the way things have been going lately, anything could happen between now and then.

How do usually celebrate your birthday?

I set up Art Is The Cure on my 22nd birthday so my birthdays are now usually spent celebrating AITC growing another year older. Paint jams, hanging out with friends, going out and doing something creative are usually top of the list. Hopefully next year we can do something cool for the 4 year birthday of AITC.

What are your aspirations and plans for 2012?

I’m going into 2012 excited and optimistic but with an open mind. I don’t know what could happen next year but hopefully it involves making a lot of new artwork, traveling and enjoying my life.

http://artisthecure.com/

 

Daniela Capistrano (POC Zine Project)

Daniela Capistrano (POC Zine Project)

So much can happen in 5 years. Looking back, please tell us about some of the most stand out moments in your life since 2007?

1. In 2008 a friend of mine, Kaos Blac (http://kaosblac.blogspot.com/) turned me on to Shotgun Seamstress, a black punk fanzine that also focuses on black queer & feminist artists and musicians. I’ve been reading zines by POC since 2000 but that discovery is what eventually led me to form the POC Zine Project (www.facebook.com/poczineproject) in 2010.

2. In 2009 I was working for MTV News and helped to cover the presidential inauguration in D.C. (http://www.blog.danielacapistrano.com/2009/01/27/a-multiplatform-life-things-i-learned-in-dc-covering-the-presidential-inauguration/).  I shot an interview with Shepard Fairey at the Manifest Hope Gallery show and that experience made me think more about politics, race, class and the digital divide. After that, I started volunteering at different orgs that teach young people media literacy (http://www.blog.danielacapistrano.com/2009/07/16/adventures-in-media-literacy-the-lamp/). I also quit my job at MTV News to freelance and pursue my creative projects for a year.

3. In 2010 I saved up a bunch of cash, borrowed money from friends and family and lived in Paris for a month to create a multimedia travel record documenting, AM, a female street artist and her activism. You can read about our adventures and watch the videos at grrrlweinparis.tumblr.com. In 2012 I will turn all the footage into a doc.

4. In May of 2011 I started taking foster parent training classes through You Gotta Believe (http://yougottabelieve.org/), an agency that specializes in placing older children/teens. I will be adopting a teen in 2012.

Moving forward in time… where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In 5 years I want POC Zine Project to be an online and physical archive of over 1000+ zines by POC and self-sustainable, with the support of grants and sponsorships. I also want POC Zine Project to function as a fiscal umbrella for related events, publications, scholarships and conferences and strategic partners.

I also want to have produced and directed my first feature-length film and have it premiere at Sundance.

Lastly, I want to have a big and happy family made up of adopted and kids I pop out on my own with my partner.

How do usually celebrate your birthday?

My family believes in “birthday week” so I like to treat myself to something special, even if it’s just time to myself, each day leading up to my birthday. I usually love to eat sushi on my birthday. Being with family and friends is what makes my birthday special.

What are your aspirations and plans for 2012?

I want to continue organizing events and advocating for POC Zine Project, get to know my new adopted teen, make a few short films, travel to Japan and Colombia, enjoy my vacation with my mom in Mexico in the summer and read a bunch of zines. <3

 

John Parish

John Parish

So much can happen in 5 years. Looking back, please tell us about some of the most stand out moments in your life since 2007?

The 2009 release of the PJ Harvey & John Parish album ‘A Woman A man Walked By’ & the subsequent tour – some great shows on that tour – a particular stand out was The Roseland Theatre in Portland.

And of course, Let England Shake winning the 2011 Mercury Prize was a real highlight, then finishing up the year playing at the Albert Hall.

Moving forward in time… where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Hopefully under a new government.

How do usually celebrate your birthday?

There is no standard practice…but I often seem to spend it travelling somewhere.

What are your aspirations and plans for 2012?

January in Australia finishing up the Let England Shake tour, then I have a number of projects lined up – a series of shows with Athens based dance company Rootlessroot who are using my music for their next production,

a French project taking inspiration from  Raymond Carver, plus a couple of interesting productions beginning with a singer songwriter from Lisbon called Mazgani.

http://www.johnparish.com/

 

Helia Phoenix (writer, storyteller, cake baker, disco dancer)

Helia Phoenix

So much can happen in 5 years. Looking back, please tell us about some of the most stand out moments in your life since 2007?

Winning a bursary from the Scott Trust in 2008 to go back to uni and study a postgrad in Web Journalism at the university of Sheffield. Getting my first proper book (a biography about Lady Gaga called Just Dance) published in 2009. Having a gig review published in Rolling Stone this year. Starting up hackflash with some friends, and starting up the We Are Cardiff site back in 2009. I went to the last three Bloc festivals and they were all pretty special in terms of music.

Moving forward in time… where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Hopefully working freelance on a bunch of completely different projects, all of which give me complete creative fulfilment. I have a plan for a comic book and another two novels.

How do usually celebrate your birthday?

Last year I celebrated my 30th in Berlin with my boyfriend, at a lovely little bar just around the corner from the apartment we were staying at. I drank a deadly combo of beer, tequilas and peppermint tea to celebrate, and the day after we went to the aquarium. Good times!

What are your aspirations and plans for 2012?

I started writing a novel in 2010 for NaNoWriMo, and I’ve been developing it sloooowly since then. I’d really like to get it done in 2012, before my 32nd birthday. That seems like a reasonable age to have a novel done by. Also, I’ve been hatching a plan to make a documentary film out of a website that I run, called We Are Cardiff. We’ve been raising funds on IndieGogo (still some time left on the campaign and you can donate anything as little as  £3.20, so please give any spare cash you have!), and you get AMAZING REWARDS in exchange for your donations, so it’s money for something!

You can also follow the documentary-making process on Facebook (please join our group here), or check the We Are Cardiff: Portrait of a City blog here for updates on what’s happening.

We’re also looking for people to interview, so if you know someone amazing who’d be good for the interview, please get in touch on Facebook or on the blog.

 

Afshin Ghaffarian (Dancer)

Afshin Ghaffarian

So much can happen in 5 years. Looking back, please tell us about some of the most stand out moments in your life since 2007?

In 2007 I presented a performance in a middle of a desert in Iran , I shouted out for  my freedom.

Then in 2009 I shouted out in the street beside the millions of people shouting freedom in the Tehran’s street and in the same year in October I left Iran and since then I live in Exile in France.

In 2010 I created my own company here in Paris “Reformances Company” and I did my first performance out of Iran named ” The Persian Shout” (Le Cri Persan).

I see that however my geography has changed this Shout for a better future is always with me and accompany my work. No matter where we live, we have all a deep desire for a better future, a better world, this is a shout of our generation, a common desire for a true freedom and democracy, a more just  and  sustainable  world.

Moving forward in time… where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I will continue developing my company, presenting and sharing my work and my experiences with the world and being a part of this common desire for change.

I will try to make the world hear this shout as much as I can with my artistic work.

How do usually celebrate your birthday?

As long as I was living in Iran, I used to celebrate my birthday with my family, but since I live in exile I’m physically far from my family but I had already found a new family, a bigger family that can host every mankind and that’s the humanity itself,. So i celebrate it On 15th Decemeber with my friends here in Paris.

What are your aspirations and plans for 2012?

I always dream for a better future, to advance in personal and social life in every aspect of my existence.

I would try to insist on this existence because I believe, to resist, we have to exist and to exist we should create and that is how I see my art as a weapon to defend my own existence in this world and not to give up in any way. That would be my aspiration for 2012.

www.AfshinGhaffarian.com

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