Inspired by Banksy and the graffiti scene, 27-year-old Roy’s whimsical take on street art sees him creating miniature figurines and placing them in mundane settings. He is set to unveil his first solo-exhibition, Roy’s People: Street Life, which will be showcased at the Curious Duke Gallery in Whitecross Street from 3 April.
Roy – who, like Banksy, prefers not to be known by full name in order not to detract from his work – has been gearing up for the unveiling since December, painstakingly crafting new figures and ideas. All his street life prints have been shot around Central London; an ideal location, he says, as “it’s so big”.
The figurines are bought and shipped over from China before Roy cuts and morphs them into miniscule street installations.
One artwork features a series of taxidermy butterflies used as kites by the “little people”.
“The butterflies,” Roy says, “are based on the theory of human dominance over animals. Even though the little people are shown to be so much smaller than the butterflies, they still have this control over them.”
It is a concept that runs throughout his work: examining human beings’ interaction with their surroundings. But the idea began two years ago as more of a hobby than a visionary art project.
“It started with taking pictures of a model train track,” he said. “Then I started taking the figurines out into the garden, or sitting them on the desk and placing them on a coffee cup – rubbish like that.
“I decided to take it further and looked at how else they could interact with everyday street life. Before then, I didn’t really know that it could be an art form.”
Roy began selling some of his pieces online, while working as a sales representative for a pharmaceutical company and without any formal qualification in art. The first one sold for around £70 on eBay, and as he delved deeper and discovered artists doing similar things around the world, he discovered it was a viable art form.
Roy’s People will exhibit in twelve locations this year, including a solo-show in Norway in November. His work will also be featuring at Marylebone’s The Other Art Fair next month.
“It just shows you that going to art school is not the be-all and end-all,” he said. “You’ve just got to put the leg-work in and put yourself out there.”