Curfew Bus by Dr. D. (Subvertiser)
Dr.D. AKA Subvertiser is a legend of street art subversion, using his insightful observations to ‘doctor’ everything from big brand billboards to political posters. Each ‘rip’ forms a defiant protest and a good kick up the backside. Dr. D.’s subverted images often appear with perfect timing to respond to current affairs and social debate and are a paradox by definition; each piece charged with a powerful passivity. Indeed, the artist’s mischievous mode of social commentary is clear to see for those who are actually willing to take a look around. Dr. D. urges you to raise an enlightened middle finger to the establishment.
Dr.D.’s process is unique and completely individual to him. A billboard poster by trade, the artist has access to a wide variety of locations for his work, which he creatively exploits to the very best of his ability. He is known for using wheat pasted text and images to compose some of the most provocative pieces on the street today.
An interview with Dr.D. AKA Subvertiser
We are big fans of your subversive street art, social commentary and observations to ‘doctor’ everything from big brand billboards to political posters. Can you tells us about ‘Panicky In The UK’ and your inspiration behind the new range with Underground England?
Not being a naturally gifted artist, you have to work with what you’ve got. It’s an aesthetic of the punk movement that I think reoccurred with my generations’ illegal warehouse party scene of the late 80’s. One of my old fly posting crew came up with the phrase and I was immediately thinking Jamie Reid, of course. Early on in 2020, it seemed like a rumour that something bad was on its way but we had no idea how bad it would get and how incompetent our government would reveal itself to be. It was certainly Panicky in the supermarkets too, as the shelves got cleared for no good reason other than ME FIRST!!!
Could you talk about the evolution of your style of work over the years? What gave you the idea initially to craft and hone your skills, whilst raising your middle finger to the establishment?
I didn’t get to study art, so I’ve been pretty much making it up as I go along all my life. I got my political poke from the front page of a national newspaper the Monday after a party at an aircraft hangar to the west of London. It reported thousands of ecstasy wrappers littering the floor and the heads bitten off pigeons. It was thousands of pieces of silver foil from the indoor pyrotechnics and any pigeons that were there had either fallen from the rafters with the bass or just never been cleared out when they took over the hangar. After a few years working fly posting around central London, I read No Logo by Naomi Klein and got the idea from there to cut and paste bits from one billboard to another, just for a laugh.
From festival decor at Glastonbury to creating artworks at Nuart Festival, why do your artworks blend into the urban landscape and how the general public react?
I want things to kind of sneak up on your subconscious. What I’m saying isn’t always obvious and the imagery is often something we become blind to. But when people get that there’s something challenging authority, they usually like it just for the break in the monotony. If there’s a joke, even better.
Most ambitious stunt, or one you wish to divulge?
Probably smuggling four giant inflatable balls into the Live 8 concerts in Hyde Park 2005. They measured about 4ft (120cm) across once we’d pumped them up having got past the security. I’d put a message about the government’s proposed mandatory I.D. card, 4 giant NO 2 I.D. slogans in big black letters bouncing their way across the crowd all the way down to the stage. I heard they’d made the live feed but got edited out of the highlights.
Is there a particular subculture that you feel has most effected and influenced you and one which is reflected in your artwork?
It started with the DIY ethic of Acid House and ran through pretty much every genre of Dance Music you’d care to mention. We even did our own illegal parties underneath the A40. I got used to bending the rules.
The UK has borne many British rebellious characters, is there one that comes to mind that you admire?
It’s annoying because he’s so fucking good – but Banksy is unavoidable. I’d be driving round Soho looking for spots to get my fly posters up and I’d come around a corner to find he’d painted the whole of the centre point fountains. Around another corner the Mona Lisa appears holding a rocket launcher then this turns in to Osama Bin Laden. I emailed him offering my help, funnily enough he never took me up on the offer but printed the email in one of those little black books he did.
Has the Covid 19 ‘lockdown’ changed your thought and creative process in any way?
Less paid work means more time to be naughty but on a lower budget.
What’s playing on your speakers at the moment?
Shy FX – Rain, or Ibiza Sonica, or Radio Juxtapoz, or Adam Buxton podcasts. I’ll stop there.
And finally, if you could keep one of your own original artworks, one that makes you smile everyday – which one would it be?
It would be Suck My Goldman Sachs. No seriously, Suck My Goldman Sachs written over the top of David Camerons airbrushed election billboard.