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TOI TANGATA ARTIST INTERVIEW WITH LEON HOHEPA

How long have you been making art for? How/where did you start?

Good question, this takes me back, it was an autumn day…. kidding. For as long as I can remember, but it doesn’t mean I was any good. I didn’t take art seriously until 2015, when I started studying.
 

What are some of the key milestones/highlights on your journey as an artist so far?
My first exhibition with VIVID Wellington, and my first mural for BGI.
 

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced on your journey as an artist?
Overcoming the fear of the public viewing my art and knowing I’m a weirdo. Facing adversity from mentors and picking and choosing what advice to move forward with.
 

Why do you do what you do?
Because I get a kick out of art. It’s exciting, there’s always a new way to look at things. Apart from getting a kick out of it, art can take me places, I can travel. Art branches out to so many things, I thought art would be be painting canvases and waiting for someone to buy them, but then opportunities come along like painting for the council, tattooing, digital design, collaborations etc.
 

What messages do you hope to convey through your artworks?
Political art. Environmental. My world view. I want people to stop and think about what’s happening and I want to challenge conceptions of what art ‘should’ look like.
 

What are some of your big goals and aspirations as an artist?
I want to ‘art’ all over the world, and be featured on ‘Sullen TV’ Tattoo Collective.
 

What are five random facts about you?
1. I play the guitar (and some others)
2. 
I have one nipple bigger than the other
3. 
I only have a beard to hide my double chins
4. 
I’d shave my beard to meet David Attenborough
5. 
I’m a huge Whitney Houston fan
 

What are your other passions in life and why
I’m passionate about youth, teaching, and community. I grew up in the hood, I’ve seen hungry kids and kids with nothing to do and I want to be able to inspire and provide a place of stability and learning, and fun.

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