INTERVIEW // Safehouse: DangerFork

If you haven’t heard of them yet, DangerFork is a boutique independent screen printing service run out of Melbourne’s Safehouse studio by super husband and wife team Chris Drummond and Megan Quigley. Having produced some of the top, most appropriately priced prints for some of Melbourne’s best street and graffiti artists for a year now, the possibilities seem endless and the quality is only getting better for the future. Leading into the the Spring quarter of the fantastic Seasons of Change shows, I sat down with the duo to discuss all things DangerFork and working in the Safehouse studio.

So lets start off with the basics. How did DangerFork come to fruition and does the name have any special meaning?

Chris: Yeah, when Meagan and me were living in Europe, we were travelling a lot and the only way we could get artwork was with prints. We just really liked the idea of buying artwork and prints, along with making them, and decided when we came back we’d get a screenprinting table and start making some of our own. So it sort of went on from there, we got our first screen printing table in our old garage in McKinnon and did our first couple of prints and its sort of went from there. With the name, a few years ago…

Megan: We were thinking of stupid names for children…

Chris: And yeah, I liked Fork and Meagan liked Danger…

Megan: You started a blog with it didn’t you?

Chris: Yeah, that’s right, I started a blog, DangerFork, with photo’s and stuff and, we just kept that name…

Megan: It was our first child…

Chris: Haha, yeah it sort of was… luckily our real child got a real name though

Did you do a short course or go to school to learn the trade or was it all self taught?

Chris: No, I never did printing at an institution, I’ve studied fine art in the past, painting, but screen printing, I basically taught myself or each other. I’ve gotten some hints along the way from the Everfresh boys along the way,  which helped me get my head around it. But basically Meggs, Rone and Dion from While You Sleep have helped us out a bit, but its basically been trial and error.

Is screen printing a long process? What’s the average time it takes to produce a batch, after you receive the original artwork?

Chris: That really varies on the artwork, the amount of colours, how many prints we’re doing, etc. If it’s a 1 colour print, edition of 20, A3, it’ll take a couple of hours. But you could be doing a 10 colour print, A1, at an edition of 100, which would probably take a couple of weeks, it really depends on the amount of colours, details, size and number of prints we’re doing.

Megan: I think the artist as well, how familiar they are with the screen printing process, sometimes the artwork comes in and you think ‘oh my god, this is going to be such a bitch’ to create due to the smaller details.

Do you have much say in the final piece? Layers? Colours?

Chris: It depends, if someone is just paying us to do a print or if its something we’re going to release through our label. If we’re doing it to release, we will put in all the time and materials and take a percentage, so we get a bit more of a say. Whereas, if someone’s just coming in for their own work, they can and we’d get it done for them. But alot of people do ask for advice, like whats going to work and what are the current limitations with the process.

How many layers can you currently do? Any plans to go further?

Chris: As many as you wanted. I could do a 40 colour screen print if you really wanted [laughs], it’ll take a long time but, I could do it, so yeah limitless.

Right now, you do prints, posters and stickers, are there any other plans to work with another substrate or expand on DangerFork further?

Chris: At the moment we’re sort of focusing on the prints, but we’ve definitely got plans to expand. Megans always wanted to do a magazine and we’ve also been thinking about getting a retail gallery space and taking on that a bit more, the possibilities are endless. But for now, we’re just focusing on doing regular print releases on the website and building our customer base by working with good artists.

One of my favourite things about the DangerFork label is the fact you get a lot of artists who rarely do gallery shows and release their own prints. I’m hard pressed to find a piece by Jorz, Stabs, Mayo or Mysterious Al anywhere else, how does it feel to give these opportunities to artists who rarely get a chance to sell their work?

Chris: Yeah, its good, I guess most of these people I’m just friends with and its sort of how we’ve made a point of contact with them, cause they’re all good artists. I’ve mostly been painting graffiti with these guys and we want to support emerging artists, I’d probably like to do work for more famous artists, but I don’t really know many [chuckles]. So you know, that will come with time, but its been good so far!

Has it been difficult explaining the process to artists who have never done this type of work before or are these guys pro’s?

Chris: Sometimes yeah, only because they don’t understand the limitations of things like “can we change this here and there?” But generally, once we explain it more, people are pretty good, I think all of those artists you mentioned, have done a print before, so they’ve got their heads around it.

Aside from being a business and your 9-5, do you feel that what you do is some what more important due to the fact that the work could last a lot longer then some of their “street work”? I know I won’t be selling or giving mine away any time soon or at all for that matter.

Chris: I think it’s a complete different context to street work, in a way its like comparing chalk and cheese. Street stuff, you go out with the intention of putting something out in public, with most people having the having the expectation that its not gonna last, whereas this is something completely different. You’re making artwork for a different context to go in someones house, I don’t think ones more important then the other, both are very important to the artists, but I couldn’t really compare them in importance.

While you have been known to do work for Melbourne’s street art and graffiti scene, are you open to working with artists, designers and companies in need of your services? If so, whats the best way to get in contact with Dangerfork?

Chris: Yep, we just did a merch poster for The Smith Street band and we’re definitely looking to do more of them. We’re keen to take anything on really, we’re basically open to any artists in need of a printing service, if people want to get their work printed for exhibitions or whatever they’re doing, band merch posters, anything really, whether it’s a private release or a Dangerfork collaboration.  And the best way to get the ball rolling would be through the Dangerfork website.

Any dream artists you’d like to work with?

Chris: [Laughs] We were talking about this last night, definitely Dave Kinsey, his screen prints are amazing. But you know, there’s lots…

Megan: Craola.

Chris: Yeah Craola… Aryz, his stuffs really cool, Mark Bode, Jurne, Horfee, Roids, Push, most of the MSK guys, the list could go on and on and on…

Any plans or collaborations you can let us know about in the near future?

Chris: Yeah, we’re currently working on another print with Jorzz and William Yoneyama, maybe some stuff with Tanja ‘Misery’ Jade and potentially Ken Taylor… they’re probably the only ones we’ve got sorted out at the moment.

How about Safehouse, how was it formed and what is the official list of artists involved with the studio?

Chris: Safehouse came about when Per Square Metre closed its doors, Dvate and Porno were there and decided to open this space afterwards…. Ling was in there aswell, so they all came over here along with some others. We actually moved in…

Megan: We were last weren’t we?

Chris: Ummm, Cam moved in after us, but we were probably in here 6 months after they opened.

Megan: The line up pretty much consists of Dvate, Porno, Awes, Cam Scale, Jo Read, Matt Thompson, Sabeth, Swiss and us. But we’ve had others along the way like Mysterious Al and Sigs also.

Who’s your favourite amongst the team?

Chris: Umm I’d have to say… Meagan [laughs].

And how did the idea in Seasons of Change come about?

Chris: It was Dvate and GraffixCreative…

Megan:  It was Revolver that approached them, they wanted to get a show together. They’re trying to develop their art scene and bring more artists in…

Chris: I think Revolver Arts started years ago, it was a bit of an arts hub and now its turned more into a nightclub. They’ve got a heap of great stuff there by Dabs and Myla, D*Face, Banksy and Shephard Fairey. The guy who owns it has been really cool, he’s been into the art side of things for some time now, so I think they’re trying to shake off the idea of the nightclub a bit.

I’ve always found that group studio environments, produce the best work, especially when different styles are being thrown across the place. Last time I was here, Dvate was painting a piece while you were working on the Neils ‘Shoe’ Meulman print in the same room. Despite them being different worlds, do guys like Dvate and Cam Scale push you in your own artwork and in DangerForks printing quality?

Chris: Yeah, because we all do different work, in our days jobs, you know there’s two sign writers here, there’s a couple of graphic designers, full time muralists, so yeah definitely, its really diverse. We don’t really sit around painting, trying to get artwork done, but it is good, everyone does their own thing in terms of the medium, it really pushes you, having all these artists doing different stuff.

Megan: It’s cool to call on other peoples skills as well, the amount of times I’ve gone to Dan with ‘can you show me how to do something on Photoshop?’ [laughs]. Or we’re like ‘can we get some signs made?’

Chris: Yeah definitely, its not so much with stylistic aesthetics, because we don’t all draw, but its more in terms of the materials we all use, we’re always trying to use things from each other. You’ll have to see the variety on Friday night to really see what I mean.

Any crazy stories from the studio? Special guests? Who’s the best to be around when artistic block arrives?

Chris: Well, I guess there’s the story of how Safehouse got its name… a couple of months after it started, there was a couple of guys here, who were pretty flat out painting trains… the weekend before we moved in, the police raided the place and seized everyones computers upstairs, took everyones photo’s, for which they pretty much spent a year haggling the police to get them all back. That’s probably the craziest story we’ve had go on here, but after that we decided to call the place, Safehouse.

 Is there space in the studio for other artists? And is there any special initiation rituals?

Chris: [laughs] Well….

Megan: We should have one…

Chris: Yeah, probably… just…. drinking lots of beer, all the boys here enjoy having a beer on a Friday or Wednesday…

Megan: Monday to Friday [laughs]

Chris: Yeah basically, every night… doing an all night bender upstairs, as well, would be another initiation, we’ve all done that [laughs]. But yeah, we’re actually looking for people to move in, theres a few desks upstairs and we’re looking for people to fill them. Best way to get more information is the Safehouse website.

With DangerFork taking off and Dvate and Porno’s history with Per Square Metre, are there any plans of getting your own gallery space with the studio and running shows full time?

Chris: Yeah, possibly, nothing set in concrete, but its definitely an option we’re looking at. We had the space on Johnston Street at the end of last year, which was just temporary, but it’s just about finding the right space, the artists you work with, promotion and their/our customer base.

How about your own work, what can we come to expect from you this Spring?

Chris: A whole bunch of screen prints and collaged screen prints, I’ve just been printing so much over the last year, so my work has definitely gone in that direction. I’ve been doing some stuff that I haven’t done before, which I’m pretty happy with at the moment.

You’ve edited video’s, dipped into photography and are an accomplished artist in your own right are there any other formats you’d like to explore in your work?

Chris: Not really at the moment, I just want to keep developing, I still like traditional paintings on walls, I’m that sort of an artists so I wanna keep developing that with the printing. And definitely, explore screen printing a lot more, pushing it as far as it can go and combining that with painting, but just keep developing that. Graffiti has definitely come much more of a hobby now, I don’t take it as seriously these days, which is still fun. Hopefully, if I get my shit together, I’ll try do a solo show next year, I’m pretty happy with the level of work I’m doing and the ability to get enough work done, its just about finding the time and the space for it.

 You’ve had your own history in graffiti, do you still find the culture inspiring towards your own work or prefer to look elsewhere? Who are some of your favourites? Is Melbourne still one of the top cities in the world?

Chris: Definitely, still find graffiti inspiring, some of the artists I like at the moment are Roids, Horfe, Tomcat, lots of French and Scandinavian writers, Scandinavian style in particular, I;ve spent a bit of time while I was in Europe painting with a lot of Scandinavian guys and really liking the style. Jurne is really good aswell, along with the MSK guys, there’s again, so many. In terms of street art, Melbourne is really up there, theres a lot of people trying new stuff, but in terms of traditional graffiti, I think it’s a bit stagnant. And I think in terms of the scale people are working with, we’re really lacking behind Europe especially, even in South America they’re doing huge, massive stuff whereas here no ones really doing that here. It’s getting there though, we’re just a bit behind, they’ve been doing it for years, but I guess places like Poland have those buildings and environments, you know communist era, 5 storey blank walls, we don’t have a lot of that  here anyway. It’s still good though, there’s a lot going on, but on a whole it’s a little bit stagnant, I enjoyed painting in Europe more, then here.

I’ve heard some rumours of a rather large Summer show this year, any chance of revealing the truth here? Clues? Or will we just have to wait a little longer?

Chris: What have you heard?

AG: I’ve heard SDM…

Chris: Oh yeah they’re doing it, I don’t know if its going to be for Seasons of Change, but not only that I will say, there’s going to be some big names coming over…

Who’s work should we be looking out for on Friday night?

Chris: Ummm… mine [laughs]. Nah, everyones really, Justin’s sculptures, Danny’s plotter stuff is looking good, Cam’s got some stuff brewing, but everyone’s got something good happening, I think on a whole its gonna be pretty good. Plenty of prints too, there’s a collaborative Seasons of Change/Safehouse print coming too for $30, signed by all 9 artists, with each of us doing a letter for the studio name, in black or red, only 30 available in each colour.

Anything else you wanna say? Shout outs? Death threats?

Chris: Shout out  Safehouse, ID Crew and baby Esther.

Megan: My mum [laughs]

Thats all folks, thanks to Chris and Megan for taking some time to sit down with me and chew the fat on DangerFork and a bunch of other things, good luck with all future endeavours, I as always am looking forward to see what you’re doing.

Don’t forget to come down to Revolver on Friday night aswell, in terms of art, these are some of the top shows Melbourne has to offer and with Safehouse, DangerFork and Dvate behind the wheel, you know its going to be good. You know I’m not big on revealing art before shows, but I can assure you, this is going to be a top notch offering from the team [wait ’til you see Lings and Sabeths and Jo Reads… see what I mean?], remember one night only, so get in or miss out!

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Awes – Cam ScaleChris Drummond – Jo Read – Jimmy D – Matt Thompson – Pornograffixxx – Sabeth – Swiss – and more