THE image of a graffiti artist running from onrushing police, evading capture by any means necessary. Finishing the last spray on an unsuspecting victim’s place of solitude or business and darting off into the darkness to never be seen again is how most people envisage the life of a graffiti artist.

But with Banksy now being a household name around the world, the attitudes to street artists and graffiti artists has changed forever.

Akse, known only as Eric, is a Manchester based street artist and earlier this year he was commissioned by the Football Association to commemorate Wayne Rooney’s record breaking England scoring record.

“I started spray painting as a Graffiti artist in the early 90’s and developed as a street artist over the last 3-4 years. I’ve been drawing since I’m a kid and in the late 80’s I got attracted by the hip-hop culture, Graffiti naturally appealed to me. After a few years sketching on paper I finally got some spray cans, I never stopped since.” Eric said.

Eric has sprayed and painted on street canvases around the world, but in Manchester he is most well-known for his work on the streets of the Northern Quarter. A recent piece on Breaking Bad’s anti-hero Heisenberg went viral and attracted visitors from up and down the country to pose for photos. It’s the Rooney commission that Eric, a member of the Manchester P19 street art crew, is most proud of though.

“Being contacted by the FA to paint a portrait of Wayne Rooney to commemorate his goal scoring record for England definitely made me feel proud. I received an email for someone from the FA in September, 3 weeks before the England vs Estonia game, asking me to paint a portrait of him to commemorate his record. Initially, they wanted to do it on a wall at Wembley but it was too difficult to get planning permission approved so we did it on a large canvas.”

You can watch the video of Akse spray painting the mural above the Wembley turf –

“It feels great. I’m very proud of this piece, for what it represents. Ironically, both Rooney and I represent Manchester in our own disciplines.” The P19 crew member said.

It was a video of Eric’s portrait of Nelson Mandela, following the former South African prime ministers death, which caught the eye of the F.A.

“The person who contacted me saw my video of the portrait of Mandela I did last year in the Northern Quarter in Manchester and the artwork inspired him for this project.”

Eric works full time in the science industry to supplement his street art.

I have a full time job. So, not sure I can call it a career as I don’t make a living out of it but I’ve been doing for nearly 25 years so I’m definitely passionate about it.” He joked.

“I prefer to keep my identity private for various reasons. Although, I always have the permission to paint the walls I decorate so no I’m not afraid to be arrested because all I do is legal.” He said.

You can see more of Akse’s art on his Instagram @Akse_p19.

By Sam Fawcett

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