If you’re roaming around Austin’s east side, I suggest studying the telephone poles. With most of them covered in street art, they are like the city’s informal gallery space.
In a past issue we documented the poles as canvases for “rogue art.”
If you’re lucky, you may catch a glimpse of delicately crafted crochet cacti, cats and alligators living on various corners; hugging fences, posted on telephone poles and embedded in the East side landscape. With their bright colors and quirky characters, these works of art by Will Crochet are hard to miss, and even harder not to take home. I once saw a row of crocheted cats gradually disappear each time I went to Native Hostel.
Though crochet and street art seem like opposing forces, Will Crochet has managed to marry the two, all the while creating accessible art for everyone to interpret. It is through her anonymity and the nature of street art, that this expression of self can be celebrated. It’s a rare case in the art world when lack of identity plays in your favor.
How did you get started in the street art scene?
About ten years ago, I started creating small pieces or yarn bombs. The first street art I ever made was on a stop sign in Austin. I turned it into a flower by covering it in green yarn and attaching crocheted leaves with wire. It made the stop sign look like a rose.
What’s the process like? Has it changed over time?
I started out gluing pieces to electric boxes. I wasn’t so much trying to vandalize as I was experimenting with what worked. I’m more into velcro tape now. And a lot of times, simply stapling a crocheted piece is quick so I can sneak away and play it off. I always like having someone as my look out.
Creating art anonymously has given me a license to freely express myself.
Crochet is widely known as a therapeutic craft. It was my coping mechanism after the election and leading up to it. I had a sense that I needed to find my voice again. street art does that for me. It’s how I tapped into that part of myself.
How does keeping your identity anonymous benefit you as an artist?
Creating art anonymously has given me a license to freely express myself. I have a confidence that I was lacking on my own. With street art, I can do whatever the hell I want to because I don’t know what will happen to the art or who will even see it. I’m not trying to draw the attention back to myself. I want people to see the message and be curious.
Aren’t you afraid of what will happen to your work?
Some people can’t wrap heads around leaving art on the street, but for me, it’s kind of an obsession. It’s very liberating to let go of something you’ve worked so hard on.
It makes me feel like I have a voice.
Do you ever check on your pieces?
Actually last night I was taking a Lyft to a gallery event, and when the driver asked what I did, we happened to drive past a telephone pole with one of my pieces on it. So I pointed out the window and said “that’s what I do.” I felt a little silly for bragging, but the timing was perfect.
Does social media affect your ability to remain anonymous?
I do go by my real name for some art shows. I’m pretty horrible at disguising myself. Social media has to be strategic. However, it’s great to join the scene. I’ve met a lot of artists on Instagram through the tags people use in their posts.
No matter what, I want street art to remain a part of whatever I’m doing. I’ve stepped back at times to work on large scale pieces and I go through cycles, but I’m always centered on street art.
Appeared in: Issue 13