Q&A with Liskbot Hi, Mike! Tell us about how and where your passion for art began? I’ve always enjoyed drawing from a young age and wanted to explore this further. It wasn’t until I went to college that I opened up to the different types of art forms. My first introduction to street art was whilst I was studying art at Walsall College and an older student brought a tiny street art book back from a trip to London. I had dabbled in graffiti and didn’t connect as much as I wanted to, but I was blown away by the different ways artists in the book such as Banksy, The Toaster, Invader and D*Face used different mediums to create humorous and clever art in a public space. How would you describe your artistic approach? Why robots? I began drawing robots when I was living in the Netherlands. Sometimes I drew a little box-like character that helped illustrate my thoughts. When I returned home, people seemed to like my character more than my holiday photos, so I drew some more onto stickers. Over time, each robot developed its own character and sinister motives. It evolved into me telling their story and applying them to the streets and buildings. Where do you get your inspiration from? I’m fascinated with history especially with the remains of what was left from before, like Birmingham’s dying industries, as it provides the perfect location for my robots. I also love all things science fiction, especially cartoons, movies, games and depicting apocalyptic landscapes. I also take inspiration from visions of the future, like what we see in films. A watercolour sketch by Liskbot What do you like about Birmingham and how does it influence your work? I look at the city as a big machine, a mix of the old and the new. Where old factories deteriorate and get demolished and are replaced by shiny, new concrete and glass structures. Birmingham is in a constant state of evolution and I like applying that idea to my robots. Over time, each robot has had its own upgrades and has changed along with the city. How does it feel to be doing your first solo show at Millennium Point? I’m absolutely over the moon! It’s coming up to nearly 10 years working with these characters so it’s perfect timing to have a solo show. Millennium Point’s new exhibiting space is ideal as I prefer a public location where work can be seen throughout the day, not like a classic gallery with limited viewing times. I try and make my art available and accessible to all, putting my robots in public spaces up and down the country, from dark and dingy city alleys to rural village towns. Tell us more about your exhibition 'We Strike Tonight'. It’s a collection of prints incorporated into a six-metre long mural which showcase the surrounding elements of Birmingham’s deteriorating red brick factories and its ever developing reliance on technology. I didn’t just want a series of framed prints displayed on a white wall so I thought by combining the mural and prints, it would show off my traditional use of red, white and black colours and create a stunningly visual collection of familiar and new robots. What’s your perception of arts and culture in Birmingham? Birmingham has a thriving arts community and there are always events going on all over the city, whether it’s live art happening alongside live music or retro gaming like Dead Pixels. Different cultures and artistic communities are really entwined in the city and surrounding towns. Not to mention, the city is hosting City of Colours - one of the biggest street art and graffiti festivals. What is the most rewarding thing about being an artist? There’s a mix of young and old, talented and clever, and people are making their mark out there every day. One of the rewarding things about my art is meeting like-minded people who are as passionate as me about street art. Doing what I’ve done for so long has given me the chance to create collaborative pieces of art with some of my heroes. What’s next for you? After the show comes down at Millennium Point, I’ll start working towards the summer events. I am very excited to be part of this year’s City Of Colours festival and I’m also looking forward to starting some workshops with young students and displaying some more of my artwork in the city.