NZ's Banksy, Paul Walsh, turns street art into full-time career
You'll know Paul Walsh - if not by name, certainly by his art.
If you've ever seen a funky utility box on the street, perhaps decorated with a Ziggy Stardust hamster or texting monkey, then it's one of his. The pastel-palmed painter has been slowly spraying his work all through the country and into the hearts of Kiwis.
It's gotten so big, he's been able to quit his day job as a website designer. What started out as artistic graffiti turned into a full-time art career.
Paul is a self-taught artist from Rotorua. He rose to fame when Watercare removed his painting of the 'Grumpy Cat' meme from a local water tower - they considered it vandalism. But Chorus considered it genius, asking him to paint boxes up and down the country.
Walsh wasn't paid for that, so turned to crowdfunding site Pledge Me so he could take time off work. He asked for $350, but ended up with $1300. The project itself was just as successful as the Pledge Me campaign, attracting both national and international recognition.
"The publicity I have received from this project has helped me quit web design and work full time as a mural artist," says Walsh. "I can support my family off my art."
It began with Chorus starting to pay for his work.
"Then I started getting other commissions for schools, kindergartens and offices... so all of that combined has gradually made art my full-time job!"
Some of Walsh's most iconic work includes the Prince mural on Auckland's Karangahape Road, along with his more recent Chris Cornell tribute.
Other favourites include an overly enthusiastic looking seal and a jaguar in a party hat - all much better than your average "Bex Waz Here '08".
Walsh enjoys street art because he believes it's the most accessible art form out there.
"They are enjoyed by everyone from all walks of life and they help brighten up our shared spaces and neighbourhoods."
His favourite piece was "DJ Willis over in Te Atatu peninsula, because it's from a photo of our awesome dog who passed away last month".
The artist plans to continue his mission to brighten up New Zealand's neighbourhoods. After all, who doesn't need more psychedelic seal pups on their daily walk to work?