JOHN VOIR — MTN Australia Achromatic

JOHN VOIR — MTN Australia Achromatic

This page is Q&A section of the Achromatic Competition Blog with artist John Voir. To view the full blog article, including links to other artists Q&A or to view all submission, click this link:>MTN Challanges Australia Graffiti Community

John Voir who placed 1st in the Street Art category dropped an incredible 32 portraits within the canals of our country’s Capital, Canberra.

A massive project no doubt, which certainly paid off…

John answers our 5 rapid fire questions below.

John Voir — 1st Place in Street Art category


  • Briefly introduce yourself and your art

My name is John, I write VOIR. I’ve been painting for more than 25 years, most recently in Canberra but I’ve also enjoyed painting in Melbourne, Sydney, Europe, Mexico and North America. My work is usually about mixing photorealism with surrealism through a hypercolour lens. I want people to look at my murals and think “I never thought of it that way, but it makes sense!”.

  • How did you come up with your Achromatic concept?

One of the great things about painting in a little big city like Canberra is that small town attitude of seeing the same locals in our neighbourhoods. I started conceptualising this collection of usual suspects or characters, and they came to life through the Achromatic theme. I was visualising each of the panels as a snapshot of this local character you might hear people talking about at the pub, at the library. All Aussie communities have the lovable local larrikin — I wanted to extend that to a series of lovable locals of different shapes and types.

  • What challenges did you face and overcome with the limitations of only Black and White?

It was a challenge to flick between some level of realism for human characters, and a more simplistic animal cartoon. But that limitation becomes a challenge with something like this — how do I take the focus away from the colours and put it into the linework, the shapes.When using a fat Alien/ghost cap for a sharp gradient edge it relies heavily on fluid movements and repurposed drawing skills.

  • What techniques can you share about your process, did you find certain techniques helpful?

Visualise it and then do it — if you’re working with a strict colour scheme (especially the white on black panels) it’s difficult to cover slipped lines so during installation I had no time for revisions.

  • What is one thing/lesson you learned while doing the Achromatic challenge?

Graff is all about problem solving and in that mindset restrictions become challenges to master. Sticking to a strict palette influenced how I conceptualised. Colour grabs passers by and pulls them in. Take that away, and you have to find another hook (or 32!) to drag people over to the wall for a closer look, a conversation with their mates or a selfie.

  • If you were to do it again, what would you do differently?

I’d do it all in one session — I came back on the second day to finish the panels and discovered some local families (honest to god — parents and teenage children) had dick tagged some of the panels. It took ages to repair the damage, and seeing their lack of remorse was disappointing and a bit demoralising. Legal graff spots in Canberra are meant to be for emerging and established artists to not only practice their work, but connect with the broader community and demystify graff and street art. It goes against that neighbourhood, small town cohesiveness to see parents supporting their kids essentially destroying public artwork. I hope one day those kids read this and realise what gronks their parents are.

Check out more from John Voir at:


John is a Canberra based Australian artist dedicated to filling blank spaces with colour and form. Specialising in large scale murals and canvas artwork bringing unique aesthetics and dramatic imagery to workplaces and homes in and around Canberra.


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