A few weeks ago, our team met with Earth Crusher to explore his creative space, uncover his inspirations, and learn more about the origins of the creator of the retro-tyrannical robot set on destroying the modern world.
The artist behind this evil character scrupulously works on illustrating the menaces of our capitalist society: over-exploitation of our natural resources, deforestation, modern slavery, misogyny, egocentrism of political and economic leaders, etc. Inspired by the “1%” who rule the world, his humanoids with a television-monitor head, remind us of Big Brother and the constant monitoring depicted in the novel 1984 by George Orwell.
Marc-Andre, Dre, or Earth Crusher (depending on the occasion) is a multifaceted artist utilizing multiple mediums to express his dystopian vision of the World. Buildings, billboards, canvases, toys, masks and costumes, Earth Crusher comes to life in many different forms that allow him to continue his propaganda for profit-seeking without limits or values.
When did you first start painting?
I was always creating artworks as a kid and my parents were pretty supportive. During high school, I got hooked on the graffiti scene, hanging out with friends and painting walls, rooftops or highways. After a while, I was lucky enough to meet and paint with some amazing artists that I’ve admired when I was younger, like Zek or Scan. Now, working at A’shop has allowed me to work with more and more amazing artists, like Fluke & Dodo Ose. Fun fact: I was also playing the drums in a band, Side C, and I used to play gigs where Monk-e often hung around.
You’re known for your Earth Crusher character, representing unscrupulous political and financial leaders of today’s world, how did you come up with this name and these recurring characteristics, like its tv-shaped head and its impeccable suit?
During high school, when I was getting into graffiti, I was making fun of the system by creating this prophet resembling a machine. I took the name from a song called “Earthcrusher” about nuclear bombs, by Mr Lif. I thought it described my character well, him representing people who make these bombs and destroy our World. This character has always been a destructive machine. Overtime, it also evolved as I was learning more about the system.
Your artworks have a retro vibe with elements from ads in the 50’s, can you tell us more about the universe surrounding your character?
That’s a really inspiring time for me, right after the war and the invention of the nuclear bomb. At that time, before photography took over, there was an omnipresent imagery of what the perfect life should look like. This time also came with a particular political atmosphere. Then, I started to learn more about this world I was fighting and now I’m trying to understand it more to improve it in my work.
Your work explores social and economic problems like capitalism, modern slavery, deforestation, and mass production. Do you consider yourself an activist?
Activist sounds like a strong word. I’m not protesting in the streets, but I guess putting up artwork is a form of protest in a way. So, my role of activist is still pretty laid back, but painting walls and making public works gives me the opportunity to reach people and in a sense manipulate how they feel about specific subjects. There are millions of people that are going to see my artwork and, like they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. So, when I have a chance to put something up, I really take the time to think about what I want to say and not waste the opportunity. Sometimes, it can be hard doing big public projects: you have to go through a lot of people and try to satisfy them all. But, there are stills ways you can jump through the hoops of what the city or the owner of the building wants and hide your messages in an aesthetic way that won’t bother anyone.
You did a mural for MURAL’s 2015 edition, can you tell us about the social issues you were exploring on this piece?
I named this one “Earth Crusher destroyer of worlds”. It’s inspired from J. Robert Oppenheimer, the scientist who invented the first nuclear bomb. In a press conference, he quoted a Hindu sacred text: “Now, I am become Death, the Destroyer of worlds”. This whole thing brought me to do a dystopian version of the god Vishnu with her 4 arms, but instead holding a big cigar, a cell phone and a credit card, while cutting a tree with scissors.
The last hand has a particularly funny anecdote that comes with it : as I used an actual tree that was already there and incorporated it in the painting, the shop behind the building was selling wood, so it added an ironic touch to say “Here: Wood for Sale!”
From murals to figurines, regular canvases and even costumes, your character seems to take various shapes, can you explain your creative process? Is there a medium you prefer using to bring your character to life?
I like the process of making miniature billboards, where I have to weld and cut metal, merging multiple disciplines for one artwork.
As for the figurines, I usually buy one already made and take off the head, which I replace a head I’ve sculpted myself. I’m always trying new things and learning at the same time.
I also really enjoy the whole creative process that comes with producing illustrations. I dig around and try to find the worst, most powerful people in the world, the ones who are real-life Earth Crushers. There is a lot of things that could be changed in a fraction of seconds by a small group of people who have the control, but they don’t… Understanding the human nature and the decision-making processes that end up affecting millions of people, I really find it fascinating.
You often work in collaboration with Five8 or the artists of A’shop. How does the creative process change in these situations?
It’s always a good experience to work on a collaborative project. Even when you’re doing a mural on your own, it’s always nice to have a buddy with you! At A’shop, we brainstorm a lot together. Sometimes, one guy designs the artwork and then we get together and make it happen!
With Five8, we’re like brothers, we’ve been painting together for almost ten years now. It’s been a while! We even paint with the same people, we did a project with OMEN in Toronto recently and he also worked on projects with us at A’shop. We also regularly do some exploring painting in abandoned building.
We can find your work in the streets under 2 different aliases: Dre & Earth Crusher. Why did you decide to separate your graffiti from your other work?
Dre is the name I was writing during the days I was really active in the graffiti scene. For me, it was more of a sport: finding spots and writing my name, nice and big! But it’s kind of a tough and risky sport, it’s fun on the surface but there’s not much incentive.
Earth Crusher is a project I started on my own, that came with a character and a universe of its own. So, it was important for me to separate the two.
When I do collaborative murals or a project for someone with A’shop, I just put on my painter hat and sign Dre. Then, I put on my Earth Crusher costume and go exploring new ways to destroy the world!