One of my favorite images ever that confronts me all around NYC, is the “Primate,” by Joseph Meloy. And although he considers himself less of a street artist and more of an abstract artist, he still appreciates the fame his primate is garnering. To him, his street work is “punk rock,” while his abstracts are more “jazz.”

TOKIDOKI: Mostly it’s the impulses of the subconscious that pour out to create your abstract expressions. But, I first came upon your ‘Primate’ whilst scouring the streets and there’s something quite tangible about the image. Where did it come from? What does it represent?

J. MELOY: Well, I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of human evolution, the original ape-like man…and the primate just shines a light on the fine line between man and monkey. I’m not into doing anything overly sociopolitical, I’m tapping into the absurdist quality; it’s an intentional counterpoint to the abstract stuff I do.

TD: Yeah, the “Don’t stop! Get it! Get it!” Money in his mouth…

JM: Yeah, exactly. Absurd. Comical. I hope people will walk by him and smile. See the joke in it all.

The Artist


TOKIDOKI: I am guessing that three of the most influential artists for you are Haring, Basquiat, and Pollock…

J. MELOY: Oh, for sure. Plus, Miro and David Smith. I grew up with Haring around and Basquiat is definitely one of the reasons I got into art. My abstract stuff is definitely influenced by an awareness of what Pollock did.

TD: Can your work be found in any other countries?

JM: No primate on the streets like in NYC, but yeah, I’ve sold prints that have made their ways to Ireland, Australia, Vienna…


TOKIDOKI: Do you like Banksy? Why/Why not?

J. MELOY: Yes, for sure. He’s extremely clever!

TD: Again, I know your abstract work, it’s subconscious…so are you saying that you have no specific message that you are trying to get out to the world?

JM: Well, I’m sure that I like the idea of ‘no boundaries,’ of creativity, and the exploration into instinct…


TOKIDOKI: What do you ultimately hope to achieve with your art in the future?

J. MELOY: I’m going to keep creating, naturally, and see what happens, but I definitely want to inspire other people to think more about art, to make art… (“Don’t Stop! Get it! Get it!) sorry, TOKIDOKI interjected…


TOKIDOKI: Where did you get the name Vandal Expressionism? (I think it’s brilliant!) What does it mean?

J. MELOY: I know exactly when the concept came to life for me… It was in August 2010 and for months prior, I had been taking notes, contemplating ideas, exploring the concepts of value, damage, expression, and questioning ‘what is graffiti?’. I consider Vandal Expressionism to represent a form of post-graffiti. I liken the gestural speed with which I draw a reaction to tagging. And the ‘vandal’ aspect isn’t literal as much as it is just a way that I stylistically sometimes draw something clean and clear, and then fuck it up, and then go back over it and make it clean again in a new way.

This isn’t the last you’ll see of J. Meloy on Tokidoki. Stay tuned for pictorial posts on some of his commissioned work as well as sticker slaps around NYC.

Thanks, Joseph, for answering my questions and for giving me a tour of your apartment/studio…


SEP13. New York City.


  1. “To him, his street work is “punk rock,” while his abstracts are “pure jazz.”” : I love that ! Thanks for the interview, I didn’t know Joseph Meloy, his work is really interresting, and I like the way he see things.

  2. Very interesting. I liked the sort of next wave bit about vandal expressionism and post-graffiti. Thanks for bringing us cool stuff Tokidoki.

  3. The youth of Minneapolis/St.Paul are going to be so street art smart, it’ll be glorious. Thank you Jackson and Joesph Meloy. Love it.
    I seriously hope you are picking up prints and amassing a collection.

Leave a Reply