Rel Pham aka ‘Terhor’ is an Australian artist who has been making major waves in the local scene for a few years now. His work a unique mix of pop art, dada, graffiti and digital culture.
Gaining his start in the world of graff and street art Rel has since pivoted into predominately making fine art. On top of this, ‘Terhor’ recently teamed up with fellow Australian art star Zeke’s Lunchbox, Voltron style to form the new entity TeeZee. With TeeZee both Rel and Zeke remain separate, yet joined. Teaming up for murals, group shows and commercial releases such as apparel.
(Some digital art by Rel, below)
With Terhor’s style having recently evolved once again – per it’s usual 2 year or so cycle – now is the perfect time to get to know the future cyborg and his art, by reading the Art Talk below…
Basics/Getting to Know
Name + D.O.B?
(Some art by Rel, below)
City, State n Country you currently call home?
Sydney, NSW, Australia
City, State n Country you’re from?
Describe a memory from some stages of your life ….basically trying to piece together your pivotal moments. Concerts, art, action-figures, romance, school, crime… ANYTHING man!
* age 5 – beginnings:
Drawing ‘video games’ with my friends, trying to figure out how to draw explosions.
Making miniature guns and weapons from video games out of aluminum foil.
* age 10 – continuations:
Moving around a lot, playing Nintedo 64 – Drew a lot of Pokemon.
* age 15 – getting serious:
Greasy metalhead years, drawing skulls, Counter-Strike and memes.
Well and truly submerged in the nerd swamp.
* age 20 – young adult:
Painting skulls, delusions of grandeur – starting to show in exhibitions.
* age 25 – further continuations:
Also known as the present, getting closer to honing in what I want to do and how I want to do it.
* age 30 – adult mode:
A few cybernetic implants.
I am trapped in the inevitable 2018 war between man and machine. Seen as an abomination by both sides…
(A 2017 photo of Rel and friend)
Don’t make it good, make it interesting
Why the name Terhor?
Initially it was ‘Terrible Horrible’ – Typical self-deprication masquerading as humility but that was way too long to write.
I’m gonna drop it soon – it’s become superfluous.
Favorite other artist(s)?
Jamian Juliano-Villani, James Jean, Mark Thomas Gibson, Jayson Musson, Chris Yee, James Jirat Pitradoon, Fresh.Max, Wong Ping.
There’s way more but I can’t recall them all.
Worst aspect of the contemporary art-hustle?
Marketing and self-promotion.
Best aspect of the contemporary art-hustle?
Seeing great work and meeting those artists.
(Pictures below of one of Rel’s zines)
Do you consider what you are making to be ‘art’, ‘design’, re-hashed crap?
I consider it art, in the sense that I want it to be art.
It’s probably re-hashed – we’re all too deep in the matrix of content creation to avoid it.
When and why did you first start making ‘art’ (drawings, paintings, anything)?
I started taking it ‘seriously’ at around 18/19 – but my stuff wasn’t good and I was too proud to admit I needed to study and practice.
What did you draw/make as a pre-teen child?
Yeah – fan art, drawings of pokemon, aluminium foil sculptures of weapons.
Basically making my own toys.
What did you draw/make as a teen?
Angsty shit, flowers for girls, skulls for me.
It’s all pretty cringy.
Any pivotal artistic moment/influence?
When I was introduced to that supergroup of Australian contemporary artists around 2008~ Artists like Killpixie, Lister and Phil James – opened my eyes up to cool shit rather than antiquities and trophies that you see everywhere.
(Pictures below of some paintings by Rel)
Describe the process of producing your work? – (dot point all o.k.)
* Your paintings – such as watercolors?
Read internet comments section, look at memes and then just drawing or painting about it.
* Your sketches + drawings?
Just spitballing ideas at paper.
Things I think might be funny and interesting. Ideally, both.
* Your prints – such as patches and t shirts?
Usually just digital recreations of paintings – generally want something recognisable, familiar or iconic.
When it’s clothing it’s like a uniform. A signifier or a modern type of mark making.
* Your graffiti and murals?
The stuff I’ve done that I’ve planned properly has turned out well. I need to plan when I paint a wall – when I haven’t, it hasn’t turned out well.
(Pictures below of some graff by Rel done in 2012)
You and ole ‘Zekes Lunchbox’ collab a lot…
* how did you 2 come to connect?
We met at a group show we were both in about 4 years ago – since then we’ve taught each other a lot and constantly work together and share ideas/opportunities and so on.
(Pictures below of Rel + Zeke)
* explain for those at home the ins and outs of your collab project ‘Teezee’?
It’s just the both of us making work that we want to see.
(Pictures below of a mural by TeeZee)
* what do you get working collaboratively that you don’t get going solo?
More resources, we’re able to make bigger and better projects than we would by ourselves.
(Pictures below from a 2017 group show by TeeZee held at ‘Sanchos Dirty Laundry’ in Canberra, Australia)
* how and why has Zeke impacted your personal and creative life man?
She introduced me to a lot of painters and artists that I didn’t know beforehand – she also gave me a bunch of art supplies and introduced me to painting properly.
(Picture below of one of the TeeZee logos)
Favorite other writers and why?
Fresh.Max, Sluto, Eugor, Horfee Slug…
…everybody still painting in Sydney – or anywhere really.
What are your thoughts on the general Australian graff scene today?
It’s incredible right now – I don’t know about graff, but in murals and street art a lot of good artists are getting involved in making great large scale work.
There was a big boom when Street art the latest hashtag – now it seems like the people still doing it are dedicated and real.
In the graffiti scene there is a friction between what seems to be a desire for recognition – namely placing stickers and art all over public spaces – and a reluctance to be interviewed, set up an online presence and all of those other ‘normal’ art hustle things…
..What are your thoughts on this schism and the reasons why it exists?
If an activity that is anti-establishment or counter-culture or even just an alternative culture – is turned into a commodity and exploited by the culture it’s against – there’s going to be friction.
They’re smart – they don’t want to be exploited.
It’s inevitable though.
What does an average day out getting up involve for you?
I might’ve put up some stickers – that’s about it.
How, in your opinion, has the rise of platforms such as Instagram impacted the life of a street artist, and the scene in general?
Pro. You can see all the art in the world all the time
Con. You can see all the art in the world all the time
What do you think the general public’s perception of graffiti is and why?
People don’t like it.
It’s foreign and loud.
Odds n Ends
Please describe your experiences growing up in Australia?
Moving around a lot – it’s very hot.
I drew a lot because you can do it anywhere.
Who was your 1st crush and why?
I think her name was Poppy, I was 6 I think.
She had a cute bob haircut.
(Pictures below of some prints by Rel)
What role did toys play in your childhood?
They were the first medium I’d use to create my own worlds and narratives which is pretty important in laying the groundwork for what I do now.
Does sex change everything?
Yeah – it’s the moment you start defining yourself outside of your parents’ existence.
Divine Council, Denzel Curry, The Damned,
(Picture below of a patch by Rel)
Favorite TV show(s)?
Peep Show, It’s Always Sunny in Philadlephia, Neon Genesis Evangelion (I like the animation and pretend to understand the plot)
Favorite sport(s) + teams?
Warcraft 3, Starcraft 2, DotA 2, favourite teams for DotA 2 are Vici Gaming and Team DK circa 2012.
Repo Man, Johnny Mnemonic and Videodrome.
Favorite books and comics?
I don’t really have any favourite books – Wabi Sabi is a good manual about aesthetics. Anything else I read is either art books with pictures or the DOOM instruction manual.
I had a lot of Judge Dredd as a kid, not a big comic guy now. Maybe I should get back into them.
Please describe your latest dream in detail…
I was invited to be part of a great group exhibition and during the opening I kept tripping on shit and breaking stuff by accident.
(Pictures below of some paintings by Rel)
Have you ever tried psychedelics of any sort? And what was the experience like?
LSD and Mushrooms, it made me appreciate colour and creativity over competition and practicality.
Of everything you have done what would you most like to be remembered for and why?
Drugs – waste of time or gateway to the universe?
That’s up to how you do and what you do.
Please describe what you think the Australian Psyche/Zeitgeist is today?
‘Kill all foreigners – curfews at 10pm.’
(Pictures below of a zine by Rel)
Which 1990’s era cartoon, would you most like to see as a sex toy, and why?
None, ideally. All of them, if it has to happen.
Transformers has potential.
Who would win in a fight and why: a rake thin and nerdy early 20s geek Vs. A high as fuck lad on his way home from a day out writing?
Any collaborations on the horizon?
Nothing too major, something card based with Zeke.
Any major projects you want to hype?
Might have a solo show soon – I’ll just be painting throughout the year so follow me @terhor on instagram
(Photo below of a page from Rel’s sketchbook)