Goodnight Vienna


Letters, words and expressions have always been a source of inspiration for my practice, as I come from a background in graffiti writing. They have played a vital role in the production of context and I have used them as a tool for expressing thoughts, opinions and past experience.

Abstract typography plays a key role in my work, by which letters are stripped down to their simplest form; but the essence of classic graffiti and letter structure remains the focal point. Life and Loss are consistent themes represented within my work but more recently, both the city and nature have played a heavier role. My aim in this work is to combine my change of environment with the memories, experiences, conversations and interactions of family and friends who I have lost over recent years.

So the backstory and meaning of the name Goodnight Vienna/GNV… I have used Goodnight Vienna as a process of dealing with grief over the past few years and used the memories, experiences, conversations and interactions of family and friends who are no longer here as a form of inspiration. Its origins have come from a childhood memory of my granddad. Around the age of 9 or 10, I started boxing, this formed a very close relationship between the pair of us, as he was an avid boxer in his younger days. I had the impression it meant a lot to him as it was a form of discipline, it kept me active but it also gave him a sense of reassurance that I would be able to look after myself and younger brother if I ever had to. My grandad was a very direct man, in the way he spoke to people and in the way he expressed his opinions. I saw him as a very strong character who had a worldly approach to life.

Behind this tough outer exterior, there was this incredibly soft nurturing side to him which was, for the main part, only directed at myself and my brother, as we were his only blood-related grandchildren. He had a tough love approach, and he never really expressed his feelings directly. But his actions and the conversations we engaged in were his way of showing his affection.

As I said I boxed when I was younger and I’d visit my grandad most weekends. He would make some food and we’d watch classic boxing bouts. It was quality time spent with him, but it was also a form of school. Watching these fights was research – I was observing style, rhythm, technique and the history of the sport. Each fight had my granddad’s own running commentary, and it is this commentary I first heard the term, ‘Good Night Vienna’. We were watching a Henry Cooper fight, who was known for having a fierce left hook. During the fight, I remember my granddad saying, “Watch, as soon as he hits him with that left hook, it’s Goodnight Vienna!”. I didn’t quite understand where the reference came from but I understood that he meant it was game over. I never really gave it much thought afterwards up until a few years ago.

My grandad was battling cancer which he eventually lost. After his death I did what most people do, I was trying to think of things he told me and the times we spent together. But the only thing I could think of were the words ‘Goodnight Vienna’, and how those words were now so relevant, and how the game of life was quite literally over for him. I started writing and producing GoodNightVienna pieces as a method of dealing with the grieving process. It made me feel as if I was still keeping the memory of a loved one alive and it signified something that was very personal to me. The meaning has evolved over time yet remains to true to its roots, as when I’m painting I need to produce and give my best performance and deliver that knock out and be better than my last.

Graffiti Life Artist, Nick Blaney