Return"Most of All, We Like the People" | An Interview with the MTN Shop Nottingham
Steven Dilk and Silvia Lam are the couple behind the Montana Shop Nottingham. Dilk started doing graffiti in the city in 1986 and has kept up a healthy rhythm of painting his trademark semi-wildstyle pieces ever since. Silvia, originally from Hong Kong, was introduced to graffiti through Dilk in 2007, and started working in the shop a year later.
The origin story of the only MTN flagship store in the British Isles takes us back to the first graffiti shop that Dilk opened, which was called Coverage and opened in 2002. Dilk had been travelling extensively since the beginning of his writing career, which included his first visit to Barcelona in 1995.
Having grown up using car paint in the UK, Dilk was amazed to see that there was a brand aimed at artists and couldn’t wait to share it with his scene at home: “basically I wanted to bring paint to Nottingham just for my friends and the local lads to do graffiti with.”
Coverage was a humble spot, operating out of an old shopping arcade. “I didn’t have any big ideas really,” Dilk remembers. “No solid business plan. It was just something I believed in and I wanted to do for the community, and I gave it a go.” Coverage ran until 2008 before they moved location and officially aligned themselves with MTN.
The first MTN Shop Nottingham opened in Hockley shortly afterwards. “It was a bit more a hip, up-and-coming area, so we were happy with that,” Dilk says. The shop lasted a decade before the business outgrew the premises. “We still loved the building but we wanted to build the shop of our dreams. A big, open space. A lot more paint. A more modern type of shop with self-service.” They found exactly what they were looking for in a nearby market warehouses that had been renovated with European Union funds in 2014.
A NEW BEGINNING
The Sneinton Market Avenues were once warehouses that belonged to wholesalers, that fell into disrepair towards the end of the last century. These days the units are home to all manner of creative services and local businesses. And that’s what makes it the perfect home for the Montana Shop Nottingham. “Most of all, we like the people,” Lam says. “Creative people, totally independent.”
The customers that the shop attracts are as varied as the neighboring stores, as Dilk explains. “We get all kinds of clientele. Everyone’s welcome and treated the same, whether you’re the king of graffiti or you just wanna paint your bike.” They’ve seen how the profile of people using Montana Colors products has evolved over the years: “We still have a lot of graffiti writers, and a lot of people travel to the shop, but every day we also have people coming into the shop asking about upcycling stuff. That’s really growing.”
THE LEGENDS OF NOTTINGHAM
The city in the midlands of England is well known as a city that has produced committed graffiti writers with a strong, graphic style over the years. The ILC crew are one of the best examples of high production values, longevity and international connections that have secured the legendary status of names like Pulse, Dash and Alert. “For a old scene, a lot of the old boys still paint. But there’s a new generation now, with a new take on it, doing it their way.”
With an ambitious and universally well-liked character like Dilk at the controls, it’s no surprise that the third Montana flagship store has gone from strength to strength. After so many years serving the graffiti and arts community, it represents a genuine hub in the unique scene that exists in Nottingham. Graffiti is no longer thought of as a delinquent act, and parents bring in their kids to show them how to express themselves through aerosol art. There have even been marriages thanks to chance meetings at the store. Dilk sums up the most satisfaction that the shop gives him: “Minus the shop, we wouldn’t have had those relationships. And I love that.”
Check out Dilk’s finest pieces in MTN World’s Three Aces here.
Read more interviews with official MTN Dealers here.
ShareApril 28, 2022