Aske [Russia]

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When did it all begin? And how did you first become interested in street art/graffiti?

I started writing graffiti in 2000. I’d painted since my childhood and that year some of my mates began calling what I drew graffiti. I knew nothing about graff back then, apart from the fact that it should be painted on a wall and not in your notebook. I began surfing the Web to find out more about this subculture and it hooked me. The term ‘street art’ emerged a few years after.

Which artists influenced you?

In early 2000s, I was very much influenced by the graffiti writers who blended graffiti with graphic design and pushed the limits of traditional style-writing. Those were Viagrafik and SatOne from Germany, and 123 Klan from France to name a few. Also, I was subconsciously influenced by the constructivists and supremacists of the early 20th century. Actually, I like works by very different artists, and I always try to broaden my horizon.

What style is your work?

It’s graphic works consisting of outlines and fillings. Every few years I try to change the style I work in to avoid being bored with what I do.

Are there any particular cultures that have influence your work?

Apart from the art movements of the early 20th century, I was influenced by the Western culture of the 1980-1990s. Those influences included graphic design, video-games, and Lego; everything that I was surrounded by when I was a kid.

What is the source of your inspiration these days?

The Internet. I think that nowadays most people will answer the same. Besides, I collect books about art, design, and graffiti. Also, when it’s possible, I always try to go to the galleries, museums, and onto the streets to see the works made by different artists with my own eyes. I even collect the art by young artists who had also started their careers with graffiti. Their works inspire me.

What do your pieces usually focus on?

They are based on what I’m thinking about and on what I’m interested in. For example, it’s interesting how the Internet and mobile technologies are changing our society.

What is the riskiest thing you have ever done?

Hard to say. I try to be careful.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished piece?

I am. I always work a lot on my sketches to be sure that I’ll like the end result.

Do you listen to music while working? Or you need a quiet environment?

Sometimes I listen to music and sometimes I prefer to work in silence. Usually, the silence helps me to concentrate while working on my sketches.

Where your work is usually located?

On my website (http://sicksystems.ru) and on the Internet in general, and at home. My murals can be found in Russia and Germany. Some years ago, I made many digital illustrations and those can be found in books and magazines. However, for a few years already I’ve been more into painting canvases and creating plywood reliefs. Some of them were bought by art collectors.

Do you find it difficult to do your work in the streets?

It’s very tiring to paint big walls but the end result is worth it. The main problem is that you can’t organized painting on a big scale by yourself, so you need to get invited by the organizers of street art festivals or other events.

Have you ever had any problems with authority cause of your work?

No.

Do you have a formal art education?

I studied Graphic Design in University but quieted a year before graduation.

If yes, do you feel that you benefited from it?

For sure, my education helped me. I learned the basics of composition, colouristics, drawing, photography etc. However, I felt more than once that I was wasting me time in University. I think that if an artist is talented, he or she can learn a lot through practice. I know a lot of great artists and illustrators with no formal education.

Would you rather paint alone? Or do you prefer collaborate with others?

I prefer to work alone but sometimes I like the collaborations made by other artists. I think that it’s pretty difficult for the artists to find common ground and combine their styles smoothly.

Have you ever collaborated with other artists?

I have. In 2003-2009 I worked together with two friends of mine. Initially, we had a graffiti crew and later began to work on commissions together. After collaborating a lot, I realized that I can’t share the responsibility for the final artwork with other people. I feel much better off painting and working alone.

What do you see as the future of street art/graffiti?

Graffiti, street art, and art in general will ‘live’ on the Internet more and more. Most of the people who like graffiti and street art see in online. An English blogger R.J. Rushmore even wrote an interesting book about it (you can download it here: http://viralart.vandalog.com).

I was the Editor-in-Chief of a printed graffiti magazine called CODE RED. In 2009, we started a blog, and in 2010 we made it a comprehensive digital magazine (http://www.codered.ru). I follow graffiti and street art scene closely on the Web and it allows me to share the works and stories of different artists on our website.

How do you feel about photographers/bloggers in the scene?

No doubt that they support the artists and help in making graffiti and street art more popular. I personally don’t always like their taste in art but they do an important job for the subculture.

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