“Public art is the closest to people as art can be. You don’t have to go to a museum and buy a ticket, it’s just around you and affects you, whether you want it to or not.”
Your work first caught my eye with its profound sociopolitical messages. You often highlight the impact of the digital revolution we are in the midst of. Has it always been your intention to spread social awareness through your work?
Of course, our first graffiti was just graffiti, like our names and the name of our crew. But ever since we started to develop a style that included more than just bombing, we started telling stories. When our audience grew, and we were being recognized as artists, we not only realized that people were interested in our stories, but we felt a social responsibility to use our art as a tool to spread awareness. Sure enough, our palate includes work without any message, like commercial work. Those are only to make a living, as it is not easy to live only off art. Ironically, these jobs are often very inspiring for more critical artwork.
Your team of three artists have been working together since ’98. How did you all come to work together and how do you see your teamwork as being an advantage in the art world?
We met in the streets, doing graffiti. Clearly, the advantage is our great variety. Each one of us has different strengths and weaknesses and also different points of view.
Has working in a team been at all challenging?
The biggest challenge is to find a style for the group that connects all of our styles as individuals. Also, working so closely together bears conflicts. It is a bit like living with a big family, full of strong characters.
You have truly helped shape the street art scene in Berlin. What are your thoughts about the growth and enthusiastic direction public art has taken over time?
Public art is the closest to people as art can be. You don’t have to go to a museum and buy a ticket, it’s just around you and affects you, whether you want it to or not. So it’s quite natural for us, that attention for public art is growing. We find it fascinating that it often feels like everything has been said or done before. But then, sure enough, somebody comes along with a truly new perspective.
Your team is clearly fearless when it comes to creative experimentation. You have stated you are comfortable with challenge and diversified mediums. Has this fearless and open artistic attitude developed with time and experience?
A definite yes! Sometimes we just have to work with what’s there. When we come to a place we haven’t been before, especially other countries, we don’t know exactly how it’ll be like. The measurements and texture of the wall, the available tools and colours.
For example, the colours we used for the mural “Present” in Kiev (“Art United Us” project) ended up quite different than we had planned, just because the preferred colors weren’t available there and we just used what we got. You can’t work in other countries with different cultures without being able to improvise. “Yes” doesn’t necessarily truly mean “yes” in every language, if you know what we mean.
You work on commercial projects and use much of your profits to work on free public art projects. Do you feel it is important to continue your mission of providing free public art? Do you think this is an aspect of your work that will continue as you expand?
Again, a definite yes! A lot of interesting projects are without any or only a small budget. But luckily, some people are willing to pay for public art. House owners, for example, who pay us to paint their facades, contribute a lot to the survival of public art.