Interview with STOM500 for ‘Infrared’

Thinkspace is proud to debut ‘Infrared‘ from STOM500 self-taught virtuoso from a small village in the Swiss municipality of Basel.

STOM500 defines himself with humor as a veritable “Swiss Army Knife.” He uses a variety of mediums from spray, brushes, acrylic and styles on large murals or small canvases. A predilection for animal themes which, under the varnish of pleasure, carry a relevant message, often humanistic or ecological.

In anticipation of ‘Infrared‘, our interview with STOM500 discusses bees, finding out he won #otterthinkspacecontent, and going from Artist to Artistic Director.

What is the inspiration behind this latest body of work and ‘Infrared’?

For the last couple of years, I have worked with light in my composition. The bees are like a kind of spot and they create some spectacular lights which are often colored. For this mini solo show, I wanted to create some works only with this same colored light. Also, I think the red is an interesting color choice because it creates something energetic and cozy too.

Also for me, it’s another highlight to show and make the focus on my bees. They are always the smallest part of my work but currently the most important because they give all the flow and the atmosphere.

Do you have a pre-studio ritual that helps you tap into a creative flow?

I love to come really early in the morning in my studio to work. My days always start with some minutes to watch some funny videos or just stupid things I can find in books or on the internet. So I love to start with some silly things in my head.

My inspiration comes from the cartoon, the illustration, and a lot of little objects found during my travels. I love to draw in my sketchbook on the train or in the plane.

 I think it’s the moment when I’m the calmest and free in my mind. But I only sketch the general movement, nothing really clear. Currently, my compositions are only finished within the last phase based on my mood in that very moment.

What is your most and least favorite part of the creative process?

At least I love to arrive at this moment with my sketchbook and to mix all my ideas together and to start a new story on my wall or on my canvas. It’s like a compilation of all the good or just simple moments that I’ve put into my sketchbook so it’s like a memory of a lot of different moments and energy.

What was the most challenging piece in this show, and why?

I think the most challenging piece was the first one because it informed the rest of the exhibition. So the first was the one with the orchestra mouse and the bird. I made the sketch during the lockdown, and really wanted to paint it for a canvas. But no idea about the colors, and just this impression there should be a skull in the drum. So after some reflection, I had this memory of such cool metal concert that I went to some months ago and really intense red colors. I wanted to find this kind of atmosphere for this canvas. I tried to work with the same colors for all the canvas in this series. So yes, the first one is always the most challenging piece!

Based on what I could gather from Instagram, it looks like you were a part of the development and coordination of a mural festival Color Urban Art. First, a mural festival isn’t something easy to undertake, and a mural festival during a global pandemic – next level. What was the most rewarding part of the experience? And what is a lesson you learned in the process?

Yes, during some weeks in the year I switched out my hat of Artist to Artistic Director of a festival. It’s a mural festival and an indoor festival where 17 artists paint their wall to make an exhibition XXL. This year was a little bit more special with the consideration of COVID in the preparation of the festival. It was really hard to do all the necessary prep-work beforehand because a lot of people didn’t know if it was possible to come or not.

But, finally, I was really sure that the festival could be realized! I think it’s important for the artists to meet us, and this year a lot of things were canceled. So happy to have created an artist residency and of course it’s important to find the solution to make some cultural energy in the city.

It’s so important for artist to work and travel and meet other cultures and other people. Also I think it’s important for me to share my passion with others. We learn a lot of things in these kinds of meeting.

Your work heavily features various animals; do the animals hold symbolic meaning that informs their selection, or are they more conduits for the composition and final expression?

I try to make a symbol with animals, but it’s my personal symbol because they often represent someone. An animal that I love to draw is the cat but unfortunately, I’m allergic to this animal so it’s a strange opposition. Of course the bees are the most symbolic animal in my work. They represent, first, my great father who was a beekeeper and of course the ecologic symbol of this animal. Without bees, there is no life according to Einstein’s theory. That’s certainly why they are featured so frequently within my works.

When I think about the composition of my work I try to work with the difference/opposition of them. For me, it’s a kind of ode to “living together” but without the representation of humans.

What elements in other artists’ work draw you in and excites you?

I’m really a fan of olds painters like Vermeer and at the same time some cartoon or Kawaii drawings. I currently mix these two universes together to create something simple but with techniques of painting.

What was the timeline like from finding out about the #otterthinkspacecontent to submitting your entry?

Haha ! I remember that I had just finished a canvas I’d started during the lockdown. When I finish a painting I don’t keep it for a long time in the space that I work, so I’ll prepare the next canvas but not neccessarily get started on it immediately. After 2 minutes on Instagram and seeing the post of Otter Thinkspace contest I went to work on that canvas. I’ve never won a contest, so when I made the decision to take part, it was in the mindset of taking on a challenge during the strange time with Covid, but never with the expecation or intention to win!  And also the contest was cool, with a cat, and its Thinkspace… it was easy to find the motivation!

Do you remember what you were doing before you found out you had won?

Well yes with the jetlag I was sleeping. The first time I win something and it’s announced, which is so cool, I’m in bed, it’s 3 am… Haha! It was very weird! But I told myself it had to happen like that or it wasn’t funny… I didn’t even wake up my wife who was sleeping! Haha! But it was great news!

If your body of work inspired a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor, what would be the ingredients and name of your pint?

Oh! Hum… eggs / brown sugar / vanilla sugar / mascarpone / spoon cookies / black coffee /cocoa. All the ingredients to do a perfect “tiramistom” ice cream.

I just try to paint some positive things that make you laugh, smile. My wife explained to me the recipe for tiramisu, which is a dessert to lift people’s spirits, hence the translation that pulls up. So it’s a good dessert to represent my work and wink at her!

Interview with Nuno Viegas for ‘Yard Romance’

Thinkspace is proud to debut Yard Romance from Portuguese artist Nuno Viegas.

Nuno presents us with a contrast between the visually aggressive and sometimes dirty reality of traditional graffiti and its peaceful and clean representation in his works. The approach to this theme is a continuous tribute to all those who dedicate part of their lives to this scene. Graffiti Writers who keep it real and alive in a time where the definition of graffiti tends to get blurred and mixed with street art.

In anticipation of Yard Romance, our interview with Nuno Viegas discusses what makes a good art collaboration, his love of technique, and the positive sides of the graffiti scene.

What is the inspiration behind this latest body of work and ‘Yard Romance’?

The main focus of my body of work for the last years has been the graffiti scene. Graffiti shaped my life and I keep evoking its elements in my work while paying a constant tribute to all the graff writers out there. I have huge respect for this scene and consider this way of life inspiring besides all the negativity associated with it. Even though graffiti can be visually agressive, dirty and disturbing to a lot of people I consider it carries many values humanity should be aware of and look up to. Values like brotherhood, teamwork, dedication, loyalty,  passion, equality, amongst others, while having fun and living the moment pumped by adrenaline – to FEEL ALIVE! Graffiti only disturbs people who don’t like it, It doesn’t hurt anyone. The only “donwside” I see to it is the fact that if you don’t like it and you wish to clean it up, you will need to spend money to do so and sometimes people are trapped in a position where they have to pay for it even if they don’t want to or can’t afford to – for example if you live in a condo and all of a sudden you have a massive condo bill to pay for maintenance of the building. That’s why I always avoided painting in private spots. But hey nothing is perfect in life!

This is not graffiti!

Do you have a pre-studio ritual that helps you tap into a creative flow?

Nothing specific. Ideas come in very spontaneously at any given moment of the day – literally at any time. Once I grab one idea the ritual is nearly always the same. Translate the idea into a photography, manipulate the photo, prepare the canvas and then paint it.

What was the most challenging piece in this show, and why?

Definitely “Writer II”! The red! It is always the red that is the hardest to paint! 

I never really had painting classes and most of the knowledge I acquired was shared by other artists (thank you all – that’s university!). Because of this I created my own way of painting, by trial and error, and maybe I’m doing something wrong or taking a longer course to achieve my results. Basically I like to paint with fully opaque colors where I’m able to go back and forward with tones, one over the other as I need to adjust then – In resemblance to spray paint, if something is incorrect you just spray over and it’s done. With acrylic paint, red and yellow are never fully opaque and when I use these tones I always struggle to get it done. If I add dark red in the wrong spot it will take me forever before I can get a brighter red over it. The translucent paint can be a major advantage for many painters, I just didn’t get a full grip on it yet. Because of this I have tried many different brands looking after the best cadmiums. I hope in the future someone comes up with a good cadmium hue without the nocive metals and with great opacity features. Liquitex has done some fine developments in this field in the last years, maybe they will refine their products even better.

Even though it was the most challenging piece it is one of my favorites and the one that carries the biggest feeling of personal achievement.

As an artist who is familiar with collaborating with other artists on pieces, what do you think makes a good collaboration and collaborator?

First of all the vibe between the artists. Egos aside and the will to produce something great! So far all my collabs have been suuuper smooth! Quite easy to find a midway between both artists and production flowing very well. I consider it is very important to know the other artist personally and it needs to be someone you relate to and click with, these are the main ingredients for me, no matter how far away you are stylewise.

Do you work on multiple pieces at a time, or are you a one canvas kind of artist? What is your most and least favorite part of the creative process?

Usually I work on one piece at a time. Unless I’m painting similar pieces with the same color palette. Even so I always end up focusing more on one piece than the other. Especially on the final stage of the painting where I need full focus on what I’m doing. The final stage is also my favorite, when all details come alive and it all starts to spark!

You were a part of the beautiful piece by Akut, “We Are One Infinite, Living Mind (Isolated pt.II) that speaks to this very strange time we find ourselves in due to a global pandemic. What are some ways you’re creating a sense of normalcy (or even joy) in life right now?

I tend to keep politics and religion away from my work. I agree that artists have a huge role in portraying these events but I don’t consider it mandatory. In the graffiti scene I’ve always seen people coming together no matter what their roots and traditions are, I believe it is a place where we all come together in peace and equality in order to pursue what we are passionate about. That positive side about the graffiti scene is the energy I put into my paintings.

What elements in other artists’ work draw you in and excites you? 

Technique is definitely something that triggers my attention. Seeing other artists work which I consider technically better than mine is always pleasant and exciting. A constant reminder of what is possible to do and that there is always room for improvement.  Besides that, creativity, the concepts artists come up with and then the way they materialize them. No matter what style they practice. I can be fully inspired by a cartoon artist even though I paint more towards hyperrealism. Even by a photographer, a sculptor, a performance artist, a musician… Creators in general will always have my attention and trigger me to produce more and better work.

What would be your ultimate festival line up of five musical artists, dead or alive? What kind of food truck would be onsite?

That’s hard to pick a line up… Lets say Nas, Boot Camp Clik, Wu tang Clan, M.O.P. and Kodigo 03 (homies from my hometown – Quarteira). The food truck… It would be a several day festival right?! Well definitely and italian pizza truck and a barbecue truck… and because the ultimate festival is by the beach there would be fresh fish from the atlantic ocean available at the barbecue stand!

If your body of work inspired a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor, what would be the ingredients and name of your pint? 

Damn the hard ones come last hein?! Ben & Jerry’s flavor inspired by my work… Honestly, I don’t know… Color wise it would have to be subtle and not so punchy… definitely not a berry thing… Maybe coconut, vanilla, cinnamon, nuts, somewhere in around those flavors. But if it was just my call, nothing to do with my work I would pick pistachio with pistachio crumbles. Simple, suuuper tasty but it would look green, a color I don’t like to paint with and you won’t see too evident in my work. For the pint, I would probably pick coca-cola.

Alvaro Naddeo’s Studio Tour for ‘IndigNation’

Tour Alvaro Naddeo’s studio while he prepares for his exhibition ‘IndigNation‘ showing at Thinkspace from September 19, 2020 – October 10, 2020

The inspiration behind ‘IndigNation’: The inspiration behind this latest body of work is the political place that our society finds itself at. It’s about our present days and the marginalized, the minorities, the revolt and the voices that need to be heard.

View Works from ‘IndigNation’ here: https://thinkspaceprojects.com/shows/alvaronaddeo-2020/show-pieces/

Interview with Kobusher for ‘Come Out and Play’

Thinkspace is proud to debut North American solo exhibition ‘Come Out and Play‘ from pop artist Kobusher.

From sculptural editions to screen prints, Kobusher continues to explore new avenues of expression on a regular basis. For his North American debut, the artist has delved heavily into the memories of his youth and the new body of work is a celebration of pop culture in all its many forms.

In anticipation of ‘Come Out and Play‘ our interview with Kobusher discusses his inspiration behind the show, how growing up in the ’80s informed his creativity, and a silver lining outlook.

What is the inspiration behind this latest body of work?

I almost wanted chaos. Random characters and not a well-structured theme. A direct reflection of what’s happening in the world right now wherein most of our best-laid plans can go up in smoke in an instant. And with that randomness, I’m hoping people can serendipitously discover my work.

When working, what are you listening to in the background?

Most of the time I listen to all types of music. I also listen to Joe Rogan if the guests and conversation is interesting. I rarely work without any sound in the room.

What is your least favorite part of the creative process?

Whenever I hear a small voice whispering to me that this is not my best work

What piece challenged you most in this body of work and why?

Each painting has its own challenges, so I won’t be able to choose one specific piece. I see my paintings as kids with different personalities so you have to deal with them in different ways.

If you could download any skill or subject into your brain, Matrix-style, what would it be?

I’m pretty satisfied with what I have right now but gun to the head I choose a high tolerance for physical pain.

When viewing other artists’ work, what elements get you excited or inspire you?

Composition. I don’t get inspired by other artists’ work but I’m more interested in their insights.

We are in the middle of a global pandemic, it’s an unprecedented time, and it’s a weird time – What is your approach to life during this time?

This pandemic is the “silver lining”,  it is teaching us to strip out what’s superficial and focus on what’s really important in our lives like family, friends your significant one, and doing what you really love. 

What pop-culture item; music, movies, tv, incident etc.. that has shaped you creatively?

Each generation has its own pop culture influences, but for me, it is how you obtain or consume it. Like I was a kid in the ’80s and unlike kids today where literally everything is at the palm of their hands (music, movie, fashion, etc.) on the other hand I had to find ways to get it. Imagine, just to see a poster of my favorite band I needed to first go to a bookstore selling the poster and then wait for my turn because someone is already there perusing through it. Or one of my friends would buy an album because he’s the only one who can afford it and with a record player. He would invite all of us to listen to it over and over again just to appreciate each song.

I have nothing against any generation or particularly this current one, but what I’m saying here is that all those challenges and not having everything when I was a kid has somewhat taught me and shaped me to be creative in obtaining and creating things for myself. Not having everything triggers imagination and goals which is congruently equal to inspiration.

If your work inspired a Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream flavor, what would be the ingredients and the name of the pint?

“WTF”: Strawberry, rootbeer, vanilla, crushed macadamia nuts, and banana

Interview with Alvaro Naddeo for ‘IndigNation’

Thinkspace is proud to present IndigNation featuring new works by Brazilian born and Los Angeles-based artist Alvaro Naddeo.

Naddeo is interested in the study of castaway objects and the subtle graphic nuances of urban detritus gleaned from the city sphere, the artist combines its textures and edges in compositional amalgams. His interest in the life of the unassuming object extends to billboards and signage, cast away containers and boxes, and domestic and industrial spaces, conjoined and superimposed in unexpected mashups, or cultural relics that speak of use and disposal in the contemporary city. 

In anticipation of IndigNation our interview with Naddeo explores his love of watercolors, the process of composing a piece, and the motivation derived from seeing beautiful work.

What is the inspiration behind this latest body of work?

The inspiration behind this latest body of work is the political place that our society finds itself at. It’s about our present days and the marginalized, the minorities, the revolt and the voices that need to be heard.

How do you approach your compositions? Is there usually a central object that inspires the piece, or does a collection of source material come together and determine the direction?

I approach my compositions sometimes with a central object as a starting point, like the shopping cart or a file cabinet and some other times I approach it as a “collage” of elements that share something in common, like a specific decade for example, or a specific personality.

What piece challenged you most in this body of work and why?  

None of the pieces on this show were more challenging than the others, I believe that the larger bigger pieces are the ones that are more challenging for me, I need to spend more time with them and I may end up losing some of the excitement over it. Bigger pieces for me are like a 4 hour movie, even the best movies if they last too long you wish them to be over. Having learned that, I chose doing what brings me more joy, so I stayed with medium pieces that I can finish while still being entertained and excited about them.  

When working, what are you listening to in the background?

I have a couple of good playlists that I keep repeating and also a lot of podcasts. More podcasts than music.

What aspects of watercolors make them your favorite medium to work with?  

The organic aspect of it is what excites me the most about watercolor, the big range of effects you can get just by dosing differently the amount of water you mix with. You can go from extreme control to chaos and randomness. That’s what I love the most. I like that it dries relatively fast, I like it’s bright colors. Even watercolor’s worst aspect, which is the fact that you can’t redo or paint it over ends up having a good side to it. It  forces me to be careful, to take it seriously and to always move forward, if I don’t like something I’ll do better on the next one. I can’t endlessly work on an area or painting.

When viewing other artists’ work, what elements get you excited or inspire you?

I enjoy seeing great art work a lot, it deeply excites me and motivates me. I see something beautiful and I wanna do something beautiful, my version of something beautiful. I come from the advertising world where there is a lot of competitiveness and envy and I love how different the artworld is, at least the artworld I see. I only find encouragement and motivation from other artists and from seeing other artists’ work.

If you could download any skill or subject into your brain, Matrix style, what would it be?     

Skateboarding. I’m so bad at it.

Who is the first artist or work of art that made a significant impression on you?

Frank Frazzetta and Norman Rockweel, those were some of my dad’s favorites and the ones I probably saw first.

We are in the middle of a global pandemic, it’s an unprecedented time, and it’s a weird time – What is your approach to life during this time?

Personally, I have had worse days, so I don’t complain much now. I hope everyone can stay healthy, this will be over someday. I hope we learn something and change for the better.

If your work inspired a Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream flavor, what would be the ingredients and the name of the pint?

It would be the Moo-lotov, made with Milk (for the moo), corn (for the pop) and rum for the explosion.