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!

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