graffiti | Interview with Armando Mesias by Iva Kanceska 30/05 /2012
Hello Mr.Mesías! Thanks so much for taking
the time to answer some questions for Skin Artists readers.Graffiti Artist, Illustrator and Character Designer, so many
creative lines of the big painting. Awesome!!!
In the very beginning, let's start with some basics...
Q: What made you to become an artist?
A: I always enjoyed drawing most of all... during class while growing up in school or in my spare time. I was always fond of creating stories and characters and was always very inspired by sci - fi and action animated movies and tv shows. None of the stories ever really made it though though, but it was a real fun way of spending my childhood. Growing up I wasn't much of a social person, rather spent my time watching tv, drawing or just hanging in my room.
Q: What kind of art interested you at the time?
A: As for now I've become really interested in all sorts of non-traditional art, from tattooing, illustration, street art, design, etc. It thrills me how this forms of expression have become each time more and more grounded, and how even though they don't emerge from a formal academic artistic environment, they develop themselves as personal ways of connecting with one self and other people on a deep personal level.
Q: Do you have any role models, people you admire?
A: Many! I admire everyone who isn't afraid to follow their goals, even when they are completely apart from the life your family or society expects you to live. Anyone who is passionate and shows dedication to what they do, and work hard every day to be even better I consider to be worth admiring.
Q: To be a creative person means to be open minder, educated, fun, well balanced etc. At least for me... What is creativity for you?
A: It's always been a debate within my social and working circles. I come from a design formation, and the talk about creativity was an every-day-meal. For me a creative person is someone who knows how to translate all sorts of external and internal references into a new way of doing things. Our needs as humans are, and have always been the same, creativity blooms not in the fact that you respond to these needs, but in the way you do it, the way you connect with other people while providing them with entertainment, or questioning their reality, or helping to improve their day-to-day.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Talking about my work always comes as a bit of a challenge... maybe because I don't usually question myself that much when I do it. I try to think in ways to connect with other people's reality, and even when that doesn't really shows sometimes, is just because I'm making a more personal statement about someone or about some fact. I base my work on trying to show reality, and my own environment as it is perceived by my, through the glass of my own mind. In this process many things come in action, influences from a lifetime of geeky movie watching, to current lines of work that inspire me.
A: Haha... as I was saying, there's a whole rack of diverse influences in my work. Usually the more essential and basic stuff is what tends to excite me the most. Real life, not just tragedy or victory.
Wall art comes always with a great story behind?
I usually take a little bit more responsibility for the work I do on the streets. For me, there is no way this can be a means of 100% personal expression. It belongs to people, and it should reflect and talk about the people who own it; the ones who live nearby, the passers-by, etc. I always try to find some story, leyend, or situation to which people around it can easily relate to. There's always a great story behind each wall waiting to be painted.
Q: Can you tell me about the making process? How do you usually develop your basic ideas to the final one? Do you use a sketchbook?
A: I try to draw a lot, it's how I first started doing things as an artist, and how I've always been tough to do stuff. However I try not to limit myself; sketching is a necessary stage, drawing, digital composing, doodling, taking notes; those are just means and tools to achieve it.
Q: Do you think that a bit of rebellion is a necessity for one graffiti artist? I'm saying this in a positive sense.
A: I think rebelliousness is a necessity for EVERY artist. I think the goal of every artist should be to find new ways to express and communicate, to develop the ability to question, or even forget what they've learned, to defy the general agreement on how to do stuff.
Q: Some of your amazing works are collaboration with your friend Jean. Would you say that the team work helps you to get inspired and maybe get your adrenaline to the next level?
AA: I have been given the amazing opportunity to meet and collaborate with two of the most gifted artist and funniest-to-hang-around-with people I've ever known, Jean Paul Egred and Felipe Bedoya. Together we go by the name of Carma Cobra, and have been developing a series of personal projects for a while now. As a group there's always been the challenge to merge each others styles and artistic lines without loosing personal identity. For me it has been a real fun ride so far, and a great way to push myself further; they usually set the bar real high!
Q: It's probably not possible to choose but do you have an ideal painting experience? A chill wall with some friends and beers? Night missions? Trains?
A: Definitely the first one. For me there's no greater moment than to be painting with my friends, in a hot windy afternoon in my hometown (Cali, Colombia) enjoying a couple of cold ones, not minding even if the world falls apart right at that time.
Q: What role “tagging” play in street art?
A: I don't really see myself as a graffiti artist. As much as I enjoy painting walls I consider graffiti to be a far more richer and deeper culture than the small part I get to reach. I see tagging as an essential part of this culture, as a way to develop identity and recognition within the local scene, as a way to claim ownership to the streets that surround each artist's reality, a way lo leave a mark and say "I was here, and I was a part of this". Whatever that may be.
Q: Any artists you would love to collaborate with?
A: I think if a had the chance to do collab. work, it would be cooler and more challenging to do it on the streets. For that there's a handful of artists I dream of working with, but just to name a few, Aryz, El Mac, Nychos, Saner, Inti... the list goes on and on.
Q: Talking about the popular culture... Do you think
graffiti art is now mainstream?
A: I wouldn't dare calling it mainstream. I think it goes a little bit against it's own essence. It's definitely become a huge part of popular culture around the world, and each day people show more respect and admiration towards graffiti as a legitimate means of artistic expression.
Q: Outside the graffiti art, there are also some great digital artworks in your portfolio. What is your favorite medium?
A: I definitely enjoy traditional painting the most. Either it's done on a wall, a canvas, a board, or any other type of object for that matter. I do a lot of illustrative digital work, but none of it compares to the feel, the texture, the love put into each stroke, and the story behind each painting, not only the one that was originally intended to be told, but the one experienced while doing so.
Q: Do you also work as a graphic designer?
A: I studied industrial design, and I develop many projects involving Identity and brand concept management. Many of it involves graphic design, illustration, photography, but I see myself as the head behind each tool being used to develop a concept, rather than the designer itself.
Q: How much time was necessary for you to develop your skills to this level?
A: I'm completely sure each and every day of my life has taken huge part in the process. All the technical skills and theory I've learned in the last 10 years or so are just a small part in a lifetime of influences and experiences brought together in my work.
Q: Do you get caught up in the meaning of your artworks or keep that separate?
A: I think there's no way to avoid it. Either you want it or not, each time you work as an artist or a designer you're telling a little bit about yourself. There's a lot of personal ideas, feelings and ideals mixed into every piece of work.
Q: So many customs masterpieces, is there any piece "undone" ?
A: Undone as in unfinished? Of course... only a small part of all the things I do gets to the point where I can say it's finished work. My house is filled with works in progress, some of theme even have years in the making. It's hard to keep up with all the ideas storming around every day. As usual, the brain works faster than the hand.
Q: Do you still enjoy painting as much now, or do you feel jaded at all, do you still have the enthusiasm?
A: It grows in me stronger each day. Every stroke teaches me that I'm farther and farther from where I want to be, artistically, and it encourages me to get there.
Q: Art could be a great influence on someone's personality. What is the best lesson that you've learned from your art journey?
A: I think it would have a little bit to do with the last answer. Knowing that 'learning' is the goal itself. That the moment you start doing the same things over and over, the moment you stop questioning your own work or the way you are doing it, is the moment you die as an artist.
Q: Do you have any advice for the beginners?
A: PATIENCE! if you can draw, you're already an artist. Don't beat yourself up thinking when you're going to be as good as somebody else, enjoy what you do and each time you do it.
Q: What are you feature plans? Please
feel free to share your work info (website).
A: There's a lot of stuff happening in the near future both with Carma Cobra and myself. First off, there are a lot of plans on showing my work internationally, and reaching a whole bigger audience than I do now. This interview is a nice step on doing so, hopefully you'll be hearing more from me any time soon :)
Mr.Mesías, I thought this would be a short interview, but I couldn't resist my curiosity. (hah) Thank you for your time. I really appreciate!
Halfway through I realized it wasn't at all, but each question I found it to be even more interesting than the last one. Thank YOU for reaching me, hopefully we'll meet personally in the near future. Greetings and hugs from Colombia! :)
You check Armando's portfolio at www.behance.net/armandomesias