Fantastic spray art in which you can dive into or that jumps towards you. WildStyle at its best! Mostly liquid, but it sticks firmly to the wall. We interviewed the artist BERND EISOLD aka BERK about his awesome graffiti artworks. He is not only active as an artist himself, but also tries passionately to support other artists and newcomers.
As a sprayer BERK enjoys doing urban art, but is also deeply connected to the art scene and tries to educate other people, gives workshops, advocates more art spaces in local councils and, above all, is committed to more free areas for the graffiti world. A very creative and brilliant person who should be supported!
Heilbronn needs more legal and free spray walls. Just like any other city. The situation is the same everywhere. More open spaces are needed to provide possibilities for being artistically active. Who does the city belong to? BERND EISOLD has been promoting this for years. Fellow campaigners and supporters are welcome! We recorded an interview with BERK in German, below the podcast you can find the written conversation as well in English.
Originally from Weimar he lives now in Heilbronn since many years and is very active in the urban art scene. Also in the Schwäbisch Hall region, there are great works created by him. BERK organizes a lot in the field of art education, gives workshops and creates a lot with children. Hello BERK, tell us more about your art.
When I was in Weimar at the time, I still painted classic things and tended to make sketches. So maybe I only really sprayed three or four pictures on the wall. I moved from Weimar to Heilbronn almost 15 years ago, then lived in Wört again for a while and in Karlsruhe for a short time, and then I’m back to Heilbronn. And almost 10 years ago I had the opportunity to open a gallery here with another lady. This was great, we opened this art space and then it really started again with the spraying.
Was that then a gallery for urban art and graffiti? Or what did you show there?
It was very mixed. So there were also people there who just came in and wanted to help get their projects off the ground. I did this with an older artist and she put her art on display and then we took other people in with us. So also urban art in part. Sometimes illegal graffiti that otherwise had no platform was also included. Unfortunately, the whole thing only ran for a year. That should have been almost 11 years ago, so it was around 2010.
So in Weimar it started with painting, but more on paper and you didn’t really go on the wall yet. Then a few years later it started in Heilbronn with the real spraying.
Yes, right. So in Weimar I moved out from home relatively early and I went also to the United States for a year. All the sprayers back then at my home place and many people from around the region, who do urban art, they came to see me in the evening or in the afternoon and made their sketches at my place. And when I came home from school, there were mostly already three people sitting in front of the door. I noticed a lot of graffiti around, but I haven’t had the time to go out and paint for myself. And I didn’t even have the money for it. When I came to Heilbronn much later, the first inquiries about workshops came through the gallery. That’s when I started organizing the first workshops and kept going out painting myself.
Just when I was on your website, I discovered an artwork that we also have on the Heilbronn Map. The artwork with the three monkeys. Hear nothing, see nothing, say nothing. At first I didn’t even know that they were from you too.
Yes, that was actually an interesting project. I actually got paid for that too. Well, I’ve been fighting in Heilbronn for a long time, so I’ve been arguing with the city for almost 10 years now that there is more open space and that the whole urban art thing is more respected. The city had just worked hard against the graffiti scene for a while. So in a bureaucratic way and applications and inquiries were then always pushed back and forth between the offices. So from public order office to building construction office to culture and education office. So that at some point we didn’t get any further. There was this project with a landlord who also has a few problems with the city and he said: “Do something. As colorful and gaudy as possible. Because something is simply missing in the city.”
Definitely. If you leave Berlin out of the picture, then it’s the same problem in every city in the country, but even in Berlin there are similar difficulties. You have to talk and explain all the time, write umpteen letters and organize yourself almost as a club. It’s actually just all about having some plain walls to paint on. It’s not about building a scyscraper. And I don’t understand why people are so often opposed to it, because there are really countless places where warehouses are empty or a gray wall in a parking lot, where it wouldn’t bother anyone. And ultimately, when you compare a gray wall with the beautiful colorful works on it, that’s actually just an embellishment. And people have a place where they can go and paint, then maybe paint less illegally. You’d think that the city could somehow understand that, but that’s always a difficult discussion.
Yes, that’s right. I’ve had this discussion with a lot of people. I mean, of course, so you won’t be able to stop the illegal actions with it. Because there are always people who say that the illegal is the real deal. Which I can fully understand. But when I look at Mannheim, for example, where the city actually advertises it and the whole thing really attracts people who only want to look at graffiti, I don’t quite understand Heilbronn’s attitude. So that this is really opposed to it again and again. And as I said, I tried that, but there is no real area of responsibility here either. In Mannheim there are a few people who organize it themselves. There is a small department and there is also money that is released for it. And we don’t have anything like that in Heilbronn.
You are active in the organizational field and try to stand up for such places, but you are also in the sense of a teacher, for example you are also active in education and work a lot with children. You are doing workshops and you are currently again painting and beautifying power boxes with children. It’s been going on for a couple of weeks now and you already had a campaign last year where you painted advertising pillars.
I did the math the other day and I’m now at almost 150 workshops. In the meantime I’m almost a bit oversaturated because it keeps repeating. But with people I’ve worked with before, I still do projects like that with them now. At the moment I actually put more emphasis on my own things and productions. About the power boxes, that’s a pretty cool project because it actually changes something in the city. It’s not in Heilbronn right now, it’s in Neckarwestheim. So around the corner, so to speak. And there something is actually implemented in the city. Usually the projects are more like creating a few sheets of paper somewhere and making a few stencils or something like that. And then you are at the youth center or the social institution, these are also the main clients, they provide some idea and you then work with them to get something off the ground, which can then be designed. Whether it’s for a theater play for the senior class or a wall on the youth center. There are always very different requests.
That’s great, because you have to start early and encourage young people and children to be creative. The children who take part in such a workshop with you will get a completely different connection to graffiti from an early age.
Yeah. I also think it’s nice when you’ve done a workshop after many years and then someone comes up to you who still remembers it, even though the workshop was maybe six years ago. It’s nice because it sticks with people and because it’s something extraordinary. Because of the workshops, I also tried things with the city. Because I teach children how to use a spray can, but later on I cannot send them anywhere and they don’t have many alternatives to do this art. And that’s why I think it’s important that when graffiti workshops are offered in schools, such a city also has to offer areas where they can paint and let off steam.
Yes, it’s the same as with the other areas. Whether it’s a skate park or a place where football can be played. They all have to ask for their space. But not all children have the same interests, some like to do sports, others are more artistically gifted. That’s a good thing you’re doing and it’s also important.
Yes, and I enjoy it too. I really enjoyed it for a long time. It is precisely with these workshops that they are more likely to be made available for the socially disadvantaged or you also get inquiries from prison or similar institutions. It is also not that there are only children or adolescents. I’ve also done workshops with retirees. That was a group of retirees who went to San Francisco and I set up the whole thing like a seminar in the city hall. So things like that happen from time to time.
Yes, of course, you never stop learning.
I agree. And the interest is now also very complex. Also we are all getting older and you have to somehow move with the times. Graffiti is also a bit older meanwhile and it is continuing to get older. And of course, some of the graffiti artitsts too.
This whole urban art genre has expanded extremely and many sub-areas appeared, especially in the last twenty years. This whole “Street Art” phenomenon and the wording didn’t exist in the past. Before there was only graffiti and then at some point there was street art and urban art and stencils and mash ups or stickers and all that. So the way I have followed it, new subfields and new groups are continously emerging.
Yes, it has changed significantly. So also through the entire Internet medium. There are many people who seldom paint on the wall and mostly do a lot on paper. Some people have really specialized in certain things, which might have been frowned upon in the past. But now there are quite a few sub-departments that all have their place.
I look at your Instagram and Facebook channels right now, some of your works I already know. You have graffiti in which the letters can already be recognized and which are made a little clearer. But then you still have some that are very abstract and something like mazes. For example, there is one piece that I think you drew with a pencil and you went into super small details. You can spend a lot of time exploring this drawing. And now and then you add as well characters to your artworks.
What you meant with pencil, that was drawn with ballpoint pen. I leally love that. It is extremely tiring for the eyes and for the whole nerves, but to paint a picture completely with a ballpoint pen and to incorporate all these details, that is something. This ornate thing, which you have now described as a labyrinth, I could sit on it for hours and when I upload something like that on graffiti pages or when I take part in a battle, it is always pushed a bit in this metal direction. But that’s actually what I individually most closely call my style. Although I’m not really committed to that. Well, because that’s my job too, that’s how it is for me in particular, that everything blurs a bit into one another. One is fun and the other is work. And when I have fun, I just let off steam. There are always new styles that I try to interpret. I have my own style with me, but still a constant development. So never to have a stopping. That is often what drives all of the artistic things I do.
Especially these blurry things or that there elements overflow into each other, there are really works there, it seems as if a color bomb has burst and countless almost color tentacles come out of the picture. Or that you can nearly dive in this almost fluidity Image. There are some who have a really cool effect, so that you either think it’s coming towards you or you could jump in.
Yes, but most of the time the letters are still legible. This is also similar to the classic effect pictures that you used to hold in front of your eyes and then dragged away, then you could see a little more effects there. So in my works there should always be something to discover. I also have pictures that aren’t exactly graffiti-like, but that are also drawn with Copic pens. Sometimes I sat on it for half a year or a whole year and then really painted with 0.05 fineliner. There you can keep on watching and always discover something new. I couldn’t even count how many little figurines or animals were there at the end.
To Heilbronn, so if people want to listen and see things from you, we have already said that there is the work of art with the three monkeys. Then there is the Olga Center, which is another spot where you can see a lot of graffiti and street art. There are always things from you. Are you there often too?
The Olga Center is currently under renovation. We have now got this cultural center. Before the Olga Center was this a youth center, it is currently in a state of upheaval. There are many things that have not yet been fully clarified. A noise protection wall is being planned that should also have graffiti on it. We have now carried out a huge spray session with many sprayers that we have here. The whole walls were then completely designed. That’s why there is only one piece of mine on it right now. Everything is by different artists, but everything is designed in one tone. That will stay for a while now, because the renovation work is currently taking place there. Then we still have the outdoor pool wall on the Neckarhalde. But I actually always move between cities. So I go to Mannheim and Mainz a lot. I had been to Mannheim often for a while some time ago, Mainz is a bit more up-to-date at the moment. I am also often in Stuttgart, but the city is very busy. Some of the pictures are only there for a day or less.
When you paint on the wall, do you only do that with a spray can? Or do you also use other instruments like brushes or other equipment? And do you use something like stencils or such aids or do you do all of this free-hand?
As I said, I’ve tried a lot of things. I had my phase where I actually used stencils quite a lot. I had made very elaborate layer templates. This one snail at the Olga Center, which is also on the Vagabundler website, for example, was a stencil work that is relatively old. At the moment I hardly do anything with stencils anymore. But that was for a while, so for two or three years I did a lot with stencils. Now everything is actually done completely from the spray can. So with orders it just happens that if I have a smaller area that I sometimes use a brush or something like that. But in principle I’m always so short on time that I try to do everything perfectly and by hand. Without all this equipment, because those things take up a lot of time.
And you also paint on other surfaces, including canvas. Because you said earlier that you had this gallery with the works on display. I guess there were works by you on canvas or paper too?
At the time, those were actually very classic oil works that I had done there. As I said, I’ve already tried a lot. In the meantime I have also painted with touch-up pens on metal surfaces and on plexiglas. I also worked with materials where you really have different layers and with cut-out motifs. So I had already tried something like that. I was jumping back and forth between styles a lot. As I said, I have a bit of trouble stopping. If I have the feeling that things are standing still too much, then I try to bring in new influences again. Although currently the styles are actually pretty similar.
And you even did something with coins. I thought that was very cool too. At first glance I didn’t really see it, but on closer inspection I noticed that you had stacked the coins on top of each other and positioned them in such a way that the picture resulted in your name BERK. In other words, a coin graffiti, so to speak.
Yes, like I said, I try a lot. Last winter I was shoveling snow in front of the house and then there was a huge mountain of snow. I then just made a huge snow sculpture out of it. Or works of art with stones. I also made graffiti sculptures with resin and latex prints for a while. Or some little spray man. I didn’t publish a lot of things at all and I kept them to myself or gave them away. I always do so much that I can make ends meet and the rest is then fun. It’s hard for me when you bring work and fun together. I always try to have fun with myself by always having something new in there and not losing the fun in it.
You also said recently that you are one of the few in Heilbronn who is that much involved with painting and who can also call the whole thing his real job. So it’s your work and you can make a living from it?
Yes, right now, due to the situation, a few more other people have started their own business. Some had called me then and asked how they are now getting on with the tax office. But here in Heilbronn in particular, I also took part in the meetings of the local councils and the city council, because I also wanted to bring the whole graffiti scene to the fore. And that’s why a lot of things come to me now. I also know a lot of people. That’s enough now to notice what’s going on. So, especially on Facebook, I keep getting messages where someone gives me an order, where inquiries come in or things are passed on to me. But now there are also a few new younger artists who are starting to get interested in orders. It’s also getting more and more commercial. I had recently given a workshop and I saw that there are people who throw flyers in the mailboxes and travel around Germany just to give workshops. In principle, I don’t do any advertising at all, the things then come to me by themselves. I always leave the work and the art to themselves, and whoever comes up to me, I always communicate and try to negotiate something. In the meantime, it is also very important to me that I can bring my own ideas with me.
That definitely speaks for you. So based on the principle of word of mouth. It also shows that people were satisfied with commissioned work or that people liked the workshops, otherwise they wouldn’t recommend you to others.
Yes, exactly. I also get inquiries from the city sometimes. So I have contact with people who are in contact with the city. And there are calls from time to time because indirectly friendships have been created.
I grew up in Heilbronn and I also remember how it used to be. So no matter which area of the subculture was involved, whether it was the drum’n’bass parties, the electronic scene, hip hop jams or the skaters. So it was always somehow very complicated with permissions and you always had to fight for your free space. I think it’s great that you are so committed here. You are also a living example for younger or newer artists, who then see, ok, so it works in Heilbronn and the region too. There is apparently a demand. And if you stick with it, then you can practically turn your hobby into a profession. So it is possible.
Yes, but it’s not an easy path. If someone asks me about that, I would never guess it that easy, because it really involves a lot of effort. That you can get it implemented in two years so that you can make a living from it, that’s actually utopian. You really have to take many years into account and keep developing and reinventing yourself again and again. That’s what I mean by versatility. I can deal with things relatively well and can then also adapt, but I can still do it my way and then I’m happy with what I’ve done. So that’s just another difficulty in getting that right. Especially when the artist only paints styles or only a certain form of characters, then it becomes extremely difficult to assert oneself. Then you really have to position yourself bigger. So I’m better known here in the region. Outside of that, it’s limited because I don’t do that much advertising either.
It is definitely not an easy path and you have to invest a lot of heart and soul over many years. This also raises the question of how graffiti is also a legal versus illegal issue. I guess, because you chose the legal way, that many sprayers who are illegal on the road are not that good on you. Or how is the situation there for you?
So I always try to get the curve. I always try to be somehow cool with everyone. I’m also out at the jams or I’m out when projects are somehow going through together. And of course I always try to be tolerant with everyone. I appreciate one as well as the other. And I myself, like the others, keep hearing all these hostilities and discrimination about graffiti from the police. So as soon as you pick up a spray can somewhere in your hand, you will be put in this illegal direction. I just noticed that again at a school recently, where I’m currently painting. I had primed the entire area with the roller for two weeks and nothing happened. And of course on the first day I unpack the spray can, the police did put me on the wall shortly afterwards. And such stories happen regularly.
Oh, the police were there and thought you are doing it on your own, but they didn’t even ask the school management if that was an assignment?
I always have a permit of course. Meanwhile I even write a letter to the police every time or call beforehand and say: “Watch out, I’ll be there and there on this and that day.” In the beginning it was really critical, because they always wanted more personal details. They still came by and checked my date of birth to cover it again. In the meantime they just send me as an answer: “Yes, alright. Have fun!” Or something like that. But you really have to vote and consider that. As soon as I stand there with the spray can, a local resident may come by who may have had his garage smeared before and he thinks now: “Aha, now we’ve got the right guy here!” He then just drives by, only sees the spray can and does not see the entire work itself. Or you are just at the beginning of a painting where not so much can be seen yet. And then usually the police are sent there and of course they try to get youfor sure. So it can happen that they suddenly come from three sides. If you don’t have approval right now, then it’s complicated too. I had the other day that I left the permit in the building. Then I was escorted there and in a way that naturally prevented me from running away. And then they just checked it and it was alright.
But it is basically a shame. So also on the part of certain residents. Everything has to follow the rules and the context is not questioned either. But it also shows how the police still thinks that criminalization is always assumed directly instead of taking a closer look at it. It also makes a difference whether you are seen under a bridge at night or whether you are in broad daylight on the property of a school, where you have spread out all your equipment with sketches. Others could actually obviously see that this is a different kind of situation.
Yes, but I also love the aspect of painting at night. So I don’t paint illegally now, but still at night. I’ve only practiced this to a limited extent lately, because I hardly have any time with all the assignments and I already paint enough there. But now somehow to drive to Mainz in the evening or to drive to Mannheim in the evening, to be there around 8 p.m. and to have everything ready by 10 p.m., and then just paint through the whole night and take the train back home in the next morning. That’s really something. You get to know the craziest people and the funniest characters. Also many of the sprayers who are out and about in one way or another. So there are aggressive people who are immediately angry when their graffiti is painted over. You have to somehow fight for respect in a foreign city every time. So after the third painting, which was good, you get positive feedback. But first you have to show that you have what it takes. Some just really fight for their space. But I still love that. So going off in the evening and having somehow designed a ten or eight meter wall and then going home again.
I mentioned Berlin earlier, there is a lot going on, but it’s good that you talked about Mannheim too. Because this is also a kind of showcase city here in Germany in terms of how they deal with graffiti and urban art. I think it’s kind of currently one of the cities with the most murals. There are also really cool drone videos of how they fly above the city. There has really been a lot going on in the last few years.
Yes, they have this city wall art festival too. I’ve already spoken to the people there. But something like that also always divides in some way. That’s what you meant earlier by the legal and the illegal. It’s always very difficult to find the perfect point. Because everyone has different views, everyone wants to advance their art somehow. I understand both sides, but there, for example, a lot of outside artists are brought in and the outside artists then design the walls there and even get money for it. Fortunately, there are also a lot of legal spaces there, which is why they don’t come too close often. But there are also people who say, ok, this is not for me now. We had a similar case in Heilbronn. An underpass was designed there and that was clarified in discussions over a long period of time. And then a foreign artist got the order. So I’m not going to say names now, but it was then remodeled by an artist from another country. And on the other hand no areas were made available for the local scene. Then of course the scene was a bit angry that they had been excluded. The conversations all sunk somewhere and they were not represented. And then the wall was painted over and bombed relatively quickly. It’s about the artist being respected, but it’s always a matter of interpretation and respect. Sure, the artist is good and he tries to implement his works of art too. But if the scene lacks the surfaces, then the scene should actually be included if there is a good scene.
I think the people have to understand the whole thing. For some it looks like there was a beautiful painting and someone else spoiled it. But you have to understand the background. It could now be a situation as you described earlier, so you drive to Mannheim and paint over a graffiti that was made shortly before and you didn’t know that. Or you would then do it on purpose. You have to expect that the other will in turn go over yours. Or now like the one with the underpass. So there is a good scene with some local really good artists and you don’t even give them a small practice area and then someone is summoned from abroad and even gets paid for it. The painting over is not directed against the artist as such, but rather against the ignorance of the city towards the local scene.
Exactly right. And then certain information goes through the media, such as certain sums that are mentioned. Then everyone imagines what art projects they could have done with the sums by themselves. What would have been the potential with this wall and what could you have done with it if you had got this wall yourself. You don’t understand the background then. I have been dealing with both sides for a long time here in Heilbronn. So I understand both sides. But in the end, it’s just that the artists we have here don’t have suitable spaces. They would have argued because they all want to paint this one space if they had got it that way. It is because there is simply a lack of such places.
It would have been a great action in every respect if you gave that to around ten or fifteen local artists who then do a joint project there. This then supports local artists, really Heilbronn artists or some from the region. That would also have the effect that the likelihood that people would then go over it is much lower. Because then you have the local artists on board.
Yes, exactly. So from the action on the underpass, there was even an advertisement and first place was from abroad, but second place was someone who comes from the region. So if he had done that, then I think it would have turned out very differently. But it’s also often about the motif. So the motif has to please the masses. If I now have people who tend to visit a Bois exhibition for example, then they will probably like something simpler than those who are now into colorful houses and colored underpasses. It’s all a matter of taste. So personally, I would generally prefer it if things were more bright and colored. That’s the way it is in Mannheim, for example. So each of these murals is simply colorfully shining or has perspective 3D effects or something interesting in it, where you then just say that it is art. It is not necessary to explain to the population why this is art and why this art is like that. It is really difficult with some kind of artworks to accomplish something like in Mannheim, especially when the city is on board.
There is still a lot to be done and a lot of explanatory work needed. But I think that because there are some example cities, other cities also learn from them. And after a while, many people notice, aha, Mannheim is now on everyone’s lips when it comes to this area. And that casts a good image on the city.
Yes, it is also an educational work. So if you have an older politician now and he has never had contact with this whole topic. Or just on this image point that it is something negative and that things are damaged by it. So he only came into contact with it in this way and now suddenly he somehow sees a great picture at his friends’ house. And if he likes that, then his mind slowly changes. But first of all contact has to be established somewhere and the point with this wrong image has to be taken up. It just takes time. But contact has to be established first. When I look at Leipzig years ago, because there are now a lot of murals, but when somebody walks through the streets and just everything is bombed and you only have this contact with graffiti, then I also understand the people who only have this negative image and the damage in their head. They don’t think about these complex works of art. Even if people are now standing in a gallery and see a painting that was very laboriously made with a spray can and that also picks up on graffiti, they don’t even interpret it in this context.
These are two areas in which positive developments emerge over time. The one thing is that people realize that there is so much more about ths art genre. There isn’t just one thing. Then they see a picture in a gallery or somewhere on the street and think: “That’s nice, I really like that. But that’s graffiti too? So that can also look like this? I did not know that.” And the second point is that more and more people understand that these types of artworks and urban paintings are all somehow related. There are also more and more people trying to explain it to others. You can only understand urban art when you see that all of its parts are related. From the small tag to the huge mural. Nobody started to paint a huge mural on the wall at the beginning. It all had to develop first and you start with the small things. People are getting more and more awareness and understanding of it.
Yes, of course. Also with all the terminology. When you hear it in the newspapers and the media, you notice it more and more often. At a certain point it’s street art. It doesn’t matter whether it is script or not. There is still a lot to be done and cleared up. But graffiti has now also landed in galleries and there it is interpreted differently. Mannheim then offers an outside gallery here. Since everyone looks at the murals and that is also the aspect that I now find so important, for example. I also noticed that in the gallery in Heilbronn. There were hardly any ordinary visitors from the local population. Most of them didn’t even dare to go in, because when it comes to galleries and art you think it’s something out of date and that’s not for me or there is a lack of contact. Perhaps the person even likes to paint, but cannot begin directly with what is there now and deal with it. People have so many other things on their minds. They might be interested in that if you went deeper into it, but you don’t even go deeper into it. And I think things are changing a bit here at the moment. If you really go out and people see the big things on the facades, that has a different effect. That is why there will currently be a lot of young people in Mannheim who are interested in it and who will eventually get older and also campaign for it. I have things like that at the moment, for example, that I have people who are meanwhile working at the building authority in certain regions and they say: “Here, do what you want. I trust you. You can design something cool there.” That’s the point and behaviour where I think we should get there in general. Because the population already wants that. Often they don’t know it any better because it’s just the only way they know.
You can also see the proof in many places where artworks have been implemented in urban space. I don’t mean to say without exception, but it is really mostly the case that people take it very positively. This often also shows that people in a neighborhood definitely affirm such works of art. It often comes from young to old that it looks much nicer now and that the warehouse was just an ugly gray before and you now like to walk past it with the work of art. So you have to set an example for it somehow and others have to be able to see this as an example, if they don’t dare to act that far as an artist or if the viewer doesn’t understand it yet.
Yes, exactly. That’s how I do it with word of mouth, for example. I’ll make a garage there and make it beautiful. Then someone else comes by and thinks, I could imagine that with my garage too. But he wouldn’t even get the own thought about it by himself. And many then also lack the right contact person. Then they google the internet and only discover the artists who are at the top. In the meantime, it is the case that a lot of people process it really big in terms of media technology and place themselves at the front. They have really high prices, even if they have access to them from somewhere else. Then it becomes difficult for someone without a real idea of what it should look like to implement something like that. Because he doesn’t even have the idea of it yet. And this idea has to be trained somehow first. First you have to do something and show it, and then people come up to you and say, so actually I think that’s cool at home too.
Yes, there is still a lot to be done and explained. So paint every day!
Yes, exactly. You always have to find the right grade. I would never give up the other thing, that I no longer do my styles. So you always have to find the right mediocrity and for me both are part of it. Tthis style painting and the going out somewhere and doing something outside. I respect everyone who does that in any way.
If people want to see your work online, you are active on Facebook and Instagram. You also have a website, but you said you mainly post on Facebook and Instagram. A lot has happened in the whole internet sector over the years and every artist has their own accounts. What do you think about that?
Yes, that’s a lot of hype right now. Because of Corona, a lot has been pushed again. Of course, it is also difficult because you can also achieve certain things better on Instagram with money. For example you can advertise and thus reach a larger audience. This means that you can spread your fields accordingly. So there are these media agencies that are now appearing more and more in the graffiti scene. I have already received orders from a media agency that hired someone themselves who then dropped out. The internet is such a double-edged sword. You don’t really see who is behind it either. Everyone tries to present themselves as well as possible with the pictures. There are people who really concentrate on the picturesque or who only concentrate on the walls and only do concept walls. Graffiti the way I do it is always limited. There are these conceptual things that should go through the media somewhere. And there are things with classic graffiti that you just go outside. Then you spray the name and just make a really cool style for yourself that you stand behind. Because of me, it’s gone the next day or the day after that. Graffiti is also an ephemeral art. You have to be aware of that too. So if you go to a strange city and paint something, it will be painted over again at some point.
The internet has brought in a lot of this marketing. Of course, as an artist, whether you are a musician, sculptor or painter, whatever branch, you always had to look at how you market yourself or make your art known. But because of the Internet, completely different machines have started up again. There are agencies of their own that manage this and there are also a lot of things happening that are ugly, because a lot is lost in this commercialization.
There are two areas. So the legal and the illegal. And the illegal is meanwhile also being marketed. There are enough people who finance themselves there. And in the past you would have seen all of these things extremely critically. So the main thing is that things are outside and there. Now it’s all extremely blurry and now it’s really about having really cool pictures in there and marketing them well. That has to be shared on different platforms so that it is as widely spread as possible. And then you get the recognition or the likes. Depending on how important it is to you. With the likes is such a topic. If you start buying likes in order to get anywhere and be present, then it’s a bit stupid. And other people get lost in it all. There are now many of the spotters who get more feedback than the actual artists. Also the term “spotter”, which has now been newly created.
That word didn’t exist in the past either. I knew the word “street art hunter” or something like that, that came at some point. But “spotter”, that’s newer too. So I would call myself a streetart hunter or spotter. And when you post such photos, it is also part of the job to link the artist and who made it, in order to draw attention to the creator.
Yes, but unfortunately there are people I know who do a lot and produce really good paintings, and they sometimes change their paintings so that the spotters don’t post these pictures first. These are things that you don’t really think about. Only when you deal with people do you understand the motivation behind it. That is understandable for me too. I also said earlier that I have some pictures that I haven’t published yet. I have some, I kept them to myself for maybe two years before I put them online. It would of course be stupid if someone else takes the photos beforehand and then puts them online and then adorns themselves with them in quotation marks.
Completely different dynamics arose in the age of the internet. Yes, BERK, there is still a lot to do. If it is political, educational or just to work on art. I am very curious to see what will arouse from your creative ideas and what kind of projects you will start in the future. Maybe there will be a gallery again, that would be awesome! An urban art gallery in Heilbronn! So now we came to the end, thank you for this interesting interview.
Thank you back. And as I said, fun should always be in the foreground. This art thing is just endless. Once you’ve started, you just can’t stop!
ARTWORKS FROM BERK ON THE HEILBRONN MAP
Artist: BERK – BERND EISOLD
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