Skare’s Neurowild Style: «I see graffiti letters as neural networks»
Skare, Ukrainian artist based in Warsaw, told us about the graffiti scene in Poland and his unique personal vision and interpretation of the style and creation of letters
First of all we’d like to ask you how is everything going and how did you live this
pandemic period? Have you been able to turn it into a productive period anyway?
How was it?
Hi and thanks. Everything is fine, but of course, as for most of us, the pandemic has changed plans for this year and I should have canceled some trips and projects for this period, and its beginning coincided with my move to a new apartment, so this time was a bit stressful. I had an artistic crisis until June and I was not so active on the streets or at home with sketches or canvases, but I used this time for pondering about concepts of my style and ideas for the next pieces and canvases. The summer was more eventful with local jams and festivals and I returned to normal life more or less.
When and why did you pick up the spray for the first time? What’s behind your
works? Did you have any artistic background or did you learn on the street studying from the older ones?
The first when I tried to spray my name on the wall was on my birthday in 2007 when I was a teenager. But that was nothing related to graffiti, I wrote my nickname from computer games. I started to paint graffiti consciously in 2010. I attended art school for 3 months and dropped out. With regard to graffiti, one of the main sources where I could find the information were the Internet and video games such as NFS Most Wanted, NFS ProStreet, Marc Ecko’s Getting Up.
How is the graffiti culture considered in Poland today compared to the beginning? Do you belong to any crews?
Originally, I am not from Poland so it is difficult for me to compare how it was in the beginning, but in my opinion, here is one of the strongest graffiti and street-art scenes in Europe nowadays. There are many local graffiti jams and slightly fewer international festivals such as Meeting of Styles, Street Wars, Frame festival etc. There are a lot of talented graffiti writers here in Poland.
I belong to NID, UPC, ZNC and recently became a member of FX crew.
Is there a story and a particular meaning behind your tag or was it dictate by a
In the beginning, I had different graffiti names but over some time, I found that those letters, which I have now, are the most variable and have a lot of options to build new shapes and keep flexible dynamics of the whole piece.
We do believe that your style and lettering are unique but how did you create your own identity? How would you describe your style and how has it evolved over the years?
I think, to some extent, this happened due to the refusal to transfer the finished sketches to the wall. When space is limited or the wall has some kind of protrusions that change the look of your piece and you need to adapt to the conditions. This often happens, when you paint with other writers at festivals for example. At such moments, it is difficult to find a suitable sketch, so freestyle was the way out of this kind of situation.
I found that I was no longer satisfied with simply applying sketches to the surface of a wall, canvas and repeating the shapes of the letters, to show that I was here and this is my work. It was interesting for me to create each new piece different from the previous one, while maintaining a stylistic identity so that the viewer would recognize my work by style and not by context (the pseudonym encrypted in it). That’s why today I mix a lot of pieces inside the one to find new forms, but still try to keep it readable.
I would like to note that I began to regard each approach to the wall as an experiment and challenge, because every time I didn’t know what the final look of my piece will be after when I finish. I am also used to working with the colors that I have here and now, and I rarely plan what color combinations will be in individual parts of the piece.
In my works, I try to reveal graffiti as something more than just writing my name. For me, letters and fonts in graffiti represent a way to open up a huge space for imagination and creativity.
This gave me inspiration to shape today’s style, which I called – Neurowild – inspired by the nature of neural connections, in which letters act as separate units, new letterforms are formed on the basis of mental processes that translate forms, manifested in the active communication of a person with an active form, in the process of his life. These processes include phenomena associated with direct activity – sensations, perceptions, thinking, speech, memory, imagination, transmitted through font compositions, where each element (letter, inscription) is an integral part of the system, forming new structures, but at the same time without losing their identity.
If you want to make original style – stop looking for inspiration inside graffiti. I was looking for inspiration in nature. For example, I liked how the lava texture looks and in 2015 I pretty often painted this effect in my pieces until I noticed that the texture reminds me of a neural network. Somehow, it gave me inspiration to shape today’s style. I focused more on this topic. I had many works – sketches, walls, where the neural networks were represented in different parts of my pieces ( in fill in, background, extension of the letters or in effects).
I found that my drawing process has something similar to neural networks. Sounds silly.. But just like in learning, new neural connections are formed, creating a new skill or knowledge that did not exist previously, the same with the piece elements that create an indivisible whole, and here if you imagine the graffiti as a neural network, then the elements of the letters could be represented as like as plexus of neurons and build each single letter. The letters, in turn, can also be represented as a plexus, forming the whole piece. And from that moment magic begins… Following this logic, each individual part can create a completely new form without losing its identity as a particle of the whole system. Something like recursion. For example, big letters S formed by using small little pieces.
Here, a world opens up to me in which there are no restrictions or rules that can exist in graffiti, imposing some limits on writers (for example, on the wall you still need to stick to the standard rectangular composition, in most cases. And I noticed that I also repeat already developed shapes of a piece on the wall to fit into this composition. That’s why it’s easier to create new shapes on paper or canvas working with this style)
As I mentioned, for me my letters presented as one living organic form inspired by brain activity, where could exist mutations, diseases, hallucinations which I retranslate in my graffiti works with using some elements of Opart, glitch distortions, cloning letters and putting inside other letters ( or whole 2 pieces inside one)
With this style I would like to show versatility unlimited possibilities of working with the graffiti letters.
In our opinion, you have an exceptional chromatic inclination. Is it a natural
combination or it comes from a careful and calibrated study?
Well, as I mentioned earlier, every piece I painted, I tried to make it different from the previous one and it was kind of a challenge. Each new time I tried to learn some new techniques or effects that I hadn’t been able to do before. For example, I wanted to master the technique of painting with a “needle cap” and in 2018 most of my pieces were created with extra fine lines using this cap. The same thing happened with the “flare” effect, using the “astrocap”, which I was afraid to add to my works for a long time, but in 2018 also started to practice with it.
As for the colors, first of all I have always had a focus on outlines. However, when you collaborate with other writers and paint joint production, sometimes you have to use the same colors. So here always was a problem to me, because usual gradients and one color outline I have long ceased to interest.
It was the same method of learning a new technique (like with those caps) and tried to figure out how to combine the colors. Therefore, I took all of my almost empty cans and worked with paint residues, remembering that every color can end at any moment. That’s why the process can look like “printing”, starting from the first letter to the end. It takes some time, but you also can control easier how much paint left and how much you need to finish the piece.
I stopped worrying about what colors I use, but the contrast of these shades is more important for me.
Also, I’ve got some knowledge and inspiration about using colors and how mix them from my friend and very talented artist Proembrion.
When did you realize that you could turn your passion into a job and how did this change happen? What’s your greatest ambition?
Hm, I don’t remember exactly when that moment came. I can assume that the first thoughts visited me in 2015. It still relies on your personal feelings, when you start to paint graffiti the way you want and when you acquire certain skills – you feel and control the line. Step by step creating your own style and your ideas behind your work. As a result, people appear who like what you do and are ready to buy your art.
In my case, I very rarely share my canvases or large-format works on social media and most of them are unseen. I sell my artworks directly to collectors when they are interested to get some of my paintings or sketches in their collections, and at such moments, I appreciate working with such people, because they got acquainted with my ideas and concepts, and also know exactly why they came to me.
When I was a child, I used to draw different types of tuning cars very often. I remember I dreamed of becoming a designer of one of the sports car brands. Technological progress today is moving by leaps and bounds and I am very surprised what type of cars can be built in the future after when this year was presented new concept car – Mercedes-Benz AVTR, when the car merges with you into one symbiotic form, and it becomes a kind of continuation of you. This is a very interesting project for me and it opens up a field for imagination. It would be interesting to see how a machine can be some kind of exoskeleton for the human body, for example. So one of my greatest ambitions is to create my own concept car of the future in collaboration with some concern.
What are the supports and techniques, in addition to walls and sprays, that you
prefer? Outside your comfort zone is there any technique or artistic field that you’d like to experiment in the future?
I like to experiment with fluid art. It is always interesting to see what will happen when you mix a lot of colors on the canvas and what it will look like. And every time I figure out how to start to control the whole process and how to use these abstract shapes for building letterforms. If we talk about something from outside the artistic field, in the future I’d like to experiment with augmented reality and holograms.
What’s the best memory related to the participation at some international events?
What about the “Meeting Of Styles” in Italy? After this period, which will be the first place you’d like to paint to?
The most beloved international festival in which I took part and which left warm pleasant memories was Roskilde festival. And without a doubt, this is the place where I would like to return every year. As for “Meeting Of Styles” in Milan, I have only positive memories from the festival. Great location, a lot of space – huge walls near the train station and big murals on the school; so many talented graffiti writers from different parts of the world. I love Milan and the next place where I’d like to paint after this period could be Rome.
The first 3 tips that you’d like to share with a young guy moving his first steps into this culture?
result of your progress depends on your practice and how many hours you spend on it. Don’t compare yourself with other writers. Rate yourself on your personal progress as a graffiti writer. Get to know new writers, expand your contacts in real life and become friends.