This month I interviewed Esek_one from Athens, Greece. His work embodies what I find to be true in art - a spontaneity and urgency presented without pretension. Check out more of his work at Flickr when you get a chance, and in the meantime, enjoy the feature!
1. Q: You seem to have a signature style that incorporates expressive cartoon-inspired faces and childhood art. Can you pinpoint a time or moment when you felt you developed such a style?
A: It was two years ago when I felt that doing graffiti letters couldn’t satisfy me anymore. Traditional graffiti tends to be a game for fame, doing each time the same four letters could only help you improve your technique. So what is happening with your feelings? This is the reason why I decided to go with characters. Through this I can first of all express my feelings and secondly improve my technique. So I continued from where I have been as a child, as for the technique, paying more attention to the messages I pass through my work.
2. Q: What got you doing graffiti and how would you describe the scene out your way?
A: Having an insight into this today, I believe that I have started doing graffiti because of my love for the hip hop music. Although later graffiti was for me, a means of expressing feelings and ideas. It just happened to be graffiti and painting this mean and not something else. As I have said before you can either see graffiti as a means of expression or as a means of promoting yourself. I think that it would be better for everyone to bring graffiti at his shoes leaving back the beaten track.
3. Q: Do you see the current economic climate having any visible effect on the Athens, Greece art scene at all, and if so, how?
A: Greece has always been a country whose citizens were reliant on customer relations and politicians intended only on the exhaustion and exploitation of every single financial resource for their own benefit.
Today begins a period where everyone has to make his self-criticism and contribute to the improvement of himself and his society as well. Art will have the opportunity to record this change - something which we will see over the time.
4. Q: I've always been fascinated by the origins of certain tag names? How did yours develop into Esek_one?
A: I had just chosen it because it was easy for me to draw those letters.
5. Q: Your work has a rawness and sense of honesty that is admirable and at times confrontational even. Are there any artists working in a similar vein who you find inspiring?
A: Tell you the truth I hadn’t the opportunity as a kid to learn about the history of art, especially drawing or painting. So I have started from a zero basis, following the unknown. I can not tell you about great painters or movements of art. I really admire the work of those who I see around me or those who I happen to read about and maybe subconsciously have been influenced by them.
6. Q: You've got some fantastic collaborations going on. Who were some of your favourite collaborators and why?
A: Through moly _x_ international moleskine exchange I had the opportunity to collaborate with different people from all over the world, even though none of the projects I take part in have been finished yet. My favourite collaborator until now is Vasilis Botoulas, maybe for the fact that it is so different - the way we draw. I still remember the first time we had collaborated, I have been staring at the paper which he had drawn for about two hours having no idea how I could continue it. It was too difficult for me to draw something.
Generally I like collaborations like this because you can start from a dot ending up with a whole world, having the opportunity to see this world being gradually created.
7. Q: What are some of your preferred art-making tools?
A: As for now I am using Indian ink, markers and pencils on paper and I really like them, but I would be interested in using other surfaces and techniques as well.
8. Q: What are some of your favorite haunts to visit in Athens, and if there was one place to visit out there, more than any other, where would it be?
A: In Athens there are some peaceful places which does not resemble anything of it’s city center and I think that they are worth visiting. You should also see some poor neighbourhoods for which our society is indifferent - places which you will not see in travel guides because they spoil the image of our tourism, which too often is worth more than human dignity and life.
9. Q: If you could defend graffiti to folks who might be opposed to it, what might you tell them?
A: I don’t believe that graffiti can be restricted and thus I don’t think that someone needs to defend against anyone who opposes it. I mean that you can do graffiti in your back yard if you really love it. I think of graffiti as a type of modern art which is expanding despite the difficulties that maybe crop up.
10. Q: What's in the future for the art of Esek-one?
A: I have no plans or dreams for the future. I will keep drawing as long as I can express myself through this.