This interview with Tvboy, an Italian street artist and designer working both Milan and Barcelona, is the first one at Aesthetics of Crisis to look beyond the specific context of Athens. Even though he does not consider his work to be distinctly political, the context of the crisis has emerged for as a somewhat inevitable topic. In Tvboy’s work the theme has recently surfaced in a series of murals dealing with the European austerity regime. I got to ask him some questions on his artistic biography, his inspiration, and his stance on the crisis.
You started out painting in the streets in 1996, what was your initial motivation and how did your style evolve to what you do now?
I started doing graffiti in Milan when i was just 16 years old, I find that graffiti art has a lot of power and energy and i was amazed to see whole painted trains at the Milano train station. At that moment the movement which started in New York in the 80s was arriving in Milan and there were writers like Dumbo and Bean from Lords of Vetra hitting hard. Then I evolved to a more personal style falling in love with character design and came up with the Tvboy character.
How did you come up with the Tvboy character and what does it mean to you?
I found something easy to draw which could be like a tag. At that time Tristan Manco published Street Logos and I discovered the work of other artist like Pez, Nano, El Xupet Negre, Fortress…in Milan I started to paint with Pao which was a great influence for me and also met a lot of other artists which were in the same mood.
What are your artistic influences?
I always liked pop art and artists like Haring, Lichtenstein, Warhol and Basquiat which brought low reference into the “high” and elite world of art. I also studied design and graduated in graphic design and communication which was a big goal for me cause I apply what I learnt there to almost everything I do right now.
How did you end up living in Barcelona? How does being a street artist there compare to the situation in Italy?
I ended up here following a girl and we got married and I’m happy living here. I’m also glad it is only an hour and a half from Milan by airplane so I often go there for work stuff. I think is quite similar because both are big cities except for the weather which is quite better here in Barcelona.
Do you think of yourself a political artist?
In the last period I was very sick with politics so I did some political murals like for example the Merkel piece in Munich. I felt I had to give my thoughts about the moment we are living in. But in general I don’t feel my art very involved in it and prefer to stay away from it.
What influence does the context of crisis and the austerity that has particularly afflicted the South of Europe have on your life?
Crisis can also mean inspiration and we all have to learn this lesson because it is important to be critical of ourselves.
This interview was conducted via email in November 2013.
Questions by Julia Tulke.