The Berlin-based artist got first introduced to street-art at the turn of the millennium while living in Hamburg. Since 2003 he’s been living in Berlin and has developed a unique street-art approach, becoming an important protagonist of this vivid urban art scene. Alias has constantly improved his stencil technique over the years and has now reached technical and aesthetic maturity thus always keeping a pinch of humor and grim realism in his works.
Alias has had three solo exhibitions so far in his hometown Hamburg and in Essen and his works were also featured in numerous group-exhibitions in Germany and Italy.
An interview with ALIAS:
Hi Alias, tell us a little about yourself, where are you from?
I was born in a small town between Hamburg and Berlin in 1980.
Could you describe your background a bit?
I dropped out of school and for some years I organized parties with a couple of friends. Otherwise, I come from a street background: skateboarding and Graffiti.
What led you to become an artist and how did this develop into putting your work onto the streets?
I had my fist contact with street art in Hamburg in 2001. The sticker scene was very active at that time and for me this was something completely new and exciting. But it’s only after moving to Berlin that I became active doing art myself, it’s hard to tell why though…
Is there someone or something that has influenced you in this choice?
Mainly all street artists I have met so far.
How would you briefly describe your work to someone who’s never seen it before?
I work with photos and collages from which I make stencils. With those I spray posters and stickers which I then put up in a public space.
Is there a specific objective or concept behind your work? Are you trying to elicit a particular response from the public?
My motives are often introverted and emotional but at the same time they have a direct and striking impact that brand themselves on the memory of people passing by and they are supposed to inspire people to interpret the motives on their own.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
From my life, from my childhood, relationships, future and past.
Do you consider your work to be socially engaged or political?
Not really, political is more the way how and where I put up my work or my attitude towards the public space. A certain degree of social criticism is definitely incorporated though.
How do you go about choosing your locations and installing your outdoor artworks?
I prefer old walls and dark backgrounds and try to install my posters matching the context with the urban situation.
What happens to your work after you’ve installed it?
Sometimes my works get cleaned up, sometimes a person takes them home and sometimes they stay at their place for many years.
Is there a particular intervention that stands out for you in terms of personal satisfaction with the final result or obstacles which needed to be overcome?
Sure, I want as many people as possible to see my work. But for me it is more important that the work fits in its surroundings and stays there as long as possible. But since many posters come off easily, I am planning to work directly on walls again. This limits my selection of spots though.
Have you already been arrested?
When I was younger I often had trouble with the police. This is also what led me to work with posters now and I only spray occasionally. I choose my walls so that a file of charge is unlikely…but honestly, I don’t care so much anymore.
When people ask what you do, do you just give them an evasive response and change the subject?
That depends very much on the person. I guess none really likes the „What are you doing for a living?“ question. But in the end, we all define ourselves over what we do. Then I always say: „I do something with media.“
What do you think about Berlin, do you like living here?
Definitely I like living here, it is a very creative and lively town. Unfortunately, it is changing its face faster than I thought it would.
Like many artists with a street background, you have a dual output, also displaying your art in gallery exhibitions. Do you prefer seeing your work in a gallery environment or in the streets?
That depends very much on the exhibition, but generally I would say that no exhibition is able to beat that feeling that a night in the streets with some colleagues can give you.
Has working with galleries also required you to make particular compromises?
Not until now, but I wouldn’t be willing to make any compromises anyway.
How do you think your art will be viewed in the future?
That is something I really don’t think about.