03 Feb In conversation with Snik
Fascinated by their intricate stencil based works, we couldn’t miss a chance to know more about artist duo Snik and their work. We caught up with them ahead of their exhibition titled ‘Shadow Aspect’; their debut solo at StolenSpace Gallery.
SS: Let’s start from the beginning, from the birth of Snik. You are a duo but you didn’t start together. Can you tell us how your name came about, how you originally started and how you came to work together?
NIK: I started painting from a young age, growing up as a skater it was impossible to not have some influence of hip-hop, and then graffiti around me. Where i’m from isn’t anywhere close to a city vibe, its all very small town. Because of this, it was really tough to get into crews, or have people to paint with, and back then the internet wasn’t around so it was a case of just do what felt right. I discovered stencil work from just creating a tool to re-create some work for a college project. It was only when i travelled around to other countries that i realised there was a whole scene around this technique. Laura has always been painting also, but some how we missed each other for a while, it was only until 2010 when we met that the concept of a painting duo came around. It really helps, especially with large scale works on the street. We both have a very different approach to painting, i prefer quick and raw styles, whereas Laura has a very precise and planned approach. When combined it works out pretty nice, and especially with stencils gives a different approach to others.
SS: Why did you decide to paint in the street?
Street work was always a priority for us both. When we started there was never a thought that we could make a living from selling work, it was just a nice by-product that people liked our work enough that they would hang it in their home. Street work has a lot of energy to it, and also it evolves which something that canvas and studio work doesn’t have.
SS: What is your inspiration behind your work? How do you choose the subjects you depict?
We take inspiration from everything, not just one direct thing. Obviously we have influence from certain styles of painting, in the use of light and colour, but everything else is just a natural evolution to how we are feeling at the time and what we feel like painting. Our subjects always have an anonymous appearance, and are mostly female. This isn’t a statement, or a message, it’s just our personal opinion sways towards this aesthetic more. There is an element of hidden identity in the pieces, lately a lot of faces are covered, either by hair or by shadow, so it gives people a lot to contemplate when they view it, but we don’t force a direct narrative on the viewer.
SS: How do you choose the urban spots where you paint? Is there any relation between the place where you paint and the characters you portray?
We always prefer to paint slightly downbeat spots, either places that are forgotten, or have just seen better days. It gives a real nice balance between the detail in our work, compared to the surrounding. It’s always nice for people to discover something people value in a place they never expected it.
SS: Your many layered stencils are very intricate and detailed and reach high levels of realism. We are curious to know more about the process of creation of your work, your technique, style and progression.
There are many stencil artists out there, so in order to try to stand out, you have to do something different. It’s taken a long time, and endless hours of cutting to get to our level now. Progression is always the forefront of our method, we try to have every new piece to be better than the last. Sometimes this means cutting more detail in, or painting with a different approach. Lately we have reduced our style down, keeping it to strong black and a bold subject. We used to throw every sort of background element at the piece, but in the end the final subject got a bit watered down. Our style has pretty much always been Chiaroscuro, so to make that point even stronger we now just keep it simple black, and a strong use of colour on the subject. We have plenty of plans to the future, but it’s important for us to retain a strong aesthetic.
SS: What is the difference between painting outside on a wall or any urban medium and inside on a canvas or reclaimed objects such as cardboard? Which one of the two do you prefer?
When we paint in the studio, we paint exactly the same as we would on the street, this is very important to us. Some artists almost have 2 styles, one a street side, and then a studio side – and you wouldn’t recognise they are the same artist. It’s very important for us to keep the energy when we paint in the studio, the speed, the spontaneous elements and the random approach that comes from painting on the street. As far as surfaces to paint, always prefer used object – metal, wood and especially card. they have a look and feel which is much more less sterile than a canvas. Obviously canvas has its place, especially for collectors, but we like to pose the question about what art is – is it about the work, or the surface its painted on? This is something that street art has a big part in.
SS: Can you tell us more about your ‘Shadow Aspect’ show at StolenSpace Gallery?
Shadow aspect is a collection of works focused on dark vs light. Not just in a painted work way, but also the subject matter and the way the works make people feel. The heavy black is not as imposing as some would think, because every piece has a bright focal point. This way the attention is drawn away from the vacant space, and instead drawn to the delicate cuts, and use of colour.
SS: Any plans for the future you can reveal?
Get back to painting some more walls, and then starting to plan a new body and new approach to our work for 2016. With how long it takes to cut stencils, we have to plan things a long time in advance, but thats sometimes the easy part. coming up with fresh concepts and solid execution is the tricky one.
All photo’s courtesy of Snik.