Stinkfish Interview by Matthew J

Stinkfish interview : REDUX


(Some kids posing infront of a painting by Stinkfish)

Colombian graffiti artist Stinkfish has been creating some of the most vibrant and colorful pieces I have seen in the last few years. Recently, he was featured in an article for BombingScience.com which was well-received by supporters and participants of the culture.
After reading the article, it came to my attention, that some of Stinkfish’s original thoughts and sentiments were ‘lost during translation’ and therefore we felt it was a wise decision to re-post the Q&A with expanded translation. This stays true to the what was first put on BSCi, we’ve merely polished the mistakes I made when translating Spanish to English.
-MJ

STINKFISH Interview (REDUX)
by Matthew J (@IamJamesMatthew)

We’re in a time where street-art has once again become “the cool thing”, in most mainstream circles, and the artists who utilize stencils tend to crossover into gallery shows; where the money is overflowing but often comes with the risk of limiting ones options – creatively. Choosing artistic freedom over the restrictiveness of “cashing out”, Colombian artist Stinkfish’s mission statement is centered on staying true to his creative path; a decision which has been working for him quite well. The following Q&A is meant to give readers an insight into not only what makes Stinkfish operate as an artist, but also remind people that art is NOT meant to be a commodity; it’s a way of life. Money can’t buy talent, but talent can make you rich in ways beyond currency; so absorb this article and pick up the jewels being left for you.

— Matthew J.
IAJM: It’s customary to begin these articles with a good artist introduction, so I want to take this time for you to introduce yourself to the readers and tell them a little bit about your life and person behind the art. Who are you? Where are you from? What’s your background story?

STINKFISH: I’m an ordinary person. I’m out in the streets painting and walking around as much as I can. I live like everybody else. Most of the time, I hang out with my friends and when the opportunity is available I go travelling. In the early 80’s, I was born in Mexico City (Mexico) but, since a young age, have lived in Bogota (Colombia), where I still live. As for my personal life: I never reveal my real name nor my actual identity. As a graffiti writer, I feel it’s important to maintain a level of separation between my artistic persona and my regular-day-to-day self. I care a lot about this; it’s important to maintain anonymity.


IAJM: The name Stinkfish is unique one for sure. Tell me where did it come from and is there any special meaning behind it?

STINKFISH: There is not a great story, I started to sign “Stink” when I was 15 years in the walls and tables of school. I just liked the meaning of the word; it had much relation with music I was listening to at that time. Later I added the “Fish”, on a whim. Then I got involved fully in the graffiti and right there I had a name ready to be used. At other times I also use name as Knits, Quetzal or Hate.

IAJM: Tell me about Colombia’s street art scene. What is it’s history like and how did you first get involved in the scene?

STINKFISH: I do not like to think about what I do as being “Street Art”. I prefer to understand what I do as Graffiti, the term street art divides what happens on the street in different scenes. Also it causes an divide artistically, regarding ones importance and power. In Colombia, graffiti came in late 80’s along with the arrival of Rap and break dance, but Colombia and specifically my city, Bogotá, have a long tradition of graffiti slogans coming from the 70’s closely linked to the high turnover union, student protests, and the guerrilla movement of the time.

During the 90’s, a solid graffiti movement was set in Bogota. Those people -the artists- involved would go on to be a great influence on my later work.

I came to work in the streets in 2003, together with a group of friends started to make posters, stickers and stencils especially, the group marked a change in the Bogota scene. The stencil graffiti movement so strongly marked the streets in 2006 – 2007, then graffiti broke out in Bogota with many new faces, new styles and many young [graffiti] writers wanting to break the city.

This is a scene that rapid grows more and more. The good thing about the scene here is that there are many walls to paint, no major rivalries to hinder us, and generally you can paint whenever you want.

IAJM: How would you describe your artistry, as far as the creative process is concerned? In your view, what separates Stinkfish from other artists – whether they be from Colombia or abroad?

STINKFISH: I’m not tied to a single creative process. I like to plan walls calmly; thinking through every step, but I also like going out without much thought and paint what I can and wherever I can.

Something I can excel in my work is the value of photography, both as a registration system and also as a tool for building some of the pictures I do in the street. I always carry my camera with me and I’m documenting places, objects and especially people. Other times I use photographs that I find lying on the street itself. Some buy them in small street markets and other times I give them away.

IAJM: Mainstream media and society tend to view graffiti as nothing more than crime; they ignore the social factors which causes the art to made in the first place. I don’t know how Colombia views, but here mainstream society labels it criminal. What do you feel is the ‘social relevance’ of graffiti - not only in Colombia but globally, as well?

STINKFISH: The fact is graffiti is a crime; by definition, graffiti is illegal, but it is a crime that speaks a lot about this unjust world we live in a world full of corrupt governments, arms, persons and drugs trafficking, exploitation child and all that supports this system and global economy sucks.

The graffiti shows the world that fails, it shows a society full of unjust laws that do not even manage to stop someone who wants to work in the streets. The cities are painted from top to bottom with graffiti because it is needed the opposition, the alternatives to a preconceived life from your birth and make you understand the force that is right and wrong. The graffiti is not going to save the world but at least if I go out and understand that my ideas do not belong to anyone else, I do on my own, without help or money to anyone.
That to me is the social significance of this scene, achieving small victories that result in individual and collective, get out there and see to whom it belongs

IAJM: I think you are very talented writer and your art could easily be displayed in galleries – selling for millions of dollars- yet you seem to keep your work away from the gallery crowds and stay in the streets. Why is that and what is it about making “illegal” graffiti that is so important to you? Why illegal art rather than gallery art?

STINKFISH: I do not think my work could be sold for “millions of dollars”. These “street art markets” are a strange little world within themselves. I would rather sell a few things when I can, without having major commitments [to galleries] and, at the same time, keeping my ideas, that’s all I want. I live and I painted on the street that is what I like. Why do I choose illegal art? I do it because this is a thousand times more interesting, fun, and symbolic to do so without permission or having to talk to someone to let you do it.

IAJM: Earlier we talking the social importance of the art, but now I want to know what graffiti mean to you and how has it affected your life?

STINKFISH: Graffiti is so many things to me. Graffiti is vandalism, destruction, revolution, freedom and love. My life revolves almost entirely around the graffiti, making great friends and enemies knew, love and hate, has allowed me to travel and see other ideas, one day in a stinking dungeon, another painting by the sea.


IAJM: Who in Colombia, artistically, is putting out work that people need to check out and pay attention to?

STINKFISH: Right now, I would recomend people check out some of my friends – not only in Colombia but others from around the world- who are in a crew named, Animal Culture Power. They are making some good art, for sure. You can find more about them from their site, www.animalez.org

IAJM: Who or what originally motivated you to follow the path of graffiti? How did you get started?

STINKFISH: The street itself, since childhood, has always motivated my work. I liked walking around for hours; watching all that was happening. It was there that I found new places, noise, old, new, and dirty. Life was happening there.

IAJM: Coloring is an important aspect in all visual art, especially graffiti and the majority of your art is colorful and vibrant (it is almost alive). I am curious to know why you choose the particular coloring style? What inspires that color schemes you use?

STINKFISH: There is no inspiration in particular. The colors combinations that I developed in my years of painting are based on trial and error, I guess. Like all artists, my work is influenced by different forms and skill that I’ve seen here and there but ultimately adapt those things to my own technique and merge all of it into the walls; into the work I create.


IAJM: Who are some of the artists that inspired you to paint? Who are some of your current favorites?

STINKFISH: There have been many who have inspired me but above all I’d say most inspiration comes from my close friends whom I have painted with such as Lorenzo Masnah, Saks, Buytronick, Mecamutanterio, Seimiek, Soft, La Ira, Zas, Malk, and Onesto, to name a few.

IAJM: What’s next for you in 2012? Do you have any planned events or projects you’d like to tell us about?

STINKFISH: For now I have some more travelling to do before January. I want to continue painting (as always). By 2013, I plan to begin working on a book that will document Bogota’s stencil movement; spanning the last 10 years of art.

IAJM: Before we end this interview, is there anybody out there whom you’d like to acknowledge or shout-out?

STINKFISH: Yes, I want to thank mi familia y mis amigos (my family and friends) for all of the support, encouragement and love they have continued to show me over throughout my life. I appreciate everything they have done for me and I return all the love and support right back to them, siempre!!

See more of Stinkfish online: http://stink.tk/