Creative Works of Freedom

more than a year ago

Turn a corner in Zagreb and you’re increasingly likely to come face to face with a piece of amazing street art that makes you stop and catch your breath with admiration. Transporting you for a moment out of your daily routine, it suddenly makes you think or makes you laugh.

What is street art? The first association is with graffiti. But as the artists we’ll meet here show, this is very far from the mindless, destructive scrawls many people think of when they hear the word “graffiti”. Street artists, in the true sense can create powerful images that challenge our perceptions, make us think and astonish with their sheer visual audacity.

Street artists have created a stir worldwide with provoking works that question political and social injustice. Street art is fusing with and inspiring mainstream art forms and these days work by street artists can come with a high price tag. These are artists who work in diverse media, who show in galleries and across borders, sharing ideas and collaborating on projects with artists from around the world.

Zagreb has had a street art scene since the 1980s starting with a big project for the Universiade in 1987 when the long mural alongside the railway tracks on Branimirova street was first painted. It was re-painted in 1999 to celebrate the Day Against Drug Abuse, and again in 2010 when the mural became a part of Zagreb’s Museum of Street Art, which includes works scattered around the Novi Zagreb neighbourhoods of Siget, Dugave and Utrine. The project is continuously growing to encompass and enliven other parts of the city.

Excellent street art contributes to Zagreb as an exciting home for art and culture and is proof of the unique urban identity, energy and individualism of the city.

So let’s meet some of the magicians of paint and brush whom are contributing to brightening up Zagreb.

Introduce yourself! How would you define yourself? As an artist? Street artist? Something else?
My name’s Artez, I have a degree in architecture, but I’m a street artist by profession and muralist from Belgrade.
Bare: I’d define myself as someone who does what he loves, but also as an artist, street artist, organizer, etc. I like being around people and working on the street because that’s how the whole story begins and it’s accessible to everyone.
Dominik: I would present myself as an illustrator and painter; while I’m just getting into street art, I’ve worked on four murals and only one of them independently.
Modul: I began my career as a graffiti artist, then spent some time as a sign painter, then doing calligraphy, street art, it’s all there! :D
Stipan: Hi! I’m Stipan Tadić, painter, illustrator, muralist and draughtsman from Zagreb. I finished my studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 2011, and since then I’ve been working here and there as an independent artist.

Where does your tag name come from?
My name comes from the time when I was tagging walls illegally and I needed to hide my identity. That need has been lost over time but the combination of letters I found interesting from back then have remained.
Bare: I got it from my mom, hahaha!
Dominik: It’s from my mom and dad, although my grandpa wanted to call me Grga, which would have been awesome! :D But Stipan called me Domingo about seven years ago and so that’s what my friends call me now.
Stipan: It’s from the Dalmatian hinterland!

How did it all begin, and how is it today?
It all began with a passion for drawing and it’s continued to this day. I often changed my styles and fields of interest, but the love of interacting with public spaces over the years has remained. I think the biggest change in my city has been to do with the dimensions of the drawing space — the older I get, the bigger the walls get.
Bare: It started back in school writing on desks and notebooks. The first spray paint can I picked up was in the seventh grade and I started doing graffiti, and scribbling everywhere. Today I’m completely against it because I live off of my work, and I think there are other ways of expressing yourself than scribbling and destroying property. Persistence is one of the most important things for this job.
Dominik: In elementary school I realized that I wasn’t interested in school and discovered that I was going to do something creative ... I even wanted to be a chef for a while! I started with tables and eventually built up some experience, techniques, ideas, and nature took its course.
Modul: When I started there wasn’t much in terms of material, and if there was it was expensive and of poor quality. So I started to mix my own water-based sprays that would be quickly washed away by the rain. Today the situation is such that everything’s available and in any colour your heart desires.
Stipan: I don’t know what you mean by “all”. But I think I started to draw around three or four years-old and I haven’t stopped. Everything has stayed mostly the same except for new techniques that I started to use, such as murals, oil on canvas...

What’s the first thing you do in the morning?
Like all millennials, the first thing I check is Instagram so I can be up to date with current events from the world of street art. The rest of the morning depends on what city I’m in and the kind of project I'm currently working on.
Bare: I have a large collection of records, so I start my morning off with music; then I do everything else.
Dominik: First I drink a glass of water; sometimes I add a spoonful of honey. Or I drink a smoothie — I like that more than breakfast.
Stipan: I make and drink kefir.

In all forms of art, inspiration is crucial. What inspires you?
I draw inspiration mostly from the location and environment in which the mural will be. Based on this, I create the composition and colour palette. The themes present on the wall very often come from the environment, but also from characters, and often emotional moments that life brings. Often what I draw on the wall is not something that I’m initially able to clearly define, but it eventually becomes clear as to why I drew it at that time.
Bare: Life stories, music, something that I have experienced, something I love, something that interests me. Since Miro and I often work together, and now that we’ve been involving Dominik, we inspire each other.
Dominik: Other people’s work has a significant impact on what I do. I like to talk about the creative process and generally about painting, illustration, or any kind of expression. For the most part, I want my work and drawings to tell a story.
Modul: Everyday life inspires me. One day you might be sad, but produce the best work possible; while another day you’re so happy you can’t even get started.
Stipan: I’m inspired by other artists — but most of all I’m driven by the fear of homelessness!


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