Interview With Kram

I love discovering new artists, especially if I didn’t know I already knew them! As I’ve been compiling the Global Street Art book I found that several of my favourite pieces were by Kram, a Barcelona-based artist whose funky characters contain the right mix of funk and form! Kram’s website describes what he does as street art, graffiti and illustration. You can tell! There’s an effective influence of illustration in Kram’s street art and graffiti, and an effective influence of graffiti in Kram’s illustration. We find out more!

How long have you been making art (any art) and how long have you been putting your art onto the street? When / how did that come about? What else should we know about your background (where you’re from, etc.)?

I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember. When I was a child I was always drawing in sketchbooks and reading comic books; I used to say I would be cartoonist. One day when I was 12 years old I was walking down the street and I discovered a group of young people (older than me) painting on a wall. I was amazed watching what they were doing, and from that day I became interested in graffiti.  Some months after when I was 13, I started tagging my city and a few years on from then I started to paint walls.

For the first few years I used to do just letters but then began to do characters and I forget about letters for a while. During this time I was studying art and especially illustration, in Barcelona- the city where I was born and where I grew up.

How did you get the name Kram? 

I discovered the name from writing my name in reverse… it’s not a brilliant or original idea, but when I was 13 I thought: “it looks good and it sounds good.”

Some years after I discovered the meaning of “KRAM” in other languages, and some of the meanings were right for me.

What is the meaning behind your art? Who are your key influences and what did you learn from them? 

I try to create a personal, original world full of different characters; sometimes they explain something and sometimes they are just there. I want my paintings to be like dreams because reality is too boring.

I’ve been influenced by a lot of different artists from graffiti, comic books, cartoons and academic art history. I’ve tried some different styles throughout my life, from realism to abstract, and I still like to do different styles and investigate new methods and forms; you can always learn something new, specially when it’s something totally different. I am influenced by any artist who works in a personal way with an original style; the kind of artist who can do whatever and create a recogisable piece of work.

Ideas, influences and inspiration…

When I started searching for my own style after doing realism for a long time, I took the African mask style to create my new characters. I began to draw in geometrically rounded forms (similar than African primitive forms), using holes as eyes, etc.

Where did you get the ideas for your characters? Why so many mice/rodents (and other animals)? What about your more human-like characters? 

At the beginning it was always humans, but most people think it was robots or masks because they never had legs and they were always flying…

I began painting just humans because I was learning how to do it in my own way. Before then I was doing realistic portraits from photos. It was strange for me painting from no reference, and sometimes it’s easier trying to explain something using human characters…

Actually I used to paint animals or fantastic creatures where I mixed all animals forms together. Most of the time I used to paint rats to talk about humans life in the city… I guess I get bored of painting humans, and I needed to search for new forms and possibilities using different characters..

Is it fair to say your characters often have a quite menacing feel (e.g. sharp teeth, tough facial expressions)? 

Yes, could be… maybe it’s to try to do characters with personality, with imperfections, vices and bad habits… like humans in real life. I like to play with the personality of each animal to use them doing human activities…

Did you study art/fine art at university/college?

Yes I did, I have studied Fine art and illustration in Barcelona, between 2000- 2004…

How did your art develop and what art do you make today (Graff, illustration, etc.)? How do you balance your indoor and outdoor work?

Well it’s difficult to balance, but I try to paint every weekend in an outdoor space, and do indoor work at my studio during the week. But plans can always change suddenly…

Where do you paint and what is the graf/street art culture like there (how do the other artists, public and police/authorities respond to what you do)?

Apart from street art festivals and commissions, I used to paint walls on the city’s Hall of Fame, in abandoned factories and in the river canals out from Barcelona.  Actually I try to find “new” unpainted old dirty places, I’m a bit tired of the typical Hall of Fame photo…

Unfortunately there are not so many places to paint in the Barcelona city center, it’s a difficult time for street art here… so we paste up handmade painted papers on the city center instead.

Most of the people like it because I paint animals or funny characters. I like to paint with a lot of colours and society prefer characters and paintings than graffiti letters that they can’t read or understand…

Authorities have no mercy, though. They don’t care what are you doing, if you’re painting without permission and they catch you, they will have a problem…

Where else have you painted (countries/cities) and how was the culture different to home? Also what were your experiences there? 

I have painted in New York, London, Berlin, Amsterdam, Utrech, Portugal, Italy, Mexico, Copenhagen, Sweden, Casablanca and around Spain.

In each place it’s a different experience as each city has its own rhythm and peculiarities according to the society’s personality. The best parts of painting far from home are discovering new places, meeting new people and seeing what other societies understand about your work.  It’s great when you get back home with new photos of your “stuff” in a new context, and with some new stories to explain.

What are you planning/hoping to do in future? Where do you want to take your art?

I want to travel more, paint big walls and meet new people…

I want to paint more canvases and maybe do a solo exhibition out of Spain…

I would love to go back to New York,  go to London soon,  and travel to somewhere in Asia to paint something big…  Let`s see !   😉

@kram_es – Instagram


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