On Tuesday, I featured the work of street artist Karl Addison. I also spoke with Addison, who now lives in Berlin, about how how he became involved with street art, who he admires in the Seattle scene and how he decided to move to Berlin. You can find more of Karl's work here and here.
Art—well it is one of the purest forms of communication and expression. My start was a combination of events. The more I started working in Seattle and doing art shows, exhibitions, installations, and projects, the more and more I had leftover pieces laying around. It seemed like such a waste to keep it hidden and out of view in my studio. As well, I draw all the time, as much as I can; started screen printing in 2003 with Partybots. Got to a point where I had way more drawings than I could ever print. The streets seemed like a great place to put up some drawings. Seattle has so many great public spaces to add a little bit of art [to]. In addition to that, I had a good friend from Los Angeles visiting me. We went out one cold November night to put up some drawings throughout Capitol Hill. The more I started putting work up, the more I started meeting like-minded kids. From pasting, to stickers, to painting—it all interested me so much. Seattle has a very solid street art scene—a bunch of great artist all using their medium of choice and doing their thing. I have a lot of respect for kids like Blink; he has some of the most amazing spots in the city, and everywhere. Aorta has incredible compositions and use of color. Baldman for the insane height he goes up to put up art. Pixeltron for his amazing use of color and technique, not to mention being a solid guy. Narboo for his lovable characters and bold style. Starheadboy is an art-producing machine—he kills me with how much art he makes in a single day. That is only a few, there are so many other impressive, inspiring artists. Once you meet these people, they are a huge inspiration to do more art and show it to the public. I like the idea of taking back public space, and giving someone a reason to look down the street, up at the walls, and not at their shoes. It's so easy to become numb to your environment with the amount of ads trying to sell you something all the time.
Click below to read about Karl's experiences in Berlin
You're originally from Tuscon. What attracted you to Seattle and the Northwest?
- Gabe Meier
Ha, my past is fun. Born in Denver, raised in Phoenix, lived in Los Angeles, moved to Seattle, then to Berlin. Arizona is a pretty hot place. After 19 years I was out of there as fast as I could go. I moved to Los Angeles and worked for Whole Foods Market in their Marketing Department under the Graphic Team. When I got out of school I had this impression that to make it as an artist you have to be a graphic or commercial artist. So thats what I did. Managed a team of 25 graphic designers in three different states for Whole Foods Market. I learned so much from a Creative Director, but it was still not enough. So I taught myself to screen print and did this on the side in addition to an 80-hour-a-week job. At first printing was just to keep me busy with art projects, but it started growing more and more. Got sick of Los Angeles, and wanted a better quality of life, so I kept migrating up the West Coast to Seattle. My uncle lived there, plus a few friends from Phoenix that all had the same idea of the amazing Pacific Northwest. Worked for Whole Foods Market for a year more or so at a lower capacity, then left to focus on my art full-time and screen print. Came to the conclusion that you can be an artist, you just have to hustle super hard.
You do a variety of wheat-pastes, cut-outs, murals, etc. What's the story behind the behind the two headed babies?
I would say that 60 percent of my work is wheat-pastes. The rest is a mixture of hand-drawn or printed stickers and murals Paste-ups appealed to me the most because of my drawings. I keep all my originals, but since I like printmaking so much, it made the most sense [as a way] to reproduce my drawings for all to see. My drawing style developed due to the years of printing and [learning] the process to make screens and prints. Lots of cross hatch, hatch & stippling to make up my value range and texture. There is something to be said for crisp black-and-white drawings. The baby fatso was a series I did after coming back from a trip to Japan. It became extremely noticeable how over-weight and large Americans are to other countries. I think the baby was the most striking and strongest of the series. Started pasting them up where I could. Aorta and I were making some oversized prints, and one of the baby's bodies got messed up, so I just kept the head. We ended up pasting [that] up first, then the full baby to create a double-headed menace. More in the moment with a sense of humor and the desire to not waste. My latest murals are being done in abandoned buildings and utilize the same drawing style, at a much larger scale.
What influenced you to move to Berlin? How is it?
There were a few factors that got me to move. Lost my house in West Seattle, [and I] wanted to find out if I could live in another country. Berlin is one of the top cities for urban art, etc... The first week I got here, it was snowing, but I got to work quickly making "Bubba" paste-ups. I noticed how much graffiti and street art there is here, in fact it is everywhere. It's part of the culture, and it is rare that art gets buffed or taken down. There are so many international artist here. In the last few months I have had the pleasure to meet folks like Aaron Rose, Just, Emess, Gould, ROA, Marc & Sara of Wooster Collective, Krink. Berlin is must if an artist comes to Europe. I had my first solo exhibition last week at ReTramp Gallery, and the turn out was great, and it really made me realize I was not in Seattle anymore. It's very multi-cultural here, and there's always something new to explore and see. The amount of history here is mind-blowing. I would strongly encourage any and all artists to make a stop here and get some work up. I do miss mexican food... seriously.
Do you miss Seattle?
Yes and Yes, I do very much. I did rather enjoy all the back-and-forth on street art and the city of Seattle. Seems like the community of artists in Seattle are all doing the right thing. I miss my friends in Seattle, and riding my bike up Pike. At some point I will be back, and will be more than happy to help make Seattle a beautiful city with some more art.