1xRUN Thru Interview
Timeless Skull by Katsu
1xRun: Tell us a little bit about this skull image, how did you come up with the idea?
Katsu: Skulls are the universal image for rebellion, Pirate flags use them as the ultimate offense, cannibals decorate their camps with them, the skull represents how I live my life.
The single stroke skull came out of my desire to tag faster. As a young tagger I became fascinated with the practicality of tagging different designs and shapes. I wanted to engineer a design that was attractive both from an artistic stand point but also from the idea of efficiency.
The skull is how I condemn surfaces, structures, how I condemn the public space.
1xRUN: How long have you been using that image in what you do?
Katsu: I’ve been using the skull for the past 12 years. Using it as my brand. I’ve painted it around the world and in cyberspace.
1xRun: Anything immediate you would like us to highlight?
Katsu: Recently my work has been expanding in all directions. My work as a vandal has been mutating into a purer form of what I call graffiti vandalism, my artwork is becoming more experimental and my digital work is breaking new grounds.
1xRun: Tell us how the idea and execution came about for these prints?
Katsu: These prints are beautiful. They are hand printed editions of my most carefully used tag. The colors are stark and minimal. I wanted to resemble the purity of zen calligraphic artwork. Simple and bold.
1xRun: How long did the piece take?
Katsu: The pieces took 15 years to create. The shape, drips and gesture of the skull has taken a long journey through walls, jail and galleries to arrive at the perfect state they are in now.
1xRun: What is unique about this piece?
Katsu: There are many aspects of this series that is unique. For one they are each one of a kind. In a world of over saturated color palettes, over complicated and illustrative street art replicas, my skull prints represent the timeless spirit of graffiti. The scale projects the proportions of the human form and engulf the viewer. Framed and presented with proper white space, this can be a powerful piece for any environment.
1xRun: Why should people buy this print?
Katsu: People should buy things with a story behind them. Both aesthetically and conceptually, the piece should hold value. My name, my work represents the cusp of contemporary graffiti/hacker culture both in America and in the world. My work is championed, challenged and valued by both the art world and the world of design.
1xRun: Describe the piece in one gut reaction word.
Katsu: CRIMINAL. 1xRun: When did you first start making art? Do you consider what you do art?
Katsu: I’ve always created. As a child I would make structures out of building blocks, start fires, make homemade bombs and even home made fi fi’s. My work and life is art. I studied art and design at Parsons School of Design, I’ve made artworks for group shows with acclaimed artists like tom sachs, francesco clemente and shepard fairey. I’ve never worried about selling art. I don’t think of it as that. I think of it as getting up.
1xRun: What was your first piece?
Katsu: If we’re referring to graffiti, my first piece was a freight train in the Pacific North West. I did a stylized “KATSU” piece where the fill of the letters was aqua blue and white and the outline was fluorescent yellow. What made the piece so exciting for me was the black highlights I did that followed the left contours of each letter. I was so proud of myself. Multiple security trucks scanned the yard for trespassers. I hid from them multiple times. The piece took over 2 hours but was well worth it.
1xRun: What artists inspired you early on? What artists inspire you now?
Katsu: Picasso, Paul Klee, Keith Haring, Isamu Noguchi, Barry Mcgee and Shigeru Miyamoto (creator of super mario brothers) Now it is artists like Gerhard Richter, George Condo, Evan Roth, Cory Archangel,Ai Wei Wei, ADEK, LEWY AND MALVO BTM, Lil Boosie and George Bush.
1xRun: Do you listen to music while you work? If so what? If not then what is your environment like when you work?
Katsu: I listen to everything man, Still rocking Dipset, Young Jeezy, Coltrane, Skrillex, NERO, Shigeto, DJ Q-Bert, Mozart and Morrissey.
1xRun: If you could collaborate with any living artist who would it be and why? Any deceased artists?
Katsu: Ai Wei Wei because I’ve kicked it with him and we vibe well. His varying range of mediums and general attitude towards the world is one I respect immensely. He’s pop but not sell out. He’s a rebel but not a cornball. He really stands for something, something really big. (For the latter) Caravaggio because he was a low down dirty criminal. Though he is one of the most respected (newly discovered) classical painters, his story is one I love. Gambling, hookers and drunken sword fights.1xRun: What was the first piece of art that you bought? Do you still have it? The last?
Katsu: I can’t afford to buy the art that I want that is for sale. I trade art all the time. Shepard Fairey sent me a bunch of art recently. I also bought one of Tom Sach’s NASA porn magazines at his huge installation show at the Armory.
1xRun: It has been a little bit since your last release with us, bring us up to speed on what you’ve been up to?
Katsu: I’ve been in cyberspace, in alleys and climbing on buildings. I’ve been working on completely new ways to explore who KATSU is in the context of the contemporary world.
1xRun: How was 2013 been shaking out so far for you?
Katsu: 2013 is the beginning, everyday is the beginning.
1xRun: Any big plans for the rest of the year?
Katsu: Enjoy the process, respect my peers and try to spend more time running from the law.