You’ve heard his name, you’ve seen his art. The name is KAI ASPIRE.
Being compared to renowned names in the arts space such as BANKSY and having collaborated with globally recognized musicians including Chris Brown, Kai’s art seems to be spreading around the world at the speed of light. With a huge collaboration between Kai & clothing brand Rag & Bone, we just had to interview him to get an inside view into the artist’s mind. What you’re about to read is going to open your eyes and give you the inside scoop into the life of one of today’s most exciting artists. We’ve got Kai to thank for pushing our minds & thoughts to a new place, the way you interpret his art is up to you but as long as we are all talking, thinking and bringing ideas together there is a meaning and a story to be told from all of us.
All images copyright of Pitts Consultancy 2017.
See the full interview below:
1. You got your start painting in the streets of Los Angeles, do you think that LA contributed to developing your approach and style?
I’m not sure if LA had an impact on my style, but it for sure ha an impact on what I wanted to say with my art, and what messages I wanted to share. LA is a special city in the sense that everything is on steroids and amplified, so I needed to counter all the noise saying, “It’s okay to smoke, it’s good to spend all your money on objects,” and I did just that with street art.
2. Your character IF touches on many subjects people can highly relate to. Los Angeles is known as being a city of both beauty and darkness. Do you feel that IF often struggles between love and money, purity and sin? Is this in part inspired by growing up in LA, a city where the fame and fortune is so important?
Yes, IF does speak about the beauty and the darkness, fame and fortune, and purity and sin. I think LA did have an effect on that but I think society as a whole had a lot to do with that as well. If you look around, we all have mini LA’s in the palms of our hands, and I think our everyday life had a larger effect on my subject choices than just one city.
Just incase the reader doesn’t know IF is my character and it stands for Imagery Friend
3. In music, acting and many other forms of art there is endless debate as to whether receiving formal schooling in the arts enhances talent and creativity, or not. Having studied at California Institute of the Arts and L’Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, what are your thoughts on the debate and what’s your advice to those considering a formal arts education?
That’s a great question, its super tough. I hadn’t created IF until I left school.
What I will say is this, I went into school extremely determined to be an artist, I wasn’t lost or confused; I knew I wanted to be an artist at all costs, even if that meant starving. And I did starve while I lived in Paris. I had no money and I had to choose between buying stuff for school and my art, or buying ingredients for food. I chose to invest in my craft and that’s when I was lucky enough to be taught how to manipulate cements and plasters and that literally changed my life and career.
4. The city is yours to paint, how do you know both what and where you want to paint? For example, do you tend to feel more inspired when the building/canvas looks more industrial and unloved, or is it more about choosing a location where your art will inspire the most people?
A bit of both. I follow the three famous real estate rules when I paint: Location, location, location, meaning:
- Where on the wall?
- who’s going to see this wall?
- What would that person want to see or what message would affect that person the most?
- Looking at the wall itself, where would it be the most aesthetically pleasing?
- What’s the best use of the wall and the texture it has? All those things play a part — as well as thefact that I have to be quick and not get caught!
5. What is the best piece of advice you have received from someone else, and who was it?
Someone once told me, “Listen to any and all advise anyone has to offer, just listen. You don’t have to use it — but listen.”
I love that advice because it ensures that I take the time to listen to those around me. Yes, everyone might not have great advice all the time, but you don’t want to push anyone away because they might have good advice later on.
6. We understand that you’re personally very inspired by music and musicians. Can we expect to see you collaborate with any professional artists in the future, or create pieces for them? And do you listen to any music while you’re working in the art studio?
Yes — I like them very much! I personally only try and listen to music without words while in the studio. But, I have been fortunate enough to work and collaborate with great musicians and rappers. I’ve been lucky to sell collaborative artworks at auction with Chris Brown for a great cause, and to work with G- Eazy, Brandon Black, No Wyld and many other great musician and rappers.
7. At what point did you create IF, and do you still have the original IF you conceptualized? Does it look different than the character does now?
When I first started creating IF, it was just to create a character to communicate without words. I had just gotten home (back to the States) from Europe because I was studying there, and I realized up to that point that most of my work had words in it, like Morons and Lost Values. So IF was designed at first to speak without speaking, and it looked more like a pill or hotdog. Little by little I realized that every detail about IF was just as important as what IF would say. I realized that IF had to feel human but not be trapped in all the stereotypes and preconceptions of race, sex, and religion. So, I based IF on the most common human symbol ever, the restroom symbol. Its a symbol for a person that’s understood by everyone and has no sex, race, or religion, and I made sure to keep IF away from all of that so anyone and everyone could relate to IF.
8. One of our favorite pieces of yours is the IF in Paris, shown inside the iPhone screen that says:
“Save Urself.” This defines our tech obsessed generation – connecting to anything around the world in a click, yet being so disconnected from any form of reality in their immediate space. In the future, do you think society will move back towards being somewhat off the grid, or do you think technological connectivity will continue to gain ground over privacy?
I don’t know, to be honest! I hope reality will become more important than the tech world. I think it’s a bit sad that we pay more attention to people through these tinny screens (or large screens) than to the people we’re eating dinner with or sitting next to.
Kind of an ironic thing to ask, because instead of calling or meeting for the interview, we’re doing it via email! But technology does have its plus sides, and I think everyone knows that.
9. You have an exciting new project where you will be painting the façade of Rag & Bone’s New York City store on Houston Street. How did this collaboration come about, and do you hope to continue collaborating with other fashion brands in the future?
For starters, let me say how much I love NYC. I did a take-over about 2 years back and it was so much fun. This trip came about in a strange way. I received a DM from someone on Instagram saying, “If you ever need any help in NYC let me know.”
I quickly replied, “Yes, would love to paint a few walls out there — any chance you get arrange that?” And he responded: “Yes, I’ll start working on that ASAP”
The guy’s name was Corey and he and I have been working closely ever since. He arranged my upcoming collaboration with rag & bone and has future plans in the works for us, too. With rag & bone, I’ll be painting a large mural outside of their Houston Street store and hosting a special celebration on September 19th to debut it — it’s my way of giving back to New York and partnering with the fashion community, which is of course directly influenced by art (and vice versa).
In addition, I’ve also worked with Pintrill lately and that was amazing! We sold out in under four minutes, so that’s exciting and, I just launched an limited edition silkscreen on September 14th. It’s available to buy on www.kaieditions.com.
*THE 300 LIMITED EDITION SILKSCREEN PIECES ARE NOW SOLD OUT *
10. Where can we find and purchase your art work if readers would like to have one of your pieces in their home ?
Well, I work with Markowicz Fine Art in Miami. They’re the best gallery I’ve ever worked with. The owner, Bernard, is amazing and the most humble, honest man. It’s really a pleasure to have them on my team. For any news about my work, you should follow us on Instagram: @kaiaspire @markowiczfineart
11. Finally, what does Paradise mean to both you and to IF?
Who says we’re not already in Paradise? We wake up every day and get to create and speak to people around the world without having to say a single word. I think what we have going on is pretty close to Paradise minus the palm trees and the ocean.
All images copyright of Pitts Consultancy 2017.
© Toronto Paradise 2017. All Rights Reserved.