The following interview of Otto with bookanartist.co was conducted over the phone at the beginning of May 2019. Otto joined their artist marketplace a couple of weeks ago.
BookAnArtist: Hi Otto, first of all thanks a lot for taking the time and speaking to us. We’re very excited to have you on board. We’ve also been following your journey on social media and saw that you were travelling a lot in the past 12 months. You have already been a regular to European street art capitals like Paris and Berlin, but recently you were also painting walls in Melbourne, Bangkok and even Kingston, Jamaica. How did that all come together? And which place was your favourite and why?
Otto Schade: Graffik Gallery opened a gallery in Bangkok and this guy told me to stop in those cities and get the chance to paint everywhere I visited. I always wanted to visit Australia, I was invited by some friends so I went to Sydney and Melbourne. Afterwards I also went to Hanoi, Vietnam here I also painted something, but it was illegal in the streets. Then my next stop was Bangkok and I did a collaboration with an artist over there and we painted two pieces.
The trip to Jamaica came together as I got invited by friends they wanted to do business with street art stuff over there. They wanted me to introduce me to people over there. Still haven’t finalised that.
Trips to Paris and Berlin were part of something I tried to do – Paris is a good market and the response from people over there is much more enthusiastic and spontaneous, and people also in Berlin they vibrate more with my art. That’s what I like about these cities. Also in Amsterdam people are feeling my themes more I believe.
Berlin and Paris for the strong feedback and people are watching me paint literally hours.
BAA: Back in the days, before working as an artist, you were actually hired by a company as an architect in the City of London. Due to the banking crisis in 2009 you lost your job, and started doing street art. At that point of your career, did you expect to become an established street artist having fans in all corners of the world? And have you got anything planned for your 10th anniversary?
OS: No! I didn’t expect this at all. I have done I think a very good job and people are recognizing my style, that’s very important to me. For my anniversary I have something planned with Rise Gallery and Gallery Different. I’m planning a solo show at the end of the year for my street art anniversary. Both galleries have been working together in the past, and they’re going to help me to put something together.
BAA: It’s very inspirational and such a bold move, that you did pursue your career as an artist and wanted to make a living off it. What was the main reason for you to go out there and start painting in the streets?
OS: A Chilean friend of mine, who was in London at that time, pushed me to go out and paint my art in the street. He actually started helping me to paint at night time, because when I first started out I was painting illegally. He kind of really encouraged me to do my thing and I just did it. I started painting my kind of stencil art, mainly sunset style, but so many people started comparing my art with Banksy’s work. At that point I came up with my ribbon style, because it’s very unique and recognisable. Later I started doing the sunsets (orbs) again especially for illegal spots as it’s done quickly, but I always want to deliver strong messages with that series.
BAA: Street art and graffiti is not known for its longevity. However, there are many artworks in the streets that have been there for almost a decade. Which of your pieces has been out there the longest?
OS: I think my oldest piece that’s still out there today is “Romeo and Julia”. I painted it in 2011, and it was commissioned by Horse and Groom pub in Shoreditch, London. Also my white rhino and Amy Winehouse tribute are also still visible, and they were both painted in 2013 in Camden, London.
BAA: This is a question many people ask us about; how does an artist calculate her pricing. How do you price your work?
OS: Prices are related to how much connection I got with the piece, both emotionally and artistically. For instance artistically it depends on the hours I’m spending on the concept of an artwork and also the hours I am putting in to create it. Emotionally something like the message, like how strong the message is. Sometimes however I have to come up with an average pricing. I try to be more clear for me and the clients. People don’t understand it sometimes, and I feel an artist shouldn’t have to explain this. Some galleries are for example charging for artworks by surface, e.g. 1x1m artwork for let’s say £2000 and the bigger the surface the bigger the art. But I don’t believe in that approach.
BAA: You have been living in London for almost 15 years now. How do you feel about Brexit, and will it have any effect on you?
OS: The reaction of the English government pisses me off. I’m thinking about moving back to Berlin as I really love the city. There’s going a lot wrong with the British government and it all feels like a joke. You know, I have made so many friends in this city, but I feel like it’s time to move on soon.
BAA: We actually feel very humbled that you joined BAA a couple of weeks ago. What do you think of such a marketplace for graffiti mural artist hire? What made you join us?
OS: I like the idea that people can directly book an artist to paint walls or canvases. Actually a lot of people are looking to hire artists to paint, and it’s not that easy in my experience. I like how you guys are supporting real artists and getting them more clients. It’s a win-win.
BAA: Thank you for your time Otto! It was good speaking to you. We will keep following your journey in the coming years and wish you many more exciting street art related years.
OS: No worries, was a pleasure to speak to you, too. Cheers!