Working in the cross-over between classical art, hip hop culture, design and playing, we met Danish graffiti artist Andreas Welin. He may have started out just playing around, but now his works are highly respected and incorporate three-dimensional designs that are often the result of only a short design process.
How did you figure out you wanted to be a graffiti painter?
When I first started doing graffiti, it wasn´t so much about earning money or make a living from it. But once I was doing it and people saw my work, I very quickly acquired jobs to do childrens rooms and clubs for young people. It was an excellent way of earning a few extra bucks while studying at high school. Alongside my technical skills evolving and travelling to expand my network, I was lucky to be offered jobs from bigger clients. I tried making a living through my art for a few months, and albeit after a little struggle, I realised that with painting full time too, it was possible for me to make it as a graffiti artist.
How did you learn graffiti?
Three things are important to make it as an artist::
1) You need to spend a lot of time networking, meeting other painters, going to graffiti jams and festivals and time and money to invest in travelling.
2) You need to acquire an ability to locate good spots (walls and other areas) that can showcase your work in the best possible way.
3) You need a constant urge to develop and upgrade your technique.
The term ´Street Art` covers a variety of styles and techniques. As for me, my work is very three-dimensionel and has roots in the classical art of paint. It was beneficial for me to work with croquis drawings and to just draw everyday things from my everyday life. It´s definitly an advantage to take drawing classes.
When I paint, I often move far away from my piece to have a critical look at it so I can see what needs to be corrected. If you consistently work like this you become more and more aware each time about what´s working and what´s not.
And then one last thing, use references to situations people know and let yourself be inspired: by other painters, classical as well as other street artists, physical designs and images online.
What techniques can a person not knowing anything about graffiti look for in order to recognise a nice piece of work?
I´m glad you ask and of course there are different opinions as to what´s good or bad. My opinion is, that a nice piece of artwork needs a good composition. You can tell if the artist has thought about the framing of his or her work. So when you paint a person, you have to make sure the whole image of the person fits the wall or the area…
Other things to look for is the relationship between sharp and more loose lines. It looks awesome if your work is sharp where you want the viewers to focus on and then looser in other places to make the painting relax and be more comfortable for the audience.
Finally the colours needs to harmonise.
I very often tend to use cold, toned down or earthy colours. This gives me the possibility of spicing up the painting at the end with orange, magenta or yellow.
When I paint, I bring 3–4 different colours with me in 6–8 different tones and nuances. This gives you a nice package to create a three-dimensional painting. Also, it is good to utilise complimentary colours.
If you gotta be all geeky about it, you can also bring bright and muted colours and cold and warm colours. But, you would then need a pretty big bag for carrying all these colours!
How do you recognise a Welin Job?
I don´t feel that I have found myself 100% as an artist yet. In reality, I don´t know if I´m ever going to succeed in that. My works very often have a three-dimensional depth to them. From a distance, my art looks soft and smooth but if you walk closer to it, I actually have quite a rough style. My concepts are driven by humour and I like to add a certain notion or story to my works.
Some people may have associations about graffiti relating to something more underground and or even illegal activity. Do you find that? – And if so, in what way?
90% of the response I receive is very positive and I really appreciate that my work is of value to people. Its true though also that I sometimes meet prejudice, which can give you somewhat of a headache, but it happens. It´s comments like:
”Great to have a wall instead of a train!” Or, for the hundreth time: ”You better do this properly… No titties or dicks!”. But I mean, just because my working tool is a can and not a brush it doesn´t mean I wander around drawing ”dicks” on other people´s property!
What do you do to deal with a negative judgemental perception from some people?
I avoid conflicts with other graffiti painters who work with different rules to mine. I´m very aware of what makes me feel negative and I work consciously to offload those emotions in a constructive way. On the other hand, I embrace the positive and my focal point is to continue painting and to continue to believe in the good that I do.
What is your design process like?
I´m autodidact but have taken a few classes in design processes. Sometimes, I use moodboards and brainstorm ideas, but I really appreciate the ability to make my own decisions… in other words: I´m probably not the biggest fan of processing too much before the work. My work tends to evolve as I work. That´s my way of keeping myself productive.
Hardcore facts: customers, timeframes for projects, budgets, specific work hours and expenses for a graffiti artist:
I recently worked on the largest virtual reality arena in Europe, but my portfolio also includes restaurants and decos for festivals and hospitals. My primary work area is Denmark, but I have also worked in Madrid, New York and Sydney for hotels and bars.
When painting an entire wall, it can take from 1 to 8 days. The size of the wall and complexity of the motif have major impacts. Winter season can be tough… in that period, I often seek out work in warmer countries! Spring and autumn are almost always good, with lots of events, festivals and new projects arising at those times of year. As for expenses, I probably spend around USD 600 a month primarely on painting.