Interview with Kashink

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So, could you tell me about your career before becoming a full-time artist? I know that you studied in particular in human resources, I know that you started with making stickers, how did it influence you?

In fact, I wanted to got to art school after sitting the secondary school, baccalaureate, I wasn’t accepted, so without thinking too much, I chose something else, which happened to be a master’s degree in human resources. This was also a little to please my mother. In parallel with that, I continued to draw, I continued to make things: I tattooed, I made stickers. And I started to spray a little bit later, in around 2005 or 2006, I think. I thought it was a little scary at first because the bomb is a tool a little difficult technically, but finally good, and today I paint almost solely using spray, but also with brush, especially on canvas. I like to diversify with the materials I use, for the sake of the environment but also for my lungs. As well as working in human resources, I did a lot of other different jobs: I worked as a cashier, as a waitress, as a professional counsellor. I didn’t find myself in this system, in the let’s say, normal life and I knew that I loved to paint, so I retrained as a decorative painter and worked for a few years doing this. Because I was self-employed, it gave me more time to paint my own murals and gradually it became a more sustained activity.

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About the name Kashink, could you tell us from where it has derived? You talked about tattooing…

Yeah, so the tattoo is something that always fascinated me so it’s true that there was the word ink in the name. With the word “Kash”, it was around the onomatopoeia. It was a sound I had read in comics and because it sounded good, because it had two “K”s, it was also beautiful.

It’s slamming, yes. But do you remember the name of the comic?

No, I do not remember who was the hero, nor the story, unfortunately. But I remember that, it really made a mark on me.

And you think that your art is somehow a bit related to comic books?

Partly, because it’s an artistic practice that I’ve always liked. However, I think that I’m just as influenced by Fernando Botero or Frida Kahlo, which isn’t meant to be disrespectful to the Smurfs.

And where did you travel recently and how did it inspire you?

Oh yes, a major trip I had was in New Orleans in 2015 for a month-long residency. I spent the whole month of February there so it was during Mardi Gras, which is a special holiday for me, because it’s connected to French culture. That is to say this entire region of the United States and particularly New Orleans. The impact of the French culture was interesting to discover, both as a culture that I already knew, but also from a different angle, because you do not learn that much at school, for example, the history of slavery. The French who left this part of the United States who had set up this system. So it was extremely interesting artistically, because it was very beautiful, the costumes, the music, the folklore, the food. We ate really well while we were there. That was really nice because my big passions in life are to eat and paint.

We have at least one favourite thing in common: eat.

It was really important for me to dig deeper into this area, because Louisiana is known for its culinary specialties. It was an opportunity for me to discover a tradition I did not know at all called Indian Mardi Gras, which is important for me because of what I do in my work, that is to say my focus on the notion of multiculturalism, diversity, and its celebration as a benefit and not a restraint. I had a fascination with it as a mixed city, that history and also the tradition of Indian Mardi Gras, where two oppressed cultures met: American Indians and African-American slaves, and there was a place in New Orleans that they shared. At the time, the Amerindians would celebrate the harvest and when the French arrived with the slaves, it became a time where the slaves gathered to celebrate, sing and dance on days when they didn’t work, in order to celebrate their culture of origin. The meeting of these two cultures  gave birth to this tradition which is called Indian Mardi Gras. It’s beautiful, you really have to see photos showing the splendour of the beautiful costumes, decorated with pearls, embroidery, feathers of all colours.

Then you were hanging out these days with Martha Cooper, how did you come to meet and hang out together?

Well we met in Miami in 2013, I was invited there to be part of a women’s show that was organized by Jeffrey Deitch who is the former director of MOCA Los Angeles, and so suddenly as it was an exhibition where I was there a long time because I had several walls to paint, the exhibition to finish preparing etc., I stayed three weeks in bulk on the spot, and suddenly we were with other artists and everything and there was Martha who was there to take a picture of the thing and also to expose her own photos, and in fact we got along very well from the beginning, we talked about really stuff, obviously from being a woman in this world, from being a woman artist and just from being a woman in an era like the one we are living. She, she made changes we will say, in the practice of graffiti and then in the way of seeing his job. I was also really interested in what had brought her to graffiti, what had pushed her to that and then to see that after all these years she was still there, even if she had gone by other things in the meantime but in short, we found a lot of common points and we really got on well, so every time she comes to Paris we try to cross each other and she herself I met him in other places. She was in Montreal when I was invited the year after in 2014, after I put her in a festival in Detroit last year where I was invited … So here we are, we meet regularly and it’s is always a pleasure, and when I go to New York, every time I go to see her, here … It’s really nice to see a little bit everywhere in the world each time.

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I saw that you represented a lot the mustache, masks, skulls … What do these symbols represent for you, and where do you come from?

So the skulls for me come from a Mexican tradition that I discovered when I was a teenager, which is the day of the dead, so this tradition that they have to All Saints to develop a whole … Finally, there is a tradition that they go into the cemeteries, in some areas eh, to celebrate the dead and who celebrates their ancestors by singing, eating while dancing, finally the opposite of what we do in our country. culture…

You went to Mexico?

No, I have not been to the death party in Mexico but I went to Mexico when I was in my twenties and so I stayed a month there too and it was really cool. to be in this country that I dreamed to visit for a long time. The Day of the Dead I have not done on the spot yet, but it is not in all regions actually. It’s really in specific places. In short, this tradition of ornamenting skulls, sometimes it was often cakes, sweets, decorations, stuff, they adorn it with very bright colors and all that, it had really talked to me the fact to have this tradition of singing, dancing all night in a cemetery to celebrate your ancestors it also spoke to me, I found it interesting as a vision of death, so here it is for the skeletons, finally the skulls. Then the masks, it is a tradition to which I am also very interested because it is a tradition that exists in all the cultures of the world. It exists as much in Latin America for the carnival, for celebrations of all kinds, that it exists also kind in Europe for the carnivals and then in Asia for the theater and then the operas, and then also obviously in Africa, traditions of the rituals etc. I found it very interesting to see that it is a tradition that is ancestral that is totally common, that’s it, and international what. So for various reasons, whether it’s for the party, or for the ceremony of something more religious or something, every time it’s actually a little transcendent human in fact. Either to have another identity, or to go beyond the human, join the spiritual dimensions. That I found it interesting to actually have this vision there. So in fact I was inspired by traditional masks, a bit of all the cultures, and at the same time, after a while, at the beginning I painted masks and as and when my characters melted with these masks as if they were themselves … And so suddenly, I have long since characters that do not have skin color defined at once, which join a little transcultural side that interests me and suddenly the fact that they do not have a definite skin color so that they could be from all possible origins, so I like to leave the opening in fact, to the interpretation of the public on the identity of my characters and to question the identity and origin of people, cultures.

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Kashink - street art paris IMG_1577Did you start painting late enough, at 25 years old? What are your other influences besides other visual arts?

Outside the visual arts, I grew up in the suburbs, I live in Paris for a long time so I grew up surrounded by graffiti and tags. But I think I was late too because at the time there were not many people who did “very personal” tricks in quotes in terms of figurative graffiti. So there were people who made characters, but it was often quite repetitive … There were super heroes, when it was male characters it was mostly superheroes or characters quite emblematic, a little gangster, all that, and when it was women it was often super hot, abused! Or species of hyper sexy babes, figure of the pin up. It was very rare actually people who had an approach to the character in the graffiti and who were very personal. There was very little of it, and I’m talking to you about a time when there was not yet this street art movement that makes today you really have a lot of people who paint figurative things. At the time people who used bombs they made graffiti and then that’s all. Now that has changed, now we would not even ask the question but at the time when I started it was rather innovative what, you see? To propose something different in term of character. And I think that’s why I got there too late because before there was … I could not have too many references in quotation marks. Well, if there were Honet who was really very stylized characters; there was Popeye, in France anyway, on Paris what. Anyway, who did very personal and pictorially complete things, but it was a bit restricted … Or BBoy Hip Hop what, we’ll say. And if not there was all the niche portraits of … Realistic what. But that was not my thing either! So suddenly I think that I was influenced at the same time by all the things that I could see in the comics or in the painting, in the sculpture, there were interesting things that kicked me well and then all that was craftsmanship also style masks …

But you were not so in the music? I read… Rock, metal…It’s part of your influences?

Yeah, and then the folklore of the tattoo too, at the beginning when I started to paint it was amazing too, it was something that was used a lot in the tattoo too .. At the time there was Not as many tattoo artists as today, it’s funny because I found a lot of similarities, I realized lately, between street art and tattooing, in the end. Ten years ago there were very few tattooed women, there were very few people who had their own style, there were very few people who proposed personal stuff where you would see such a tattoo artist because that you were going to find something that others did not see. Today there are really a lot of tattoo artists, there are a lot of women who make it, you have people who really have their style and who really have appointments for that and I think it’s the same for street art. There are more women than before, there are more people who have defined a style and that suddenly, that’s it, it’s changed, it’s less underground than before. And it’s the same for music. Finally no it’s not at all the same for music, I say anything! But music for me is one of the things I’ve always loved to do, I’m a musician and I’ve always loved making music, so yeah, the influence of rock, metal, hardcore, it was really things that marked me what, in terms of aesthetics also what.

Then, your exhibitions in galleries … I saw that you made customized accessories all that, but precisely what is the difference with the works that …

The thing with customized accessories it’s been a long time since I do more.

I saw this on your site.

So it’s old, surely what you saw on my site is old stuff.

So suddenly between the works that you expose in the street and those that you expose in the street what is the difference?

This is a good question because there is a very paradoxical aspect to painting works in the street and then painting works that you will expose in gallery and that will be sold. So for me, always, what is really important is to have a workshop that is different from what I do in the street. I would have trouble taking my walls in the street and then sticking them on canvases and selling them what. I like to tell myself that if I have to work on canvas or on a durable medium, that the work is a little more “chiader” in quotation marks, more detailed, that there is a little more work. When I paint in the street I could paint something in ten minutes what! I would not see myself selling a canvas that I would have made in ten minutes what. I do not know if it would be fair to me.

There you speak rather technical, but what does it represent?

Well, when you look at the paintings that I propose, but I still produce quite a few canvases because it’s something I do not take the time to do because I take a lot more fun painting a wall. So paintings I still do not much, so when I paint canvases, or I have orders from people who saw something that I painted in the street and told me “here is j ‘I would like something like this’, so for example it would be a character, or a vanity like I already had, but I can paint them with a brush … I’m talking about the same topics completely. My job it stays in the same line. It’s just the techniques. You can not paint a canvas the same way you paint a wall. It is not possible. Well, if it’s possible, it’s perfectly possible, but I’m not interested in it, because it’s like taking a piece of the street and trying to put it at your place for a small fee of so many euros you see and it is incompatible for me with my vision of the thing. I prefer to have a real job as a painter in the studio, and to have a job of … My painting work in the studio obviously, it’s in the same vein as what I do in the street since it’s my characters, it’s my universe, it’s the same ideas … It’s the same line what.

From what I read about you I have the impression that when you were in the street you were more engaged, you tried to pass messages on causes like the right of women …

Yes, yes, yes, but my characters are still iconic to me because I consider them a little like self-portraits at the end of the day. So somewhere they have an aspect that corresponds to something that I express. Often painters who do portraits, they always put a little of themselves in their portraits. For me, to the extent that people who are interested in my paintings have heard about me, they know very well what is my job and what are the causes with which I engage. So the people who will be interested in my workshop work, they will be interested in everything that I can offer. It’s not … I do not compartmentalize between the two.

I have a question more to know how it’s going when you’re going to create a work, at least … If the idea comes first, if it comes to you in the course of the production itself, how is it going?

How it goes … It happens that I have always had a lot of ideas in my life, and that I have always been creative and that I always had ideas. So I have ideas for costumes, I have ideas for makeup, I have ideas for paintings, I have ideas for cooking recipes. For everything and anything. For film scripts, for stories … So this creativity, I’ve always used for all kinds of things. In painting, I never know in advance what I’m going to do. When I start on a wall, I never know what it will look like in the end. Sometimes I know roughly what is the distribution of what I’m going to do, where I’m going to put the head of my character, he will surely have four eyes, it will surely be full of colors, but here … And sometimes I have messages in my head that I would really like to express so I leave with a very specific idea, for example the wall I did not long ago rue Saint-Maur, I had this “slogan” between quotation marks in the head, because I read it in Portugal graffiti on a wall, finally tagged on a felt wall, in Porto. Do you see, there is an old shopping center that is abandoned, now there are music studios in there, and there are plenty of people who rehearse in it? It is a little higher towards a cemetery, it is a little out of the way, in short it is a place that has become a little mythical because in the back yard there is a former Ford garage of the 1950s, completely demolished where nature has regained its rights in every way and I love, me, abandoned places! So I like to visit them, Porto it was great for that, it’s really beautiful, a very old city with a lot of charm and all that … And in a small corner, here, I saw this tag that was marked “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun – Demental Rights” and I found it very very good idea and suddenly I thought “bug I want to do something that says that”. So finally here, this wall there it was good, there were two characters coming in, I said to myself “I’m going to face them face to face and I’m going to make this little phrase that can continue for it can be understandable “because everyone does not understand right away that it’s a single word in fact” Fun -Demental “. But well then, I found it interesting and it inspired me you see, it was just a small act in a corner in the depths of Porto, and it really sucks … That’s it.

So what happens to your works when you finish them? Finally those workshop blow you sell them

Here, I expose, I sell … Sometimes I keep them because I find them well and I want to keep them for me, I keep a lot for myself.

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And those who are in the street, they are sometimes covered by other works, cleaned…

So sometimes they are vandalized, as was the case unfortunately, in fact you never know what it becomes when you paint in the street, whether you have the authorization or not, whether it is a large wall, small, a quick thing or something where you spent two days on it, you never know. So suddenly the habit that all graffiti have always been to take a picture of their piece as soon as it is finished. It’s a basic thing. And then it’s a little bit of a coincidence that the street is just a hazard, so you can come and see, there may be someone who protects your work and you’ll never know, who’s in You’re going to defend your thing and that’s it, there may be, on the contrary, someone who spends the night and who fucks a big poster on it. It’s super random.

And how do you feel if you learn that one of your works has been vandalized?

Me as long as I have my picture in fact I’m happy because I know very well what can happen in fact. So in fact, as long as you know that your work is ephemeral, you’re ready for that idea because you know it can happen. So for me it does not pose a problem. So sometimes, it annoys me more than other times but frankly, overall you do with because … Because you know it’s part of the game what, that’s all. When you paint in the street you know it’s outside and the street is unpredictable.

So I saw that you had Hispanic and Slavic origins right?

Spanish yeah, half Catalonian half Andalusian.

So I wanted to know if you represent your origins in your art or not at all?

At first it was a way for me to … Presenting my origins was a way of saying that I was marked by multiple cultures within my own family and that for me it is something that is a bit natural. And suddenly I guess it influenced me to the extent that it was … It was innate what. In my family heritage. Somehow I think it’s important to understand that I got there today actually. That I got to want to defend these ideas in my work.

There are other artists who inspired you, or who inspire you today, whose work you admire?

Artists in general or street artists?

Both.

Artists in general … Listen I’m doing movies right now, there … I’m starting to make films since last summer, I made my first short film actually there, which is goes to my neighbourhood last summer … So suddenly I was influenced yes and no … I discovered Jacques Tati’s cinema lately and it’s a French filmmaker who has a very artistic touch in what he does and that I like a lot because everything is perfect what. The sets, the costumes, the mimics of the characters … There is a side … There is a very chiadée artistic direction that I like a lot and then in term of painting, we will say, pure … I would say that there, the last one I had a big revelation here, it’s an exhibition that took place at the Cartier Foundation, that Congolese artists. And lately I do not know why I want to go to visit Congo, this country that fascinates me enormously, by its artistic practices: painting, but also music and also undermines it. I do not know if you know the principle of the sappers Congolese? In fact it’s a tradition where you have guys who spend money … All the priority goes to their clothes in fact! And they dress with completely eccentric clothes! Like a red leopard suit with yellow shoes you see, or a green apple pants with turquoise stripes, and they have styles in fact, which are completely eccentric and somewhere out of sync compared to the country which is a poor country in fact , the Congo. I found it fascinating that the guys are ready to go to the end of their thing, the extreme and upbeat coast of the approach I really like, in fact, and therefore the exposure that there was at the Cartier Foundation they were painters of popular paintings, so painters like Chéri Samba who is one of the best known. In aesthetic terms I like it a lot, but also in terms of concept, because they call it popular painting. And I find that finally it really overlaps what I do in my practice of street art you see, and also because in their popular paintings they put messages. Politics, you see all kinds. And suddenly I find a lot in common with this practice so here it is.

You also mention other topics like homosexuality. For you, where is the border between your socio-political commitment and the right of people who are forced to see your works?

Do you mean that the public could feel that I am imposing something?

Not necessarily, but there are inevitably people who will not appreciate or disagree, what do you think?

In my personal life, I have been wearing a moustache every day since 2013, so I learned to detach myself from the eyes of people and the judgment that could be made about me. For a long time, anyway I’ve always been a little eccentric so it’s been a long time since I detached myself from the eyes of people and the pressure that can be felt to conform to something conventional we will say. Especially in France where eccentricity is not really a value. So the painting and the commitment that I have on the walls does not come from a will of confrontation you see. To wear this mustache I do not do it to be in an aggression or in a militant claim, on the contrary, I want to be in the sharing, I want to be in the dialogue. You see when someone asks me a question about a painting or my mustache, I take the time to answer him you see, because I think it’s part of the game to be public. Whether in my art or in everyday life actually. I like the idea that you can also fall on completely … There can be completely different reactions in fact compared to what you can propose. There are people who will adore, others who will not join at all, there are some who will join, but they will not even see that you have painted in the street, finally, there is not bad absurd and unexpected situations we see in the street and sometimes we would expect that category of people react in such a way and in fact you realize that it is really very random. You can have little old people, a little old woman who’s going to miss you, you’re painting something that’s about something, the person will stop, go talk to you, go right now understand where you are coming from and will be in complete agreement with you and that’s a little old thing, you see? And next door, just behind you will have a group of college students who will go and you will think that young people are much more open to street art and in fact they will be there “It’s illegal to do that, I’m going to call the police ! Or they make a joke about you like that you see, and they will not even care about your message or the fact that you’re painting a wall that has nothing to do with vandalism pure and hard you see! So you really have really very different open minds actually. That’s also what interests me and that makes me comfort myself in this idea that there is everything on this earth and that it is that which is also interesting because there is also of the unexpected what . But I never had a problem with anything of my work, nor my commitment, nor in relation to, we will say my personal choices, such as wearing this mustache. Because also I present myself as someone rather open and smiling and open to dialogue and smiling what. If I made a joke or painted sad or aggressive things, I think I would have a lot less… I would be much more confronted with negative reactions, or confrontation.

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Kashink’s website is kashink.com and her Instagram is @kashink1.