Twisting ribbons weaving through the work of Chilean street artist Otto Schade (aka Osch) have become a trademark of his portfolio after The Kiss went up at the Truman Brewery on Brick Lane. Otto is following his artistic passion with some impressively detailed street pieces that show off drawing techniques refined over many years.
In conversation with Street Art London, Otto talks to us about the complexity of his work, the simplicity of his first attempt at street art and lets us in on his thoughts behind the tangled tongues of The Kiss.
Though you have traditionally worked on canvas and paper, we’ve seen more and more of your work on the walls of East London. Are you planning to head out to the streets more in the new year?
Sure, but I want to find some legal walls to show my 2011 stuff.
These pieces are complex, very detailed, compositions. Can you talk a bit about your technique and the thought process that occurs from initial idea to completion?
Fistly I sketch the main idea on an A3 or A4 paper. Then if I am doing a stencil of it, I scan it and over draw using computer software. Once I decide which sizes I am gonna do the graffiti, I scale the drawing and cut the stencils with laser (by pieces) due the complexity of the stencils. Once the stencils are cut, I proceed to make the graffiti. After I spray it, I retouch the graffiti with a marker because of the shadows I want to show between ribbons.
Tell us about The Kiss specifically as this is one that has received a lot of attention.
Well, The Kiss is the second drawing I did (in relation to this ribbon thing) and first one of this style I wanted to show to the public. It was a big board (6.1 x 2.4 metres), composed by around 50 pieces. To paint it it took me like 4-5 days. I had really good feedback from the people.
Your work typically fits into two categories – abstract and surreal. Tell us about how your style has developed over the years and why the abstract and surreal techniques work best for getting your message across.
It’s difficult to say, but I have been doing my abstract and surreal work since 1996. I just started with street art in 2009. I try to incorporate the surreal shapes in my graffiti and when I make them on canvas I use some abstract backrounds, giving more depth to the original plane. Surrealism is everywhere nowadays; people are getting use to it. Even advertisements are becoming more surreal (Critic paranoid method from Salvador Dali).
When and where did you create your first piece of street art and what was it?
My first piece was created in May 2009 and it was a sort of guy behind a brick wall. I created this one because it was very simple message. Bricks are one of the most used materials in UK buildings. Painting a brick black gives the impression of a hole and with white I could create some hand and face shapes. This one should be easy and fast to paint (2-minute job), just in case……..
Does your Chilean background still shine through your portfolio despite having lived in Europe since 2004?
I could say so. The colours I use are very warm and with loads of light (like Latin American artworks). Even the fact of living my childhood under Pinochet’s dictatorship helped me to think on a rebellious way, producing work as a reaction to a system.
Do you have a muse?
Yes, not just one. My muses are women.
We noticed that some of your pieces have political messages (i.e. – The Hunted illustrating the credit crunch). What generally motivates you to create?
Well, it’s all related to street art. I want to give a message to the masses against something that is not working properly and is not well managed by this government. It’s a simple message just in one stencil layer.
Do you find yourself employing techniques you would use in your career as an architect?
Yes, sure. The ribbons I am using help me to represent my work as more 3-dimensional. Also, there’s the fact that I have to draw the stencils after scanning the original using computer software I use for drawing plans in architecture.
Which piece are you most proud of at the moment and what does it mean to you?
I think The Kiss, because this was the first big one I have done which made people identify my work after that with this ribbon thing. The meassage of spirituality and love connection between the couple in this kiss is really clear and it took me some time to do it. It also could mean the manipulation of minds between male and female.
Otto has a solo exhibition running from 6-19 January 2010. The show is at LAVA Gallery, 11 Kingly Court, Carnaby Street W1b 5Pw.
Interview by Stephanie Sadler for Street Art London.