Klone is a street artist from Tel Aviv, Israel. FatCap asked him about his beginnings, street art in Israel and about his Predator characters concept.
FC: Where are you from Klone? Tell us about your beginnings and your discovery of street art.
Hey, I was born in city of Harkov, Ukraine aka former USSR and moved at some point to Israel, now residing in Tel-Aviv. Got into street painting about 10 years ago when saw graffiti somewhere on tv or some magazine maybe and got hooked up, for years it was hard to find any sign of graffiti in Israel so it was a weird way, getting lots of information from abroad, meeting the few random kids that were in the same boat as me and all in all lots of experimenting.
FC: How did you find your name, and what does it mean?
To KLONE I came about 5-6 years ago when I was experimenting with making characters that will replace my tags and throwups, out of few different ones I came up with a simple character that looked to me like a clone, so i went on putting it all over the place the character served me for awhile, I passed on to different stuff bu the name stayed, the main explanation behind the name is the fact that all of us are kind of klones, we're all taught to do the same shit since we're born, we're all at least somehow part of the system, with the same rules and all that, we're all clones but each is trying to prove he's different and special, thus its Klone and not Clone, same but different.
FC: Tell us about the graffiti and street art scene from Tel Aviv. Who are the most productive artists?
There's a bunch of people getting up in last years and being prolific so I must mention : Merk, Kizer, Know Hope, Derok, Korse, Foma, Zerocents, Aries, Kufsened, thats the main names you will see in the city and I think give a great contribution by bombing/tagging/pasting/painting/writing/scribbling and being productive and innovative over the last years in Tel-Aviv.
FC : How is the repression against street art in Israel, and in Tel Aviv.
Well, as all this is kind of new to Israel, I think its still in kind of shock and a great place to paint, its a small city but still lots of spots for those that willing to look for. Most of the graffiti is in Tel-Aviv but you can travel around and find lots of cool stuff in other cities, the graffiti virus is spreading slowly but it definately shows. In Tel-Aviv the municipality says its intolerant to graffiti but on the other hand theyre not realy buffing alot, mostly central quiet streets. We paint alot on the weekends in the south where the residents are more poor and always happy to get their street painted. But in the end I had problems with police and my friends did, still need to be carefull like in every city.
FC: How would you define your work and what inspires you?
I think my work is like a weirdass story with lots of words you cant realy translate to every language, so one can realte to the main idea of the work, but in the end I am not an Illustrator or a standart story writer, so it happens that alot of the real details of the story is kept as a secret for myself, I will paint, write, sculpt or watever, and this way one can see a little bit of the way I see things and the whole beauty in the end is that anyone can interpret it the way they want. I have viewers that are little kids and senior people, everybody sees the story in different ways. I'm not trying to stick a piece of paper explaining what I'm doing, I'm just doing it and let it be out there.
FC: What’s your taste in movies, music and books?
Hard to say what's the best but what comes in mind right now and will probably stay in my immediate list for awhile are :
Fight Club, George Orwell - 1984, Goldie - Timeless
FC: Favourite quote?
"If you build it, he will come" Bud Bundey
FC: Name an artist (or many) whose work you respect and admire (not only in the graffiti world).
Swoon, Egon Schieele , David Choe, Blu, Mike Giant, Francis Bakon, Rafi Lavie... there's just too many good artists, dead or alive.
FC: If your style was a music band or a song? Which one would it be?
Beastie Boys - Sabotage
FC: You started doing letter graffiti under the pseudonym MAKE. Why did you stop letters?
Well, I did the letters for awhile, but as the graffiti was realy few in Israel 6 years ago, I turned into more comunicative ways of painting, instead of throwup i got characters and instead of a piece I made more abstract works, as there wasnt enough writers to appreciate the writing and I was working mainly by myself, I got alot into experimenting, simplifying the elements I took from writing and throwing to get more and more with one line in my characters, I still kept on doing letter pieces but more rarely. Last year or so I've been realy getting back to writing as I've been doing alot of these with my boy MERK. Over the last few years I've been slowly incorporating text into my works and mostly russian one so it was only natural for me to get back to writing graffiti in russian, I write Klone in russian but also lots of different random stuff and one of phrases I use alot is NE SPI, which means "Do not sleep".
FC: You use different types of media : stickers, paint, spray can, wheatpaste. How do you choose it?
I like experimenting alot, with both those mediums and then doing also some outside sculpture/installations stuff, I just want to be able to control as much techiques as I can and the street allows me to experiment alot. Also theres the thing with being able to put up things fast like stickers and pasteups, I've been trying to make my pasteups more site specific, In my city I've been able to as I remember most of the spots visually. So like everyone, wehn I want to do a letterpiece I will use spray paint and maybe some rollers, paintings also, rollers for rollerpieces, markers and oilsticks for tags, you know, we use what we can.
FC: Can you explain us the idea behind the Predator Characters?
The predator characters developed after a long process, when I've been working with my oneline drawings, trying to define a character in one line and parralel I was working on series of more realistic paintings of real predators incorporating them into my streetwork, I wanted to create something new, something that might make people think a bit different, so i came up with charaters that combine the animal and human features, people got disturbed and eventually embraced the new and the weird species in the city. The character itself comes to represent alot of things we choose to put aside from our sight. This kind of predator comes to symbolize the kind of inevitable evolution, a symbolic one but still inevitable as it combines the features of predator from the nature that only hunts and kills when its hungry and the human one which is a predator that know no end to its hunger, the thought is that maybe those two combined will balance each other and create a new way of thinking and living, "killing" less of our surroundings.
FC: Do you feel the work you are doing is something that should be preserved or just stay ephemeral?
I think the work I do on the street should age along with the street and have its affects, it might survive years and it might be buffed the next day, as soon as you put it out its not completely yours anymore, so whoever chooses to preserve my work by buying a painting, i realy appreciate that but as far as street work I dont think anything should be overpreserved.
FC: What was your most adventurous and dangerous street art piece?
I dunno, almost falling off rooftop or a ledge couple times, hiding from cops in a yard, thats the normal stuff I guess, every time is different and its nice to make an adventure of it.
FC: How do you choose your images and where they are placed in the street?
From seeing the city and its residence every day over the years I hope that I manage to catch its vibe and to feel the spot I want to put my work on, otherwise I will hit a good spot if I see it, as a painter I like to choose the right format for my work but as a tagger I just want to put my name up so i'm balancing between those two parts of myself.
FC: What kind of reaction do you want your art to evoke?
Any kind of reaction is good, I had people embracing my work and others buffing it or scratching out parts of my works, reaction means I got someone to think out of his box for a moment, thats good enough for me.
FC : How's the collaboration with other artists going? We saw a nice wall with Know Hope...
Well, I know Know Hope since he started working on the street but only lately we managed to realy collaborate with ideas and styles, I also work alot with Zerocents and Foma, but I always like a good collaboration, like me and Merk been doing some letterpieces together, each one doing the next letter and combining forces on fillin and outline, also me and Know Hope try to find the best ways to combine the work so it won't just look as if we painted next to each other.
FC: What was your best street art experience?
I had some kids interacting with some of my works, such as putting 3d objects in my characters hands but sticking them to the wall.
FC: In which way do you want your art to evolve?
In a way that I will keep enjoying it and pushing my own limits further and further
FC: How do you see street-art in 10 years?
I hope it wont get too hightech, I still find myself missing the days I'd experiment mixing paint in spraycans, but I do enjoy painting with quality paint nowadays, same I hope people will take whatever they'll have to their advance and won't forget the roots and follow at least some of the rules :)
FC: What are your worst and best habits?
Good alcohol, for the worst and the best.
FC: Do you practice other forms of art?
I do lots of drawing and painting mainly, try to paint at least something every day and my mind works extra on ideas, I got my interest in arts because of graffiti and now it won't leave me as there's a whole world, stuff like printing, video and sculpture that I want to do and be able to express myself through various mediums, so I try to experiment as much as possible with whatever materials or techique comes to my hand.
FC : Your favorite colour ?
No favourite, anything that can use me as a painting matter on surface
FC : Do you do commissioned pieces?
I did few pieces as presents to friends, like in friends house when he moved or on a restaurant of another friend. I used to do decoration jobs and did some paitnings for weird events but never my personal stuff. Same as I dont see myself doing a commercial work on the street, been approached to promote various products and brands through street action but never agreed to it. I think street work should stay free of pricetags. I did paint for some art events but it was always as part of hanging with my friends and painting a nice wall, getting food, beers and paint, so why not.
FC : Have you been arrested for you art ?
Yes, first time was interesting, second was fun,... Its all part of the game.
FC: Describe a typical day of Klone
Wake up, food, studio, painting, friends, painting, working, girlfriend, painting, beers, sleep. The order changes randomally.
FC: Any favourite story about your street art adventures?
Had some great escapes from getting arrested with simply talking myself out of it and convincing the cops that what i'm doing at that moment is ok with the law when it realy wasnt, always makes you feel goddamn lucky.
FC: What's coming up in the next few months? Shows, collaboration etc…
Got some works at Anoo Domini gallery group show opening 04.12.09, might be traveling to Milan in january to paint, going to teach some art class highschool kids how to hold a can for couple months and got a cool collaboration with a realy good choreografer Arkadi Zaides which I make decorations for his upcoming show. I dunno, I'm always open for interesting projects so things might just appear suddenly out of nowhere.
FC: What's your real goal?
Take over the world
FC: Any words of wisdom?
If you read it all then you wasted enough time, now go out there and do shit.
FC: Thank you Klone!