Bucharest Street Art Scene – Interview with SADDO

Saddo's illustrated touristic map done for Interesting Times Bureau
Saddo's illustrated touristic map done for Interesting Times BureauPhoto source: http://www.saddo.ro/
Saddo's Mural inside Ion Mincu University
Saddo's Mural inside Ion Mincu Universityhttps://interestingtimes.ro/our-third-street-art-project/
The Birdyard project
The Birdyard projectPhoto source: http://www.saddo.ro/
The Birdyard project
The Birdyard projectPhoto source: http://www.saddo.ro/
The Birdyard project
The Birdyard projectPhoto source: http://www.saddo.ro/
The Birdyard project
The Birdyard projectPhoto source: http://www.saddo.ro/
The Birdyard project
The Birdyard projectPhoto source: http://www.saddo.ro/

We had the best time interviewing Saddo, one of the Romanian artists we appreciate the most. Saddo played a big role in our street art projects, so now it’s time for all of you to get to know him better. Enjoy!

First of all, can you tell us a little bit about your background and how did you become a street artist?

I wouldn’t call myself a street artist, at least not anymore, I hardly did anything in the street in the last years, except for the occasional murals. But basically, I’ve always been into drawing, I studied Graphics in Cluj-Napoca, briefly worked as a graphic designer in a small studio, and then I started to get into street art, doing it anonymously, with no pressure, which sort of helped me regain confidence in my drawing, and it also made it fun for me again. And opened the door to many collaborations, friendships, trips, etc.

What does your artist name, Saddo, mean?

It’s a secret.

How do you perceive the street art movement in Bucharest back in the days and what is it nowadays? What role do the artists have in recreating the image of one city?

I don’t know, back when I started doing it, I feel it was more effervescent, there were more people doing it, lots of paste-ups, stickers, there was even some sort of online community which brought some more exposure, brought people together, created bridges between cities, competition among us and even some beefs.

Or maybe I’m just getting old and think that back in the day everything was better. I don’t know, I don’t think it was better, but there was more enthusiasm, less pressure for validation or making money out of it.

Now it’s good too I guess, much more exposure, better quality, more chances of getting noticed and taking it a bit further.

What role do artists have in reshaping a city’s image? I wouldn’t put that much pressure on the artists, to recreate the image of a whole city, I mean, they can contribute, but it’s a collective effort, the people who have the skills and will to organize mural festivals and opportunities for artists, are equally important. And also the institutions that sometimes support this kind of initiatives are also pretty essential. So I think artists are just the icing on the cake.

Would you define yourself as an artist, street artist, both, or none?

I think ‘artist’ would cover most of the stuff I do.

Do you remember the first time you have used a spray can? What was the very first thing you’ve created?

I rarely used spray cans, maybe 3-4 times, first time was in Cluj, might’ve been my first “mural”, it was a portrait of a rapper, and I don’t even remember who it was, maybe Nas or someone. Which is funny, cause I’m currently working on a series of illustrations of rappers, slightly different style and technique though.

What kind of music would you tag along with your artwork?

At the moment, hip-hop, trap, stuff like that, I’m very inspired by the music, by the hip-hop culture, with all the patterns, symbols, tattoos, clothing, etc. As I said, I’m currently working on a series of rappers, and I’m thinking of including it in a bigger show that would group different series, all of them inspired by street culture, hip hop, race tension, organized crime, the effects of colonialism, cars, gangsters, etc.

What is influencing and inspiring to you?

I have so many influences. I’m definitely influenced by what’s happening in illustration, art, decorative art, street art, design, fashion nowadays, but I also have my “usual” inspiration from nature illustrations, Rousseau, Walton Ford, also Matisse, Islamic miniatures, Naive Art, rugs and quilts from all over the world, African art, hip-hop, etc.

What piece of work did you find most challenging and why?

I can’t really think of one piece of work that I find most challenging, cause sometimes challenging can come with fun, so the fun kinda overwrites the challenging, or, if something’s not really fun to work on, it could become challenging, even if it shouldn’t be… Does it make sense?

But for the sake of the question, let’s say my murals in Vienna, for The Birdyard, were kind of challenging, because of the volume of work, detail, the fact that I was working with friends, who are also really professional at everything they’re doing, and I didn’t want to let them down. It was also a lot of work, on scaffolding and ladders, and my back is kinda fucked up.

But the fact that I got help from my friends and spent time with them, in a beautiful city, biking every day, and working on something that I loved, made everything worthwhile.

What is your favorite artist at the moment?

There are many, I can’t really name one, or all, but just looking over my Instagram likes I’d say Ricardo Cavolo, Henning Wagenbreth, Nina Chanel Abney, Broken Fingaz, 3TTMAN, Eltono, Jeroen Erosie, Steven Harrington, Henri Matisse, BFGF, etc. And from Romania my homies KITRA and Pren.

We were stunned by your work for The Birdyard, now probably the coolest eatery & bar in Vienna.

Tell us a bit about the project: theme, actual work, inspiration, relationship with the food (if any) etc.

Thank you, I’m glad you like it :). It was one of those happy projects, where you get to work with people you like and whose work you appreciate, like my friends from Atelier Olschinsky, who I have been working with in the past (still collaborating for releasing art prints, and enamel pins together), and also my friends from Mama Liu & Sons, a really cool Chinese restaurant in Vienna. So all the people involved knew what they were doing and teamed up with some cool architects.

And the theme was Birdyard….I honestly don’t remember why  – maybe something related to the fact that the foods come in small portions…like bird food? I really don’t know for sure. Anyways, it was a happy marriage of what they wanted, and what I can do. They were looking through a portfolio of possible artists to collaborate with, and they said they instantly picked me and wanted big impressive birds and plants. So I painted some big ass birds and plants.

What is the feedback you’re getting from people that are seeing your art there?

From what I hear, people pretty much fall in love with the place when they see it, wanna take pictures of the place, and the murals, so I guess it’s a pretty enthusiastic feedback :).

How do you imagine people’s first reaction to the colorful murals that add such a cool touch to the bar?

Woow, those are some big ass birds.

Do you see yourself having more projects like this one in the near future? Maybe in Bucharest?

Sure, why not, but no birds for a while, I don’t wanna repeat myself over and over, or become the bird guy.

What is your biggest wish art related?

I have a few. One of them is to find some cool small illustration agency to represent me; to paint a mural somewhere in the US (or anywhere, I don’t mind); to illustrate some album covers for some of my favorite artists ( Yeezy, Kenny, DOOM, etc. ); to make a living out of illustrating album covers, book covers and maybe movie posters; to have the time to work on, and a nice gallery that wants to have my next solo show I was telling you about, the gangsta one; and to see my artwork made into rugs or tapestries.

Featured image source: http://www.saddo.ro/