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Art January, 11 2011

Curated Q&A | Misk 1

Hailing from San Francisco, CA Sandro Tchikovani, aka Misk1, has been practicing his own version of “ Wild Style” graffiti since the late 1980s. His experiments with words, often hip- hop inspired, range from corporate commission to inventive selection of surface and application technique. Over the course of his career, Tchikonvani has designed for Atomic Snowboards, HP, FTC, and Levi’ s.

Having covered much of Misk 1’s work from 2010, I thought it worthwhile to catch up with Mr. Tchikovani and see what his 2011 has in store for us. Our chat, and a full selection of images, after the jump.

CR: How did you get your start?

M1: Well to begin, my father was an architect and an aspiring artist. He taught me at an early age to appreciate art and design. I must of been around 3 or so when i began drawing and my style I like to describe as articulated scribbles that I would color. I began to appreciate graffiti in the mid 80s by 89 it became my passion and social device. I went from a catholic elementary school to a full blown urban high school. It was a rough environment but had an art program called School of the Arts of San Francisco. It had a nation wide reputation for it’s arts emphasis. Graffiti allowed me to blend in and make friends. Now it’s become a choice form of expression and because of my style development I stand apart.

CR: Your choices of material – from canvas to wood – are especially interesting. What inspired your experimentation?

M1: Well like KRS-1 said “you got to have style and learn to be original” I learned that most of everything I do has been done before. So my goal was to experiment with ways to present my style. Using wood and canvas I feel lends itself to the fine arts world. As a means of being able to appeal to buyers, woods natural beauty contrast my hard graphic lines and color but compliments peoples home furnishings. Wood has an elegance and a natural random texture that I admire. My father used to criticize me when I would say I created this or that and said only god creates. Well it’s true in some ways, I like representing that natural random beauty in my work.

CR: With your burnished wood pieces – how does the technique challenge your style? What was the process of learning like and what hurdles did you cross to refine those pieces?

M1: I also had been working with an antique restoration guy named George Burkert who inspired me to use american walnut wood. It’s color and grain are my favorite hands down. Also cork wood was another I played with. I think the real challenge is finding harmony between the material and subject matter. There have been times where chemistry as far as the woods properties, the temperature, humidity, and varnishes have conflicted. There’s a real science to this approach of art and production. This craft has taken me about the last 5 years to perfect.

CR: In the scope of your career what are some true highlights?

M1: I did 4 large sliding doors for J Allard, the creator of Xbox and CTO CXO of Microsoft entertainment for his personal office. I was invited to meet and hang out with Microsoft’ s elite corporate guys at his new office opening in Seattle. I can say I finally felt like I was being treated as an adult. J’s become a good friend and I like to think graffiti was a catalyst for this connection.

I also had the honer of showing at the Tether design gallery in Seattle who’s owner Stanley Hansworth has become a great supporter and collector of my work. Previously, because of my drive and talent I’ve been asked to travel to interesting places like Tokyo, Malaga, and Antwerp to name a few. I also traveled domestically to places like Miami, New York, and Seattle. I love teaching at the Miami Ad school and doing group exhibits like the BeBike Shift exhibit in Brooklyn NY. Artists like Futura, Kaws, Matsu, and Skwerm where involved. Each Icons and heroes in my realm.

CR: Name a museum whose collection you would like to be in and why.

M1: Oh man, that’ s tough. I plan that in the next 25 years or so I’ll be in a MOMA and exhibiting somewhere in the US. If it’s graffiti related I’m not certain. Centre Pompidou in Paris would be my greatest achievement.

CR: What have you got on tap for 2011?

M1: Well considering how brutal 07 thru now has been economically I plan on pursuing more commercial work to pay some bills and keep the torch lit. I’m in contract at the moment working on a kids line of clothing but have to keep it vague due to it’s confidential nature. I’m also trying
to make some money pursuing a technology idea. The goal is to make enough money to be able to jump off the safety branch I’ve existed on for the last decade and a half. I plan on really starting to create my own form of art expression and become “The Artist Formally Known as Misk1″. Till than it’s a struggle and I’m embracing with open arms.

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