All posts tagged: Rosanna Bach

Studio Visit with MRKA : Graffiti and Branding

Studio Visit with MRKA : Graffiti and Branding

“Graffiti and branding are the same thing; One is legal and one is illegal.”

BSA Contributor Rosanna Bach visited MRKA for a studio visit and they talked about the intersections of the street, the Internet, branding, commercialism, and graffiti. Here is what she found:

At 23, New York based Lucas Benarroch (MRKA) is like a lot of artists who started out writing in the streets – in his case the streets of Madrid. Often he collaborates with San Francisco based Nicolas Linares (NKO) and in 2010 they formed a duo called Pillasbros (or Pillas) and they have worked together on projects for “Secret Wars” in Brooklyn and in Wynwood, Miami. MRKA crisscrosses all mediums and medias as an outlet, whether it be his murals, graphic artwork or branding projects allowing his shapes, symbols and ideas to evolve organically.

“Machine Fun” by MRKA for Pillas. Wynwood, Miami. 2012 (photo © MRKA)

I arrive to his apartment/studio on a sunny morning and he opens the door fresh out of bed, but immediately gets into action mode. “I want to show this and this, and what if we take the photo over here? What do you think?”  I laugh. Inside the rather generic “cookie cutter” apartment I find a world of prints, paintings, and stickers…

Rosanna Bach: You work on the majority of your murals with NKO. Can you describe that working relationship?
 I like to work with someone because there are two opinions. There are always two heads thinking about where to put the next shape or where to draw the next hand or tree. Our styles are completely different; He is more into characters and I’m more into texturing and geometries and the balance of the whole — and that’s what creates Pillas. I’m going a little more abstract, Nico keeps me more focused. He’s a serious man and I’m a little more distracted, so it’s a nice conjuncture of two styles. In terms of MRKA I don’t know if it’s a brand or just a lovely percussion instrument. I don’t know what it is yet. For now I’m just doing the projects I think are worth doing like the project for the Wutang Brand or the “Pillas Submarine” I painted with NKO in Miami last summer.

“Pillas Submarine” by Pillas (MRKA & NKO). Wynwood, Miami. 2012 (photo © Victor Alarcon)

Rosanna Bach: What makes a project worth doing?
 You have to think about if you’re motivated for it, if you’ll enjoy it or if it will be a pain. The relationship with the person you do the deal with is very important. I just put a MRKA on the cool shit that I do even if it’s commercial. Doing collaborations with commercial brands doesn’t bother me — That’s how the world works and you’ve got to eat. But you choose which brands you do and don’t want to work with. I mean why not? As long as you keep it personally artistic and you do what you want and not strictly what the brand wants, you’re good.

Rosanna Bach: Tell me, what’s the Maraca (MRKA) about?
 Just like people who have put their logo or their symbol or their icon all over the place — like “BNE” for example — it’s just a way to get attention from people. And then you can do whatever they want with it; in his case he built a water foundation.  The MRKA is used the same way. You see it on a coffee package or on a mural or on the Internet. It’s like a hashtag on Instagram — a way to link all your works. I mean I feel like social media stole tagging from graffiti…. basically it’s branding.

MRKA “His House”. Detail. (photo © Rosanna Bach)

Rosanna Bach: But branding for what exactly?
 Consciously or unconsciously you brand yourself little by little. It’s great when they find out your work is not just little stickers and little tags. It could bring you an exhibition with five screens or a mural in the Bronx. Graffiti and branding are the same thing; One is legal and one is illegal. I’m not sure which is which anymore since everything in this world crosses over these days. I’m mixing it. One guy told me today you have to focus, so I did the opposite. That is what a MRKA is. If you open it you’ll see all the sand inside, those grains are my ideas and my exhibits and the mailboxes I tag and all the things I wish to do. They just move around and shake and suddenly some of them get together to make a bigger noise…and that’s when the joy comes because something is born.

Rosanna Bach: So what would you say your work is about?
 It’s about seeing a final physical product of my idea (He smiles). I love seeing that physical thing after I had a dream or a thought and two days or a couple of months, maybe years later, it’s there. You make your own little world you try new techniques new materials. It’s like having a physical Facebook.

MRKA “His House” (photo © Rosanna Bach)

Rosanna Bach: Street or gallery? Does it matter?
 I don’t think much — just do what you feel like doing that day. Because if you obsess over street or gallery, artist or designer, matte or glossy — you end up doing nothing at all. Don’t think too much, just shake well.

Rosanna Bach: Some use it as a chance to cast an opinion outward into the world.
I don’t do that. Mine is straight art, I just do it in the street. Because it’s pure art. It’s not street art as something profound or subliminal. It s more related to graffiti as here I am and it s related to the fine art here I am but I m not just fucking up your wall I’m doing it here instead of on a canvas and I m going to share it with you. The street is cool because you can go huge and you don’t have to move it. There’s no secondary intention apart from this is what I do I hope you like it call me if you need anything.

Rosanna Bach: It is just as simple as that?
 It comes from inside. It comes from the desire to do things well and just doing in general. It’s a reflection of how I like geometry and balance and branding and graffiti and how I put it all together. It’s about making a shape recognizable. It could be a circle or a square, it could be anything, but it’s how you use it where it can become something good. How high can you get this symbol? – not in the sense of fame but in the sense of how much can it involve? I do all sorts of things within the same realm under this umbrella. My MRKA is as simple as that.

MRKA (photo © Rosanna Bach)

New drawings (in process) by Pillas (NKO + MRKA) (photo © Rosanna Bach)

MRKA. Jack and Queen from Royal Flush Series. (photo © Rosanna Bach)

MRKA (photo © Rosanna Bach)




Please note: All content including images and text are ©, unless otherwise noted. We like sharing BSA content for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the photographer(s) and BSA, include a link to the original article URL and do not remove the photographer’s name from the .jpg file. Otherwise, please refrain from re-posting. Thanks!


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Ever’s New Mural in Puerto Rico, Liberation and Revolution in Mind

The Argentinian Street Artist named Ever was in Puerto Rico in October for the festival called “Los Muros Hablan” and here are images of him at work on the building-sized mural he completed, entitled “Liberation and Revolution”.

Ever (photo © Rosanna Bach)

Reality and a parallel multicolored low-tech hologram of it are seen as connected in this freeze frame, portraying a brief peek at the complexity of the life experience. Ever’s physical forms are full of blood rich life force, serving to intensify his kaleidoscopic depiction of the inner life, individual vision and our myriad abilities to perceive experience . When combined with a historical analogy or perhaps a philosophical message, on this scale, Ever’s work has the power to help a viewer contemplate their own perceptive abilities.

Special thanks to photographer Rosanna Bach for these exclusive images for BSA readers.

Ever (photo © Rosanna Bach)

Ever. Detail. (photo © Rosanna Bach)

Ever (photo © Rosanna Bach)


Please note: All content including images and text are ©, unless otherwise noted. We like sharing BSA content for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the photographer(s) and BSA, include a link to the original article URL and do not remove the photographer’s name from the .jpg file. Otherwise, please refrain from re-posting. Thanks!


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On The Road With Nanook, Ever, Sten & Lex Through Italy and France

What did you do this summer? We’re starting off the week with a colorful and detailed travelog  from Rosanna Bach, who really gives BSA readers a sense of the experience for Street Artists who go to distant places to create their art on walls for fun and festivals. Thanks to Rosanna as photographer and contributor, here you have an opportunity to spend some time in Italy traveling with Ever, Nanook, Sten & Lex as they go from Rome to Foligno, Italy. She documents their participation for the second edition of Attack Festival and captures the artists working under the scorching sun and in intimate, quiet settings. In this BSA exclusive Rosanna also put in words her summer experiences as she leaves Foligno for Paris where she documented EVER as he participated in Le Mur.

Roma to Foligno. We de-board the train and are about to exit the station when Ever waves me back. Sten is scuttling back and forth in the train like a trapped hamster. We thought he was stuck in there looking for an open door so we wave him over to the open door but he does not get out. He is struck with confusion as different orders fly from different directions. Meanwhile, the passengers are hanging over the windows to see what all the fuss is about.

Mission accomplished; Laptop is retrieved.

Barely begun, this trip already seems promising.

Ever. Roma to Foligno. (photo © Rosanna Bach)

Foligno, Italy. This was once called the “Centre of the World” because the Pope had supposedly kept his treasury here in the 15th century. It is certainly a beautiful place, although considerably more modest than its name implies. This is where we would spend the next five days and would be introduced to the “Hurdi Gurdi”. It is also a place where it seems that the solution to every problem was, “Lets go have a coffee”.

Sten & Lex, Nanook, and Ever had been painting together at the Open Walls Festival in Baltimore just a few months back. Three very different artists, from three corners of the world, were here meeting again in the “Centre of the World” for the second ever “Attack Festival”.  Upon arrival we learn that we have arrived early. Two months early!

In September Foligno’s Attack Festival will be graced by the likes of; 108, Andrea Abbatangelo, Achille, Airone,  Bol 23,  Danilo Bucchi, Stefano Canto,  Mario Consiglio, Diamond TTS, Alberto Di Fabio, Ericailcane, Hitnes, Hogre,  JB Rock, Kindergarten,Lucamaleonte, Martina Merlini&Tellas, Roman Minin, Moneyless, Ozmo, Alice Pasquini, Cristiano Petrucci, David Pompili, David Eron Salvadei, Ale Senso, Sten&Lex.

Main Square, Foligno, Italy. (photo © Rosanna Bach)

Nanook, Ever and Sten & Lex check out their new walls. Foligno, Italy. (photo © Rosanna Bach)

Sten & Lex. The two Italians have been working together for more then 10 years and are considered kind of the “Mama and Papa of stencil” in Italy where their current style consists of “stencil posters”; large scale wheat pasted portraits that they hand-cut intricate patterns onto. They usually use portraits of strangers, however this piece was of a friend’s brother who had taken his own life.  They will return in September for round two.

Sten & Lex, Foligno, Italy. (photo © Federica Tega)

Sten & Lex, Foligno, Italy. (photo © Federica Tega)

Nanook.  Fairly new to the street art scene (painting large scale for a year or so), he has left his studio that he used to share with “Gaia” back in Baltimore for new adventures in the old-world. He has been recording on paper his plan as he goes (from Berlin to Budapest and now Italy) “I feel so privileged to even be able to paint in this town, with all this history and the beautiful buildings”, he writes.

A calm and humble figure, he is constantly knocking out new sketches, whether using black ink or espresso in his black notebook, leaving no time for siestas. His hunger to learn is energizing; “I would just love to work and learn from an old master like they have here in Italy”.

As his style evolves playing by with realism, abstract lines and shapes, it will be very interesting to see how this young artist grows. In this piece he incorporated the shape of Umbria, the region in which Foligno lies. Now he is a one-way ticket to Buenos Aires. Lets see what happens…

Nanook “Siesta Time”. Foligno, Italy. (photo © Rosanna Bach)

Nanook. Foligno, Italy. (photo © Rosanna Bach)

Argentine artist Ever creates the most political work out of the three.

It must be a challenge to try and explain yourself in a foreign language that; you are not actually a devoted worshipper of Mao Tse Tung but that you are in fact talking about human contradiction, how in times of crisis people always seem to be convinced that the opposite is the solution. For example, as a result of the current decline of the capitalist system, many are swaying towards the left side of the political spectrum. “We are looking outward into one room. But why don’t we go to another room to find new solutions?” asks Ever.

Ever. Foligno, Italy. (photo © Rosanna Bach)

Ever. Foligno, Italy. (photo © Rosanna Bach)

Paint bucket. Foligno, Italy. (photo © Rosanna Bach)

Nanook, Ever. Foligno, Italy. (photo © Rosanna Bach)

As passers stopped to comment, Nanook looks frazzled and Ever lets them ramble on for minutes without a clue what they are talking about. “Si si bene bene grazie, bon journi!” he’d reply to them and they’d be on their way.

The language barrier doesn’t seem to faze this one character though. He is here to stay with his beloved Hurdi Gurdi. “We make artistic exchange!” he cries.

The Hurdi Gurdi. Foligno, Italy. (photo © Rosanna Bach)

Nanook, Ever. Foligno, Italy. (photo © Rosanna Bach)

Once the 3 x 5 meter mural was finished I was expecting some sort of a scream of joy or something like that, but Ever just said: “I am always dissatisfied with a wall when I finish it. I never like it at first.”

We go from a scorching roadside in Foligno to “Le Mur” beside a trendy café in Montmartre, Paris. One of the few legal walls in Paris – it is a billboard-style space that a new artist is invited to paint every two weeks. “It is really hard to paint here in Paris, especially big walls,” Ever explains.

Paris. The place where Ever has spent the last 2 months, and where he lived for a while back in 2010. Paris was the turning point for him; he began to inject politics into his art. “Paris is a political place for me”.

Ever. Le Mur. Paris (photo © Rosanna Bach)

Ever. “Free Tibet” Detail. Le Mur. Paris (photo © Rosanna Bach)

After just one night the wall was tagged and “Free Tibet” stickers had been stuck on the soldiers’ suits. “No, no this is good, this is France, it’s a good thing when the people react. We leave them on. This is like a conversation with the people.”

Ever. “Free Tibet”. Le Mur. Paris (photo © Rosanna Bach)

A lady who must have been about 80 years old appeared on day one, and whipped out a huge DSLR camera from her purse. She returned there everyday since. She even brought photographs she had taken of the process and took the time to hand write the date and place on each photograph.

Ever. “Free Tibet” Le Mur. Paris (photo © Rosanna Bach)

Ever. “Free Tibet” Le Mur. Paris (photo © Rosanna Bach)

Why are you guys doing this?!” An agitated pedestrian asked me hastily. Once I explained that concept to him he replied, reassured; “Oh I see, it’s meant to be provocative.”

Ever. “Free Tibet”. Le Mur. Paris (photo © Rosanna Bach)

From what I understand, after listening to countless conversations about street art, these artists are really looking for long term investors for their work, not just fast money. They’re resisting becoming a passing phase only to be dropped like a hot potato after this street art wave dies down. Fame seems to be irrelevant – but if it is a by-product then so be it. “I don’t like business, I just want to paint”, Ever says.


Many thanks to Rosanna Bach for her diligence, passion and her talents.


Please note: All content including images and text are ©, unless otherwise noted. We like sharing BSA content for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the photographer(s) and BSA, include a link to the original article URL and do not remove the photographer’s name from the .jpg file. Otherwise, please refrain from re-posting. Thanks!


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MART in Argentina: “buena onda” in the Streets

MART in Argentina: “buena onda” in the Streets

“Graffiti Saved My Life”

Today Brooklyn Street Art has the pleasure to welcome Rosanna Bach as a guest collaborator. A photographer, writer, and Street Art and graffiti fan, Rosanna is exploring her new home of Buenos Aires and documenting whatever attracts her eye. Today she shares with BSA readers images from local Street Artist MART as well as an interview she had with him in his studio. Our great thanks to Rosanna and MART for this great opportunity to learn about his history as a graffiti writer and how it turned into a career as a painter.

MART (photo © Rosanna Bach)

Mart was kind enough to invite me up to his apartment/studio in the barrio of Palermo where he grew up. Palermo is also the barrio where has left his mark, a trail of colorfully spirited murals. Beginning as a graffiti writer, Mart says he has been painting since age eleven. In our interview he shares his artistic and personal evolution over the past fourteen years painting in the street. He also shows us the drawings he’s preparing for an upcoming exhibit.

As I was admiring a compilation of photographs and drawings sporadically hung above the staircase of the entrance, Mart comments to me, “I like photography more than painting.”

Rosanna Bach: Why?
I find meaning in things that I’m not familiar with. I’m familiar with painting. I know how to do draw, although I don’t draw hyperrealism for example but I know how I could do it. But photography is incredible.

Rosanna Bach: For me it’s the opposite.
MART: Because you’re a photographer.

Rosanna Bach: But anyone can take a photo.
MART: Anyone can paint. Do you understand why I like it? Because it’s not mine.  I feel like painting is my world and photography is another, like dance. I love dance. I’d much rather go to a dance recital than an exhibit. Exhibits don’t captivate me in the way that other art forms do; it’s like “Hmmm.. yes, yes, alright got it.” I’m very quickly able to read the person.

Rosanna Bach: You are interested because you want to learn about other worlds?
MART: But it’s not because I like it that I feel the need to do it myself. You respect what you do otherwise it’s like a lack of respect. I prefer seeing other “worlds” because they move me.

Rosanna Bach: So did you start out painting alone or was it something you did with your friends?
MART: I was very young – already in primary school when I started writing “Martin” all over the walls. My sister had a boyfriend (Dano) who was older then me and he exposed me to hip-hop style graffiti. He taught me how to do it – I thought it was so great. So I started writing “Mart”, Mart, Mart, Mart, Mart, Mart…. all over the streets until I got bored of writing my name, until it made no sense anymore.

Rosanna Bach: How long did it take you to tire of that?
MART: A considerable amount of time but I learned a lot of things. I learned how to paint.


MART (photo © Rosanna Bach)

Rosanna Bach: And your style? I’m sure it’s evolved a lot over the years.
MART: I started with graffiti but simultaneously started drawing and that’s what led me to this.

Rosanna Bach: And the figures you draw? I find them to have a lot of hope and a little magic…
MART: I think that’s how I live, in a world of magic all the time. I feel like a very fortunate person, and I’m grateful for that. I don’t take it for granted. I’m lucky that I’m well, I’m happy, my family is well..

Rosanna Bach: This is a mentality that many of us are lacking.
MART: That is the exact reason why I paint in the street; For others, not for myself .  Of course it is for me a little as well because I obviously enjoy doing it but mostly it is for others. That’s why I paint what I paint, things with “buena onda” (good vibes). To paint for myself in a frame would be strange. It’s for everyone, that’s what I find interesting about painting in the streets. And I’m not talking about graffiti because it’s made for a closed community. Like, “Dude you have a great outline” — wonderful. It’s for a micro-world and it can only be appreciated by a select few… “my name” is all about my name my name my name.


MART (photo © Rosanna Bach)

Rosanna Bach: But you once started like that as well.
MART: And I’m thankful for that because it’s what made me understand in time that I was painting in the streets for a reason and thanks to graffiti I learned to paint large and I learned quickly.

Rosanna Bach: So your figures are your interpretation of your life. Do you take ideas from your dreams sometimes?
MART: I love dreaming I dream a lot. But they’re not interpretations of my dreams. Or perhaps they are — But I don’t believe so.

Rosanna Bach: You could say that they’re your alter-egos?
MART: Its my feelings, my interior. So, yes.

MART (photo © Rosanna Bach)

Rosanna Bach: When did the transition occur when painting became your profession?
MART: There were two elements that paralleled with each other. One of them was a big job for the Cartoon Network that I got asked to do when I was 18 — an ad campaign with graffiti. And the other was that my friends went to prison. We’d always lived in this barrio, and when I was younger my friends and I were delinquents. So I realized that painting was a way to distance my self from that. With painting I can earn a living and not do bad by anyone. So I chose to paint. It wasn’t only an evolution of me as much as it was as a person, an adult, as a man. I chose that path. I chose the good path.

Rosanna Bach: That’s interesting because usually people relate graffiti to delinquency and vice.
MART: For me graffiti saved my life. I have my house and thanks to graffiti.

Rosanna Bach: Are your parents creative at all?
MART: No. But they’ve always been fully supportive. They’re like my angels. They used to drop me off to paint all over the place. They love me very much.

Rosanna Bach: Do you travel a lot?
MART: When I can and I want to I do. I like traveling. But how can I explain it? I like being patient and I like living peacefully. I don’t feel a burning need to travel, I do it when I want to in the time I want to. I want to live for many years and feel like I’m going to live for many years. That’s also why I don’t send photos of my work all over the place — I don’t like excess. Fame isn’t my prime objective. If people know my work it’s because I wanted them to see it in the street and that they understand what it’s about and what I’m about.

Rosanna Bach: I find that mentality to be quite true to a lot of graffiti artists around here, it comes from quite a pure place.
MART: I don’t know, but I paint for my city.

Rosanna Bach: Do you think you could paint for another city one day?
MART: Maybe. I don’t know, perhaps Berlin. I’m going there for three months this summer

Rosanna Bach: In the graffiti community here, most of them are your friends. So your friends are quite a big part of your working life. Have you ever wondered what it would be like without them?
MART: Good question. I’ve never thought about it. It would be very different. Firstly if I hadn’t met Dano I never would’ve started painting in the first place. I wouldn’t exist. And if my friends left I think I’d go and find them.

Rosanna Bach: If you weren’t painting have you ever thought of what else you would do?
MART: I have but it’s not worth wasting my time to be honest. I paint, that’s what I’m already doing. That’s what I do.


MART (photo © Rosanna Bach)

MART (photo © Rosanna Bach)

MART. POETA (photo © Rosanna Bach)

MART (photo © Rosanna Bach

Please visit MART at the site below to learn more about his art.

To view more beautiful photography from Rosanna visit her Tumblr page below:

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