INSA is known worldwide for his trademark ‘graffiti fetish’ pattern, painted as large-scale murals around the world, this signature design now envelopes bespoke furniture, the artist’s own line of high heels, as well as custom cars, yacht sails, and private collector’s homes. INSA’s work is held in the V&A collection, London.
We interview British artist INSA who began his career as a graffiti writer for his latest project for Pepsi MAX.
What is your real name?
I prefer to just use my artist name INSA.
Where are you based?
I live and work in London.
You’ve exhibited in galleries all over the world including; Tokyo, LA, New York, San Francisco, Hong Kong, Berlin, and Montreal. Is there anywhere you have yet to conquer?
I have been really lucky with my work and it has taken me all around the world. I realised recently that last year I painted in 6 of the 7 continents. Antarctica being the one I missed – so I have to get there sometime. I have worked in the Arctic at minus -45* and in the dessert at plus 50* I’ve even painted a witch doctors mud hut in the Gambian jungle. Traveling and seeing the world is as important to me as the work I create.
What do you do to relax?
I don’t relax much. I’m constantly challenging myself with new creative projects while at the same time raising my 3 kids, so hhhmmmm yeah I can’t remember the last time I relaxed.
What other artists do you admire/are inspired by?
I admire some of the pioneers on my scene of post graffiti – like Barry McGee, KAWS and Stephen Powers.
Tell us more about your recent campaign?
I have teamed up with British singer and songwriter Charli XCX and Pepsi MAX Cherry to create an innovative experience that explores the theory of taste. I was asked to create an art piece that illustrated how Pepsi MAX Cherry’s fans comment on the taste of the drink
What was the response from Charli XCX?
‘Pepsi MAX Cherry tastes like roaring through icy glaciers with pink cherry lips and diamond eyes!’ It was an imaginative response that I interpreted as a wild running wolf’.
What have you created?
I wanted to give this a genius twist and try something more complicated than ever before. So, I hand painted three animated GIFs that when viewed using my app “GIF-ITI Viewer” the paintings come to life!
What exactly is the “GIF-ITI Viewer”?
The “GIF-ITI Viewer” is an app I’ve created that uses augmented reality to allow people to view my animated GIF murals in real time at the location. The original concept of GIF-ITI was to create work that lived online but now with the app it’s come full circle and I’ve taken the GIFs out of the computer and back into the public space.
What have the challenges been?
Well the fact this has never been done before meant it was all a new challenge. Painting a piece over 7 different surfaces that only line up in one fixed viewing spot was challenging and then painting that piece 24 times to bring it to life was even more challenging and then doing that 3 times from 3 angles was crazy. Meaning a total of 72 paintings were painted and captured in 360 degrees by 90 cameras! I really like the fact we are bridging the gap between art and technology, mixing timelines and viewing angles. Its was amazing to see we actually managed it.
How long did it take to create?
It took myself and two of my team 168 hours. Doing this in under two weeks was a huge challenge!
Where can we see it?
The art instalment can be viewed at a live event on Saturday 27th February from 6.30-10.30pm at Ely Yard, Truman Brewery. The event will include projection mapping, games and Pepsi MAX Cherry! Free to attend for all ages.
What is up next for you?
Keep your eyes peeled!
Finally, what was the last thing that really made you stop and stare?
A couple of months ago driving down the Oregon coastline and I spotted a beached blue whale. We stopped the car for a closer look. It was a very strange feeling of both absolute awe at this amazing creature and total sadness at its death. It didn’t feel real to be stood so close to such a thing.