[Intervju] BLAŽ KORPNIK: Intervju z Doku = Interview with Doke

Piše: Blaž Korpnik


Martin Hirner (1995), bolje znan pod svojim umetniškim imenom Doke (sl.1), je slikar, ki živi in deluje v Bratislavi na Slovaškem. S svojimi v živahnih barvah izvršenimi slikarskimi deli krasi javne površine mesta, prav tako pa je že okrasil stene marsikaterega interierja. Njegova dela nastanejo bodisi samoiniciativno bodisi na željo naročnika. Pogosto slika z barvnimi spreji, vendar njegov repertoar veščin vključuje tudi znanje slikanja s čopiči in rokovanja z digitalnimi mediji. Njegova dela so raznolika. Segajo od kompleksnih figuralnih prizorov do zapletenih grafitnih zapisov. Večinoma gre za dela velikega formata, vendar njegov portfolij obsega tudi manjša dela na platnu in grafike.
Svoja dela deli s svetom preko družbenih omrežji kot sta Facebook in Instagram. Na svojem Youtube kanalu DokeTV objavlja posnetke, ki gladelcem omogočajo vpogled v njegov likovni svet. Preko zanimive in skrbno zasnovane vsebine nas Doke vodi po posameznih korakih svojega ustvarjalnega postopka vse od priprav pa do končnega rezultata. Hkrati še deli nasvete glede ustvarjanja z barvnimi spreji in osnovnega oblikovanja grafitov.

Martin Hirner (1995), better known as Doke (fig.1), is a painter who lives and works in Bratislava, Slovakia. His paintings, executed in vivid colours, not only adorne public areas of his native city, but also the walls of many interiors. These he either creates on his own initiative or as commissions. For the most part he works with spray-paints, but his repertoire of expertise also includes working with brushes and digital mediums. His artworks are diverse. They range from complex figural scenes to intricate graffiti writings. Most of them are in large format, but his portfolio also includes smaller pieces made on canvas and prints.
He shares his art with the world through social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. On his Youtube channel DokeTV, he publishes videos that give viewers an insight into his artistic world. Through carefully prepared content, Doke guides us through each individual step of his creative process, from preparation to the final result. At the same time, he also dispenses knowledge on how to handle spray-paint and the basics of graffiti design.

Doke, veseli me, da si se odzval na vabilo. Sicer ni prvič, da si bil vabljen na intervju. To je bilo leta 2016 in kot sem lahko razbral, si bil takrat na začetku svoje kariere. Nam lahko na kratko povzameš, kaj se je zgodilo teh 6 letih?

Osvojil sem veliko stvari na področju umetnosti in Youtuba; življenje umetnika, ki se predstavlja preko digitalnih medijev. Umetniško gledano se v zadnjih treh letih nisem posvečal grafitom. Ugotovil sem, da ne znam upodabljati drugih stvari, razen črk. Zato sem se pričel osredotočati na klasične vsebine kot je risanje ljudi, predmetov, skratka karkoli drugega kot črke. Naučil sem se tudi veliko o Youtubu in o samopromociji. In zdaj sem tukaj.

Doke, I am happy that you accepted the invitation. Now, this is not the first time you were interviewed about your work. That was in 2016, and as I could see you were at the beginning of your career. How much has changed for you in these past 6 years?

I covered a lot of things in art and Youtube; the life of an artist who presents himself through digital media. Artistically speaking, my direction in the past three years was towards non-graffiti things. I realised that besides letters I did not know how to paint other things and I switched my focus towards classical subjects like drawing people, objects, etc., anything other than letters. And I also learned a lot about Youtube and self promotion. And now I am here.

 

Svoja dela podpisuješ z imenom Doke. Sodeč po slovarju Merriam-Webster beseda doke pomeni vdolbino ali depresijo na površini. Skratka neko precej vidno znamenje, če se poigramo s pomenom besede. Ko si si izbral to ime, si si ga izbral zaradi tega ali zaradi nečesa drugega?          

Sploh ne, ni povezano s tem. Čeprav sem v japonščini zasledil drugačen pomen. V japonščini pomeni “umakni se mi s poti”. Toda izvor mojega imena je veliko bolj dolgočasen. Ko sem bil star 12 let in sem začel z grafiti, smo si jaz in moji prijatelji izbirali imena. Iskali smo navdih pri drugih umetnikih. Najprej sem bil Deko, nato sem ugotovil, da je v mestu že nekdo s tem imenom, in sem zato spremenil ime v Doke. Zanimivo je, da sem sprva uporabljal slovaško izgovorjavo kot Dóké [dɔːkeː]. To se ni najbolje podalo s tujim občinstvom, zato sem pričel uporabljati bolj angleško izgovorjavo.

You sign your paintings under the name Doke. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word doke means an indentation or depression on a surface. In other words, a very visible mark if we play with the meaning of the word. When you chose this particular name, was the decision based on that or was it something else?

Not at all, it is not connected to that. Although I found a different meaning in Japanese. In Japanese it means “get out of my way”. But my name origin is a lot more boring. When I was 12 and starting with graffiti, me and my friends were choosing our names, and we looked at other artists for inspiration. First I was Deko. Then I realised that there already was a Deko in my city, and I changed the name to Doke. Funny thing is that at the beginning I used the Slovak pronunciation Dóké [dɔːkeː]. It did not go well with a foreign audience, so I switched to a more English pronunciation.

 

Na tvojih posnetkih vidimo, da uporabljaš veliko različnih materialov in tehnik. Zanima nas, kje si pridobil vso to znanje. Si obiskoval kakšno likovno šolo ali tečaj? 

Ne, nisem obiskoval nobene likovne šole ali tečaja; dobro, morda samo en tečaj kaligrafije. Ampak to je bilo pred enim letom. Ampak ja, nimam nobene likovne šole. Učil sem se sam. Nihče te ne nauči, kako uporabljati barvne spreje. Ugotoviti smo morali sami, ali pa smo vprašali nekoga, ki je imel več izkušenj. Na takšen način sem razvijal svoje veščine.
Kot rečeno, komuniciram preko Youtuba in tam moraš delati zanimive stvari. Izzival sem se, da sem preizkušal nove stvari. Na svojem kanalu imam posnetke, kjer preizkušam nove materiale in tehnike (sl.2). Najprej si pogledam nekaj vaj, nato pa poskušam ugotoviti sam.

In your videos we can see you use a lot of different materials and techniques. We are curious as to where you acquire all this knowledge. Did you attend an art school or art course?

No, I did not go to any art school or art course; ok, only one course regarding calligraphy. But that was one year ago. But yes, I did not attend any art school. I had been learning by myself. No one teaches you how to use spray-paint. We either had to figure it out on our own or we asked someone who had more experience. That is how I developed my skills.
As is said, I communicate through Youtube and you have to do interesting things there. I have been challenging myself to try new things. I have videos on my channel where I try new materials and techniques (fig.2). First I watch some tutorials, and then I try to figure it out on my own.

 

Nedvomno vložiš veliko truda v ustvarjanje poslikave. Nam lahko zaupaš, kako se pripraviš na projekt?

Moram priznati, da v času študija nisem imel časa za priprave. Večinoma sem delal prostoročno. Kasneje, ko sem diplomiral, sem začel s pravimi pripravami. Za svoje posnetke najprej napišem scenarij. Umetniško pa: najprej izberem temo, nato izberem referenčne slike in naredim skico. Kar traja dan ali dva. Ko je skica pripravljena, jo napolnim z barvo. Iz izkušenj ugotavljam, in to je težava, ko barvaš z barvnimi spreji, moraš imeti v mislih, katere barve izbereš. Včasih kombinacija, ki si jo izbral, ne deluje, ker nimaš pravega odtenka in ga z barvnimi spreji ne moreš zmešati. Seveda lahko uporabim akrilno barvo, toda z veliko vedri barve pridejo tudi drugi izzivi.

It is without doubt that you invest a lot of time in creating a work of art. Can you tell us a bit about how you prepare yourself when you start a project.

I have to admit that at the time when I was studying, I did not have time for preparations. I was freestyling it most of the time. Later, after I graduated, I started with proper preparations. For my videos I write a script, and artistically I first pick a subject, then I choose reference pictures and make a sketch. Which takes a day or two. When the sketch is ready, I fill it with paint. From experience I find, and this is a problem, that when you paint with spray-paint, keep in mind which colours you choose. Sometimes the combination you choose does not work because you do not have the right spray-paint colours in your storage and you cannot mix them. Sure, I can use acrylic paint, but with a lot of buckets of paint new challenges arise. 

 

Poleg stenskega slikarstva se ukvarjaš še z grafiti. Ali pri oblikovanju le-teh obstajajo kakšne smernice, ki jim slediš?  

K temu lahko pristopiš z različnih zornih kotov. Lahko pristopiš na klasičen način s kaligrafijo. To je zahteven pristop. Potem je tu še anti-style pristop, popolno nasprotje, pri katerem samo ustvarjaš oblike. Toda v bistvu ima vsak svojo metodo. Kar zadeva pravila, jih je nekaj v zvezi z zakonitimi grafitnimi stenami, kjer lahko brez težav slikaš, pa tudi do drugih kosov moraš biti spoštljiv. Sčasoma moraš zagotovo prekriti delo od nekoga drugega. Vendar moraš pri tem pokriti celotno poslikavo in ne smeš pustiti nobenih ostankov, kar je nevljudno. Edina težava je, da ta pravila niso povsem jasna. Težave lahko nastanejo, ko preslikaš zapleten kos z nečim preprostim ali delo nekoga, ki to jemlje zelo osebno.  Resnično lahko govorim samo za legalne grafite, ne delam ilegalnih grafitov, ki pa veljajo za prave grafite.

Besides murals you also do graffiti writing. Are there any guidelines you follow when making them?

You can approach this from several different angles. You can approach it in a classical way by using calligraphy to outline your signature. Then there is also an anti-style approach, which is the direct opposite, where you basically try to do the exact opposite of the classical method. But in general each artist has his own method. Regarding rules, there are some that apply to legal graffiti walls. You can paint there freely as long as you are respectful to other works. For sure you have to cover up someone’s work eventually. But you have to cover up the whole piece and should not leave any remaining parts exposed, because it is considered rude. The only problem is that these rules are not always clear. Problems might arise when you paint something simple over a complex piece or you simply cover up the work of someone who takes these things personally. But, I can only speak for legal graffiti. I do not do illegal graffiti, which is considered the true graffiti by some people. 

 

Umetnostni zgodovinarji zelo radi spremljamo, kako se umetnikov slog spreminja skozi čas. Če postaviva skupaj večino tvojih del, kako bi opisal svoj slogovni razvoj?

Ko se ozrem na to, vidim obdobja. Začelo se je leta 2007. V prvih dveh letih sem napredoval od začetnika do solidnega sloga; napredek je bil močan (sl. 3). Med letoma 2009 in 2010 sem nato izpilil svoj slog (sl. 4). Potem sem diplomiral in se nekako oddaljil od sveta grafitov. Nisem imel časa, ker sem takrat študiral. Dejaven nisem bil 4 leta. Sicer sem naredil kakšno skico na mesec, ampak tako se ne izboljšaš. Nato sem se leta 2014 vrnil k grafitom in moj napredek je bil soliden. Velik korak zame je bil, ko sem spoznal prijatelja iz Nemčije. Spoznal sem Smoeja, ki ima tudi youtube kanal Smoe Nova. Zame je postal  neke vrste mentor. Takrat še nisem vedel, kaj pravzaprav počnem in tudi nisem imel posebne metode dela. Predstavil mi je svoj pristop. To je bila dragocena izkušnja zame (sl. 5), vendar to je bil njegov sistem. Potem se je začelo obdobje, ko sem se popolnoma oddaljil od grafitov. Pričel sem se igrati z realizmom in drugimi bolj klasičnimi vsebinami (sl. 6). Sčasoma sem se naučil risati druge stvari, kar mi je dalo veliko več svobode. Imel sem tudi serijo I try, v kateri sem se silil slikati stvari, ki jih nisem znal, kot so voda, ogenj, dim, surovo meso itd. Prisililo me, da slikam karkoli. Ta serija v kombinaciji z drugimi projekti me je veliko naučila in trenutno se počutim udobno s slikanjem bistvu česarkoli.   

We Art Historians like to follow an artists style to see how it has developed over time. If we put a majority of your works together, how would you describe your stylistic development?

When I look at it, I see periods. It started in 2007. In the first two years I progressed from a novice to a good graffiti style; my progress was strong (fig.3). Between 2009 and 2010 I polished my style (fig.4). Then I graduated and I sorta drifted away from the graffiti world. I did not have time for it because I was studying back then. I was not active for about four years. I did a sketch a month or so, but that is not how you improve. In 2014 I returned to graffiti and I started to progress again. A major step was when I met a friend from Germany. I met Smoe, who also has a youtube channel called Smoe Nova. He became sort of a mentor to me. At that time I did not know what I was doing, nor did I had any specific working method. He described to me his working method  and it was a valuable experience (fig.5). But that was his system. Then a period started where I completely shifted away from graffiti. I started to play with realism and other more classical subjects (fig.6). Over time, I learned how to draw other things which gave me a lot more freedom. I also did a series called I try in which I forced myself to paint things I did not know, things like water, fire, smoke, raw meat, etc.. This series, in combination with other projects, taught me a lot and right now I feel comfortable with painting basically anything.

 

Večina tvojih del se nahaja v Bratislavi. Si že kdaj slikal tudi na drugih lokacijah?

Da, večina mojih del je v Bratislavi, vendar sem že tudi slikal na drugih lokacijah. Slikal sem v ZDA, kjer sem naslikal pet ali šest del (sl.7). Potem v Nemčiji, približno štiri dela (sl.8). Nato sem slikal še na Dunaju (sl.9), ki je v bližini, in na Češkem. Seveda pa tudi v drugih krajih na Slovaškem. Bi pa res rad več slikal v tujini.

Most of your works can be found in Bratislava. But have you painted on other locations?

Yes, most of my works are in Bratislava, but I did paint in other locations. I painted in the USA, where I painted five or six pieces (fig.7). Then in Germany, about four pieces (fig.8). Then I painted in Vienna (fig.9), which is nearby, and the Czech Republic. And ofcourse on other places in Slovakia. But I would like to paint more in foreign countries.

 

Si tudi že kdaj slikal v Sloveniji?

Da. v Ljubljani sem naslikal dve deli (sl.10, sl.11).

Have you also painted in Slovenia?

Yes. I painted two pieces in Ljubljana (fig.10, fig.11).

 

Občasno lahko vidimo, da sodeluješ tudi z drugimi umetniki. S kom si do sedaj vse sodeloval?

Da, sem sodeloval z drugimi umetniki. Sodeloval sem že s Smoejem in tudi s Kiptoejem, ki je iz Amerike. Rad sodelujem z ljudmi, vendar raje delam sam. Bolj enostavno je, ni ti treba čakati, ali jih spraševati za njihovo stališče. Ko se srečamo, je zanimivo, bi se radi samo pogovarjali. Večino časa, ko se srečamo, se želimo samo pogovarjati, vendar je delo vmes. Idealno bi bilo, da bi se pogovarjali in delali, vendar je čas za projekte zelo omejen.

Occasionally we can see that you work with different artists. With whom have you collaborated so far?

Yes, I did work with other artists. I worked with Some and also with Kiptoe, he is from America. I like to collaborate with people, but I usually work alone. It is easier because you do not need to wait or ask them about their point of view. When we meet, it is funny, we like to talk. Most of the time we want to talk whenever we meet, but work is in the way. It would be ideal to talk and to work at the same time, but the time for the projects is very limited.

 

V povezavi s prejšnjim vprašanjem, ali meniš, da sodelovanje med različnimi umetniki pripomore k širjenju njihovega obzorja?  

Vsekakor. Posebej koristno je videti, kako nekdo drug uporablja barvni sprej in koliko časa porabi, da dokonča sliko. Saj večinoma vidiš njihova dela na spletu in ni razvidno koliko časa je bilo potrebnega za njen nastanek. Prav tako se je koristno pogovarjati z različnimi umetniki, delimo si  znanje in vpogled.

In contention with the previous question, would you say that collaborations between artists helps them to broaden their horizons?

Definitely, as it is especially useful to see how somebody else uses spray-paint and how long it takes them to finish a piece. Because most of the time you just see their work  on the internet and there is no way to know how long it took. It is also useful to talk with different artists, you get to share knowledge and insight. 

 

Svoja dela objavljaš na družbenih omrežjih kot so Instagram, Facebook in Youtube. Ali meniš, da danes družbena omrežja igrajo veliko vlogo pri promociji sodobne umetnosti?

Da, menim, da je nujno, da novi umetniki uporabljajo družbena omrežja. Bolj enostavno je deliti svoja dela, ni ti treba vprašati kogarkoli za dovoljenje. Vendar moraš vedeti, kako pritegniti pozornost. Ima svoje prednosti in slabosti.
Pred internetom nisi poznal umetnika ali njegova dela, dokler nisi šel k njim. Ko sem pričel, ni bilo niti Facebooka. Vse vplive sem dobil s spletne strani, ki si jo omenil na začetku, Art Attack. Ljudje iz Slovaške so tja pošiljali slike. Bila je kot revija, od koder sem črpal navdih. Bilo je bolj lokalno. Te dni lahko dobiš navdih od koderkoli in je težko krmariti skozi vse to. Potem je tu še zanimivi svet NFT-jev, ampak to je tema za kdaj drugič.

You use social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Youtube to share your art. In your opinion, do you think that social media today play a major part in promoting contemporary art?

Yes, I believe it is necessary for new artists to use social media. It is easier to share your work and you also do not need to ask for permission. But you have to know how to get attention. It has its advantages and disadvantages.
Before the age of the internet you did not know an artist or his work until you went to them. There was no Facebook when I started. All the influences that I got were from the web page you mentioned in the beginning, Art Attack. People from Slovakia were sending pictures there. It was like a magazine where I got my inspiration from. It was more local. It can be overwhelming to see all the sources of inspiration these days. It is difficult to navigate through everything. And then there is also the interesting world of NFTs, but that is a topic for another time.

 

Ali družbena omrežja cenzurirajo določene vsebine in motive ter tako omejujejo likovno izražanje, in ali imaš tudi ti izkušnje s cenzuro?

Moji videoposnetki in objave so večino časa v redu. Umetniki, ki slikajo gole ljudi, so lahko cenzurirani na Instagramu, saj je slikanje golih ljudi lahko težava. Je pa odvisno. Nekateri se bojijo, da gre v primeru grafitov za nezakonito dejavnost. Na Tik-toku je bil eden izmed mojih posnetkov cenzuriran, ker so ga smatrali za nezakonitega, čeprav sem delal na zakonitem zidu. Nekdo za to ni vedel in je prijavil. Toda na splošno nimam težav s cenzuro.

Do social media platforms censor or restrict certain topics, motives, limit artistic expression, and have you personally experienced censorship?

My videos and posts are ok most of the time. Artists who paint naked people can get censored on Instagram because painting naked people is a problem. But it depends. Some are afraid that their graffiti will be considered as an illegal activity. One of my videos got censored on Tik-tok because it was considered illegal, although it was done on a legal wall. Someone did not know this and reported it. But overall, I do not have problems with censorship.

 

V Bratislavi delujejo tudi drugi umetniki. Ali obstaja kakšna platforma, ki promovira njihova dela?

Nekoč je bil Art Attack, vendar je to zdaj pozabljeno in del preteklosti. Danes se vse dogaja na velikih platformah. Lahko dobiš nekaj prepoznavnosti, če znana oseba deli tvoje delo s svojimi sledilci. Obstajajo tudi takšni profili, ki zbirajo dela in jih delijo. To je tudi eden od načinov, kako postati opažen. Vendar ti profili večinoma delujejo v lastno dobro. Na nek način kradejo. Sicer navedejo čigavo je delo, vendar ne prosijo za dovoljenje. Te dni moraš narediti svojo promocijo.

There are also other artists working in Bratislava, is there a platform that helps to promote their works?

There was Art Attack, but it is forgotten now and part of the past. Today everything happens on big platforms. You can get some recognition when somebody famous shares your work with their followers. There are also these mashup profiles that collect art and share it. That is another way to be noticed. But these people only work for their own good and are stealing in a way. They do give credit, but they do not ask for permission. These days you have to do your own promotion.

 

In da zaključima, kakšen nasvet bi dal mladim umetnikom?

Če bi se ukvarjali z grafiti, bi rekel, da naj ne pričnejo takoj pri steni, sprva je dovolj le papir in svinčnik. A ostanimo pri mladih umetnikih nasploh. Rekel bi, ne bojte se, da vas navdihne delo nekoga drugega. A ne kopirajte samo, poskušajte razumeti njihov način dela, zakaj sprejemajo odločitve, ki jih. Predvsem pa na začetku, ne skrbite, delajte, kar želite in se ne bojte.

And to conclude, what advice would you give to young artists?

If they were a graffiti artist, I would advise them not to hit the wall straight away, some paper and a pencil are enough. But let us stick to young artists in general. I would tell them to not be afraid to be inspired by someone else’s work. But do not stick to merely copying it. Try to understand the way they work and why they make the decisions they do. And especially, in the beginning do not worry, do what you want to do and do not be afraid.    

sl.1/fig.1, foto: Doke

sl.2/fig.2, foto: Doke

sl.3/fig.3, foto: Doke

ARENA

sl.4/fig.4, foto: Doke

sl.5/fig.5, foto: Doke

sl.6/fig.6, foto: Doke

sl.7/fig.7, foto: Doke

 

sl.8/fig.8, foto: Doke

sl.9/fig.9, foto: Doke

sl.10/fig.10, foto: Doke

sl.11/fig.11, foto: Doke


Želel bi se zahvaliti Doku za njegov čas in pripravljenost sodelovati pri tem intervjuju, Katarini Richter za jezikovni pregled besedila in številne nasvete za njegovo izboljšavo ter  uredništvu Artfiks, ki so omogočili objavo besedila. Vsem naštetim se iskreno zahvaljujem.

I would like to thank Doke for his time and willingness to participate in this interview, Katarina Richter for the linguistic review of the text and many recommendations for its improvement, and the Artfiks editorial staff who made the publication of the text possible. I sincerely thank all mentioned above.


Recenzija: Gašper Stražišar

Lektura: Katarina Richter