While living and working in the creative hub Berlin, Tony Futura is well known beyond the borders of Germany, on- and offline. The digital artist creates eye catchy pieces, inspired by thousands of impulses like the streets of Berlin or a huge variety of people. Lately, he is dealing with the case of one of his artworks, that has been copied in the new music video from Chris Brown and Nicki Minaj. Check out the full interview with Tony!
Tony, five things we should know about you?
I feel way younger than I actually am.
I am lazy most of the time.
For a German I don’t like beer that much.
I love to take 2 hour long baths on Sundays.
Oh, and I smoke. A lot.
“I am creating simple images with a twist” - this is how you describe your work. When did all this started?
At the beginning, in summer ’15, it was some kind of discovery for me as new way push my own creativity. I wanted to create more for the community than #foodporn and #selfie's, which is just boring narcissism in most cases. I wanted to challenge myself and see how my ideas are understood by others. But in the end I mainly do it to entertain myself. It's a process of finding new thoughts on several topics and things and to evolve my own thinking.
Would you say Berlin is your creative hub where you take all your inspiration from?
Yes, partly, i’d say. I’m not that type of creative person that works systematically, I need to get in contact with thousands of impulses. Berlin streets are so packed with a huge variety of people. I love to be around outside walking or sitting together with friends in crowded areas. The talks we have and the people and things we see are a huge inspiration. Also I think it helps me clearing my head from all the daily stuff I have to deal with. My friends are mostly working in creative fields too, so that’s the other side of inspiration I get. The ping-pong-effect I get from silly talks with them is a perfect impulse for my own thoughts and work most of the time. I think it might be the most valuable thing a creative person can experience.
Through Instagram you reach a huge amount of people. Did you have the opportunity to spread your digital art also offline?
Yes and I am super happy that I was given those opportunities. Through contacts on Instagram but also outside the platform I was able to present my work in various places around the globe, from galleries in New York City and Italy to Museums in Peking and Germany and many national and international publications, blogs and magazines. It is so amazing to see how all the work can pay off but I am also very aware that there’s so much more space to grow and so much more time this will take.
You are working for the creative agency DOJO in Berlin. Can you also integrate your style in the daily work there or do you appreciate to separate both topics?
Yes, sometimes. I am working in a position where I get to decide about visual styles and the concept of advertising campaigns. But sure I am not trying to forcingly apply this certain style of visualization to any campaign we are doing. Honestly, I am very happy of separating my personal style from the visual work I am doing inside the agency. So, the style that I’m doing for my artworks remains my personal one and I am still free to create different things for our clients. I love diversity, this is what keeps my job interesting and surprising.
Recently you are dealing with the topic of someone copying your art. In this case it was the music video from Chris Brown and Nicki Minaj. Which predominates for you: the madness of someone “stealing” or the fact of being proud that your art is seen worldwide?
I was definitely mad about it. Since there were no credits given and we haven’t even been contacted for this job it’s not really a win for me. Because nobody who saw the video was knowing about where the visual concepts came from. Just the members of our community, which I am very proud of, discovered our artworks in Chris’ video and told us about it.
Lately, there have been more cases that occured where a famous music artist blatantly copied artworks from known Instagrammers like Miley Cyrus from @stephanie_sarley and also from @thesweetfeminist. Miley plainly ripped off the complete visuals from Stephanie and the whole idea including the caption from The Sweet Feminist, who is known for baking cakes with bold statements on itTo me, both of these cases make it extremely obvious, where the big ones take their „inspiration“ from and we, meaning all of us, really have to do something against it. Because if there’s no change then it might be quite a bad sign for young creators, who must be afraid that once they go public with their artworks, it’ll be ripped off by the giants. And worst thing is, that in most cases you are left behind without a chance to move against it since most of us artists can not afford to file a lawsuit against the responsible person behind it.
Your art is reflecting several topics like politics etc. How do you start your creative process and how important is the message behind for you?
The message is always important. At least for me, since I do want my work to have some value more than just good looking imagery.
I don’t feel like I have some special topics anymore, I really like to play around with different things and points of views. If I get to find some topic I want to work with I am always starting by finding symbolic objects that refer to it. In the end I’m just mixing up contrasting sides to bring them together as one bold statement. But not always.
How would you describe your art to people with the age of 70 plus?
It’s art – but fast. I don’t need weeks for an oil painting, I take some hours to talk about things that are happening now and are out of interest tomorrow. It’s art for the fast web generation. Oh yeah, the internet, do I have to explain this to you as well?
Any future projects or personal goals you have that you would like to share with us?
Yes, I want to focus even more on bringing my concepts to life as sculptures. But for now I am enjoying a longer break to think about further steps in the Chris Brown video case and to reflect what I’d like to do afterwards. Stay tuned.
courtesy TONY FUTURA
Interview KATI WEISSMANN
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