Jola or else Jola Darkovic or simply Darko is one and the same Greek artist with many different faces and a tendency for experimentation amongst different styles, surfaces and materials. This month we talk with him.
Where does your name come from? Is there a story around it?
I created Jola’s tag from the initials of my name, at the age of 14-15 when I started drawing graffiti. Since then, I have never changed it. The only thing that has changed is the way in which I am writing, creating a code of symbols, numbers and other elements. During the past years, I drew my main inspiration from fences/ gates which I observe constantly.
My main logo is a symmetrical symbol based on the number 8 (infinity- dash- infinity) constituting my name. Personally, it symbolizes my dual personality in the things I do.
Have you studied something relevant to art and which are your main influences?
I moved to Athens at end of 2001 to study at AKTO (applied drawing) and afterwards I continued my studies at the Technological Educational Institute, Technology of Graphic Design, gathering both theoretical and practical knowledge on design and printing.
The people that I met in Athens were mostly likeminded artists, so there were always stimuli and influences from them. These brought us closer both to with each other and to our own selves through our creativity.
It seems like you have more than one style in your work (calligraphy and illustration). What do you enjoy drawing the most and how do you think those two are combined?
Starting point to my art was the street, a starting point that opens up lots of paths, like illustration, design or any other form of art. I cannot limit myself to molds and call myself a graffiti artist, street artist, painter or Illustrator… I have many sides even in my art, separating however some basic principles like the applied art from my personal work as an artist.
I started doing graffiti in 1998 while I was hanging out with a group of skaters who also did graffiti. Since I was a child I enjoyed drawing but when I met graffiti a new world opened up to me. I used to draw pieces with different styles in the urban landscape, which I later enrich with elements from graphic design, printing and calligraphy. Meanwhile, I occupied myself with painting and graphic design, and later illustration. Additionally, lately I work with wood, a mixed technique which takes on a journey in time and awakens creative memories from my father’s workdays.
I like doing many different things and I am constantly experimenting with materials, techniques and styles. I can’t say that I like something more than the other thing, everything satisfy me in the same extent but everything in a different way.
Is it important for an artist to have a unique way of writing? (color, forms, materials)
I believe that it is very important to have a unique way of writing; this is what give you your “identity” and recognition amongst the see of art that we see today. Personally, I don’t enjoy sticking with one way of writing that will become mannerism when used continually. I like experimenting with different styles and techniques, having also some older samples of writing and adding some new elements to them. I consider evolution to be one of the most important things for an artist.
Describe to us the process you follow when creating a piece in the street. Do you follow some specific steps?
Most of the times I have found- marked the spot where I want to interfere and other times I come across a spot and I start Improvise in accordance to the space. In the case of an illustration – design, I begin with a faint draft, which I will use as a base to build my theme and draw with different material (brushes, paints, strays) in order to reach the desired result. The truth is that it is difficult to say when and in which step the piece is complete, but when the outcome is close to my expectations I complete it.
In the case of the calligraphy, things are more simple and direct, I investigate the space and I visualize my interference to it. I use large brushes and brooms in order to succeed the font that I desire. The final execution is very quick, spontaneous and it is based on the same movement of the hand, which is done one off without any drafts. This gives me the absolute freedom to express myself without caring about the aesthetic criteria of the outcome.
Do the themes which you design interact with the overall space – location? Is each piece specifically drawn for its locations or could it work anywhere?
Most of the times, my themes are drawn in accordance to the space which I have discovered. I interfere redefining each space. Other times I will just draw something I have in my mind without caring about the surrounding space. In any case I consider some of my pieces suitable for different spaces.
Most of the times, street artists are forces to draw at night or in spaces where not many people visit. Have you faced difficulties-danger?
Generally, I still like “tagging” at night; it is a bug that I can’t get rid of. I used to draw both during the night and daytime, but during the past years I prefer the daylight. I go to deserted places, abandoned factories, ruins to which people don’t have access. As far as difficulties do, besides some chases and 3 times in lock-up, I have been assaulted once.
Airbnb Street art apartment, tell us about your experience. Are you open to mural painting subcontracting or commercial work?
It was with great pleasure that I accepted my friend’s and partner’s Giannis X. (set designer) proposal, when he suggested that I decorate the Street art apartment that he was working on. After hours of discussions and many drafts we decided to create different themes in each space of the house with referenced to the street art. Our mutual friend’s involvement, Manoli (RTMone) who designed one of the bedrooms and two WCs, was also very important. All this was a unique experience, team working for fifteen days in a row.
I created may of the implementations, as for example the wall paintings and the calligraphies in the rooms and on the furniture, the printings on the wood, and we concluded with an implementation of iron oxidation which was intended for the bed’s headboard. I think that, for everyone who worked on this project, the overall result did us justice and Ι took a lot from this collaborative experience. These past years, I am open to commercial work proposals and wall paintings, given that there are good intentions and a substantial financial reward.
Untitled-1! How did this happen? Which is your relationship with music and which is your goal through this project?
This idea has been in my head for years and it has been a dream of a sort which I had with my friend Viktoras (Bend Design). As music lovers, both of us, we decided to make our first music release. The amount of difficulties and responsibilities that we came across were overwhelming, because we made the whole production from scratch, artwork, design- research, printing, packaging and many more. This is where the name came from, untitled-1, since we started from a white canvas, and all the production elements go through us until we create each final product. Then, Nicolas P. also joined the team, who is a close common friend, music and design lover. So, at this point we have three members and we hope to include many more, as we go on, who will share the same passions and zest as we have for this project.
Untitled-1 is an independent publishing team based in Athens, which focuses on music releases (vinyl, cassettes) books of art and printing. We are deep believers of the collaborative element and the power of team work. Through Untitled-1 we aim to publish a platform through which creative people will be able to present pieces of art – releases of different art forms.
In 10 years from today?
I hope to have evolved both professionally and financially, and to have created a powerful independent group- collective- business, though which we will be able to produce our own work and offer printing and design services.I would certainly like to be able to live in an island for some part of the year, far away from the stress of Athens, where I would draw in piece.