Last september I featured the works of Kaspian Shore on Bleaq. His battered warriors caught my eye, they are really unique pieces. While getting some background information on Kaspian for the article I found out he’s not only and artist but also the founder of the PRISMA art collective. The collective is a group of talented artists (many featured on Bleaq like Soey Milk, Allison Sommers, Jaw Cooper, Alex Louisa and Kelly McKernan) who have teamed up to step out of the isolation in the vastness of the art market. The PRISMA collective is a A-team if you ask me, and I asked Kaspian if he wanted to share some insights on his work and the collective. Enjoy!
Hi Kaspian! Thanks for taking time to share some thought on your work and the PRISMA art collective! Could you shortly introduce yourself and the collective to the readers?
KS: Hi! I’m Kaspian, 30 years old, traditional painter and founder of PRISMA, an international artist collective. We’re 30 creatives from all around the world that do gallery shows and other projects together.
On the PRISMA website you mention being self-taught. Is it hard to compete with artists who had an education in art? And how did you start your career as an artist?
KS: Yes, I’m self-taught but I’m not sure if an artist with an educational background always has it easier. Some people get out of art school ready to start their career, while others start over from scratch and teach themselves how they really want to work. I go through a lot of trial and error but artists who received proper training often face the same obstacles.
As for me getting into art, I had to drop out of school at age 16—I got very sick and was never able to study or have a job, so I concentrated on art. I tried to get into art school several times but without a school diploma, it was hopeless. I was so disappointed that I quit drawing altogether for a few years and wrote poetry instead. In my mid-twenties, I befriended an artist who motivated me to start painting again. At the end of 2010, I switched to acrylics (from ink and gouache), posted my stuff on the internet and started selling.
In 2011 you started an the PRISMA art collective. The collective consists of thirty very talented artists. How did you start the collective? And how did you meet the participating artists?
KS: I started the collective because I was frustrated and in the mood to take a risk. So I just messaged a couple of artists I admired and asked them if they were interested in a collaboration. Surprisingly, they all said yes, and the third artist I talked to mentioned how much she loved the other people I had already contacted, so I was thinking, why don’t we just all work together? As soon as we had a few people on board, the whole thing exploded because everyone had so many suggestions and more cool friends they wanted to join that I suddenly found myself in the middle of two dozen popular artists who, a couple of weeks earlier, had probably never even heard of me before. The wave of positive response was more than I ever imagined.
I had always wanted to be part of a group that sticks together and has the power to change things. People you can rely on and get advice from, and I guess that is what PRISMA has always been about, even if there was no master plan in the beginning. Just like the collective has grown over the years, I have grown with it, and I’m so very lucky to be a part of this.
The collective had group shows in San Diego and Las Vegas. Could you tell a bit more about how shows like that came to exist? Any chance we get to see a PRISMA exhibition in Europe some time soon?
KS: The shows are always initiated by one of our artists who’s worked with the gallery before. Then I take over and do the actual organisational work, put together the line-up, etc. And yes, we’ll have a show in London at the end of 2014.
– Posters for the PRISMA group shows
I can imagine it’s a lot of work to have keep a collective going: is it hard to divide your time between your work and the collective?
KS: Without going into details, it’s a ridiculous amount of work and I tend to hate everyone on this planet two weeks prior to a PRISMA show opening but I’m pretty well organised by now, and I think I actually need the action. I sometimes just take a break from my own work whenever it gets too busy with PRISMA, or have someone from the group be so kind and help me out a bit.
Speaking of your work: the pieces in your portfolio are all free work. Are you able to make a living of the collective and your free work, or do you also work on commission?
KS: I’m not sure if that’s what people think but I don’t earn anything from PRISMA or from our shows. All curator’s fees / money we make from merch go into a big pot that we use to fund other bigger projects. It’s our way to independence.
I get some money from the family, otherwise I couldn’t live from art. It’s just way too unsteady. I do take commissions every once in a while but it has to be something I feel good about. Sometimes you have people contact you about commissioned work that is the complete opposite of your portfolio, and I’m not such a money whore.
On your website you define your style as ‘electric folk’, a playful mixture of traditional and modern elements, heavily influences by the restlessness of folk and electronic music. What kind of music do you listen to?
KS: Yes, my friend Nom Kinnear King recently came up with that definition and I think she hit the nail on the head!
I obviously listen to a lot of folk and electronic music like Patrick Wolf and Kapela ze Wsi Warszawa but I play Interpol and Jenny Wilson just as much.
Speaking of electronic music: your portraits reminded me of Patrick Wolf more than once: a coincidence or is he one of your music muses?
KS: The way it works is actually that the music fuels the poetry I write, and the writings then lead to the paintings. I become super agitated through music, it’s my one true love.
I’ve actually drawn Patrick’s portrait a while ago because he’s awesome. I’ve been listening to him on and off for almost ten years now and he’s still my favourite musician.
– Patrick Wolf portrait
Can you remember a piece of art you’ve seen as a kid which really impressed you?
KS: I had like zero access to art when I was little, so unfortunately, the answer is no.
What do you enjoy most of being an artist?
KS: Well, I would love to say the money but as you already know, that’s not the case. ;) I guess being an artist makes me feel like I belong somewhere and that I’m doing something substantial. And that’s what matters, right?
You have an active online presence: you have an up to date website and web-shop and you’re active on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr – and that doesn’t even include the PRISMA profiles yet! How important is the internet for you as an artist?
KS: I have to admit I’m slightly shocked by that list and how much time I spend on the internet but yes, it’s such a vital part of my job because it’s the only way I can actually show my work to the people out there. Without the internet, I would be drawing pictures for my mum or the local penny bank or doctor’s offices, so I’m trying to make use of the medium as much as possible in order to find those who actually want to see me.
While talking about the internet anyway: can you share a few websites you visit daily?
KS: I think the only website I visit daily besides news and the social networks (where I’m following art blogs and all) is the ASOIAF forum because I need my daily Westeros fix.
– Our daily Westeros fix, thanks Kaspian ;)
Last but not least: can you recommend a book, movie or artist you’ve enjoyed lately?
KS: Yes, I could recommend so many films but given the limitation of this interview, just watch all of Xavier Dolan’s films and your life will be better. :)
That’s it! Many thanks to Kaspian for being willing to share his thoughts and insights with Bleaq, it’s much appreciated! If you like to see more of Kaspian’s work you can take a look at his website. The PRISMA collective website is also highly recommended, besides being a portal to awesome artists you will also be able to find interesting insights on being an artist and techniques.
Thanks for reading, see you monday!