Artists We Love: Mein163

INTERVIEWED BY Michaela Stehr IMAGES courtesy of @mein163 on Instagram

We chat to local Johannesburg-based graffiti artist and handpoke tattooer Mein163 about where he gains inspiration, his daily grind and what he plans for the future.

Tell us about how your name came about?

I basically wanted my own name that was Mine, I liked the letters and the idea of the word. But that name was already being used by a well-known writer from overseas. So I rearranged the letters and added a number to make sure it was different. Years later I am now friends with the writer Mine from the states and had a meet up there and in Asia together. Strange how things end out.

When did you first get involved in art?

Its been around me most of my life thanks to my grandmother on my father’s side. She was really switched on to music, drawing, painting, ceramics, you name it she did it. She is definitely the person who gave me my intro into art in general and sort of pushed it as an optional reality. I have also since I could remember grown up with a skateboard and that also played, and to a degree still plays a huge role in my life.

What are some memorable painting moments?

In terms of my work being, able to paint at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia in 2018 for the Fifa World Cup is still one of the great memories. There were artists from each continent painting around the stadium complex where the opening and final games of the tournament were played. It was an honour to work in that kind of environment. But nothing beats being in foreign cities and roaming the streets at night with your friends though. While it’s quiet and everyone is asleep, those are some of the best times. You get to explore a city from a different perspective and really enjoy your surroundings.

Who inspires you locally?

That’s a tough one, there’s a lot but; TAPZ , dayz, my dude Anser NineOne, Mook Lion, Mars, KrinkyWinky, Kylie Wentzel, R1One, Black Koki, Maja Maljević, Xee Summers, Ben Eagle, Rekso, Rasty. There is too much local talent in all areas.

What does a regular day look like for you now?

Usually, I try to wake up bright and early and do any admin I have, I’m still practising this part. Then after that it’s either going to the tattoo shop where I make handpoke tattoos or going to make a mural for a client which is the majority of my income. I try to give my self a lot of free time also, so some days I can go paint the streets or stay home and work on canvas.

How did your style develop? Are you exclusively into greys/blacks/whites?

I started to feel that I wanted to focus more on the shape and form of the work and not so much on the bright colours and effects. I didn’t always use only greys it’s only been about 3 years, at first I just started fragmenting my letters into bold simple geometry. I enjoy the simple palette of black and white because of the contrast between the two, and the grey tones are the best way to explore that. I started painting the skate spots because I felt painting the streets and skating the streets are closely related in the sense that they both rely on locations and objects. I have painted some colour commissions recently and I did like the results, though I still prefer the grey tones.

Do you have a particular piece you’re extremely attached to?

I can’t think of anyone in particular. Usually, it would be the last one I have done, it’s always freshest in memory. From painting in public everything is so temporary that it’s hard to get too attached when it could be erased or ruined at any time, which is also nice in a way. It keeps it active. If I were to go through the photo album I might have another answer for this question though.

What are your plans for the future?

Staying positive and healthy. I am having a show in the spring, so I am working towards that and looking forward to it. Otherwise, I would just like to make some more tattoos and keep painting and making work.