PHOTO REPORTS, REALISM AND A SUDDEN TOLSTOY

This is one of the most recognizable and instagrammed graffities of Kaliningrad. We have asked the author about their art and the giant portraits.
When did you start painting?

I wanted to try graffiti since I was a kid, but it was a while before I actually started doing it. I was working as a tattoo master when one day this idea became so haunting that I just took a spray paint and went outside.

How would you describe your style?

I was always interested in vintage photo reports, mostly black-and-white. And then, I have been known in the tattoo world as an artist who adheres to realism. A combination of these two approaches to style defined my street art.
How did you come up with an idea to make a portrait of Leo Tolstoy? Did you expect it to become so popular?

I made Tolstoy with altruistic motives in mind. No expectations, no fame-seeking. Since it was the first work of this kind, I made it mostly for myself. I wanted to evaluate my capabilities in this area. I feel extremely blessed that my work became a landmark, of sorts. It made me feel that I have chosen the right path, allowed me to believe in myself and move forward.
I wanted to try graffiti since I was a kid, but it was a while before I actually started doing it
GLEBAS, street artist
Do you remember the creative process?

I did not have any motivation other than my personal wish. Maybe, the whole process could be described as a prompting of the spirit, but I don't want to over-romanticize it. Neither am I a massive fan of Tolstoy's work. Let's just say it, it was the right time and the right place, and the result resonated with people.

What do you do for a living?

After the Tolstoy graffiti, my professional life split in two — the above-mentioned tattoo design and street art. They are even seasonal. In winter, I am a tattoo master, and when it's warmer — I do graffiti.
What are your favorite places in Kaliningrad?

A sewer on Dmitry Donskoy street, a berth of Pravaya Embankment at the port of Kaliningrad. These are rather secluded places. If we speak about the whole region, I love Lake Vistytis, for the same reasons.

Which of your works are worth seeing first?

I don't rate my work in chronological order and I don't believe it would even be possible. People usually find my random arts all around the city. If you see any of my graffiti and note for yourself that it is a labor of love for art — I know I'm doing the right thing.

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