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.