22 Mai Michael De Feo book signing at do you read me?!
Michael De Feo aka the ‘Flower Guy’ is coming to town and we’ll warmly invite you to join us on the 29th of May to our little shop in Auguststrasse 28. While we’ll indulge ourselves in the good, ‘old-school’ time, Michael will be so kind and sign some books and talk about his flower projects, from the very beginning as a street artist in the early 1990s to his latest intervention with fine art.
As you (probably) know we are infamous for our limited space so please submit that you are coming here! We look forward to seeing you there!
For everybody who is as curious as we are, we had the fortune to ask Michael some questions beforehand:
Can you say a few words what is so fascinating about the flower motif – after all this years? And would you say that there is a difference, giving rise to the flowers in different art spheres – from street art to fashion ads and fine art?
Back in 1993 when I first created the one flower that would become the springboard into so many different creative outlets, I had no idea what it would turn into. It was just this little flower that had found me when I wasn’t looking for it, and it took me on this great adventure. The flower project’s meaning and scope has grown over the past 25-plus years and continues to nourish me along the way. Initially, it was a simple and whimsical idea to plant these flowers in a city of concrete, glass and steel. Soon after, I became intrigued by the delicate and ephemeral nature of flowers in the streets and how that connected to ideas of the cycle of life and all living things. Years later as I began to paint them onto and into mass media imagery, the project continued as an exploration of flowers growing into or taking over another space.
In the book you mention your first ‚street art piece’ which you made while studying at the SVA in New York. How was the reputation of graffiti in Art School back then and (how) did this change over the years?
During my time at the School of Visual Arts, from the early-to-mid 1990’s, there were many students doing graffiti including Brian Donelly (KAWS). I really liked what they were doing outside of school but personally, I wasn’t interested in pursuing letterforms for my own works on the streets. For me, SVA was an environment that welcomed and sometimes even embraced or encouraged all kinds of creativity whether it was illegal or not. For example, my silk-screen teacher expressed great enthusiasm in my street art and offered to show me how to make an acid-resistant silk screen so that I could illegally screen and etch my work onto the glass of storefront windows (I didn’t take him up on it). Another teacher that applauded my efforts was Joey Skaggs who taught a class about culture jamming and media activism. There was also Frank Young, a teacher that exhibited his giant wood sculptures after he had abruptly burned them in response to a break up with his then-girlfriend. SVA provided me an environment that allowed alternate solutions to doing things even if it meant breaking the rules. Although I majored in Graphic Design, I really wanted to be Fine Arts major. Since a change wasn’t possible, I decided to execute my Graphics assignments with fine art solutions. This didn’t always go over well but I wasn’t deterred and kept on doing things my way. I had to submit a portfolio of commercial art to graduate but instead supplied them with a book documenting my street art and paintings. The review board loved it, gave me the highest grade possible and I got to graduate. I never did graffiti in the early days of my flower project, however, a few years ago I began straying from the rigid iconic flower’s image by creating large and small freehand flowers on the streets with paint or sponge-topped Krink applicators. Most of the teachers I had at SVA are long gone but I know there are many working there today that are just as encouraging to their students as the ones I had years ago.
Where have you always wanted to have your flowers but didn’t (yet) get the opportunity?
I’ve been fortunate to do a lot of travel and create my work in places far from home. I’m always interested in continuing to meet new people and experiencing new cultures, especially in places I haven’t been to yet. Usually my destinations are determined by the locations of exhibitions or projects. I’d love to get to Japan and India next.