Artist Interviews 2021

By Julia Siedenburg

Tona is a street artist whose work stretches from Germany, where he is currently located, to India through Japan and Thailand. And those are not all the places you can find his stenciled children who wait for you at all kinds of places in the cities. Most of them look straight at you, into your mind and soul. All of them seem to have a bigger purpose, a message that we as the viewers should figure out. A message that will change the way we are, the way we live and see the world.

One sign that can be found in a couple of his stencils is a cardboard sign saying ? Water is a human right”. If that does not support the idea that there is something hiding to be found out behind every child image of his, I do not know what is. Whoever should see any of these in person, think about stepping a little closer and try listening closely.

All images © Tona

What does the word “artist” mean to you?

  Someone who communicates through creativity.

Who do you look up to as an artist?

Mother Nature.

What motivates and inspires you? 

I am motivated by the idea of painting in public space, because a lot of people will never go to a museum or gallery. 

What is your process like?

It's like a loop of traveling, painting on the streets, taking photos, working on the images, cutting in the studio, painting for/on events/gallery, go back on the streets.

What is special about stencil art for you personally and how does it differ from graffiti street art work? 

I love the whole process: taking photos, working on the image, cutting and painting. Also my stencils are prepared size wise for small street spots so I always find my niche ;) . In graffiti the process is: sketching, checking spots and trying to paint bigger and faster.

Has art always been a part of your life or did you find your way to it later?


Why is art important for society?

On many levels art is essential for societies, because you can express things you might not be able to find words for.

What is the message you want to convey to the viewers? 

I am aiming for an emotional conversation with the viewer. My motivation is to confront a distorted perception of an unfair and cruel world with a dreamy, sensual and emotional perspective. The idea of temporary art in the street enables us (as the viewers) to feel the transformation of the world around us and as a result, our own consciousness.

What do you feel when you work on your pieces? What do you want people to feel when they see your art?

In art, it's an emotional thing for me. That means, if I take these photos, I have an emotion that I can't really put into words. I want to freeze this emotion somehow in the image and then try to check with my environment in a nonverbal way if it speaks to the opposite. Is there some kind of communication? Do they feel the same as I do when they look at it? Or is it completely subjective, because only you have experienced it yourself? 

Nowadays, do young people have it easier or harder to make and be successful with their art?

I don't know if it's easier or harder, but it always has been a hustle to be an artist. 

What does success mean to you?

Confronting my fears and losing them.

Tell us a little about your childhood and your background.

I wanted to play but I had to go to school.I asked questions but I only got homework.I didn't agree on the rules around me so I broke them.

Besides being an artist, which profession interests you and why?

NGO work in general, because there's too little on this planet

All images © Tona

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