Sagie grew up in a small town in Sweden called Karlstad. He started writing graffiti around 1993 and got hooked on this way of painting right away. The graffiti scene at his hometown was not so big compared to bigger cities, but they actually had a few legal walls at the beginning of the 90s.
He has studied art and for a few years video game design, but for the last 10 years he has been working as a tattooer in Gothenburg, Sweden. He’s been traveling for tattoo conventions and always brings some spray cans for fun. For the last 5 years, he has also focused on painting murals, and hopefully in a few years that will be his full-time income.
We would love to learn about the muralism panorama in Sweden. How would you describe it? Do you see an active urban art movement in your city?
The mural scene in Sweden has just started! Some surrounding cities like Borås have been doing an annual mural art festival with international artists for a few years, and festivals like Artscape have been doing big projects all over Sweden for the last 7 years, and we are beginning to see a lot more open walls around Sweden. For many years the capital, the city of Stockholm, actually had a zero-tolerance policy for graffiti and spray-can art. Wich meant no open walls at all. The last 5 years have been a lot better, a yearly street art festival in Stockholms Snösätra area and the Gothenburg area now have more open walls than ever, even a few private indoor walls. So we are definitely going in the right direction!
Your mural works show an authenticity that leads us to think that, in part, they are the result of the magic of improvisation in the execution of the mural itself. Is there any previous preparation for the works?
I usually have a photo or idea to start with, but I love to improvise, especially when doing the "watercolor" style. I think I started painting watercolor effects because a lot of my tattoo clients wanted that style and it's super easy to do those water splash effects with the spray cans!! I actually used to hate painting with aquarelle when I was younger, it's funny that I enjoy doing fake watercolor effects with spray cans haha.
Also, when I first found out about the doodle grid that was a big game-changer for me, I never have to struggle with the sketch anymore and van focuses all my energy on doing nice renderings and effects instead. Some have a really good tutorial on Youtube if you don't know about the DoodleGrid.
We can also see a recurrent theme in your murals: the natural elements. What is the message you want to send towards your artworks?
I really enjoy painting animals and plants, I think there is a lot of inspiration to be found in nature itself, I am very concerned about environmental issues like pollution and mass extinction of animal species, but I rarely do messages in my artworks. I feel like if the paintings can lighten up someone's day that's enough for me!
How do you think it affects a city the fact of having legal walls?
For me, it's very important! Art is not supposed to just be in the galleries and in the museum. It's meant to be for everyone in the community and should be where the people live!!
The main reason for me to travel to other cities is to paint new walls and be inspired by art.
You can definitely see clearly that city that had a good amount of open walls has many more good painters. A good painting takes time to do and you just will not become a good mural painter if you just do illegal work in the night time. I wish that more cities in my area will get bookable walls like Barcelona.
One of the characteristics of urban art is the temporality to which the mural works are subjected. Some artists are affected by the fact that their works can last only a few hours, and others see as something positive, and even necessary, that there is no preservation of the works. How do you perceive the artistic ephemerality of urban art?
In some paint spots in Sweden the paintings are actually painted over less than an hour after they are done, I've had some paintings in Spain and Germany staying up for months or years! Of course, it is nice when a painting stays up for long, but for me, the photo of the wall is the final product. If one of my paintings stays up a bit longer I'm super happy that the other painters liked it enough to not paint over it for a while :)
I love the areas with art that are constantly changing, for me, it has always been a natural part of the painting.
Would you like to recommend any Swedish artist for the readers to get to know a bit more about the artistic panorama of Sweden?