Interview: Cless

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First the basic introduction, tell us little bit about who are you, what are you doing, where are you coming from?

Hi, I’m Cless, a graffiti writer, graphic designer and collage artist. That’s what I always say and that’s the order, the origin… maybe now I’m a collage artist, illustrator / designer freelance and student of the classic New York graffiti.

Right now I am engaged in personal projects and exhibition that development from my studio in Valladolid (Spain), the city where I was born and live. I usually make these projects in Spain or Europe, either by mail or physically somewhere.

Why collages? How did you started to do them?

Buff… I honestly don’t know why, maybe because I don’t know how to draw? Or because I don’t like what I draw it’s easier for me to take pictures and create something new, I don’t have to create them – they are there for me and I can destroy them.

I started studying collage in 2001. While looking dirty typography to my poster designs, I found the website of Eduardo Recife: Mysprintedtype, and I was mesmerized by its melody loop and I was freaking out with his collage works and decided to download his entire web and rummage through the links. There I found many other artists but the remarking to me was {ths} Thomas Schostok  – I went crazy! And I think at some point I lost consciousness… There was BEAST Magazine (by {ths} Thomas Schostok ), Rodeo27 (by Plastic Kid), Bloodwars Magazine (by Sfaustina), incredible stuff… and then I began to suspect that I couldn’t be able to stop. I was hooked on that shit and wanted to be like them, I wanted to do things as brutal as they did and started playing cut and past with my partner, David Fresno.
I kept researching and researching and now it’s 2016 and I’m still investigating 🙂 I think now I’m more hooked on this than when I started and it’s worrying me.

“I went crazy! And I think at some point I lost consciousness…”

When you’re collaging, what’s your favorite part of creative process?

Lately I’ve been working in a different way. Before I was going through magazines and when I saw something that caught my attention, I clipped it out straight away and started to make the collage. That was the first step, but I’m a person who cuts the details slow, I cut them with scissors, I don’t use knife or scalpel.  I need the time to cut the picture, either very well or very bad. And if I don’t like the result, I’ve invested a lot of time into it and still haven’t got no more than few cuts which may not be used again – speaking about the worst case of course! So lately I’ve been scanning the images in low resolution and then work with them in Photoshop. I make the cuts quickly and compose the sketch, so I can see how the final work comes out and other hand, if I even want to cut it.

I have a problem, maybe I have many, but one important thing is that I almost always look for a “masterpiece” in each piece, and if to me the work doesn’t meet my minimums the piece will not see the day light. So that’s my favorite part for the the past two years I think! I love how I can see just in few minutes how a new piece builds up. Clearly, then I have to cut it and paste it and yes, it has to be like the sketch, that’s no problem, I’m used to such exercises since I have used to paint the wall with my crew – the piece on the wall was like the sketch.
Surely the day that I don’t have my scanner close by, I will continue to work as I used but it will take longer. Or I’ll another fun approach or creative process. That’s the game.

And then, what’s the hardest/least enjoyable part?

I have a clear idea about this part, surely it’s the time to glue the collage. Before working with 3M Spray Mount Repositionable, I worked only with glue stick. It allowed me to go covering areas little by little and go pasting the entire mass of paper background. But, you have tried the spray adhesive? What I can tell? After I discovered that freaking wonder I can’t live without it. It may not be noticeable to the naked eye but my cuts aren’t often directly over each other but they’re intertwined, small parts fitted together like pieces of a puzzle. For me it’s very difficult to paste it with spray so I use of a special tape that doesn’t harm that much the magazine paper which is very thin and delicate, and by making small marks with tape I attempt to fit each of the pieces in place correspondingly, by the millimeter. Sometimes it’s really difficult but I think because it’s a relevant part of the process. Sometimes I despair but with many years of practice I have became quite fluent to get the desired result. In the final part I use UHU glue stick to finish up certain parts of the collage so that everything is well connected. It’s a long and tedious process so that’s the part I enjoy the least but I’m stuck with it.

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When you start a new piece, do you have a clear vision what you are going to do? Do you start build collages around your vision or do you let the collage build itself around the materials you come across?

No, the truth is that usually I don’t have a clear vision. I tend to be seduced by what I found in magazines. Lately I’ve worked only with magazines, NO vintage magazines, more or less current publications I’m finding and collecting from paper containers or supplying from my dealers.

I think the process is always the same, I’m flipping through the magazine and the images that suggest me something go to my head for layer positioning. When I have a few images, my brain automatically begins to compose the sketch and not until I see the collage in my head I begin to cut.

Before, my works were different, locked thoughts similar, feelings or stories that plagued me or befell. Now, although sometimes happens, it is a more personal quest for beauty. The beauty through the discarded or ugly things. It is a constant twist my head. Now I feel very comfortable and confident with what I do.

How easy or hard is to you to finish your collage? Do you finish your pieces in one sessions or do they take more time?

When I read what Jackson Pollock asked once: How do you know when you have finished a painting? And he said: How do you know when you’ve finished making love? Something happened in my head, that phrase stuck with me and burnt into my mind. I understood it perfectly and I thought about it because I felt so. As I said before, I do the sketch digitally in a few minutes by computer. It may take one, two or three hours to cut and place all the pieces where you want them to be glued, it depends on the complexity of the work but it’s a matter of hours. Now I want to produce my work in hours, not in weeks or months. If I can do several pieces a day which earlier could take weeks or months. Now I need to do and finish my pieces in one sitting, it’s something that my head calls, so I can do more! It’s not the quantity, I prefer quality but I want to make more works than I did before.

Do you observe your development as an artist, when was the last time you had an AHA -moment while collaging and what was it?

I think I’ve had many points and several projects that have effected and made me change the way I work or see things, even artists who have had an influence on me. No doubt the last AHA moment was a work I made in the study of my friend and photographer David Campesino in Dresden, Germany. I was given some old German magazines and began to review them. The images had nothing to do with the magazines I usually work with and forced to do something different. I was investigating the ugly in this moment and when I discovered the eyes of a cat on one of the pages of the magazine, I saw everything clearer. I created “Das Ungetüm” (”The monster”, see below) the first of a long series of rare or mutant characters that are familiar in my work. Hannah Höch has also largely to blame in all this as always, but now more. I’m in love with her “Der Strauss” (The Bouquet).

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What/who are your biggest influences as an artist?

I think now the list is endless plus 2 – I have very clear that the work of Eduardo Recife and Thomas Schostok aka {ths} influenced my first jobs and defined my style, I’m always in search of the personal. They were, and still are, an important benchmark in my career as an artist. Plastic Kid, Neasden Control Centre also had their special moments. Working with great friends and artists nourishes and enriches me. My meetings with David Fresno playing make collage trial and error, experimenting all the time, helped me a lot and ginger up; jams sessions, collages 6 hands with Ruben B and Max-o-matic, made me more agile and quick; references such as: James Gallagher, Charles Wilkin, Ashkan Honarvar, Dennis Busch, Bäst, Dash Snow, Sfaustina, Seb Jarnot, Hubber Hubber and giant etc. They have all influenced me in some way, and many more artists, and every day I try to take care of my style. The great artists like Rauschenberg, Rosenquist, Koons, Baldessari, Twombly, etc. They are also present in a library, but as I said before this is only the beginning, the list is now incredibly extensive. TODO VALE!

You have done so much, showcased your works in art shows around the world and been featured in many publications… So what’s next, what drives you forward as an artist?

Really? I’ve done so much? I think I have much to do.
I don’t know 🙂 I honestly don’t know. Now I have the good fortune to work longer with my collage and I have a new and exciting projects coming that I hope to take out to my city.

And there’s still a few days left to see my latest works in the International Weird Collage Show Trondheim, Norway. I’m really excited to show my work again with other friends and artists.

In the end of the last month I had the honor to present a retrospective of my works in my hometown, that includes a selection of the best works from the last twelve years, about 350 works in total. The show can be seen at the Exhibition Hall of the Teatro Calderón until the end of September 2016. Then it will disassembled and packed for the return to the Hole of Fame in Dresden, Germany, for my friends David Campesino’s new project.

I don’t know what will happen tomorrow – I just want to continue producing good work and have fun while doing it. I want to continue with the projects and make more and more, I feel alive doing it. New projects and jobs will be welcome after Dresden 🙂

If you should describe your art with one word, what would it be?

#PrettyUgly

Cless around the internet:

Homepage: www.cless.info
Instagram: www.instagram.com/clessisms
Facebook: www.facebook.com/clessisms
Art Dealer LUMAS: www.eu.lumas.com/artist/cless

Saatchi Online: www.saatchiart.com/cless

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