covanaut March 15, 2013 No Comments

Words//Craig Stevens 

I was recently asked to attend the Munich ISPO tradeshow, which I was not entirely  thrilled about. For those of you that have attended a tradeshow before you will know that they are tedious, boring and soul destroying. But as they say, every cloud has a silver lining.

Thankfully my good friends and all round bad ass mother fuckers “the chaos crew” are based in Munich!

They had also just moved into a killer new premise which doubles as a tattoo shop/art gallery. While I was there they happened to be showing the work of the Tiki overlord known as Riot Urban. So, whilst sipping on a cold Helles Beir I managed to pick the Tiki brain of this sculpting sorcerer.

Let’s start talking about you: When did you start doing sculptures? When did you realize that you wanted to be an artist?                                               

Well, that’s not so easy to date. I used to carve apples and carrots my mom gave me to eat, while watching TV.  Probably that was some kind of beginning. In 2006 I went to New Zealand to visit my relatives: that was when I specialized in “Tiki” Carving.

I think there is no exact point of time you decide to be an artist. I used to paint and carve since I was a little kid. I started to carve “Tiki” sculptures because I found it to be a good way to express my creativity. It lies in the eye of the beholder if you are an artist.

What are the most relevant steps of your career as an artist, so far?                                                                 

I think a good start was my apprenticeship as a carpenter. Learning how to work with Wood professionally helps you a lot with carving sculptures.

My visit to New Zealand gave me a big push toward Tiki Carving.

The biggest step was to show my work in public. The positive reactions really motivate me to keep doing what I do. It’s nice to see people start smiling, when they look at your work

What sort of elements make you decide how would be your next artwork?                                                                                                            

That could be quite everything. Objects I see in the streets or a thought I have in mind. I usually draw sketches to determine theshape I want to work with. Sometimes I just take a piece of wood and start carving with my chainsaw and see where it gets me to. Often it’s the wood itself that gives me an impulse.

How do you think your background and your history influence your work? 

My grandfather was a painter and a professor of graphic in Berlin and my mom used to paint a lot when I was a little kid. So I grew up very close to creative people and I think that had a great effect to me.

I also travel a lot and I put a lot of impressions of these trips into my artwork. To meet different cultures gives you a big input of inspiration and new ideas.                                                                                                   

What is the message you want to give to the public?

People should take things more easily and relaxed! Don’t take yourself too seriously!                     

Which artists influence you? 

In the beginning it was generally Maori carving, but I soon realized that I don’t want to copy any style. So I tried to develop my own interpretation of “Tiki” and what it means to me.

Since I joined the community of “Tiki-Central” I have a great forum to exchange experiences with carvers all over the world, that’s very inspiring.                                                                                           

Do you think your style has changed over the years?

Yeah, I think so, but I think it’s more my technique than my style that changed over the years. My style differs from one piece to another. My carving technique surely improved over the years.

At the beginning I only used handsaws and chisels. Then I started to experiment with tools like chainsaws and angle grinders which really had a great influence on my work. Therefore my Tiki sculptures are getting bigger! 

What is the best feedback you have received.

Even so it’s always good to hear that people really like and believe in what I am doing and that they`d like to own one of my sculptures. The nicest feedback so far was when a good friend of mine came to me during an exhibition and told me that my artwork totally reflects my personality: very happy and balanced. That was special. 

Is the place where you live inspirational for you? 

Well, I think that’s the point where I should say yes, but I think it’s not so relevant for my artwork. Munich is a beautiful place to live in, but I think it’s more the places far away that inspire my work.

Generally speaking, which other elements are inspirational for you?  And what is it aspirational?

Important is everything that makes me feel good. My friends, musik, good food and drinks, things like that.

Aspirational for me is when I’m down or ill, some people get creativity out of being depressive, I’m not that type of person.

What projects do you have in the pipeline and what are you currently working on?

Currently I’m designing a new sculpture I wanted to carve for a long time. It’s going to be very warped and complex .For the future I want to experiment with molding figures. I also want to learn how to weld and  combine wood and steel. I think that’s very interesting, it opens a totally new perception on sculptures. I want to do a real big sculpture, I have a log that weights about 800kg, but first I have to figure out how to move it, he he!

Can you tell us, if you are exhibiting somewhere at the moment or if you have any exhibitions programmed in the foreseeable future? 

At the moment I’m exhibiting my sculptures at the” Chaos Crew Tattoo” Shop in Munich. They just moved to a more spacious location. On march 23 2013 there will be a shop opening exhibition with some of my pieces and other artists. Two of my biggest pieces will be displayed there permanently.

Some sculptures are also permanently exhibited at the “Neokeltic” shop in Bad Tölz. Other exhibitions are coming, but not yet exactly planned. 

Anyone you want to thank?

I want to thank everyone who supports me, my friends, my family, ALF, Mr. President, brown bags, . . .! Save the wales!, . . etc.,  and of course you for the interview! Thank you very much!


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