Dear Hagen, thank you for taking time for an interview with us! We are happy to welcome you at HAZEGALLERY. Tell us please about yourself and your path to the art world.
Thanks for having me. Well, my name is Hagen Meinke. I was born and raised in the former eastern part of Germany in a fairly small but beautiful place called Prenzlau. I do not really remember when I first came in touch with any form of art. But when I did – I fell in love with graffiti. I started "writing" (this is the term for painting graffiti as you write letters basically) when I was maybe 14 to 15 years old. I started vandalizing trains, walls, etc. My affination for fine arts came a bit later. Like in my 20s. But not necessarily through graffiti. I also do not like the graffiti-rooted artist that made the step into the fine arts – like I don't like Banksy, for example, Basquiat. Both – graffiti and the fine arts are very different for me. And even if I started there in graffiti, my goal is to make some form of evolution through my current works. So I think I am right on that path now.
You are a self-taught artist. Did you have any desire to get an art education? Do you think that art education is a necessity for an artist?
Not at all, no. Creativity is nothing someone can teach you. At least in my opinion. Having good ideas comes from your inner self, and even if an education maybe pushes you to get your inner self out, it does not always result in good works. I see too many bad artists who are educated, and I see too many great ones who are self-taught to even think about changing my mind.
Maybe the business rules of selling your art are something you need to be taught. But the be honest, it is a real shame that an artist now needs to concentrate on BS like this too. An artist should focus entirely on his works.
You started your creative journey with graffiti. Why did you choose this art form?
It was the first real "language" of expression I came in touch with. It was very accessible for me at my young age, and I liked the form of competition you had with other graffiti artists from your environment. I mean, like every city in the world will have some form of graffiti niche – and it is always a competition with others. That was motivating.
How arranged your workflow work? What kind of environment do you prefer to create in?
I fairly do not have a studio or something like this. I paint in my place, I paint in my dad's workshop, as I also build my frames there. The environment does not really matter for me as long as I am alone, can hear my music, and can take some big steps away from my paintings to look at them. I would love to rent a big studio… Like really, really big, maybe a whole hall (hahaha) so I can also work on huger frames. I would love to paint it 10m x 6m or even bigger. But I cannot afford a place to do this right now. Unfortunately.
The same motif is present in your works. Tell us about its creation.
The face developed over the past three years. What led to it, I am not sure.
What do your paintings broadcast? Do you have a goal to convey some thought to people through your works?
When I do a painting, I do not want to tell something, not about me, not about the world, not at all. I have the "need" to do it, to shoot a painting out, and so I do. It is maybe like "forcing" myself to get a piece done – because I like to. I mean, it is always the same motif as you mentioned. Even if I do not want to, it surely tells me that something is going on really, really wrong, or really really right in my head (hahaha).
Many artists experience creative burnout. Do you experience the same? How and where do you get your emotions and inspiration?
When I start a painting, I always force myself to finish it. But I never force myself to start. If I do not feel like painting, I will never do. When something comes to my mind which could translate into my work, I get that "need" to start. But the inspiration from this could come from anything. Some colors I saw in daily life in a random constellation, how I feel, sometimes I wake up at night and get the need to paint three red paintings. Then I get up and will paint them (haha).
Who influenced your work the most? Can you list your favorite artists?
I have a favorite artist. But I just realized later that they all have one thing in common - they all do repetition in some form.
Hunt Slonem – Bunnies, Butterflies, and Birds
Wayne Thiebaud – Cakes and sweets
Rothko – Colour Fields
Gerhard Richter – Big Abstracts
Flying Fortress - Teddy Troops
And there are many more.
Looking back on your own experience, what advice do you give to aspiring artists?
Never try to fit someone's expectations. Do what you like. If your likes change, do something else that fits your feeling, but always for yourself, not someone else.