interview with qtwo
QTWO is definitely a star on our Instagram page, at this point he has won more battles than anyone else. He has been world famous with his style (long before BBB), influencing many new artists. It's pretty common for someone to say "thats Qtwo's style" His art is complex and may even require an advanced graffiti artist to fully appreciate, one way or another he is not someone who "markets" himself to fame, his work does the talking. He seems pretty low-key... so this may be that rare interview you have been looking for.
Whats up Qtwo, What got you into graffiti / sketching?
"I’ve been drawing since childhood, ever since I can remember I’ve always been into it. Drew the spider-man from the 1994’s cartoon videotapes, there were Todd McFarlane’s pictures on the covers. False anatomy, a plenty of details such as little spiders all over the spider-man’s body, lots of shadows- I didn’t understand much back then but such an aggressive style of drawing turned me on, I rushed to draw straight away. Well, basically graffiti attracted me for about the same reason. In my hometown in the north of Russia, in Murmansk, there are 2 guys, Trick and Head, thought them some of the coolest in wildstyle when I took interest in graffiti and I haven’t changed my mind. Their walls are really dope and thought to the last detail and made in juicy colors, though in the early period their letters were more aggressive and sophisticated and that’s exactly what lured me, I wanted to do likewise. Moreover, due to the absence of both the internet and proper info about graffiti artists I imagined myself as kinda pioneer, introducing some comics’ elements into graffiti. I still stick to it in fact, something like a wildstyle salad spiced with comics. Haven’t done anything worthwhile on the walls with a mixture of these 2 “ingredients”, but I reckon the best is yet to come."
Who were your inspirations? who are your favorite artists?
"When a child I was inspired by the comics artists whose works I had, such as Mark Bagley, Todd McFarlane, Jeffry Scott Campbell, John Romita Jr., Humberto Ramos, basically they all were The Spider-man comics artists. My passion for graffiti stemmed from Need For Speed: Most Wanted and Getting Up. Later, wandering around my town, I came across Trick's and Head's walls, these guys just were blowing up the halls of fame. There were other guys I liked but when i got to know the game rules i realized those dudes' works were a bunch of crap. I was gradually falling for hip-hop and of course i wanted to get hold of some loose threads, this was the time i discovered one more source of inspiration. Such clothes could be found in only one shop in our town, the brands were Ecko Unltd. and Tribal Gear. The prints on those threads literally stunned me and filled me with desire to create dope stuff for life, using elements of graffiti, tattoo sketches and lettering to make an explosive mixture."
Is doing art your main job?
"No, unfortunately I don't work as an artist on a permanent basis. Just various drawings done to order. The situation's a bit tough in our country, in order to get a job like that one should have at least secondary artistic education, furthermore I'm pissed at drawing nice bullshit with more delicate and roundish shapes of objects, or whatsoever gibberish. Because of my drawings' style i'm actually used to hearing something like "it's way too aggressive for us, doesn't fit, not our type".
I hear you...many graffiti artist struggle with their work being unwelcome because it's "too aggressive" or "politically incorrect" ...but that's also what makes your work so good, its very aggressive and very provoking. I think you should make greeting cards! ... there has to be people like us who are sick of the bullshit.
"I don't know where these people are, but definitely not in our country. In fact, I'm not trying to provoke anybody, but as a result it's always this way. People can't realize that I just draw pictures from my head. Greeting cards are actually likely to provoke disturbance among the public. A huge wall with a sign of the horns has been repainted quite recently because it was allegedly considered the so-called "satanic sign", though it had nothing to do with the devil. Fucking crazy shit."
(more of a joke about the greeting cards, haha, but I would would buy them!)
Some of your work depicts extremely dark scenes contrasted with joyful detail (like a guy stabbing himself in the eye and smiling)... Are you in this mood when you draw? or are you trying to send a message?
"I'm more likely to make such gloomy pictures, but the majority thinks I'm prone to suicide or killing old ladies in dark alleyways. When I draw ladies with big tits and katana people consider me a virgin. But sometimes such illustrations reflect my mood and situations i find myself at. Those tend to be shitty ones. A dude who pierced his eye with a knife is me myself when I found out about my ex-girlfriend's infidelity. I usually try to take all my worries, if there are some, out on the picture and to think over the possible variants of what the fuck i should do during the process of drawing. Sometimes it helps. But more frequently I just get a good sketch as a result and have no idea how to act in a particular situation."
So when you pick up the pen, you don't know what you will draw yet? .. Is drawing like self therapy, where the goal is to blow off some steam?
"Well this happens in different ways. I often begin to draw without any idea and it somehow takes shape during the process. Sometimes I have a common concept which grows into something different eventually. Never once started with a clear picture in my head to complete it the way I imagined it. For me it’s a lot easier, over half my walls are made in freestyle, though I ought to treat it more seriously. Draw to blow off steam as the mood takes me, well, things do happen. Most commonly just do something outta boredom, have done since childhood. I moved far away from all my friends once and it stimulated me to draw more (lest I should die of boredom)."
It looks like you could easily be a professional comic book artist, is this more of your passion than letters? Do you prefer characters or letters?
"As a matter of fact, I want to draw comics desperately, but all the time I don't have the guts to start. A couple of years ago I just decided to test myself and it took me about 3 months to draw 30 comics pages, it was about one day of my life and was named Q24. Posted it only to some Russian social network and the feedback wasn't bad actually, though some people called the plot boring. I don't know what they expected, some epic battle or superheroes in iron suits with gadgets, i notified everyone in advance that the comics is about me and added that my life is dull. I don't emphasize fonts or characters, they seem to compliment one another. But it happens that I get obsessed with something particular, and I begin to doodle either women's portraits or wild letters on paper, thinking the connections over and changing the shape."
Pretty much everyone I show your character work to says "is this guy a professional comic book artist?"... don't give up!
Lets see some of your early work when you were a beginner
and newer stuff...
Advice for newbies?
"The way I draw now stems from drawing quite a lot and paying no attention to not nailing it on the first take. So I’d advise to practice more and not to expect immediate success. Experiment with various techniques and mixtures of styles."
Thanks for the interview Qtwo! See you around our battles!