Jan Kaláb: Artists Inside The Industry

Jan Kaláb: Artists Inside The Industry
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We are delighted to welcome Czech artist Jan Kaláb to our ‘Artists Inside the Industry‘ interview series. Kaláb embarked on his artistic journey during the 1980s, a transformative period when the Czech Republic and Slovakia underwent separation. This era of change, marked by the country’s exposure to Western influences, introduced Kaláb to the captivating world of graffiti art.

Jan Kaláb: Artists Inside The Industry
Jan Kaláb

Inspiration for my work is all around. I like to look at the sky. I’m fascinated by light, depth and movement. Learning about the nature of microcosm and macrocosm.

Jan Kaláb

Embracing graffiti with passion, Kaláb honed his skills over the next decade, emerging as a pivotal figure in the Czechoslovakian graffiti scene. He became a founding member of the influential graffiti crew DSK, which stands for ‘Da Style Killas’. This group included notable artists such as Michal Dvořák (ROMEO), Michal Škapa (TRON), and Matěj Olmer (BIOR), with Kaláb contributing under the pseudonym Cakes.

Jan Kaláb: Artists Inside The Industry
DSK-Da Style Killas – Queens, New York 2000

Kaláb’s artistic evolution saw him moving from the streets of Europe to New York in the 2000s, where he left a lasting impact by painting entire cars in his unique style, often collaborating with artists like Key and Rome. Transitioning from street art, Kaláb, now using the alias Point, began pioneering in 3-D graffiti. His work involved crafting large, abstract letters and integrating them into urban landscapes, marking a significant shift from traditional graffiti to contemporary art yet retaining the core spirit of graffiti culture.

Jan Kaláb: Artists Inside The Industry
Jan Kaláb aka Cakes

In our interview, we’ll explore the depths of Kaláb’s inspiration and craft, his perspectives on the art industry, and much more, uncovering the story of a true innovator in the world of graffiti and contemporary art.

First things first, why do you do what you do?

Jan Kaláb: It is so natural to me to create, so I can not imagine my life without doing what I do. As everybody I drew as a child, most people quit by time and those who keep doing it become artists. So I do what I do because I didn’t quit.

Jan Kaláb: Artists Inside The Industry
Purple Void 2020
Q: What is your inspiration?

Jan Kaláb: Inspiration for my work is all around. I like to look at the sky. I’m fascinated by light, depth and movement. Learning about the nature of microcosm and macrocosm is so interesting. Inspiration for my practice are more successful people.

Jan Kaláb: Artists Inside The Industry
Atomic Bubble
Q: What is your creative process when you’re creating?

Jan Kaláb: I usually start with pencil drawings of a shape. Then I transfer it to illustrator file. On the computer I play around with colours. I sent the illustrator file to CnC milling machine.  After we build a stretcher frame and stretch and prime canvas. The biggest joy is to put paint on it. I spray with a spray gun or paint with a pinstripe brush.

Jan Kaláb: Artists Inside The Industry
Kaláb Creating
Q: Which is your preferred surface for working on?

Jan Kaláb: Well primed and stretched canvas or smooth wall.

Q: What would you say is an integral part to the work of an Artist?

Jan Kaláb: There is a lot of work beside artistic creation. Communication. Emails and meetings are part of the job. A lot of logistics if you work internationally. Studio management. Buying materials, work distribution if you have assistants or if you work with external companies. Social media and self presentation. Uf, this is part of the job as well.

Jan Kaláb: Artists Inside The Industry
My Cosmos
Q: What is the reason behind your use of abstract colour and shapes?

Jan Kaláb: I think art is about saying complicated things in a simple way. In my opinion it is much easier to do a complicated piece than a simple one where every detail matters. I have a tendency to simplify. Let’s see what will come out of it.

Q: How do you know when a piece is finished?

Jan Kaláb: It is simple. The piece is finished once it’s finished:)

Jan Kaláb: Artists Inside The Industry
Q: What is your favourite piece from your collection?

Jan Kaláb: If we are talking about my personal art collection. I have to mention a painting by Robert Proch. We did a trade few months before he committed suicide. So, it is a very emotional piece to me.

Q: How did you feel when you did your first solo exhibition?

Jan Kaláb: Pretty excited I assume. To be honest I don’t remember how I felt. But I remember all the rest. The name was Point Shop and it took place in Trafo gallery in 2008. Since I was one of the gallery founders I felt confident with the space.

Jan Kaláb: Artists Inside The Industry
Jan exhibition planning
Q: What is the most rewarding thing for you about being a part of the Art Industry?

Jan Kaláb: First it is absolutely amazing that I make money by selling my own creation. Second, what I love is working internationally so I feel part of the global art scene. And third there is yet a lot to achieve. 

Jan Kaláb: Artists Inside The Industry
Jan Kaláb – Point Bird
Q: Is there anything that worries you about how social media is affecting the promotion of artists?

Jan Kaláb: Social media is part of our world whether you like it or not. So, I’m trying to take it how it is and work on it the best I can even though I’m a big fan of it. On the other hand before that was promotion almost only through magazines, so very selective. Today everybody has the same access to this channel and depends how good you are in it. Which is cruel because it has not much to do with how good your art is.

Q: In your opinion, do you have any advice for artists on how to manage their social media image? Or does it even need managing?

Jan Kaláb: It is certainly important to be present on social media, because all the gallerists, collectors and art lovers look at it. So, try to post an image every day and inspire from the ones you admire. There is a lot to see and learn from it.

Jan Kaláb: Artists Inside The Industry
Point of space
Q: Do you have any advice for artists starting and don’t know where to begin?

Jan Kaláb: If you don’t have any inner desire for creation just don’t begin and do something else. If you create you probably do it longer  since you learn to talk so you don’t need my advice how or where to begin. My only advice would be don’t stop.

Q: What would you say is the best way of getting your art noticed in the age of the internet?

Jan Kaláb: I’m not sure I can say. When I was getting up I was putting my art in public spaces, I painted walls, streets, trains. But this was the era before smartphones and social media, so people used to look around them while traveling through the city. So today is probably the best way to put everything on the internet.

Jan Kaláb: Artists Inside The Industry
Business usual circa -2015
Q: Are there any places where you feel Art and Technology really shouldn’t overlap?

Jan Kaláb: Please, remember you recognise good art only if you see it in flesh. Good art looks always hits you more than on photo. There is tons of shit which looks great online but when you see it in real, it’s just weak. So don’t judge art over the amount of likes.

This was Jan Kaláb for Art Plugged artists inside the industry; you can keep up to date with him by heading over to his website and following him on Instagram.


©2020 Jan Kaláb and Yrka Pictured