Our interview is with Berlin-based artist Kami otherwise known as ‘YOU KNOW ME WELL.’ Kami was residing in Shanghai in the early 2000s and was DJing around the globe.
He began developing his unique graphic signature, which he used for his events; mixtapes with the use of spray cans, markers, and digital generated visuals. His talented began to emerge, and he was noticed by other artists, major clubs, and festivals.
Kami is now an Art Director and Designer in Berlin, and continues to produce his artworks with his trademark signature ‘YOU KNOW ME WELL’. His works merge pop culture, rap references with complete complex lighting installations; this is a reflection of Kami’s world. In this interview Art plugged will be getting to know the man behind the Art, his inspiration, the Art, and his creative process.
Q: First things first, why do you do what you do?
A: I work as an Art Director and there was a point where I wanted to create only something for myself without anyone interfering. Start Up or Art — I’ve chosen art ?
Q: What is your inspiration?
A: Music and Videos, Comics, Movies and Film-Poster, T-Shirt-Design. I often hear a song, followed by some key visual and come up with an idea or concept to flip it in my way.
Q: What would you say is an integral part to the work of an Artist?
A: I can only speak for myself but you must create. Create your artwork, create a buzz, create relationships with galleries, collectors, fans and followers. Some parts are probably less fun that the others but (in my case) they are all equally important and I try to put enough time in every bit of the mixture.
Q: What is the reason behind your use of rap and pop culture references?
A: Collecting records in the 90’s I became a DJ who at one point was not too happy with the graphic design around so I started doing it myself to have fresh mixtape covers or event flyers. Over time I evoked to work as a professional creative with clients such as Puma, New Balance, VOUGE, etc. — still pumping Rap and Club music with a wider expose to art and design.
Q: What is your favourite rap album and artist?
A: Puh, had to answer. I think from the 90’s area I was heavily influenced by the Gangstarr and Wu Tang sound, later on by The Neptunes, Dr Dre, Scott Storch and Kanye West — but also JUSTICE or DIPLO. However what inspired me most were Mixtapes by DJ’s like TONY TOUCH, PF CUTTING, MICK, DJ SPINBAD, DJ AM, … — all of these guys. Technically not listening to ‘just’ one song or one album but the essence / selection of many including Remixes, Blends, Mashups, exclusives. Let me call it ‘Customised Music.’
Q: When do you know when a piece is finished?
A: I think it is never finished.
Q: What is your favourite piece from your collection?
A: Drunk in Love.
Q: What is the most rewarding thing for you about being a part of the Art Industry?
A: It’s a door opener in many ways. I get to talk to all kinds of people. Collect both, good and negative feedback and let’s be honest get a kick if someone ends up hanging my work inside their house. That is actually quite special when you think about it.
Q: Is there anything that worries you about how social media is affecting the promotion of artists?
A: So far Social Media made this all possible. Let’s see where the journey goes but currently I am not worried.
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?
A: Yes it does need curation and a bit of research. But it’s rather easy to find out the basics. I’m far away from live-streaming my whole day and pushing anything in front of my camera but having followers certainly does help.
Q: Do you have any advice for artists starting and don’t know where to begin?
A: Just give it a shot. What can you possibly lose? I started with literally no exceptions. Just for fun and in a very good mood. It’s been less than 2 years since I created my first artwork and it’s been a hell of a ride. I ran into a lot of Bla-Bla-People which slowed my down for a second and I wish I would have been more careful of whom I choose? but again, this is part of the game. So no hard feelings.
Q: What would you say is the best way of getting your art noticed in the age of the internet?
A: Invest in a decent camera / phone to take great pictures. Don’t be shy to write people but also make sure you curate in the first place. Write to blogs or Influencers who are on the same lane (design / art wise) as your work. Often it’s a no brainer that they will get back to you. It’s pointless to mass spam everyone — a waste of everyone’s time.
Q: Are there any places where you feel Art and Technology really shouldn’t overlap?
A: A very interesting question and I had to think for a second first. My art is only possible due technology. All my work was created with the help of Photoshop, printed on fine art paper with high-end printers. Some ‘older people’ in the art-world turned me down saying my art is not ‘real’. Real art must be made by hands or whatever their argument was and can not be printed. Younger (or open minded) people simply care if they like it. They don’t care how it’s made and if I tell them my process they acknowledge it, too.
This was ‘YOU KNOW ME WELL’ for Art Plugged artists in the industry, and you can follow ‘YOU KNOW ME WELL’ on Instagram and head over to his website for his latest works, exhibitions and more.