Artist Interviews 2024

Otto Baum  
By Johnny Otto

How did you get into painting and specifically the technique you currently use?

I have to say that I have been working in the creative industries for more than 20 years now. Over these many years I worked on so many different ideas and techniques. About 10 years ago I came up with the idea of building a very wide brush on a facade that I designed with the art collective KLUB7 in Berlin. Our aim was to create a brush stroke as authentically as possible. So I took a 2m long wooden strip and screwed several wallpaper brushes together. I often think of everyday tools to simplify work processes. The idea of developing my own painting tools is great for me and my unique selling point. For me, building these tools is a big part of my work that takes a back seat because the graphic work that remains is much stronger.

What is the KLUB7 Art Collective?

KLUB7 is an art collective made up of 6 artists. We all met when we were young and painted graffiti back then. The art collective has existed since 1998, now for over 25 years. We were all active street artists. After studying at various German art universities, we professionalized our skills. According to our style, we create large murals in urban spaces and create art in buildings. When we paint a collaborative project, we all work on the work together.

What city do you live in and what is the art scene like there?

I'm from Berlin. I grew up in the eastern part of Berlin - Friedrichshain. Berlin is a fusion point when it comes to art, culture or the music scene. Berlin has changed a lot architecturally and is now an up-and-coming and very popular city. There are many artists here, and there are exhibition openings all the time. It's a great place to meet artists and create art.

Do you enjoy collaborating with other artists? Is there anyone you would really like to get together with and why?

I like collaborating with artists, I'm always open to it because I'm used to stepping out of my own comfort zone. Since I've been part of the art collective, I've been in this state again and again.

What is your style? How would you describe it without showing it?

  I often describe my work as graphic wall paintings that are created through a fixed system created by the painting tools, the "OTTOTOOLS". I usually create these graphics in color gradations. In my own work I am concerned with the fixed system while still feeling my freedom. I find the process very exciting, the feeling of pulling the apparatus over the wall surface with brushes and paint and my body tension, this moment is magical.  

Everyone talks about AI, but I want to talk about human input and how important it is to art. What do you do that a machine or AI can never do? 

In my view, AI is detached from human style. The personal line that arises in a certain situation is completely missing!

What’s coming up for you? Any shows or art fairs? What do you hope to accomplish in the next year or so?

I've been experimenting for years and will definitely try out new techniques, it's a constant growth by discarding or developing ideas. I have some projects that I will implement in Germany and the Netherlands.

What other interests do you have that influence your art but are not necessarily artistic?

In fact, these interests are artistic, I have a passion for handwritten fonts such as sign painting and  hand lettering, which I have been practicing for 12 years now. And working with wood is also a great passion of mine.

Otto Baum from Murals Inc. on Vimeo.

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