The artists' collective 3 Steps lives and works in Giessen. Paintings in neo-pop on house facades and walls, as well as numerous designable media belong to their works. The 3 boys received awards from the Federal Government of Germany as a cultural and creative pilot (2014), as well as other renowned institutions. For example, the promotion of culture and artists in the state of Hesse (2015). The successful three are ambitious, determined and energetic.
We wanted to get a deeper insight into sources of inspiration and working methods and asked some questions:
When did you start being artists?
Joe: All three of us started with classical graffiti around 1998, it was a great balance to school and all the dull learning.
Kai: The graffiti movement came in full swing when we were at High School which obviously caught our full attention. That was the initial spark for us to work as painters.
Uwe: Since 2012 we are painting for a living even have a studio. A proper one, like you’d imagine artists to have.
Why did you start working as artists?
Joe: Our graffitis have inspired the council, who then started to approach us and provide us with walls to spray our work onto. For the River Tale Festival in Giessen, which is organized by us, we sprayed a painting at the inner city ring. It shows a fight between three animals, a tiger, an eagle and a snake.
What and who inspires you?
Joe: Much and different things, but mostly life in general, our earth and music. Of course, other artists and spray legends like Andy Warhol and Seaman do inspire us too.
Kai: We are inspired by artists who surround us, who come out of their own scene, who give very good impulses through their own work.
Is there something or someone who influences you?
Kai: As mentioned, at the beginning, artists like Andy Warhol and Shepard had a strong influence on us. But there are also artists like Kienholz who are very significant through their own work. More important are the themes we work on, rather than the pictures we paint.
What are your prefered materials and why did you chose them?
Uwe: The spray can is certainly an important medium for the three of us, which is where our origins lie. However, we now use a variety of combinations of acrylic paints, wall paints, screen printing inks and Mix Media collages.
Kai: Basically, everything you can find on the street, we try to transform into a piece of art that can be displayed in a room.
What techniques do you prefer?
Kai: Everything from free painting to collages to screen printing. Every technique has its advantages. In free painting, whether with a spray can or brush, you can completely switch off your brain and devote yourself entirely to your work.
Uwe: On the other hand, collage works are like a puzzle game in which you just don't know the outcome till the very end.
Joe: In the end, screen printing is also very interesting. Its reproducibility opens up a multitude of options thanks to the possibility of adding colour and changing the print, so that each picture can become unique.
Where do you usually work?
Uwe: As Mural Artists we prefer to work outside, of course, but the studio has sort of become 'our home, our castle'. However, our workplace can be anywhere really, on a wall, in front of the computer or in the studio.
Kai: You have to imagine that we have been working on the street for over a decade, making this transition now to an indoor studio is quite a challenge. After all, street art belongs on the street and yet we try to combine this through working with random materials we find on the street.
How and what are you working on at the moment?
Kai: We work as a collective and yet we are individuals who have our own ideas and thoughts and follow our very own personal drive. Nevertheless, we work together, trying to combine and melt our work to one and to focus on our core theme.
What would you like to say with your art?
Kai & Uwe: At the moment we are very much concerned with the theme of reflection. Meaning that we paint pictures that invite the viewer to reflect and thereby evoke so-called ambivalences. We want to create a mental conflict that tempts the viewer to recognize things that he actually finds repulsive as attractive, or to recognize things that he actually finds great as terrible. In the end, the solution is that the viewer deals with his own environment, remembers his own limits with the attitude he carries within him, and perhaps also tries to bury his prejudices.
Joe: Our aim is to inspire people with our art, make them smile when they look at it.
Which values are important to you?
Kai: An important value for us is the interpersonal, the fair interaction with each other and of mankind with and in nature.
What goals do you have?
Uwe: When we started to paint, we graffiti was often referred to as ‘shabby art’. Now, when we work on a painting, people come by and ask us about it and then after its completion we all celebrate. On such instances we feel that we have achieved something, we managed to pick up the people. Still there are enough people who don't appreciate our paintings and yet we cannot and do not want to please all.
Kai: We want to inspire people with our work and we also want them to overcome their own shadows, to reflect on themselves and their own ambivalence. When we get to that point, we have achieved a lot.
What do you want to achieve in the next five years?
Uwe: More paintings, more shows, crazier times. Our tag line being „no limits, no border“. We can let our mind run freely and don't have to account to anyone else. That's the great thing about art.