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CONE The Weird – Interview

Cone The Weird was born in Munich in 1979 and began in 1993 with graffiti. Already in early childhood he was enthusiastic about the numerous murals and painted trains, which locals and guests from all over the world, left in his hometown. In 1995 he started DJing, which is still his second great passion. In the first years of the new millennium he worked as a storyboard and concept artist for TV and film companies in Munich. Afterwards, Cone The Weird moved to the French border, to Saarbrücken, to study communication design. He still lives there today, founded a freelance design studio, Bureau Stabil, with 5 friends, worked for several years as a lecturer for illustration at the local university, HBK Saar, where he is even engaged as a visiting professor today. He is a member of the renowned artist collective The Weird, with which he has traveled to numerous countries. Since 2022 he also works as a creative director for a young streetwear label Bongo Club Collective.

The murals are Cone The Weird’s starting point in his artistic design life. Until today, these have always remained the common thread in his creative life. In addition, over time, through jobs, studies and collaborations, came numerous creative fields and techniques that constantly expanded his repertoire. The interdisciplinary work is the focus and leaves ample room for the further development of his art.

His sources of inspiration range from classical Renaissance painting to contemporary pop culture. In Cone The Weird’s works, which often appear in the form of richly detailed, complex compositions, one finds content that is partly autobiographical, partly of a nested fictional nature. They are poetic stories, quasi-visual poems that leave the viewer plenty of room for their own interpretation, despite all the symbolism and layers of meaning with double bottoms. Over the years he specialized in figurative representation. Character design was more and more in his focus, despite all his love for style writing. A constant companion is the music, which with numerous references and quotations (for example) in working titles plays a fixed role in his work.


_Are your roots in writing and hip hop culture? Tell us something?

For me it’s two different paths, hip hop and graffiti. There may be an intersection — or graffiti is undoubtedly part of the hip hop culture. But not necessarily everything and everyone from graffiti culture is part of a hip hop identity. At least I know numerous writers who have a different background, not only musically.

With me it was also a on/off thingy over time. In my beginnings I didn’t really identify myself as a hip hopper, but as an graffiti dude. In music I  loved too much other stuff besides hip hop, although I was a big fan of it.

In general, I have a hard time with scenes. Too many rules and people who tell you what to do or how you don’t fulfill the checkmarks to be real. I understood graffiti as a free discipline and form of expression. My heart beats for graffiti.

I was born and raised in Munich. Even as a kid I was fascinated by painted trains, line walls and other murals in general. Munich has a really great history when it comes to graffiti. There are a number of respectable oldschoolers whose pieces are still dope today. There were visitors from all over the world, whether on trains or walls, and some writers who only landed on the screen of a larger public years later. In any case, there was always heaps of quality. So much that I really had to decide what I wanted to photograph. The analog camera films were limited to 32 photos.

And even if you stole a lot, there was simply a limit to the equipment and you had to make choices.

What was never lacking were tons of styles and quality. So I’m quite happy to have come into contact with graffiti in the early 90s in Munich. Won, Cowboy, Paze, Flin, Z-Roc, Loomit, Smal, Scum, Scout, Zement, Cheech, Neon, Etos, Zeus, IRA Crew, … way too many names to name them all. I am always glad if I meet someone from home. Peace y’all

_Are illustrations and art your full-time job?

Yes sir. Although, let me be a bit more precise. I lived for some years as a full time artist. Being 100% dependent on art for a living can be quite tough at times. After all, art has to be free. I have no problem working on commission, but with my art, my brand Cone The Weird, there is little room for others to make decisions. So I prefer to leave commissioned painting to others when it comes to too specific wishes by the clients.

Personally, I’m a little more broad minded when it comes to making money, which in turn frees me up to pursue my art. A broader portfolio of businesses is something you should have no matter what you do. The world is constantly changing and betting on just one horse carries a high risk.

In my case, I live 80% from my art. The remaining 20% is shared by other areas. I co-founded a design office 12 years ago, Bureau Stabil, and am now the creative director of a small streetwear brand, Bongo Club Collective, which I am trying to restructure and rebuild. I also have a temporary guest professorship for illustration at the HBK Saar, the local university for art and design. Teaching is an on/off story that I have been doing for 12 years now. I enjoy being so broadly positioned. But drawing/painting always comes first for me. Graffiti has shaped my life.

_How are your characters born? What are your inspirations and your creative path?

My first lesson on graffiti was. “Style is the original.” Everyone needs their own style. All the kings/queens I celebrate (until today) are unique. I always wanted to find my own style. I really worked a lot on that. Also, the fact that I live a bit off the beaten path and never really got into graffiti media much is probably due to the fact that I didn’t want to expose myself too much to other influences that came from my field of activity during my development.

When I started graffiti I always wanted to master both disciplines, stylewriting and characters. To this day I’m always attracted to tags and styles, but personally character painting appealed to me more. I love that it can be seen/understood by all people and not only deciphered by people close to the scene.

Figurative painting was something I did as a child. Every person does it, quite intuitively and out of themselves. Also therefore it seems to me the more “natural” form of expression.

My work is still disturbing enough for some. Haha

As for my characters, I don’t know exactly how they came about. I can only say that I tried to start again around 2006. I just wasn’t happy with what I was painting. So I deliberately did without all effects and reduced to the essence. Meant for me, I paint only in black and white. So to speak a sketch-alike style, whether on paper or wall. All effects such as shading, 3D effects, even colors I have left aside in favor of my style optimization.

This allowed me to focus more on the form and essence of the character design. Also my typical linework, which reminds of old woodcuts and etchings, was created during this time. Of course, I have also optimized this in the last 16 + years.

My sources of inspiration are, if possible, not in urban art. Of course I get what happens here and there, but I try not to consume too much from these art areas. I prefer other art genres, music, travel, life and nature in general. Probably sounds a bit lame. But hey, it’s a mad mad mad mad world. Plenty of weirdness to get inspired by.

_What is your poetics in what you paint, how do you want to interact with the viewer?

A few years ago I felt like painting something more personal. In various arts, whether film, literature, music, etc., the works seemed much more personal to me. I think also therefore came my development towards the purely figurative. There is simply a more direct contact with all people and can not only be deciphered by scene connoisseurs. My pictures are, regardless of whether they like or not, superficially first accessible to all, whether young or old. I like that. But I still love style writing, bombing and tagging, that we do not misunderstand each other. That’s in the DNA forever.

With my pictures I pursue a personal, multi-layered approach. I’m not purely about placing funny characters between a few letters, just as I do not want to send with political statements, or generally direct messages, out into the world. There is nothing against it, but it is nothing that motivates me personally. Others can do that better. I create doors into other worlds. The viewers can go through as needed and find out for themselves what awaits them on the other side. I use a symbolic visual language and vary my visual vocabulary. What my images have to do with my personal intentions I tend to keep to myself. It is unimportant what I think and feel about it. What matters is what it does to the viewer, provided my image speaks to them. Then my pictures and the viewers communicate. That’s poetic.

5- Do you also work on canvas or with sculpture? Do you have any upcoming exhibitions or projects?

Yes, of course I also work on canvas. However, I prefer walls and paper as media for my drawings. I also find art prints in various (analog) techniques exciting.

As for sculptures, that’s something I’ve wanted to pursue for a while. In fact, I’m just about to make my first forays in that direction. Maybe next year you will see the first results. Let’s see.

Yes, of course I also work on canvas. However, I prefer walls and paper as media for my drawings. I also find art prints in various (analog) techniques exciting.

As for sculptures, that’s something I’ve wanted to pursue for a while. In fact, I’m just about to make my first forays in that direction. Maybe next year you will see the first results. Let’s see.

Exhibitions are also pending some. Starting from next year also that is again intensified. This year was for me the painting of walls, as well as my work on free projects and the university in the foreground. Who knows what tomorrow will bring.

Thank you guys for having me. I am not sure if this is of interest. Let’s make this shit ball out there nicer for us all. Keep on rocking and spread some funky weirdness. Cheers


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