The New Vanguard – Artist Profile 11
Guillaume Kashima is a French illustrator, designer, and although he may hesitate to say so himself, most certainly an artist as well. With wide-ranging inspirations from hip-hop and street art to pop culture, his work is a witty take on pop art for the digital age. I worked with Guillaume when he had an exhibition at SomoS Art House in Berlin as part of Pictoplasma Festival for Illustrators in 2016 and I was lucky enough to get one of his prints at that time. His particular point of view and unique style of illustration has caught quite a lot of attention recently, leading to commissioned works for big clients like Vodafone and Google. The best place to go check out his work is at the Ace & Tate store on Fasanenstrasse in Berlin where you will see an edgy, almost alien-like character peeking out from the wall at the back. Or you can find a whole range of prints, animations, objects, and other projects online on his website as well.
Name Guillaume Kashima
Medium Drawing, Illustrator, Ceramic
Based in Berlin
Recent Work Mural for Ace&Tate Store
find more at guillaumekashima.com / www.instagram.com/cassiusclayclay/
Did you always know that you were going to be an artist (or an illustrator)?
No. I didn’t know what it meant to be an artist when I was young. I was raised by a single mom so there was no time for gallery visits or museums. She always encouraged my creativity though. I was already drawing and sewing a lot. I would say I was aware of beauty. I also knew that someone was behind this beauty. I discovered it (when I was maybe 12 years old) on TV when Jean Paul Gaultier was interviewed about his collections. I understood the link between a person and his work. I was shy and a bit awkward as a kid but people liked my drawings and I could share bits of who I was through them. That’s how I reached out to people and probably what got me into graphic design later.
Do you find the art world (creative world) cutthroat and competitive, or is it also supportive and community-minded, or something in between?
I used to feel bad among my peers because I was projecting my insecurities and frustrations. I was feeling judged and insignificant … until not so long ago actually, when I found my voice. It was really random. Out of the blue. Looking at the situation from this perspective, I understood that most of the people are just running in their own lane. There’s no competition. I can still feel envious if I’m out of jobs and someone just got a big contract but it’s out of fear for myself, not the people around.
What would you consider to be your biggest accomplishment so far?
Making emojis and animated stickers for various platforms. I love the idea that people are using my work to communicate and make jokes. It’s awesome.
Does art always need to be relevant? Is there a place for aesthetic indulgence, or do politics come into play in your motivation?
I used to turn to art to help me make sense of the world we’re in. As a teenager to understand how to be gay. Not so long ago, circa 2016, when people protested against gay marriage in France, Black Lives Matter and later, the Trump election, I was hooked on the news and paranoia got me. I always found a voice around to comfort me but it never came from «the art world». That year there was the 9th Berlin Biennale and I said «bye». I was never really fond of contemporary art but the cynicism level was too high. Thinking of it, I don’t think that contemporary art is a place to comment on politics anyway. You need to answer fast and only music or stand up comedy can do that. Beyonce released Formation in December ’16. Kendrick released Damn in April ’17 … and I didn’t see any exhibitions making comments anything like that during that period.
Personally, I bring politics in my commercial works. When I create images for others, I take extra care about representations. I try to make room for everybody … sounds dumb but most of the images around us represent cis white people. We need other voices and faces. I don’t think that it’s intentional tho. Most of the people in charge of creating those images are like that and if you’re not bringing the conversation to the table, they don’t think about it.
I suppose I come across preachy right now but what do you do when you’re offered a platform?
What is it like to live/work in Berlin?
Berlin is the perfect home base. You can still live comfortably with little money. If you want to learn a new craft or technique, there’s always someone to reach out to. Downside for me is that it doesn’t inspire me at all. City seem stuck. There’s no way you can feel that we’re approaching 2020 in here. There’s little diversity. This «one way of doing it right» vibe is sometimes oppressing… but there are interesting alternatives routes too. And I can’t believe that it doesn’t have a good museum, like the Tate or Pompidou. I mean… WTF ?
What is next for you, an immediately upcoming project or chance to see your work?
These days I’m learning ceramic with my studio mates. It’s exciting to learn something new. We have a lot of fun. We’ve got a page called «Cassius Clay Clay» where we sell tryouts and weird stuff. Have a look. Buy something. (www.instagram.com/cassiusclayclay/)
Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time, where would you like to see your (art)work and at what scale?
It’s a scary question because as Heidi says «one day you’re in, next day, you’re out», coupled with the fact that I have little ambition, it can only lead to disaster … but if I could make a wish for myself, I’d say that I’d be just happy to perfect my craft and make a living out of it. Honestly, I was always really lucky to be given work and meet people who appreciate it. I don’t need more than that.
Actually, if a guy wants to come along there’s room on the passenger seat.