solifestyle Loves A.S.V.P. Feature Interview

Walking down the street one day in NYC, we ducked in a corner to open an umbrella and low and behold, we found a baby in a helmet riding a koi fish. Thus began solifestyle's interest in the work of A.S.V.P., a two man street artist team. I reached out to them through their website and they were kind enough to agree to an interview. Although a lot of info has to be kept on the DL for legal reasons, we were able to find out  fascinating info about the street art world. Click read more below to learn about A.S.V.P. traveling the world, all of the effort that goes into their art, and being chased by the cops.
Q What does A.S.V.P. stand for and why did you pick this name?
A That’s the first thing everyone asks.  We’re kind of sworn to secrecy on this one, it’s not a bad thing, certainly nothing negative but that’s something we decided to leave as a mystery.

Q How long have you been doing street art?
A We’ve only been at this for a few years.  My partner and I have over 20 years of creative experience between us but we really started making this kind of art only about 3 years ago. So we’re relatively new to the game as A.S.V.P. but we’ve both been artistic for most of our lives.

Q What is your purpose or message, what are you trying to get people to think about when they look at your art?
A It really all started for us by just wanting to make things that were free of any outside influence. We just wanted to be free and enjoy ourselves.  We’re still developing our voice to be perfectly honest.  It’s a little bit reflective of some of the Asian influence on our culture.  We’re mashing up Asian and American imagery on some level because it’s kind of a reflection of what we think is happening in the world.  We’re trying to build hybrid images that are based on eastern and western influences together.

Q Is there a piece of eastern or western influence that you’re inspired by?
A We’re inspired by retro People’s Republic of China imagery from the 80’s.  The down to earth baby and the future cop are both related to that look and feel.

Q We’re used to seeing your work in the New York area, are you based in NYC?
A We’re based in New York but we travel a lot, we like to show the work with as many people as possible and it’s really inspiring to go to other places and see what’s happening in other cities.  We have work that was posted in Zurich, Amsterdam, Hong Kong and all across the states like in Detroit, Chicago and Cleveland.

Q Did you have a favorite city to work in or maybe a city that was most receptive to the work?
A New York is our home base so I guess I have a love for NY and I’m a little bit biased towards there.  But London was great and we got a really positive response from people.  So, second to NY would be London.

Q Are there certain cities where it’s easier to get away with putting up your work?
A Yeah, I think so. San Francisco is very liberal but the work comes down very quickly so that’s an example where it’s easy to get up there but the lifespan of the work is very short.  It’s kind of a per case basis, you never know what you’re going to get.

Q Does all your work happen at night?
A Most of it.  There’s a lot of different theories as to what time people go out and how you can be the most incognito but we generally do most of our work at night.

Q Have you even gotten caught or been chased?
A Yes we have [laughs]. It’s not fun and you’re definitely looking over your shoulder to make sure that nothing is going to happen.  It’s just a numbers game, sooner or later you’re going to get caught but that’s part of what we sign up for. It’s part of the game.

Q The work that you put up on the street, are those silk-screened or do you just print them at kinkos or a copy shop?
A They’re all totally hand made.  We do it on a lighter, thinner paper and it’s not archival but everything is hand painted, hand silk-screened and hand cut. It’s all very analog.  It’s a big part of why we started doing this, we were working in a commercial environment and it was less and less creative and enjoyable.  We were getting further and further away from the work on a creative level and we said: ‘how can we setup a controlled environment for us to be creative again?’  It’s really nice in the age of computers to just do something traditional.

Q We’re always interested in understanding street art ethics. Do you ever collaborate with other street artists or is it more of a competition? Do you ever feel offended if people go over or change your work?
A I don’t mind at all if someone adds to it, it’s pretty easy to tell if someone is trying to be collaborative. To answer the question directly, it’s not a competition. It’s certainly a competitive landscape.  It’s a game of persistence; you have to be dedicated.  There’s always people that get off on going over other people.  That’s definitely something that we do not do and we don’t like when people do it to us.   We spend a lot of time on the work and we want it to last. It’s a game we don’t try to get involved in.  If somebody is collaborating with us in a playful way, that doesn’t diss or obstruct our work that’s totally cool.

Q If you knew you’d be completely safe, what would be the ultimate building or billboard to cover in your work?
A There are so many spots, I’ll have to get back to you on that.  I really don’t know. Rather than spots, for me it’s really more about meaning. I would love to do some work in Africa.  I did some work in India and that was really rewarding and really amazing because of the location and the people and the experience of doing the work. For me it’s more about places rather than spaces.

Q Do you ever work in mediums other than print, are you moving towards galleries as well?
A Yeah, definitely. We’re interested in doing 3D pieces and sculpture and having some conversations surrounding that.  We’re trying to figure out how to produce these things properly, there’s a lot of research involved.  We’re really excited because we have a show at the Black Book Gallery in Denver in September. We’re moving toward that space.

Q Will you ever make your work available for sale?
A We have editions that are for sale currently. All of the prints are hand silk-screened and we do small runs.  We did an edition of 25 Balaclavas and an edition of 30 Protection Girls and we have some Down to Earth Babies and some Your’s-Trulys.  We’re working on our website now and prints will be available through the site or people can send us an email. They usually range from $150 to $350.

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