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Speaking with Rome based stencil artist KOI, we ‘ve learned more about the person behind his magic interventions. His works are the result of passion and determination. Find out what inspires him, how it all started and what are his plans for the future.

-What would you like to drink? Coffee, Tea, Beer, Soda or something else?
A Beer, a Weiss thank you.

-Introduce yourself to us – as if we had no idea who you were!
My name is Matteo, I’m from Rome and sometimes I paint some stencils 🙂

-Where does your (tag) Artist name come from?
I am very related and attracted to Japan and KOI carp. In addition to their symbolism, I have always been fascinated by the colors of the liveries, which overlap and flank in spots, just like in the stencils.

-How do you define yourself and why? Artist? Street artist? Something else?
I would not give myself a definition, I have a good dexterity, and I have always liked to paint, create and follow my passions. I make multilayer stencils, entirely hand-cut, which I then paint with sprays. On the street, I consider the interaction between what is painted and the surrounding context fundamental.

– How did it all start for you, and what is it nowadays?
Since I was a kid I saw the “pieces” on trains, in the subway, I read magazines like Aelle where you could admire the graffiti of the best writers. Growing up I had the good fortune to meet in person those artists who with their works have “kindled my passion” for sprays. Today, stencils and sprays are an integral part of my days.

-What is the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?
I turn off the alarm, and leave with a nice coffee 🙂

-Street art is mostly a visually stimulating form of art. To add one more sense to it, what music would you pick to accompany your art work?
My days, as well as my works, are always accompanied by HipHop or Reggae music.

-In all forms of art, inspiration is crucial. What inspires you and how does that end up in your art?
I mainly paint portraits of people in particular expressions. A smile, a look can change the day of those who observe it.
Animals are also often in my works, I have always loved them.

-What is the hardest part while working on a piece of art?
I’m very picky so the hardest part is being able to represent the expression of faces with stencils. This can be done with a precise study of the layers and cutting of the layers themselves.

-Do you have any artist(s) you admire? Can you pinpoint what it is that makes them so special for you?
On a historical and international level, of course, there are many. Among the most contemporary and rooted in Italian street art I would say Sten-Lex, Hogre, Jbrock, Manu Invisible, PATTA, Jorit, Crazy Diamond, BOL23 and many others. Outside Italy, on the other hand, C215, for its stencils that have always left me speechless.
The list would be very long, each one has a particularity that adds passion to what I do.

-Which cities are the most inspiring for you as an artist?
I was lucky enough to have traveled a lot. Each trip has left me with a wealth of experiences and notions that, in addition to inspiring me, influence me.
In Italy I am inspired by all of Sardinia. The history, culture and people you meet in Sardinia remain inside you. Rome of course with all its facets and contradictions.
New York for the world inside. Then London, Tokyo, Bangkok, the list is pretty long, we can have a talk for two hours only about this. 🙂

-What other passions do you have apart from art?
Traveling and learning about new cultures will always be part of my life.

-Do you have a special project that you hope to achieve some day?
I hope to carry on this passion of mine as long as possible.
Every project I’ve done has been special. Maybe I’d like to paint again for Disney… maybe a new Aladdin carpet.

-Tell us a bit more about your art; does it include symbolisms, messages or repeated patterns? How has it evolved?

My stencils follow my feelings. They tell, through the faces of the subjects I portray, some periods of life. The evolution was natural, I started with single-layer portraits up to the more complicated ones that I paint now.

– How long time does your art work, on walls, usually survive for?

One day, one month, one year, it is indifferent, I hope there is at least the time necessary to create an emotion in those who pass by. Of course I hope it’s as long as possible 🙂

-What do you think, people feel or think of, when they see one of your works on the street?

I hope they understand the passion and the study that leads me to represent one face rather than another. A smile rather than a pouting face and placement in certain spots / places.

-What are your creative plans for the future?

I will definitely continue to make stencils. I would like to collaborate with many artists that I respect, combining our techniques. I consider this type of collaboration a very important personal growth both from the artistic point of view and from the character point of view.

-Is there a little wish you have that not many people know about?
Maybe paint a day with 4 hands with C215?! 🙂

-Is there a specific thought or message you would like to pass to our audience out there?
Yes, I leave you with a Van Gogh quote in which I find myself and which represents a bit what I do: “I prefer painting people’s eyes to cathedrals, for there is something in the eyes that is not in the cathedral.”

Thank you! It’s been great to get to know more about the mind and person behind such talented and inspiring works.
‘’I Support Street Art’’ team.

KOI Artist Profile 

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