This is the tale of two Spanish guys – Noise Armada and Brookesia Studio – that decided to give the Berlin music scene the art it needed. And the music-related art its long-needed home.
I saw something on facebook about an art exhibition for gig posters. Gig posters? The cool artwork that you can buy in small batches at underground shows? I was immediately excited because I have always been wondering who does this kind of art and how is it actually created.
So I met with Alejandro of Noise Armada, who, together with Ruben of Brookesia Studio, is doing PRINT THE NOISE – A small exhibition in Berlin-Neukölln that celebrates artists, who are dedicated to bring music into shape. The next exhibition will take place August 25th: https://www.facebook.com/events/272218380058520/
Alejandro, what is it that you do?
Alejandro (Noise Armada): „We are trying to connect everybody that is doing gig posters or at some point is in the music scene doing art. Up to now Print the Noise has mostly featured gig poster artists, because we know these artists and have been together at concerts or expos. But for example we have a Serbian artist coming up that does not do any gig posters but artworks for cover albums, t-shirts and other merch stuff.
It’s weird, because in Berlin a lot of artists are working with bands, musicians and music in general. But there are not that many people giving these music-related artists any kind of publicity, for example in the form of an exhibition. So, we are trying to do that part of the work. Trying to promote the artists that we know. But please be aware: The exhibition space Neon Kunst is not open every day. So every exhibition only lasts a day. It’s more like a pop-up store.“
So there are no exhibitions for gig posters at all?
Alejandro: „No, usually we have a stall at a festival or a show and sell our posters like that. But that’s basically it.“
How did it go for your exhibition series PRINT THE NOISE so far?
Alejandro: „We finally decided to do a communal exhibition with our artist friends and just started planning it ourselves. The first two exhibitions were for us, Noise Armada and Brookesia Studio, so that we could check what works and how people would respond.
We are pretty new to this place. I came to Berlin three years ago and I still haven’t checked out everything.
I find it particularly weird that in a big city like Berlin where you have the sources – you have the bands and the music around you – not that many people are doing art in the music. Plus I feel that these people need to be recognized more. As soon as people get to know the art, like gig posters, they actually love it. They just don’t know it exists. So we are trying to do something about that.“
So you already knew all the artists beforehand that are in the first round of PRINT THE NOISE?
Alejandro: „Yes, all of them are friends. In the beginning we wanted to bring people that are easy to work with, so we can check out how everything develops. We didn’t want to make too big jumps.“
Now you are part V of the series. How has the feedback been so far?
Alejandro: „I wouldn’t say I’m disappointed but I expected to have more new people come check us out. At the last exhibition there were a lot of people coming from Facebook and recommendations by friends. So I think the response of the people is growing – slowly, but growing. But of course, there can always be more. We love that our friends are coming, don’t get me wrong. But I would be happy to have more people from the outside as well.“
So you said, you came to Berlin about three years ago. Why Berlin?
Alejandro: „Both of us – Brookesia Studio and I – are from Spain. I’m from Valencia and he is from the Basque Country.
I came here because it is impossible to live in Spain from that kind of art thing. Especially when it is art related to music. I have been in the music scene for 20 to 25 years now, organizing shows and tours. I also played in bands and helped out friends that played in bands.
So I always had a relationship towards the music. I have always been designing stuff, but the problem is that people do not have money for that. I tried to sell and tried and tried and at some point I got fucking tired of it. In my last year in Spain I had to start working in shitty jobs because I was not making enough money from my art. In Spain, the economic situation is not very good and that is is reflected in the bands and in the amount of work we have as designers, especially at the underground level. So at last, I had to change places. I tried to set foot in different spaces in Spain and I lived in London for almost a year. But London is too much: too expensive, too stressy.
I went to Berlin for the first time some eight years ago, when friends of mine moved here. I remember that I fell in love instantly. I love it because it is as huge as London with a lot of events, music and things to do. But you don’t feel like you are trapped inside a huge city. There’s a lot of green, you don’t feel the pressure and I love it. One of my friends always told me, I had to come here, so I tried. And yeah, I stayed. I met Ruben. A mutual friend introduced us. It was easy from the beginning. We have the same approach towards work. We work separately but at the same time we also work together.
About the posters it’s different: Both of us try to find our work, but whenever a band doesn’t like what I’m doing, I tell them do go check out his stuff and he does the same. Or if one of us has no time and we also share a space at markets.“
How long have you two been working together now?
Alejandro: „It’s been two years. I only started to do screenprinting, when I met Ruben. He was a lot more professional with the technique and showed me how to do it properly.“
What are the characteristics about your style and your designs?
Alejandro: „Both of us work with collage techniques. We work with computer and Photoshop. But I always work with photos that I make a composition of. And then I edit it.“
Is there something recognizable about it?
Alejandro: „I think it’s the technique. I make collage with photos, using different filters in Photoshop. I make the images look like drawings by doing a montage and then coloring some parts of the composition. Finally I add textures to give the design a vintage or retro touch.
I think this is the most recognizable of my work, the retro style, the influence of horror movies, science fiction and comics is quite patent in my work.“
How do you approach bands? Do you come up with an idea and then present it to them?
Alejandro: „It depends. Sometimes the bands approach me so I take their wishes, suggestions and include them in the artwork. Most of the time I also ask about what they don’t like, because usually they know what they don’t like more than what they actually like. But when I do gig posters I usually do them by myself and beforehand. I just do something that I feel fits the music and the band. I always only do gig posters for bands that I like.“
How long does it take to do such a poster?
Alejandro: „A day or two for the design, then an additional day for changes and to print the poster would be an extra day.“
Do you have your own machine to do the printing?
Alejandro: „No, I’m part of a collective that has a printing machine: Czentrifuga Collective. It is an open printing collective Most of the people there are screen printers. I got introduced to it by Ruben.“
And how do you actually do this? I have never seen it or done it myself.
Alejandro: „We use screens with the design on it, then press it onto the paper. But the screens are separated by colors. Each color is a screen. And then you press the ink through the tiny holes in the screen so the color is placed on the right spot on the poster. Color after color. The whole machine is a big table with hooks for the screens and a place for the paper.“
What keeps you creative?
Alejandro: „A lot of things: Movies, music, other artists and art in general, streets and whatever. I would say you can find inspiration in many places, maybe you see a tree and decide to include it in your picture. The ideas just come to you. For me, terror- and sci-fi-movies are my biggest inspiration. Mostly from the 80’s – I’m a big fan of that.
I started doing art, because I loved the artworks related to music: the covers, the posters, the tshirts. I have a huge collection of shirts at home, maybe 500 of them. I don’t need them but I want them.
Other artists are always an inspiration to me. I learned how to design by self-study. I never went to a design school. I studied photography and used photoshop to retouch the photos and step by step I started to use photoshop for design as well. At some point I decided to leave photography to be a hobby and just focus on doing designs.“
What would you like to do in the future?
Alejandro: „My idea is to gain publicity and notoriety with the posters, so people, bands and record labels get to know me. But at the same time I would like for this to be a hobby and focus on designs, for example for covers. My real passion is design. I love spending 10 hours in front of my computer just fiddling around with a creation. I don’t mind, I listen to music and I’m happy.“
Is there anything special for you about the Berlin scene? You can compare it quite easily being from Valencia.
Alejandro: „In my case the big difference is the number of the shows. In Valencia there were just not that many places to do shows to begin with. I think now it’s gotten better, but in the last years it’s been hard. You could only organize shows at two places. Those were underground shows. If you wanted to see something big, you would have to go to Barcelona or another bigger city. In Berlin you have a thousand shows a day. It’s crazy.
The other thing is that the scenes are really split. There is a stoner-thing, a metal-thing, a punk-thing and a hardcore-thing. I can understand it since this is a big city. But where I come from we are all together. So if you organize a punk-show metal- and stoner-people will be there, too. If you go to a punk-show in Berlin the people are totally different than at a stoner-show and so on.“
What is your favorite place in Berlin?
Alejandro: „One is Cassiopeia. The venue and the sound are really good and the people that are working there are really nice and know how it works. Then I love Tiefgrund because they do shows for the people and don’t do it for the money.“
What is your favorite band from Berlin?
Gall is a band from Potsdam. They mix sludge, noise and power violence. And they are fucking awesome. It’s just two guys but it’s really crazy.“
What is your favorite gallery to go to?
Alejandro: „I like the space of Urban Spree but it’s too commercial. There is another place at Rosenthaler Platz, that is called Neurotitan. They have a gallery, a shop and it’s cool. And this place here: Neon Kunst. It’s a bit like the little shop of Horrors, but I love it. It’s my favorite place I would say.“
Print the Noise: https://www.facebook.com/PrintTheNoise/
Noise Armada: https://www.facebook.com/noisearmada666/
Brookesia Studio: https://www.facebook.com/brookesiastudio
Next exhibition: https://www.facebook.com/events/272218380058520/