Manuel Skirl, Same Same But Different, 2022.

Manuel Skirl is born and raised in Vienna. His distinctive style is defined by organic structures resulting from black and blue lines. The artist uses self-made painting tools, he develops in a continuous process. He applies his technique at various scales and on multiple surfaces and leaves an unmistakable, more or less abstract mark.

In conversation with Nora Partl, Manuel Skirl speaks about stretching the boundaries of graffiti and reinventing street art.

Nora Partl: Manuel Skirl, what made you fall in love with street art?

Manuel Skirl: I never had to find the connection to art; art found me, so to speak. I was always convinced that I am an artist and that there is a special gift in me.

I first got into street art as a teenager. Graffiti was an exciting subject to me: thrilling, fascinating, and ideal as my next step as an artist. In the beginning, I did classic letter graffiti, the kind of street art you see everywhere. After a few years, I got to thinking about what I was actually doing and realized that I didn't really enjoy creating classic hip-hop graffiti anymore. There are an enormous number of rules that you have to follow as a graffiti artist so that your work is valued by others in the scene. I realized that the graffiti scene is actually really uptight. As a result, I've decided to limit my activities to those in which I can make a meaningful contribution.

NP: You have a characteristic visual language that is defined by organic structures resulting from black and blue lines that you create with the use of self-made tools. Could you tell us about your journey of developing your unique style?

MS: It all started with classic graffiti—until I decided not to follow those rules and constraints of classic graffiti anymore. I still worked with spray cans, but I took a different approach. I used up to 100 spray cans a week. This eventually affected my health and forced me to think about alternative materials for my art.

Then I discovered these multi-line tools and began to recreate them. Over and over, I adapt these tools to fit my style. It's a long process that continues to this day. I experiment a lot and keep designing new tools to use for painting. I'm still a long way from reaching my goal.

NP: You work exclusively with black and blue paint. Why these colors?

MS: Some time ago, I started to look into color psychology and questioned what colors trigger which emotions in us. For example, a reddish light with a short wavelength suggests that it will soon be warm, that there will soon be an abundance of food, or that it will soon be mating season. Advertising in particular works stringently with color psychology.

I believe that we, as people in modern society, are exposed to a permanent sensory overload, are completely oversaturated by garish neon colors, and are actually looking for tranquility. After realizing this, I felt the need for my art to be just that. Since then, I have left out all the colors. People perceive my work as gentle and relaxing.

NP: Most of your works adorn houses, walls, or streets worldwide. Why have you chosen murals as your preferred medium of expression?

MS: Of course I could say nice things, but the unvarnished truth is that it is, of course, super cool to see my work on large surfaces in public spaces, and it also makes my art accessible to a wider audience. That's an ego thing, to be honest. Additionally, I like painting with my whole body. The whole process of large-scale mural painting is something very beautiful for me.

NP: How do you view the status of street art in the industry?

MS: If you look back, you realize that new art movements have always emerged as a subculture first before being fully integrated into the art world. I think that will also be the case with street art sooner or later. As soon as a new generation comes along and tries new things, street art will seem traditional and conventional again. That's the wheel of time.

Manuel Skirl's work SAME SAME BUT DIFFERENT will be released as a 24-Hour Edition Drop on December 8th at 6 PM CET. Please click HERE to learn more about the artist's work.