Featured Illustrator/Artists

Low Bros

July 2018

The work of brothers Christoph and Florin Schmidt — aka. Low Bros — is insanely detailed and meticulous, as is most of their thinking behind it. What a treat it was to chat with them about their views on the area of conflict between tradition and progress, why they've started to question the traditional gallery model, and their first real design crush with hip-hop and graffiti.

What are some of your earliest creative memories and what lead you into design/art?

As far as we can remember we’ve always been creating, often together as we’re brothers. We were drawing a lot, but our first collaborations would be some Lego projects. Later we got interested in comic books, but the first real crush came with hip hop and graffiti. There was a lot of motivation to paint walls and be your own boss. We worked hard at this while both studying for a ‘real job’ never thinking that this would evolve into a serious profession which was ultimately the dream.

It was only later that we found we could live from our passion: our own paintings. It was good that we didn’t follow a career plan with it, it gave us a lot of freedom and time to experiment and develop our own visual language.

How did you develop your style as an artist and what tips would you have for others?

The graphic design studies definitely helped in developing our style but it felt secondary to our direct experience painting independently. The most important thing was to explore different perspectives and learn from other genres. At some point we become interested in contemporary art and design. It was good to discover this organically, an exciting time for us creatively as this all contributed to the painting of walls and our experimentation with a new medium. There were some unwritten rules in graffiti, which at first sight seemed to rather restrain your development or limit your freedom. But it also gives you a frame to start in and enables you to break out of it and do something new. Similar to graphic design: know the rules and then consciously break with them.

What have been some of your biggest disasters and how have you learnt from it?

A couple of years ago, it was our plan to run a graphic agency together with an old buddy, outside of the Low Bros. It gave us the opportunity to split the commercial elements from the artistic work to be more selective. We had one good year, but it ended after the second year. So did the friendship. Too much multitasking on different projects and the lack of communication meant this project failed and it felt like a step backwards in the end. But we’ve learnt a lot about business structures, how to run a company and once more realized that we have to follow our heart. After all of this, we really appreciate the time to focus on our own thing again.

No big disasters, but we’ve been a bit disappointed with some galleries in the past. We are sometimes left with the feeling that we take on more of their responsibility and there is still an expectation of an even split, no matter how much work is done. We have recently started to question the importance of the traditional gallery model. There is a lot you can do on your own as an artist and we have so many ways to communicate and present ourselves via different online platforms. This is not to say that we don’t appreciate galleries who have a sustainable plan to build up an artists profile and collecting base. But ultimately, we wonder that with the revolution and democratisation of the arts through the evolution of street and urban art whether this is appropriate or even necessary anymore. We want to return to the DIY mentality that we’ve had in the beginning.

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We constantly try to question our process and analyze what we want to say or why we do what we do

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What advice would you give students starting out?

There are a lot of people who want to tell you what’s best for you and how to go the safe way. But times change and good advice could end up being too old fashioned and do not apply to contemporary developments or your personal situation. So be careful when your parents or anyone else gives you good advice. Do they know about the way you want to go and do they have any experience in this field? Even if so, appreciate the help, but do not blindly trust in it. Don’t be afraid to go new ways, and even better…find some fellows for this journey.

What role does digital design play in your studio in 2018, and how to you apply traditional design skills in a digital age?

It’s sometimes a bit harder for us to make use of new techniques, as we still have this ideal of honor and the importance of handcraft skills from being immersed in the graffiti scene. But in the same way we constantly try to question our process and analyze what we want to say or why we do what we do. It’s not always easy to answer, but each time we get a step further and are able to open up to new ways.

For example, in our last show we had a series of three canvases which were half printed, half painted and completely planned on the computer. We were questioning (amongst other things), the value of the handcrafted in an artwork and if it’s more about the process, (the idea,) or the final result. Technological development evokes so quickly that it’s hard to keep pace as a ‘limited’ human being and if you trust in scientific predictions; computers and algorithms will replace people in every field and be even better in it. Not even creatives are safe from it. This brings up some interesting questions about ourselves and how far we want to go. So we’re pretty interested in this area of conflict between tradition and progress.

2018 for you in a sentence.

Through 98 windows to down-under-water-tower, mushrooms, waffles and stolen grapefruits.

Website: lowbros.de

Instagram: @low_bros

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