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“I’m a punk in the art world”

Blue Wash Interviews is where we introduce you to our artists and their vision. Why do they do what they do? What inspires them? What does the future of art look like, according to them?  

Teema Keroppi in the studio
Teema Keroppi in the studio

We met Teema Keroppi on a Zoom call, in the true 2021 fashion. He gave us a glimpse of his improvised studio in Poland and told us he’s moving to London soon. We asked him about his works, favorite mediums, the inspiration behind his characters, and more.

Teema Kieroppi, 2018

Tell us a little about yourself.
T: My name is Teema, and my artist surname is Keroppi. It comes from a Japanese frog character. I used to play the Keroppi video game as a kid, and it made me very emotional. I would see this little frog walking into the sunset with his girlfriend and cry. It really touched me!

I make art and I work in fashion, strangely enough. I graduated from LCF 3 years ago. And right now I’m looking forward to growing as an artist.

What are you working on right now?
T: I’m working with a couple of fashion brands. But my main job is with my partner. She’s running a fashion brand in China and I’m helping her visualize installations. A lot of my paintings go on her garments. This is my job and it helps me pay rent.

What was your very first art-related memory?
T: When I was six, my dad gave me a book. It was a poem by Lewis Carroll called “The Hunting of The Snark”, and it was illustrated by a famous Russian artist. Great stuff! The illustrations really impressed me. There were these ten naked men hunting a snark. Their body shapes were really strange and fluid. I was just so surprised because it looked nothing like a regular children’s book. I think it has affected my art, even today’s works.

I was surrounded by art books as a child, I distinctly remember Monet and Van Gogh books in my house. I think it was all because of my father. He wasn’t an artist, but he was very interested in art.

Some of your characters appear in your works several times. Are they permanent?
T: I knew I wanted to be an artist very early on. I started observing different people that later became my characters. What we paint or draw can be a fantasy – something we would like to have or we would like to be. Maybe my characters represent something that I’m not. For example, as a kid, I wanted to be a police officer. I thought I would catch the bad guys, you know? So, this became a symbol for me, and now one of my characters is a police officer. I paint them to get a little closer and understand them better.

Are your artworks political?
T: Yes. Art by itself is political. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but you can’t stay away from politics in art. Otherwise, it loses value. The series I’m presenting with Blue Wash is very political. I even decided to take it down a notch when I was creating it because it was very intense. The works are still political now, but I made them more open to interpretation. I just feel like it’s not okay to push your political views onto other people. As long as my art is open to interpretation, it’s fun for me. This is the most fun part of art.

Angel & Policing Thoughts, 2020

You pay a lot of attention to sounds in your works. Why is it important to you?
T: Some artists prefer to work in silence. I’m not one of them. I like boosting myself with coffee, music, or anything like that because it gives me energy. When I was 15 I was a punk. I’m still a punk in a way. I’ve even tried making music once – I bought a good guitar and wanted to become a musician. It was too hard for me, so I gave up and sold my music stuff. But music is still such an important part of my artistic process. I’m always looking for new ways to experiment with it.

When I’m picking out music for my artworks, I’m like a little kid – I don’t know what’s going to work so I just keep trying. But the piece and the music have to go together. Especially when it comes to animations. When you add the right music to animations, the magic happens. This is when it clicks. 

What is your favourite medium?
T: I love all of my mediums. But the main two are acrylic paints and colour pencils. I love the underpaint level of paintings – it’s something that is not quite the painting yet, but a rough base. When I want to be wild, I use acrylics. But when I want control, I use colour pencils.

Are there any new mediums you’d like to try?
T: I’d love to try pottery. It would probably be very hard to do. But I’ve recently discovered that I’m interested in 3D technology software. And I think I would love to make real 3D stuff – pottery or some clay works. I want to work with my hands.

Are there any digital projects you would like to work on? Maybe holograms or some other things?
T: I’m searching for ways to present my art. We always make screen installations for this brand I’m working on with my partner. This way, our creations turn into experiences. Doing this made me realize I want to explore the best of both worlds through my art – the digital and the physical.

I had this exciting idea once: I thought of designing a character in full 3D and then placing them into the physical space, using virtual reality. This way, I can get even closer to my characters and even transform myself into them. For instance, I could move my hand and some technology would make my character’s hand move at the same time. I think this will be the future. It’s our duty to use everything new technology allows us.

Who inspires you?
T: I love people. Even though I’m an introvert, I’m an observer and I love stories. Especially stories of working-class people. I guess it’s because of my punk past. I have always rooted for the underdog, always against the system. And now times are especially hard for working-class people. I feel a lot of sympathy for them, which is reflected in my works. A lot of my characters are working class, too. I think working-class people are heroes because this world will not function without them, you know? Working-class is the real punk.

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“My aesthetic doesn’t lie in beauty”

Blue Wash Interviews is where we introduce you to our artists and their vision. Why do they do what they do? What inspires them? What does the future of art look like, according to them?

Kitasavi is a digital artist represented on the Blue Wash platform. Today, he tells us about his past, expands on the present and takes a glance at the future.

Tell us a bit about yourself!
I’m an artist who started out as a graphic designer. I’ve had many graphic design jobs. First, I worked as an in-house designer for a big cinema chain. But the work was too monotonous and boring for me, so I moved on and got a job at a design studio, where I stayed for two years. It was a nice job, but eventually I started feeling like I hit the ceiling there. So I left and started working for an international creative agency. This was even worse, and I only lasted 3 months. I did not like that job at all. I had to design sausage packages with cutout Photobank pictures.

Imagine a sausage pack with your artworks on the label. That would sell fast!
Yes, that would have been cool! But I could not embrace my creativity there, I was just making designs according to protocol. So, I became a freelance designer instead. Surprisingly, I found clients pretty quickly and started working on branding for places from all over the world.

Then I realized I wanted to develop my Instagram. But it was hard to do because I had clients from all over the world and couldn’t go and take photos of the works I did for them. So I just started posting fragments I liked here and there. And it turned out people enjoyed them!

So, you haven’t been posting art on Instagram for very long?
K: I’ve only been doing it for a year or so. Initially, I just wanted to share what I created. I didn’t count on monetizing it. But then I gained followers, and orders started coming in. People wanted something in my signature style.

How would you describe your works? Are they abstract or figurative?
You can see characters in my works, but I don’t always create them on purpose. Sometimes they are just born naturally as elements of my art. I create shapes, and they just happen to transform into characters. I just go with the flow. I would say my works are somewhere in between abstract and figurative art.

One of your artworks, Ballet, has become the most liked piece on our Instagram. Can you tell us more about it?
To be honest, I can’t explain its success. Maybe it’s because Ballet is more elegant and sophisticated than the rest of my works. But it was not my intention to make it that way. Beauty is never my goal. My aesthetic does not lie in beauty, it’s more about energy that can captivate.

If you look close enough, you can see a character in Ballet. She’s a ballerina, and she also appeared naturally while I was creating this piece. Can you find her?

Ohhh, we can see her now!


She is in motion here, almost looking like she’s jumping. It reminded me of dancing, so I started thinking of her as a ballerina.

She looks very fragile. It’s like she’s made from glass.
K: Yes, she looks like a Christmas ornament. Some people even asked me if Ballet is 3D or a photograph. I think it looks very real because of the texture.

Where do you get inspiration from?
My main inspiration source is my wife. We do everything together. She’s sitting next to me right now while I’m being interviewed. She listens to all my ideas and thoughts. She was the one who inspired me to make art. I always doubt myself, but she encourages me to try new things and move forward.

I like to find inspiration in all my surroundings. I build a life around me that feels safe but fills me with creative energy at the same time. For example, good food really helps me feel creative. A nice dinner always gives me motivation to create something new the very next day.

My favourite food
My favourite food

Do you have any food-related artworks?
K: I like to hide pieces of my life in art. So, food appears in my works quite often. If you look close enough, you can find photo fragments in my art, although they are not easy to notice. In my work Soup, you can see a photo of food I took myself. I do this to add texture to my works, but also as a way to make them more personal.


Sometimes I even hide messages for my audience to find in art. They’re usually kind, but can get a little aggressive if I’m feeling down.

Have you ever tried presenting your works in different mediums, like holograms, for example?
Not yet. I’m currently travelling, so I will be keeping things digital for the next few months. When I come back to Moscow, I will think about expanding my formats – like printing some of my works and making collages. I’ll also consider animation. I would like to create full audiovisual pieces, dynamic enough to showcase at installations.

What is the future of digital art?
K: I’m not an expert, but I’ve been hearing a lot about crypto art recently. I like the idea of it. It gives artists the opportunity to monetize more of their artworks, and I think it’s great. As of right now, it’s not clear how to connect NFTs to the traditional art format – for instance, how to integrate crypto art into the exhibition scene. And there is also an issue of accessibility – some might find NFTs too complicated to purchase and interact with. If we can find a way to make crypto art simpler, it will become the future of digital art.

This interview was taken in February. Since then, Kitasavi has already sold several artworks on Foundation, a popular NFT platform for digital artists.

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“It’s just so hard for me to think in black and white!”

Blue Wash Interviews is where we introduce you to our artists and their vision. Why do they do what they do? What inspires them? What does the future of art look like, according to them?

Hannah Antalek is a Brooklyn-based artist exploring her identity and the outside world through a variety of creative projects. In this interview, she shares her story with Blue Wash.

Tell us about yourself!
I live in Brooklyn. Right now I’m here at my studio. I moved here after graduation from Rhode Island School of Design where I studied painting. And before that I was living in upstate New York, in a town called Saratoga Springs. Since moving to Brooklyn,  I’ve continued working on my painting and drawing practice, and having a bunch of odd jobs to complement that.

When did you first know you wanted to be an artist?
I think I always knew. There was never a point in my life when I considered doing anything else. My mom is a writer, so she was always supportive of having a creative lifestyle. My dad is in finance, but he’s always been in support of me having a creative career. They both invested in art classes for me when I was younger and made sure I had all the resources I needed – figuratively and literally.

Can you tell us about Rhode Island and your studies there?
The Rhode Island School of Design is what brings many artists to Rhode Island. A lot of incredible creative people studied there. I thought it was such a nice place to go to school! Rhode Island is really small, and the school is in Providence, which is definitely a more urban part of the otherwise pretty rural state. For me, it was a great place to study compared to New York. I felt like I had a chance to chill out there. Providence has a few galleries and one museum connected to the school, but otherwise it’s a place where I could enjoy the time spent in my studio without any distractions.

Your recent work has been inspired by the NYC scene during the COVID-19 pandemic. How has the pandemic influenced your creativity?
The pandemic was a way for me to get creative. I lost my job due to the restrictions, so I was able to work at my studio full time for 8 months. I’d never had such an opportunity before. I had time to play around with different types of work and think about what I wanted to create.

During that time, my work became very autobiographical. I was experiencing many conflicting emotions. I was thrilled to not have a job and be at my studio all the time, but this was all happening in the middle of a terrible pandemic that was killing thousands of people. It inspired a new avenue in my work.

You say that your works explore anxiety and fatalistic thought. Why are you interested in these topics?
It was just top of mind during the pandemic for everyone. And  I’m generally an anxious person. I think it was kind of natural that these themes came into my work. Art became a way for me to process these emotions. Instead of pushing them out of my head, I started acknowledging them and trying to work through them.

Is it easy for you to switch these emotions off after the artwork is finished? Or do they linger in your head?
I think they always linger because anxiety is always at the back of my head. But I definitely get a release from creating my works in response to these feelings.

Even the process of sitting and drawing something very meticulous, like thousands of little flowers, gets me out of my thoughts. It transports me into a different space.

What inspires you?
I get a lot of  my inspiration from books. I love to read science fiction – this is probably not surprising. And lately, I’ve  been really interested in apocalyptic predictions and weird conspiracy theories, especially those from medieval manuscripts. They feel very relevant now, and find it interesting to see how these anxieties have a historical background.

Can you give us a book recommendation?
I just finished “Apocalypse Illuminated”. It’s a big book that compiles a bunch of apocalyptic manuscripts from the Middle Ages, a lot of which were based on the Book of Revelation. There are so many of them, which is crazy! We have a library here in New York that has special collections of original manuscripts from that era called the Morgan Library.. I’m so excited to see them in person as soon as the restrictions are lifted! 

It’s fascinating to see how different artists dealt with the idea of the end of the world throughout history.

Are there any artists who inspire you?
So many! I have lots of friends that are doing amazing things, and I really love their works! For instance, my friends Zachary Ochoa and Ray Hwang – their practices really inspire me. My friend Nicole Dyre has fantastic art as well, and so does my other friend Michael MacDonald. There are just so many people I look up to!

My current job is working at a gallery as an artist liaison. So, I constantly meet new artists whose works inspire me.

What is something you cannot feel creative without?
H: Colour! It’s just so hard for me to think in black and white. Even when I’m doing a sketch before a painting, I can’t wait for it to be over! I find it uninspiring to see graphite on paper and want to start adding colour immediately.  Sometimes I even rush the drawing part, because I want to get to the colouring part sooner.

A sneak peek into Hannah’s studio space


You portray a lot of animals in your works. What is the role of animals in your life and why do you use them as characters rather than people?
H: I think I just like animals more than people, at least most of the time. And I think that animals have a lot of symbolism in them. It’s easy to create different allegories and narratives using animals. As soon as you start using people in your art, it becomes specific. But animals have a way of acting as symbols.

Your work Crushed has a lot of layers and meanings. Tell us more about it!
H: I tried to make the story ambiguous in Crushed. It has some scary things about it, but also some sexy things. For example, the cherries and the red colours can be seen as sweet but also sinister.

Rather than thinking of a cohesive narrative, I wanted to combine metaphors and symbols to create a disorienting space. This is the form that my anxiety takes most of the time.

Crushed, 2020


Another one of your works. Firewall, features a big writing of your name in a fire frame. Is it a self portrait?
H: I keep coming back to butterflies in my work. I love that there are many different ways to read them. They are often seen as cute and girly, but they also symbolize metamorphosis. Butterflies change form so dramatically from caterpillars to butterflies! And they are also part of many religious narratives, where the butterfly is seen as a Christ-like figure

The butterflies in Firewall are sensitive, but they are surrounded by flames, chains, and brick walls. And I often feel like a sensitive butterfly putting this firewall around myself. So it’s a symbolic self-portrait of a kind.

Firewall, 2019

What would you be doing in a parallel universe where you’re not an artist?
H: This question scares me! I can’t even think of what that would be. Maybe I would be a butterfly. I definitely would not be a person if I wasn’t an artist.

Can you tell us more about the New York City Crit Club?
H: It started out as a really small group led by Hilary Doyle (and later, co-director Catherine Haggarty)where a bunch of artists would get together and talk about their work. We would take turns presenting our works and have discussions about them. Over the years the club has grown into a much larger programme with multiple discipline-specific classes. 

Are there any art mediums that you’d like to try?
H: That’s been at the top of my mind recently! I’ve been wanting to try ceramics. I’ve never done it before, except maybe for a summer camp programme when I was super young. I want to try it now when I’m in my full artistic capacity.

For a lot of my drawings, I make a little papier-mâché diorama first. It’s kind of time-consuming, and papier-mâché has its own shelf life. So I think it’d be really nice to try ceramics instead. I could make something I’d use as a drawing reference, but then it also would be an art object by itself.

What are your next art-related goals?
H: I just want to spend more time in my studio. Being an artist liaison is a full-time job, which is something new for me. I’ve always had part-time and freelance jobs before. So it’s been a struggle for me to figure out the balance between my work life and studio life.

I’ve also been trying to translate some of my drawings into bigger paintings. It’s been mixed results so far, but I’m excited!

What do you think is the future of art?
H: I hope that the art world will be more democratic and not solely controlled by big galleries. I think it will be more about supporting artists than just funneling money. The pandemic has pushed the art world in the right direction in this sense because many smaller artists and organisations have learned to innovate and find ways to get their work out there.

I think that platforms like Blue Wash are making it possible to have a more diverse playing field for artists. And I do hope that there’s more of that in the future. I want to see more artists with power that’s not left up to galleries and art advisers.

Do you feel like you, as an artist, have that power right now?
H: I feel like I have the power within certain circles. I’ve been lucky to have opportunities to curate exhibitions of my friends and have myself be included in exhibitions. So, I feel powerful in that way, but maybe not in the greater gallery scene.

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‘Blue Tricks’ group show, Soho House Istanbul

Blue Tricks
10 June 2022 – 12 June 2022
Soho House Istanbul

Blue Wash is excited to present their first group show Blue Tricks, taking place in Istanbul. 

‘Blue Tricks’ show, June 2022

Blue Tricks features artworks by artists Daniele Dell’Eva (Würzburg), Dominik Nawrocki (Berlin), EDXXKAT (Moscow), Laroque ST* by Katy Pititskaya (Milan), Marc Klein (Berlin), Melissa Goy (London), Naomi Gilon (Brussels), Razmoh (Paris), Teema Keroppi (London) and a guest artist Pinar Marul (Istanbul), at Soho House Istanbul. 

The exhibition takes its title from playing with the concept of mind tricks and magic. Blue Tricks opens up a realm of new art allowing the viewer to experience the mysterious. The clash of the historical interiors and the modern digital age art takes the viewer away from reality into the unknown, providing an intimate scene for the magic to happen. The artist’s job is to immerse the audience in a sense of wonder and delight by showing them a world where reality is flipped on its head.  

Spread across the rooms is a collection of 31 art pieces by emerging artists, presenting their work in variousmediums differing from acrylic painting to 3D rendered illustration. In the center of the room, a sculpture of bold electric blue color is presented by Pinar Marul. The ceramics are made in the signature style of Naomi Gilon, a Brussels-based artist, who recently created unique pieces in collaboration with Marc Jacobs and Han Kjøbenhavn, worn by Julia Fox at Vanity Fair Award. The interior objects include hand-tufted carpets and 3D-printed vases, created by Katy Pititskaya and EDXXKAT in a blend of classical elements and contemporary design. The carpets are placed on the striking and bold checked black and white floor, which emphasizes their unique shapes and colors. Razmoh presents his ‘Kebabs’, ‘Istanbul Kebab’, and ‘Vacun Truck’ artworks as digital illustration prints. The ‘Kebabs’ and ‘Istanbul Kebab’ are a part of a series of artworks, inspired by the kebab shop signs from around Europe and their funky google reviews. Dominik Nawrocki, a virtual reality designer, brings 3D-rendered frisky characters into the show. Inspired by the universe, nature, and maths, Marc Klein creates his abstract mirror pieces, painted with acrylic paint in different shapes and different visibilities. The mirror series is in essence a commentary on the conversation people are having with themselves.

A series of paintings on wood, created by Teema Keroppi, is focused on the topic of conflict in our teenage years – depicted in expressionist-style anime characters. Melissa Goy explores the theme of freedom in the midst of an anxious society that runs on a very systemized structure. Her artworks illustrate experimental hand-rendered techniques which simulate digital graphics. Daniele Dell’Eva creates artworks using oil sticks on canvas, focusing his attention on the mystery of dark nights. The colors of the artworks create a shining effect, directing the viewer’s eye to the main characters of the piece.

‘Blue Tricks’ show, June 2022
‘Blue Tricks’ show, June 2022