To kick off our round-up, we met up with the impressively multi-talented Yeka Haski. Yeka is a young artist from Saint Petersburg, Russia. Since early childhood, she has loved to create her own characters and knew right from the start that she would turn this passion into her profession. Initially a student of media design at the State Art University, she soon left academia behind in favor of real-life experiences, hands-on skills, and taking time to develop her own style. At Pictoplasma Berlin she created a small window installation with marvelous marshmallow creatures and also contributed to the festival’s main installation at Platoon Kunsthalle.

Read on to find out what she has to say:

What is your definition of urban art?
Urban art is anything that reflects the feel and the idea of the asphalt jungle, made and displayed in the city. It is all about the place and theme.

If you could wake up as your favorite character one day – which would it be?
I’d like to wake up as a Smiley Bubble gum. To take any shape, stick to good ideas, stretch for miles and be in several places at once.

I would also love to spend some time as Malfi (Friends With You character) with his special super powers of magic kawaii and sweetness.

Pictoplasma
photo: Yeka Haski

What was your most interesting encounter/experience as part of creating art in public?
Currently, I would say a play room for kids at a restaurant. I was asked to create the whole concept of the room and got absolute freedom to do what I wanted with the space. I became designer, artist, and decorator in one. I filled the room with characters, paintings, and objects. By the end, it had turned into a magic world where kids can jump under a rainbow in the sky or among the clouds, climb into the hollow of a real tree, slide downhill from there, and paint on the huge coloring wall. Now, it is a public space for kids and it is so much fun to see how they fool around with all the stuff and how adults want to join in! I really loved this project because I felt that I was making something socially important while getting the chance to realize so many of the ideas that had been stuck in the back of my mind.

Find out more about the project at http://yekahaski.com/Playroom

How could art and character design change cities to become better places?
First of all, through their pure beauty and emotional impact! All of us like to be surrounded by a friendly atmosphere; something that can be achieved by the right attitude, but also through visual messages. We can share joy, love, ideas, and jokes even when we are far away – the characters (or art) can pass them on.

Where would you like to live right now and why?
New York! I have never been, but it looks like an inspiration bomb. There are so many interesting things and events to inspire you – constantly pushing you forward.

All photos by Yeka Haski

Interview: Claudio Rimmele