19 Mar An Interview with Hungarian Street Artist Miss KK
The works of Hungarian street artist Miss KK can be seen all over the city: on abandoned windows, phone boxes, empty storefronts. We talked with the artist, who currently works as a fashion designer, about artistic inspiration, motivations and methods.
Where did you get the idea to make up dolls from bits cut out of fashion magazines, and paste them all over the city?
Miss KK: I have been interested in art since kindergarten. I’m a small town girl, and when I came up to Budapest, to technical school, I felt the world open for me. At that time, I always saw the graffiti on trains and the walls along the tracks. I was very curious about the people who drew these: also, when, how, and why? They completely fascinated me.
So my first love is graffiti, but I quickly realised I didn’t have the talent for it, even though I did have the enthusiasm. I was attending a fashion designer course, and it was evident I was going to connect this to my love of street art. First, I made collages out of bits of newspapers, and then I started to learn Photoshop and quite liked that too.
This was the time of the Internet boom, and I uploaded these dolls to a page called Fotolog, this is where I met Hungarian graffiti people whose drawings I had seen earlier. We started making friends, hanging out together, and I went out with them to put things up. It was a defining period. Ever since then I have seen the city as a permanent, non-stop exhibition space which can be viewed by anyone. There’s a great lot of opportunities there, you just have to notice them.
When did you start making these artworks and how many have you done to date?
Miss KK: I started more than ten years ago. I have no idea how many I have made: for private use (for putting up in the street), about 500, but there were 150-200 which were made to order.
How do you choose what models and what fashion accessories to use for a new piece?
Miss KK: I used to make the collages out of much less photos, now I use at least 50 to make a doll, and they are also much more sophisticated and detailed. I also pay attention and check where each individual detail comes from: what brand, what designer made them; and then I tag all those on Instagram.
There were 3 years when I didn’t make any new dolls: I was quite angry at the Internet, it sucked people in so violently and made Insta the standard of excellence. But last January I returned determined to exploit it. Everyone can be reached, and so I can communicate with the models and designers whose pictures I use.
How do you choose where to place a new doll? Most are in Inner Erzsébetváros (the Jewish quarter), but some of your work can also be seen on the Buda side.
Miss KK: I’d like to put up things in more and more places. The best are abandoned storefronts or old iron doors at busy places. I don’t put anything in visibly clear places, which I see are kept in order. I don’t want to deface anything, what I want is for the piece to stay there.
Where do you take the often (self) ironic and anti-commercial texts from that you write on dolls? Do they have any specific message?
Miss KK: I had already liked in graffiti that they always put some sort of small message beside it. It often happened that I was more interested in what was written there in small print than in the drawing itself. Basically I mean this as a cute and nice thing, sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it’s stolid, and sometimes it’s just simply silly. But it’s always something positive, because that’s what everybody needs.
It comes from rap music, I grew up on rap and became fascinated by its poetics. It was also the reason why I learned English really well, I was curious about what 2Pac and Eminem were saying. My early dolls had 2 or 3 lines from rap lyrics, but now, if I hear or see something which can be inspiring, funny or interesting, I write it down in a notebook. Sometimes the clothes I use already have some text on them, like the Ashish dress with LOVE SEES NO COLOUR in rainbow colours, in rhinestones.
There are rather few women on the Hungarian street art scene. Is there an explicitly female point of view or perspective that you are trying to convey with you work?
Miss KK: A girl once said when asked about these dolls that this is like a girl-to-girl wink, and I liked that. Maybe girls get it better because they are more receptive to it. However, this is for everyone.
How do you see the Hungarian street art scene? Are there artists or individual works you’d like to highlight for people?
Miss KK: Sadly graffiti is almost fully gone, there are cameras everywhere and my generation and the one after mine are fully grown up. Those who started before me are nearly all family men now. I could mention Eloy, or Viza, or Rapa, who was one of the first, a real pioneer, but active to this day, although now working in ceramics – and a most beautiful man. GLK, VHS, MST – WHERE ARE YOU?
What are your plans on the long run? Are you thinking about another genre or do you plan to keep this characteristic Miss KK style?
Miss KK: I’ll keep it, and I want international success too: whenever I travel somewhere, I always take dolls with me to put up. I recently visited London with my boss for work, and I used the kettle in the hotel room to heat water for the glue, then we went out together to put something up.
What places inspire you in Budapest? What do you like most in the city?
Miss KK: Where my work can stay up and be seen by many people. Luckily, there still are some like this, but I’m a bit sad that more people know it from the Internet than can actually find them.
I love that people are more open but I don’t like that they spend too much time on the Internet. I love that there are a lot of ambitious young people, but I don’t like that a lot of them get lost among followers and leg-extension apps. I love that my graffiti friends who started before me or with me are now all successful people and could integrate their hobby in their work, but I don’t like that we hardly see each other.