Hamburg based German graffiti artist Mirko Reisser, also known under his pseudonym DAIM, sprayed his first graffitis back in 1989 at the age of 17, realizing his first commissioned pieces only three years later. Famous for his brilliant and complex 3D-style, DAIM-graffitis can be seen as fixed images of a word-formation that is constantly threatening to reassemble, denying access, escaping the demands of tangibility and, thereby, remain free and sovereign. He has earned much acclaim for his technically sophisticated style, having widely exhibited throughout Europe. For more check out the interview below and visit his website www.mirkoreisser.de.
How did your art career start?
When I started spraying in 1989 I was already seventeen years old. So I was able to approach the subject with a slightly broader horizon than a twelve- or thirteen-year-old. My work could thus develop in a more open form and also more freely. From the very beginning, I also worked on canvas. I was already interested in graffiti for around a year, have been driving through the streets of Hamburg and taken pictures of walls. I then had a few spray cans that were originally meant for painting my skateboard. On this one afternoon I sat in my room with two friends, our eyes caught the cans and we ran out in broad daylight and painted a little transformer station. From that moment on I knew that I didn’t want to do anything else than spraying. It was exactly what I had always been searching for.
Are there any personalities that have contributed to your successful career path?
From around 2005 onward, when my collaboration with Rik Reinking began, one can clearly perceive a shift in my work. There were increasingly more participations in museum exhibitions and they became more important. My works changed in a manner that would not have been possible in the context of the street. I still perceive the museum space as a public space. And I keep trying to conquer this space with its very distinctive requirements in new ways over and over again. In that way I had enough room for thoughts and freedom to create new works.
What was your favourite project and why?
A very important and large project which I just realized with the Italian publishing house Drago is my new book, “Mirko Reisser (DAIM) 1989–2014”, which is 320 pages long and has just recently been published. It provides extensive insights into my work for the first time, from the beginnings of my career and my time studying Fine Art in Switzerland to the present, where my pieces are primarily on view in large- scale museum presentations. In over 350, in some cases not previously published, illustrations, the book shows the development of my work over 25 years and all my important creative periods. This includes wall pieces, canvases, sculptures, editions, graphics and my later tape artworks. The book can be ordered at my online shop www.mirkoreisser.de/en/shop/.
What was the biggest challenge you’ve faced during your career as an artist?
After seven years of being engaged in the graffiti scene I felt I really needed to see the bigger picture. Pius Portmann introduced me to the Lucerne University for Applied Sciences and Arts, where I studied fine arts. In the course of the years that I spent there I have met and mastered many challenges. I was able to crucially expand my work on canvas and as a sculptor. Another realization that I gleaned from my art studies was the necessity of giving attention to the presentation of the work. In the public sphere, the perception of the work is a given. But in the interior space? We didn’t merely want to hang a few canvases on the wall, but were seeking a more comprehensive form of presentation. This is how the exhibition series Urban Discipline came about, which we organized between 2000 and 2002, and which became increasingly more extensive. We wanted to establish a forum and lead a discussion on the topic, how graffiti and Street Art changes when canvas is used as a medium for it or when it is exhibited. In the end you can’t define this in general. But as a result it was pretty clear – and this has already been my opinion – that graffiti can’t be art automatically. If you take a brush and oil paint and smear around with it a little, this is not art automatically either. Art has to be defined by something different than just by technique.
What`s your personal motto regarding your work?
The content of my works is very clearly linked to the form. DAIM – These are my letters. This is my name. This is my work.
How would you describe your development as an artist over the years?
My use of the name DAIM is becoming more and more complex over time. My development as a human being strongly corresponds to my development as an artist. This is a process that has something to do with personal maturing, the general situation of aging. On the one hand, I have become quite versed in the procedures of production. On the other hand, the desire increases to understand what one is actually up to. In this manner, one can learn something about oneself as a human being and a personality. I actually see it as a great opportunity for me as a person and my character to have the possibility to reflect myself while working.
If you had one advice for someone seeking to live a creative life, what would you tell him?
I do not believe that there is an exact point for making the right decisions in life, but rather a certain time span for doing so. Sometimes this covers weeks, sometimes years. It is only important to make the right decision in the right time span. I always managed to get into the right time span with my works, but sometimes the comprehension, internalization, and execution of ideas took me a long time. But at least I did comprehend, internalize, and realize them. If this is the case, you don’t need to look back with regret. And of course in retrospective that’s a good thing. Of course this is not a strategy for shooting stars who immediately run the whole gamut. But ultimately that’s also a question of personality.
Is there anything for which you would be ready to give up your passion of art?
My work is myself so much, I could not ever imagine living without it.