Alexander Grahovsky is exactly the type of creative mind we love to connect with. His bubble gum paintings are rad, he offers them as prints as well, and his outlook is all about balance.
He’s focused on quality of life, which is inherently about satiating his creative impulses, loving, enjoying himself, and doing it all over again tomorrow. He’s an artist who just recently circled back to his creative practice in his 30’s, giving way to new projects, clients, and interviews with nonprofit art organizations on the other side of the world.
Born in Alicante and currently living in Madrid, he’s a beach town boy who appreciates taking things slow. He’s hustling to make art and code enough on the side to eventually move on to a creative practice free from deadlines, or maybe even finished products. Being a painter who has made his works available as art prints was just the icing on our curatorial cake.
Ahead we chat with Alexander Grahovsky about routines, art in the internet age, his awesome bubble gum paintings, and slowing down enough to value time more than money.
Evan La Ruffa: Hey Alex, welcome to the pages of IPaintMyMind! We stumbled across your bubble gum paintings during a deep curation dive and were so pleased to find you.
Alexander Grahovsky: Hi Evan, first of all thanks for reaching out, it’s great to meet people who appreciate your work and I really love what you are doing.
It’s our pleasure, man! So let’s get right into it… where did you grow up and how did that place shape your view of the world?
I grew up in Alicante, a little mediterranean city in Spain. I guess that living near the sea and having the beach nearby makes you feel things a little differently. I moved to Madrid 10 years ago and I still miss the sun, the weather, the colors, the air. I found out that “city” people are quite different from “coastal” people, it’s as if we experience time slowly.
I get it. There’s certainly a shift between cities and rural areas, even more so with beach towns. I have to say, I’m glad you take things a bit slower, it’s reflected in your work. So much attention to detail. We’re huge fans of the bubble gum paintings & prints series you’ve created, how did that idea come to mind? We also love the fact that you title them independently.
It was an (happy) accident! The first piece I did was “See me, see me” (see above) stealing words from a M.I.A. song called “World Town”, I think it was 5 years ago or so. It worked really well, people loved it and my friends were always telling me that I should do more like that, but I didn’t know what they meant.
For me, it was just an exercise of color and until last year I wasn’t able to do “more”. The bubble gum has been something that has always caught my attention, everybody does it in a different way and it shows how you feel: you can be upset, calm, totally up in your thoughts, etc… I realized I can use it to approach portraits in a new and funny way.
It definitely works.
In the last series “The American Dream Will Tear Us Apart (again)” the bubble has increased its meaning and has shown new narrative and composition possibilities, it even has flown away! I think titles are important, they add some background or story to the paintings.
Completely agreed. When did you start garnering some of your bigger clients?
Although I’ve been drawing since I can remember, it wasn’t until 2014 (when I was 34) that I thought seriously about making a living from my art.
Wow, that’s amazing, man. Such an awesome anecdote for those who think it’s too late to develop their creative impulses.
The business has really started to work at the beginning of this year (2017) but I still need a part time job to get a proper income: I’m a front end developer in the mornings and an artist in the afternoons.
Sick, dude. That’s huge. Congratulations! It’s awesome that you’re able to find different outlets for your creativity, whether painting or coding. I think the reality is that having multiple creative hustles is a lot more realistic than having just one. What advice would you give an artist who wants to make enough money from their art not to have to sit at a desk all day every day?
What I’ve learned in the last years it’s that you have to find your way, work hard and be open. I’m not gonna say it’s easy, but with the internet and all the people you can reach by now, the chances to reach an audience that loves what you do and want to support your work are more than ever. You have to be focused and ready when the chance comes.
I wake up early, I have some coffee and I go for a little run by the river around 9am. By the time I’m back she’s awake, we kiss, I take a shower and I paint while she draws or makes a tattoo. Then we eat, we have a little nap, we work a little more and then we go to the bar in front of our house to have a couple of wines. Being honest, these days happen really often.
Sounds pretty perfect. Where’s the next place you’d like to travel to, and why?
New Zealand or Menorca, I’m in the need of some island.
I get it! And what artists do you look to for inspiration? Are you ever inspired by artists who work in other mediums that help you discover a new way to approach your work?
I love art and I’m always looking for things that shake me and I’m also a crazy collector of art books. Vivianne Sassen, Robert Weaver, Kerry James Marshall… I could keep going for hours. Photographers, illustrators, painters, sculptors, comic artists, movies, life, etc… You can always learn something from everyone and reflect that in your work.
If you had an unlimited budget, what would you want to do, and why?
A life dedicated to painting. The thought of being able to paint with no deadlines and no worries about if it would sell or not, all the failures and mistakes I could make… Wait, now that I’m writing it I realized that’s what I’m already doing! Maybe doing it with no worries will quit the fun out of it. In case it was for one piece, I think that I’d try to paint something really really big with a lot of characters in it and a lot of details. In the end, I believe what we really need nowadays is time, not money.
It’s been our pleasure to chat with you, Alex!! There’s some great stuff in here!