Urban Street Art & Social Change | Iryna Kanishcheva of GNV URBAN ART LLC | WHOA GNV Podcast

– [Announcer] You are
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text W-H-O-A-G-N-V. We will see you later, bye. Good morning everybody and welcome to another episode of the WHOA GNV Podcast. The podcast bringing you businesses and individuals that you make you go whoa! I cannot wait to get that
printed on the back of a shirt. – The whole thing? – Yeah, it’s happening. (laughing) It’s coming dude. I’m telling you, it’s happening. Mike, what is up? Hey, hold on. My name is Collin Austin
and I am your host. Just stick to the script. Don’t forget to introduce yourself, ’cause everybody says you
forget to introduce yourself and my co-host is the
grooviest of Gator groupies, champion of trivia, sage of scooter sales, the magnificent mystifying Micheal Dees. What is up Mike? – I actually am champion of
trivia, I won last night. – Did you?
– Yeah. – Where’d you play? – Lucy’s, downtown. – Lucy’s. – Yeah. Just a team of two of us. – I mean what’s the competition
like though, seriously? – All twice my age. So when they ask pop culture
questions from the 60s and 70s and stuff it’s like they were there. I just know it ’cause I watch Jeopardy. – Yeah, you guys that are
listening, Mike has, so what? You’ve tried out for
Jeopardy several times. You’ve even been offered to go and do the preliminary
trials or something? – Right, I’ve made it to the
in person audition twice. Once time I actually went
and one time I didn’t. So I’ve actually been
in the contestant pool for 18 months, but was not selected. – He’s gonna be selected one day. We’re gonna root Mike on, on Jeopardy ’cause he’s really, really good. – Yeah, but see now you talk about being really good at Jeopardy and people just think about
the guy that just crushed it. (laughing) And I’m probably never gonna be that guy. – Yeah, I don’t even watch Jeopardy. – So I need people to forget
about that before I get on. – I don’t even watch
Jeopardy dude, I’m sorry. – Dude, he won like two million dollars. – That’s crazy.
– Yeah. – That’s cool though. – It’s nuts. – Well you need to get on there and win that kind of money bro, come on. – I do, I do need to win that much money. (laughing)
– Well so what’s going on man? Any Gainesville happenings? We’re in September now. – We’re in September now. It’s funny, everything has, like this time of year
shifts to two things, students coming back and football. That’s what the city’s
about this time of year so. – It’s the best man. It’s the best, I love the
energy so much in the fall. There’s just, I don’t know. It elevates to a
completely different level and I don’t know how
to explain it to people except for that, that
there’s just way more energy. – I talk about this all the time, whenever the summer starts
I get really excited because nobody’s here and
it’s nice to be able to get from one side of the town to the other and be able to just be
a Gainesville resident without the student population, but then once it gets to this time of year the energy starts coming
back, it gets you excited and so I kind of miss it. But it’s here. – Cool man. Hey, I had another idea. I was like you know what would be fun? Because you’ve been, like I don’t know how
many people know this, but you’ve been with me a long time. (laughing) A long time. – People would be shocked. Outside of Shannon I’ve
been with you the longest. (laughing) – Yeah, my wife, we’re
talking about my wife Shannon. So Mike started working
with New Scooters 4 Less back in 2005– – Four. – Four?
– Yeah, August of 2004. – So it was the, that first year. – Mm-hmm. – Okay, so here’s my question for you. What’s the biggest lesson
that you have learned over all of those years? – The singular biggest lesson? – The biggest lesson. – From just a retail point
or just in business or? – Yeah, just in, yeah, retail, business. – Okay, I’ll give you a couple
things that come to mind. – Working with me, give
everybody insight to working. (laughing) – I’ll give you the first
couple things that come to mind. One is in retail people
are really slow to adapt. That’s an observation. If you’re not willing
to change, whether it’s, we talked about social media,
or we go to these conventions, and people don’t even have
websites and stuff like that. People are really slow to adapt in retail and you have the Circuit
City’s and the Toys”R”Us that are just gonna fail. The other problem from a
more academic stand point would be the 10 second rule. People generally walk into the dealership, walk in to your place, and
know whether they’re going to do business with you within
the first 10 seconds, from a perception standpoint. – Yeah, that’s a hard thing to teach too. – Yeah, I mean– – To make team members understand that. – Exactly, they always feel like oh man, I just cleaned this the other day and it’s like yeah, but
you’re gonna clean it today. You know? And the last one is kind of the, not fake it ’till you make it, but say yes and then figure out how you’re gonna make something happen, don’t be afraid to over commit. I mean keep your promises,
but you know what I mean– – Get the deal, yeah. – Figure out how to get it done, so those would probably be
the three biggest things. – Yeah, those are good lessons man. – It’s almost like I
read ahead, but I didn’t. (laughing) – I’m gonna quiz you every week. – Fantastic. (laughing) – It will be like extra work for him. So well, cool man. I want to introduce to
you our guest of the day and I am going to try my
best to nail this name. – [Mike] I have faith in you. – I’m not kidding. I’ve been practicing
this name for a week now and it’s somebody that
I, within the last year, I’ve gotten to know and she’s incredible. Does some incredible work here. So Gainesville world everybody, let me introduce to you our
guest Iryna Kanishcheva. – Good job. – [Mike] She gave the thumbs
up, we got the thumbs up. – [Collin] How close was I for real? You say it. – Yeah, Iryna Kanishcheva. – She says it way better than I do. (laughing) It sounds so much better. – [Mike] Say Collin Austin.
– I practice more. – Yeah, right, come on guys. I like was literally
looking at the pronunciation and practicing and
gosh, you know, I’m hey. I’m gonna get better at
this you guys as we go on, but Iryna is an MBA candidate
of the University of Florida and she’s the founder and curator of several groundbreaking projects. Among them the first urban art
initiative in North Florida, 325walls and her own urban art agency, Gainesville Urban Art. Welcome to our show. – Thank you for inviting me. – Yeah, I’m excited. So everybody knows I try to keep this like so mixed up in terms of guests, right? I know that we lean super entrepreneurial, but I think when we can bring
in the art side of things, bring in the art, like
Gainesville is known for its art like it’s so cool to see these
masterpieces all over town. But when we can bring that
and mix it with business and those lessons and stuff I
think is really, really cool, so I’m excited to get into this talk. And art is something
that I’m ironically into, like I’m yes, I’m a business man and business is my first love, but I mean if you really,
I mean think back to 2004 and the first dealership we had. The very first dealership we had had this huge wall and we
graffitied the entire wall. I mean we graffitied the entire thing– – We didn’t but… (laughs) – Yeah, I mean not me but–
– Hired somebody to do it. – But we hired a Gainesville
artist to come in and do it and I mean it was awesome
and a lot of that you know kind of goes into really
what I talked about when we were trying to
create that lifestyle because you’re gonna think this is funny, but a lot of people in there in the early stages of our business
thought scooters were dorky, like college students
were like mom, dad, no, like I’m not gonna be
caught dead on that scooter. And I’m like will you just shut up and let your mom buy you a scooter? What are you doing? And so we knew that we had
to change that perception so one of the ways we did
that was really focusing on creating our culture within our company and really making our
retail establishment cool. We wanted it to be cool, we wanted it to be
young, and like vibrant, feel like a place college
kids would hang out, right? So we did the graffiti and then when we moved the dealership we graffitied another wall. When we moved to this dealership
we graffitied the wall, so it’s almost just been a part of us. And I even remember like
that first graffiti, we even took the graffiti,
we took a picture of it, and then we turned it into
a piece of digital art, which we then printed on shirts. – Printed on a T-shirt, yeah. – Yeah, so I mean it kind of
became like a logo of ours in a way, but anyway so
like I love graffiti style and it’s fun because
we’ve been talking about possibly doing something here or you know, the media studio that will come
at some point in the future. I would love to incorporate it and she sent me some beautiful
pieces from artists all over but the most recent one
we’ve been talking about is from Gainesville originally, right? – He is not originally from Gainesville, but he spent some time painting
on the 34th Street Wall, which is really a landmark for Gainesville and if you know the history of
many famous graffiti writers actually had experience painting here and it’s very, very cool. – Yeah, it’s awesome. So all right so tell me a
little bit about your story. How did how did you get here? How’d you get the Gainesville? How did you end up starting
your you business around art, like I would love to hear
about it so take me back. – Yeah, first of all I’m a pharmacist so I have nothing to do with art. So I have some experience
working as entrepreneur and managing teams so working in the pharmaceutical industry. So maybe that helped a little bit, but basically it all was based on just passion to street art. When I moved to Gainesville, to the USA, I wasn’t able to work by my major. I would have to start
studying everything again like pharmaceutical industry, so it was not interesting for me anymore and I dedicated more
time on just traveling, exploring the USA, and I’ve seen many different cool projects and I noticed that
Gainesville was actually missing some murals and we
need some colors in this town so I wrote a detailed
proposal with all the possible benefits for the city it might bring. And also because we have college town, this is college town, we
have so many students here and this contemporary art
form wasn’t developed, so I decided to submit my proposal to the city of Gainesville. So I first went to ask
different property owners around downtown all the
suitable walls for murals and asked if they would be interested. I had my own big
portfolio with photographs from different places all over the world and the USA as well, and many property owners they
could recognize some murals, those who went to Miami you know, those that have some
understanding of the culture, they were really excited and
they really wanted some murals. So I first got permissions
to actually do something then I went to visit Gainesville
as a potential sponsor to ask for support and they
were also really excited, that this program would
bring more tourists to town, you know promote Gainesville
as art destination. So they gave us ground and then finally I went to the city of Gainesville and they helped to
actually make it happen. – Isn’t that so cool I
mean it makes me think, you know you start something, right? Like you start you know we
started a scooter business 15 years ago and you don’t
really think about the impact that it’s gonna have like long term, you know what I mean
and then I look at it, I’m like dang, like we literally changed the face of the community
especially when it comes to the University of Florida and how college students get around and how scooters have become
very much part of the culture. And then like you start
something like this and then these murals start
popping up all over the place, and you literally change
the face of the community and make it like an art hub. I mean that feels pretty
rewarding, doesn’t it? Like I love that stuff. – Yes, when I just started it I never thought about this as a business, as a work, as something that I would do for the rest of my life. I was just thinking that would be cool to bring some cool artists
here in Gainesville and have some nice murals and then it really had great impact. It also inspired many
local artists to go ahead and get permissions themselves
and get those commissions and paint murals so they
don’t really need me or the city anymore, they
can do it on their own. – Okay, so tell me like let’s, I gotta go back a little bit. So where are you from? – I’m originally from Ukraine. – Okay and so you came
to Gainesville because, I think you were telling me
before because of family? – Yes because of the family,
we travel quite a bit, we lived in France for two years before and then we moved here. – Okay, cool. So I want to ask what your favorite piece of art is in Gainesville? Do you have a favorite? – Everybody asked me that, but it’s a very difficult question because I don’t look at murals as you guys because I know all the background behind, I know who is the artist, for me it’s– – So it’s like an unfair
advantage, what does that mean? (laughing) – No, I mean for me the
mural is not only the image, it also everything that is behind, the artist and the experience. So for example if I had
a very good experience, but the mural, well okay maybe
not the best in the world, but I feel very happy about it and I might say it’s my favorite because I like the entire
experience and vice versa. Some murals may be like perfect, but I didn’t like something
that went through the project and I can’t say it’s my favorite. – Oh, I got you. – I mean, there is
something personal in it, but what I can say, I like all of them, because that’s my work
that each of the murals has something unique,
unique story, unique style. I try to bring many different
diverse styles here, different countries,
represent different cultures. So I love all of them. What about you? – So I don’t know. I am fascinated and I don’t
know if like you were involved, were you involved with all
the big ones around town? – Yeah, most of them. – Okay, so like the chrome alligator. – [Iryna] Ah yeah, the
recent, the last one, mm-hmm. – [Collin] That’s the most recent one? – [Iryna] Yeah, that’s
the most recent one. It was painted over the Axel Void’s piece. – [Collin] Okay, like the fact like that you can do that with paint
and it can look I mean like– – [Mike] So three-dimensional. – It looks so three-dimensional,
it looks so real. I mean it’s just incredible. I mean, maybe James we
could like make an effort to throw some of these images up. Can you remind me like, let’s
make note of that Rebecca. If we could throw some of these images up and show some of these pieces when, but like that piece and for
everybody who’s listening on the audio version we
also do this in video and it’s a good way to
get some more visuals, but we’ll throw these pictures up. But that piece is just like I don’t know, it just really, really surprised me and then the one where I
think was it like 3D glasses or something that are involved? Like you can put the glasses on and you see the image a
couple different ways. I mean that’s incredible stuff. I mean I don’t even, do you
know what I’m talking about? It’s over there behind like America’s Escape Game on University. You know what I’m talking about? – [Mike] There’s a lot back
there, I’m trying to think– – [Iryna] The Gainesville theater. – [Collin] Yeah, the Gainesville
theater. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean just, it’s super cool, but you put the glasses
on you can see the image a couple different ways, right? – You see different
images when use throw blue or red filters, so one
of the images disappear so you see two people and once you see through one filter you see only one. – Yeah, I mean it’s, I mean it’s awesome. That’s the only way I can describe. So those are probably my two favorites, but you know I feel like every
time I turn around a corner I’m seeing something new, you know? So what were you gonna say? – The gator was definitely my favorite and I see it all the time, but when Tom Petty pasted
there’s I feel like a couple and the one that I remember is the one the you belong among the
wildflowers one that I love. I mean I was big Tom Petty fan and he’s quintessential Gainesville, but that was probably my favorite one. But it’s funny because
you do see them everywhere and as I sit here in the
dealership and distributors come in or parents are coming
in for the first time, we talk about impact, it’s
funny how they like you know, they immediately come like
I love all the murals, like I was just driving around town and you guys have murals everywhere and these people that have
never been to Gainesville before now associating it
with the fabric of our city, which is awesome, because
I’ve talked about it before on the podcast where it’s
like we’re starting to almost commercially
develop a lot of things and there’s some areas
that have gotten torn down that we feel like we’ve lost
that kind of Gainesville vibe, but that’s something
that’s giving it back, which is really important I think is being an advocate of the arts. So I love that stuff. – So do you have like competition from a business model standpoint? Do you have like competitors? – That’s a good question. From the business point I don’t really have a
competition in my opinion. So I have I can normally names
325walls as my competitors, which is also my project
that I initiated, I started, so I kind of created
my own competitor here, but I do something completely different so I can’t really say
that it’s my competitor. – Okay, so can you tell
me a little bit about the business model in a way? Do you act as like a
broker between the artists and the people who want to create the art on their businesses or the properties or what’s the business model like is probably just a better question. – Yeah, I wouldn’t name it as a broker. I’m a Project Manager
so I manage everything, so if you take 352walls for example, I’m doing everything. So I’m like selecting artists,
I do all the communications, I do all the contracts, I
do all the social media, I manage the project like paint supplies, lifts, equipment, and all
the organizational stuff. And I also do the promotion
on international blocks together with the artists. So it’s all a complex project
and the business model in it is probably to find the
funds and to find the wall and to make this connection
between the property owner and the artists because
festivals for example, they easily invite artists
through call to artists, which is a competition between artists. Some that know about this
call, they would apply, some that don’t know
they would never apply. So the artists I work with
they normally never applied to any calls to artists so this
is called like direct call. I mean I just invite artists
that I feel would be great for this specific
location for some reasons. So in other words, I listen
to a needs of both artists and property owners and try
to find the perfect match because when you work with
projects like 352walls or other festivals they normally don’t ask the community what they want. In best case they would just
show who the artist will be, but they wouldn’t give them opportunity to select or give any voice. I think it’s important because speaking from the business model who are our end-users,
the community right? We have buyers who can be a property owner or festival or somebody else, but the end user is the community and first of all we create
those murals for them. And I feel if somebody has a good wall and wants a mural like
we have at The Bull, as we have Market Street
Pub or in front of Volta, I know that the owner
of the wall is not crazy about the mural in front and he initiated a lot of
conversations about it to change. He really wanted to change and even wanted to sponsor this mural, but he never got permission
for this for some reasons. So I mean what I do, I try to help both. I try to artists to find job and be paid because I don’t really appreciate projects that don’t pay artists, which
is pretty much common still. People offer a good exposure
and really little money to get a piece for their business and then promote their
business using artists. So I don’t want to do that. I just try to help artists to find job and I try to help property
owners to find the right artists to promote their business naturally. When people see a mural,
you like the gator, you would go and see
hey, I like this mural, let’s go see this you
know and there is bar. Okay, let’s go to this bar. So it’s like a natural marketing. It’s like mouth to mouth marketing, but it’s absolutely sincere. – We could put a chrome scooter
on the side of the building. (laughing) And you are really, really good at that because I know like even in our first, I mean our very first conversation about doing a project together
you very much were like can you show me some stuff that you like, like what’s the style? What kind of style do you like? And I really like kind of like that, I mean kind of like graffiti
but like the very abstract or like if you think of like graffiti, some of the stuff that’s like very 3Dish where it looks like it’s coming
out of the wall towards you, you know what I mean? That kind of stuff. So you’re really, really great about that. – [Iryna] Thank you. – You got any questions man? – I’m interested in the city aspect of it because you talked about like
the owners of the building, like how does it start? So like say we wanted to put a mural on the side of our
building that faces 13th. What is that process like? Is
there pushback from the city, because I know that sometimes
from a code standpoint they don’t like stuff like that. I hear all the time about businesses that have things painted
on their building. maybe they didn’t go the
right route or whatever, but it gets painted over, they tell them. So what is the process
like if somebody wants to get that done and how do they go about it? – Well and real quick, I mean I feel like if I understand it correctly, it’s not so much the art as
much as there’s you know, you get so much square
footage of signage based on, you know what I mean? – Right. – So like, for example,
I think if you graffitied New Scooters 4 Less across
the side of the building– – Then it’s advertising. – That the city’s going to
look at that as like a sign. – [Iryna] Advertisement, yes. – Right, as a sign so therefore that would be a code violation, but I mean you can go ahead. – [Iryna] You’re totally right,
unless this advertisement and this is your property
you can create something is considered as a
renovation of the facade, but if you put like exactly
the sign and the business and the logo, that’s different. Then you would have to obtain some kind of permission from the city. Yeah, I never recommend
businesses to have mural like literally you know square. Why square? Okay, we know that scooters are here, but we can create something else that has a connection
to scooter, you know? Let’s represent the movement, you know? We can do abstract and
that would be something that represent the movement and freedom and everything you can
associate with a scooter. – For sure, which is a much
better way to go for sure. (laughing) I was making a joke for sure. But I mean have you had, you know kind of relating
back to Mike’s question, have you had any pieces that
created like that controversy, not controversy but I
mean that you had trouble getting approved or did you
even have to get it approved or can I just paint whatever I want on the side of my building? – Kind of, not nudity you
know, nothing religious or something that can be controversial, but it depends what is
controversial for you. For example, I have a mural
that depicts a dead whale if you know, it’s in front
of the police department on Northwest 10th Avenue. So the mural depicts the
dead whale and some flowers so the meaning is about
environmental issues and about killing the whales, about oceans that need some attention. And originally the property
owner didn’t like the mural, they were like really not happy because why would we depict that? It’s not a normal, you
know it’s not really good. They wanted to paint it over right away, but we asked them to keep it for a while and see how people react and you know, this mural is still up,
it’s been two years already. Because people really love it. Many people says one of
the most favorite murals because it has a meaning,
it explains something, and it’s unusual, the
colors, the technique, everything is really beautiful. So for some people that
could be named controversial, but this is a way to ask questions because this is the power of street art, to ask questions to
inspire some dialogues. So when people see this dead
whale they ask why it’s here? What does it mean? They may try to dig something
and learn such information and they figure out that there is something happening in this world you know that maybe you can help somehow. Or at least not to make
it worse, you know? And this is very interesting
part of my work too, because sometimes we can
incorporate an important message for positive social change you know and it’s not always obvious,
but people have to guess. – Is there any insight as to
how that affects the business? Like do people say “Oh, I don’t
want to go to that business, “it’s the dead whale one”
or it starts sparking that social conversation where people do want to visit that business and spend their dollars there. Like is there any insight
as to how a certain mural might affect like the flow
of business at a location? – Yeah, I would say the
more controversial mural is, the more attention is to the business. (laughing)
– I mean is it kind of like there’s no such thing as bad publicity? Like if people are talking
about it then it attracts. – Yeah, there is a big traffic. They go, they take pictures in front, they tag the location,
they may tag the business, it’s natural marketing again, but it’s not related to the business. – Note, put very
controversial piece of art on the side of the building. (laughing) – Yeah, try it, at least you can always
paint it over, right? But let’s see, it’s kind
of experiment. (laughing) – Talk about that too. I’m interested, like do you
get attached to a certain mural and then it gets painted over and you’re like sad to see it go? – No, I’m totally fine about it because this is the beauty of
street art, it’s temporary. Just important to take
picture, nice picture of that, and then you guys can do
whatever you want with this, but yes of course there
is some sad feelings if it’s a painted over right away, but I don’t really have this experience. – Is there much like
vandalism of the murals? – Yeah you know, it
rarely happens normally, just kids may put a tag over a mural, but artists who are good
artists, normal artists, they respect work of others, normally they never tag, never damage it, unless there are some fights. I don’t know. – It almost seems that way, like I think about some
of the walls in town and the ones that aren’t painted are the ones that get tagged and people almost respect the
ones that are painted more just from like a graffiti standpoint. I mean it seems that way, I
don’t know if that’s true, but I’m curious about it. – Murals are also used
to fight with graffiti because like I just said some artists respect the work of others
and they wouldn’t tag. But kids can do everywhere. But in Gainesville, we don’t really have
illegal graffiti here. I would say we don’t have it at all. It’s one of the cleanest towns ever because we have 34th Street Wall. I think it’s really
helps because those kids who want to try to tag and
spray-paint their name, they just go to 34th Street Wall and they’re sure that they
wouldn’t have any problems. – Yeah, so for everybody who’s listening if you’re listening
outside of Gainesville, we have a wall that runs up 34th Street that is basically free canvas. I mean anybody can go there and paint. Do you know the history
of that wall at all? – Yes, this wall, that’s
just a retaining wall and the first graffiti
was painted there in 1979. – [Collin] ’79? – Yes, it’s pretty long
history of this wall and there was a big controversy about this and the city was thinking about to forbid, so for some period of time it wasn’t legal to do anything there and the
city tried to fight with this and clean and punish those
people you know, but then– – How long did that last, do you know? – I don’t have that much information. It’s not that much on the
Internet you can find. I found actually a good
research that was done by one person who is not
even from Gainesville. She documented all the
murals for two years and she notice all the
colors, all the topics, everything so that’s really
cool information about it. – [Collin] Oh, that is awesome. – Yes, and the research
shows that mostly greetings, mostly some political use sometimes. There were some interesting reactions when somebody may put like Nazis you know and then people would come
and paint it over right away and do maybe a TV show even out of this. So this kind of things
happen there at the wall, now we have a memorial, even two, so first was dedicated to victims and the second one is
a tribute to Tom Petty. And now artists try to
keep those murals clean, so if somebody tags they just
come and clean it and repaint. So this is a really long history and I know that the city finally gave up. They realized that maybe
okay, let’s keep it and it’s totally fine.
– I mean it’s kind of good because there’s a place to go, which maybe keeps it off
other places, you know? The victim one has been
there for a long time. I think every time I drive by there. – It’s one of the interesting
things about that wall is every time somebody does paint over it it’s like immediately redone
and it’s been that way for gosh, I think it was
first painted in 1990. The Danny Rolling serial
killing murders, but– – [Collin] Yeah, that’s crazy. – [Mike] That’s definitely
interesting like– – Now there’s a Tom Petty one? I don’t even think I knew that. Shows you how often I go down 34th Street. (laughing) I don’t go to that side
of town very much anymore. I’m over here on the
13th and University side. I stay in my zone. (laughing) – You have four murals,
Tom Petty murals in town. – Yeah, so how many, how many layers of paint do
you think are on that wall? – Yeah, some tried to count and they counted like over 200. Yeah, you can go there
and you actually can take out a piece of like
a chip of this paint because sometimes there is so much paint that it becomes heavy and it falls down so you can pull it off and take a piece and you will see all the layers, its like history, they were
like painted 10 years ago. – That’s funny. (laughing) There’s got to be a lot. I mean I painted that wall before. We painted it for the scooter shop once. I mean I think like even advertising back to school or something. – Yeah, we’ve done that. I’ve done it with the drum line and different band fraternities
and stuff like that, done for scooter shop. Yeah. – Super interesting, but
it’s definitely become one of those staples, you know? – Right, it’s definitely one of those you haven’t lived in Gainesville, I don’t know if this
is in the, what is it? The F book, but I feel like that’s a Gainesville right of passage, like if you haven’t painted
the 34th Street Wall then you haven’t really done Gainesville. You know, like I kind
of just feel that way. – It needs to be on one
of those checklists, going to Gainesville? Paint the 34th Street Wall, boom, check. So what other questions you got, Mike? – Oh Lord. I’m curious like how does
it go from concept to like, does the owner of the
building have any say in what gets painted on
there or does it just like or I mean do you say hey,
like I’ve had this idea. I want to find an artist
that fits this idea or talk about that like
from concept to execution, what is that process like? – It depends, sometimes property owners tell me right away what
they want approximately or what they like and then
I could go from there. If there is nothing specifically, I would ask myself what you like? What’s your favorite mural here then? I sometimes might ask
to just show any murals they like at all just to
realize what the style was, you know how the person
feels about styles, you know? And then I would select somebody. It actually helps also me
because I know so many artists and I would want to work like
for more than 100 artists and it’s difficult for me if
I have like a blank canvas and so much choice, it would
be difficult really to select, so I would ask the
property owner to suggest at least topic or what
is the business about? Or many factors that can be considered. Also if the property owner
asks about something specific, like for example, I want a train. I see a train here and I say all right, I can invite artists who
would paint you the train exactly as you like, but
we also can ask him or her to suggest something that they see because they might have ideas that you cannot even
imagine at this moment and that normally works. – Is there ever concept that you’re like I really want to do this or I really want to have this executed, but I’m just waiting for
somebody to be okay with it or I’m trying to find the space for it or does the concept ever
precede the the canvas? – Yes. For example, I have several artists that are really great at some point. I can say in 851 I also
was looking for a place to invite him you know and
bring something interesting. I like to represent different
styles, different techniques, different technologies,
whatever is new to the field. Also I was looking for
a place to put a mural that raises awareness about
gun violence in the USA, the gun control that was
really difficult to do. The design was amazing and I didn’t find anyone who would agree to place it on their wall unfortunately, but maybe someday I will find. – So was this like, did
somebody already have something kind of drawn
out or sketched out? – Yes. – [Collin] They did? – Yes, but you know people normally want something that they’re familiar with. So this is another very
interesting question and a good point that
people who invite artists want mural normally just regular people and they don’t have much
knowledge, experience, and understanding of the culture. And what they want they
normally want just a portrait, like a face that easily you can recognize, easily understand or 3D. So this is the most common
request I normally have, but street art or public art or mural, it’s much more, it can show you something that you never even thought about. So that’s why I try to
show property owners different options, what actually exists, what he can select off and
then I would understand that they have more conscious decision about this style or subject. – Yeah, I always feel like you know, I want it to be like really, really cool, something that like it’s my flavor, right? Like something that I’m
personally gonna enjoy, but I 100% always recommend
people not dictate, like you know what I mean? It’s like hiring an architect
to build the building and then you say, but I want
this here, I want this there, I want this there, it’s
like you know what I mean? – I’m the guy that sits
down to get my haircut and just says make me beautiful. I’m not gonna tell you how to do your job. – Exactly, exactly. It’s like if you dictate everything then you’re gonna miss
out on they’re true design or something you’re not gonna
get the full value of it, but I don’t know, that’s just the way I feel personally about it, but it’s like let ’em do their thing. – Yeah, what is that balance though between having somebody try
to give too much direction versus letting the artist
do what they’re good at? – Yes, you are totally
right about the architecture or we can make a connection
about many other. I think it’s like we have
to think about the result, what we are going to achieve rather than tell how to achieve it, right? Because you wouldn’t say architecture, how he has to draw the sketch, right? And same about art, you
just have to select artists and be familiar with his or her portfolio, understand what it’s gonna be, and just say what you expect, like what kind of impression, impact, on the final message you want to get, but don’t say how to create it. I had experience when a property owner, literally recommended can you
add some more clouds here, can you change this color, I feel like this one is better, you know? I normally yeah, it’s annoying but we normally take it as normal because people, they all
have their own vision and understanding and then sometimes we can make these changes. – That’s like one of those things where you end up putting extra clouds because they’re the paying
customer or you’re like no. – Normally no, no. If it doesn’t fit– – I was about to say I’d be like listen, you hired us, we’re the experts,
let us do our thing, okay? – Normally not, normally we
are trying to convince that this request doesn’t fit for
some reasons if it doesn’t fit. If the property owner has
something right, why not? That’s fine, but I
think it’s up to artist, the artist decides, he’s the boss or she. – I mean I actually have the
same fear with media projects like video work, you know? Like we’ll get asked to
do like a video project and we’ll do a video project and I’m like oh man, this is awesome, this is beautiful, I can’t
wait to show the client. And I show the client and
the client’s like oh yeah, that’s great, can we change this and that? And I’m like no. Why would you want to ruin
this perfect piece of art? I mean like we basically
create art in a digital form, it’s like why would you want to ruin this perfect piece of art and at
the end of the day it’s like, there is, there’s that balance. It’s like they’re the paying client, they’re paying for it and
you know it’s like oh. – Meanwhile one time you asked me to merchandise the showroom
and I spent the entire day– – Hold on are you about to throw me under a bus or something? – I spent the entire day
with the team putting things in some different kind of
way and he walks in and says, “That’s okay, but I
hate that, I hate that.” And I’m like dude, you gave
me nothing to work with. Executing someone else’s
vision is very difficult. Yes, I’m going to throw you under the bus. – I don’t remember this at all. – I can think of five people that do. (laughing) – I mean in other news, I
give very blunt feedback. (laughing) Just very much
like yeah, that’s not good. – But it is very similar. I mean in business I
mean there’s sometimes where you do have to like I
had to execute your vision and what kind of feedback do I get? The more feedback I can get, if you’ve got something in your head, then it makes it easier to carry that out. But sometimes I feel like
there’s a little bit of a block there if you’re not
getting enough inspiration or enough direction but
you know somebody’s got something in their head then it’s like how do you execute it? – Yeah, that’s true. Well I think that’s what, I mean, at least from the art side… We’re totally gonna do a piece together. We’ve been trying to
figure out the right spot at the right time like all of it right. And I think it’s gonna happen
exactly the way I expect it. Like seeing seeing some examples, right? Seeing examples, things that I like, that fit my my taste of what I would want. And then just saying like
I like this, I like that, I like this, but then being
like just taking a step back and say all right, there’s
the canvas, do your thing. I’m not gonna say I want it to go there, I want orange there, I want blue there, you know like whatever. It’s funny that those two colors are the colors that randomly pop out. – Such a Gator. – Such a Gator. But I’m not gonna, like I’m gonna say there’s the canvas. Ready, set, go. Let them do their thing, you know? It’ll be fun, I can’t wait to do that. We’ve been exchanging some
pieces like that I want to do in the future studio
whenever we get a studio and I look forward to that day so. What would you say has been
the biggest challenge so far? So when did you start the
company officially, what year? – I started the company year
ago actually, only a year ago. – A year, so what’s been the
biggest challenge thus far? – Yeah, my first project
was the most challenging. It was dealing with the grant
and the governmental process, which is always complicated, so that’s why I don’t do this anymore. I prefer to work with just
private organizations instead. So that was difficult because
you have three parties. You have the government,
you have the property owner, you have the artist, and all
of them have their own needs, requirements, schedules,
it’s very difficult. So it’s better to work with the smaller amount of people in the team. – And I mean, well I mean
working with the government of course that’s gonna, (laughing) that’s gonna take awhile. I mean what would you say
is a typical project length? I mean it probably depends
on the artist, right? – What do you mean? – Like if I said okay, we want to put up, we want to do this project, all right, let’s just say once I’ve made a decision, like this is the type of art
that I would like to see, how long would it take for
you to put that together and get that art up on the wall? – Yeah, it’s all so very different. I have a project now that we are in conversation for one year. But we know the artist already, we know the wall, we know everything, but it’s been one year and
we still haven’t done it. I don’t know why and some
projects can be really fast. So my quickest was a week
from just okay let’s do this, this is the artist, the artist
sends the sketch right away, the property owners like
the sketch, sends money, and I manage all the equipment, materials, the artist paints, it’s done. A week, that’s it. But it rarely happens. Normally people take time to think and are always more
difficult to get the budget on the account because
of people can take time from actually making decision
to make the mural and paint. This is an important
moment because they might change their mind thinking
about maybe I would do just a wheat paste, I mean just print it and attach to the wall or
they have some other ideas why would they change
their mind, but it happens. So I would say in most
cases average maybe a month. – Okay, that’s not really that bad. I was expecting much longer I think. – It really depends on the
owner or who requests this. With the government that might take a year and it’s fine, it’s like normal. If the property owner is easygoing, that’s really fast for me and for me is just a
week, I don’t need more. – Yeah, then if you get a property owner who wants more clouds. (laughing) It can take awhile. – Yeah, considering
how many clouds to put. – I know those, I hear
that and I’m like yeah, I know those people, we
get them as customers at New Scooters 4 Less sometimes. (laughing) – I mean, they exist everywhere. – So do you have anything like, is there anything currently in the works? Anything we have to look forward
to in terms of big projects like where they might be popping up? – Yes, I actually can announce
that I just got a new award, which is the grant from
the Florida Department of Cultural Affairs, so
this is my first grant ever received from the government and I applied to this a
year ago and I got it. I didn’t even expect they
would give me anything at all, but the project is actually about 10 most interesting urban
art destinations in Florida and I’m going to explore
Florida and take pictures, do some videos and
publish articles about it and with the final exhibition
here in Gainesville to show people what we
actually have in Florida. And the goal of this project is to introduce what’s going on here. For example, if you think
of the most art scene, the most art scene city in Florida, what city would you think about? – Oh, why would you do that to me? (laughing) I’ll let Mike take this one. – I would think it would be Miami. – Exactly, everybody thinks of Miami because of Wynwood Walls, yes. – [Mike] But it’s not? – No, we have, no, Miami’s
for sure the most famous one, but besides Miami we
have the minimum 10 or 15 other mural projects in Florida. So I would like to introduce
people to this project and maybe encourage them to
go and visit those places to see at least what we have. And compare Gainesville. Gainesville is among
the most advanced city since street art too
nowadays here in Florida. – That’s so cool. That gets me so excited. I don’t know like I just
love like when I hear stuff like that I’m like man that’s,
I don’t know, it’s awesome. Like you want a very you know, just what’s the word I’m looking for? Wholesome, you know what I mean? I like when you have you
know the music scene, the art scene, the business scene, I mean even the student scene. You know like all of it when you can have, when all that can be great
like it’s just awesome so it makes me excited. – So you say Gainesville is
gonna be the exhibition site for this project so if my understanding, so you’re gonna go around to all the state and see these murals and it’s
like an inspiration project and then you come back
and then you have artists that paint like what you
were inspired by or like? – It will be a just photo
exhibition with photographs from different places and projects, but I want to host it here in Gainesville because we also have
a lot of students here and I want to encourage them to go travel. I know some people might
live here for a long time, but they have never
been to Miami, Daytona, or anywhere else so I just
want to encourage people to go see some culture other places. – So this will be an exhibition
like at a museum type thing where you go visit like the photographs? – In a gallery, yes. – In the gallery, okay, got it. – That’s gonna be cool. Hey, you did the piece at Tech City? – Yeah, I did. – You did? – Yes. – [Mike] Oh, I didn’t know
they had a piece out there. – Yes, this is also a
common project that we plan with Mitch to put some more
art there in this new city, the Tech City, it is going to be something very unusual and very cool. – It’s cool he’s putting like a museum, kind of like a little, it’s his office that’s gonna be out there, but it’s kinda like half museum in a way. It’s gonna have like all these
entrepreneurial artifacts in there and stuff and you guys, it was Benjamin Franklin, right? – Yes, exactly because he
was a great entrepreneur and the museum going to
be dedicated to this. – It’s like a huge, I
mean it’s a big wall. How old how tall is that wall?
– Like three story. – Yeah I mean it’s like, yeah. The thing was huge and I asked Mitch, I’m like dude, that’s awesome. I’m like like how long did that take? And he said like a week. – Yeah, when he sent me
the proposal for this mural the wall didn’t exist even,
you know I just had a sketch so I had to find artists and explain what is going to be without
even having this property yet. – It kind of freaked me
out in a very good way. – That’s got to be interesting. Yeah, there’s not property there yet, there’s not a wall there yet, but you’ll have a blank canvas
at some point. (laughing) – You took me for my first tour there. We were there with Alison
who’s the CO of Repaint and I looked in, like I was
looking through the glass. I don’t know actually what it
looks like from the inside, but I thought it was a
gigantic like throw rug and I was like first of
all, why does somebody have that size of a throw rug
of Benjamin Franklin, but it felt like it was textured almost and like I said I was
looking from the outside in so I don’t know what
it actually looks like, but I was kind of like I was
super intrigued by it anyway, but I thought it was cool, I like it. I mean I like American
history and stuff too, so you put art and
American history together. – It’s really neat and I know that Mitch and the crew out there are planning on doing a lot more stuff,
which is exciting so. All right, so do you
have plans for expansion? Like what is the next five
years look like for you? I mean are you still a pharmacist, like you’re still doing that or is this full-time now? – That’s full time now. – This is full time, okay. So like you’re really
all in on this thing. I mean what’s the next five
years look like for you? – Well I feel like I’m gonna travel and do many projects all around states because I already have
invitations from different places. So for example, my next project
is in Erie, Pennsylvania. We are going to paint a deck in the port, which is really interesting
unusual surface. The mural is going to be on the ground. So it’s challenging. The artists is really great and amazing and the city doesn’t have any murals yet, so this is like a beginning
of a new mural project and turning a city into a
cultural destination again. And for me it’s really
interesting to start. So for example, I had experience
working in my home country actually after Gainesville creating– (cell phone ringing) – Is that your alarm? – Yeah, can we turn it off? (laughing) – Iryna’s alarm’s going off in her phone. Yeah, I mean. (laughing) That’s awesome. 9 a.m., it’s time to wake up. – I was gonna say, it’s time to wake up. – Do you normally wake up at 9 a.m.? – Yeah, I normally wake up that early. (laughing) – That’s fantastic. – I love the authenticity. – We’re not editing, look at me right now. Iryna, we’re not editing any of that out. That’s all staying in. (laughing) No, that’s hilarious. I love it. – So, the next five years. – She should do this more often. – She’s like anyway. – Yeah, she’s like right back
into it. So, let’s keep going. – Yeah, I really like how it develops so when I just registered my company I didn’t think of this as a business. It just was just more safe to have an LC rather than working you know without it and I didn’t plan it as a
developing as a business, but it actually goes really well and I’m getting more and more
invitation in different places so I assume I would just travel and do projects wherever I can. – That’s so cool so how are these people finding out about you? How does somebody in Pennsylvania find out about your business? – Yeah, it sounds weird but
the culture fair manager is from Jacksonville and he
knows my work from the project I did in Jacksonville, so he
just invited me to work on it and that’s how people know, for example, now the current cultural affair
management in Jacksonville, he would recommend me
to the projects there. You know people know my
work and they just invite me and they recommend next and next and this is just mouth to mouth marketing. – That’s so cool. So what’s the logistics
of that like I mean, with a project that’s out of the city or out of the state even, do you have to go back and forth a lot or is this the thing where
you like you’d go up there, stay for like a week or two,
crush it out, come back? – Yeah, I can actually manage any project just sitting in my home. I don’t even have to be there, but it’s better to be there
to control everything, so if I have somebody that
would manage all the equipment, be there on the side, and help
artists with the logistics on this side I wouldn’t even go but normally I go for a week, I plan everything in
advance, everything is ready, and then I would just
come and assist artist to make sure that everything goes well. Because every time something may happen, something unexpected like you
wouldn’t find the right paint, something with equipment,
something is in delay, some kind of permissions
were not obtained, anything can happen, and
it’s better to be there, to be flexible to find solutions
and now solve the problems. – What’s been the most
rewarding experience so far? – I think in Ukraine, my
experience in Ukraine, that was a huge project,
we painted almost 50 murals from 16 to 26 story tall, which is huge. – [Collin] Wow. – One of them 26 stories
is considered to be the tallest in Europe unofficially. I mean it wasn’t recorded
as a Guinness Record, but it is very tall and
that gave me an opportunity to work with a lot of famous
artists, very cool artists. The whole project was
aimed to raise awareness to the problem of war and violence, as you may know there
is still war in Ukraine between Russia and Ukraine and we wanted to attract
the media and attention because people don’t really
talk about it on the TV because if you have just
one, two soldiers die today, it’s not that interesting so
tell about Beyonce you know or something that is more important and interesting for people. So we invited famous
artists to create murals and then blogs would
write about those artists creating murals in Ukraine
and then people would know there is something going on. – Dang. I mean that brings so much
more purpose to artwork. You know what I mean? – Yes and also the experience
working there on the project was totally different than here. It was more I call it wild
because there were no contracts, they weren’t like any governmental issues, we just had the property
belongs to the city. It’s a different kind of all the politics that we just got permission
for all the walls and we could paint any. It was very interesting. Artists weren’t told what to
paint, they weren’t restricted. Nobody complained about anything, like the clouds or whatever. Many of them created some
of the best pieces so far in the career, so I feel like it was a really powerful project. – That’s incredible. – Is there a point where coming
back to just Gainesville, where you feel like your
vision’s been carried out? Like is it, I don’t
want to say necessarily a X amount of murals that
are standing at one time, but like is there a point
where you’re like okay, this is now an art community for everybody to come in and see? Is that a point, is that
it is a vision for you or? – When I just started I thought about it to just like bring some artists, right? Then I became interested in
bringing more, making more, but now I don’t feel that
the more murals, the better. I feel like it’s more important for murals to express something, so
not just turn a city to a cultural destination to bring
some economic development, but actually educate the
public about the current issues we have around the world. I mean the art has a lot of
power that we just don’t know, you know, do not appreciate. – So is there a fear of like saturation, kinda like you said
like if there’s too many that it kind of lessens the impact or the view of like one, like they’re kind of
lost amongst each other? – Yeah, exactly. If you go to Miami you
see that so many murals then you would just not appreciate it. Just go and take pictures
oh, I like this, I like this, I like this, and then you get bored because it’s too many, too much, and they have no meaning. It’s you know not only good murals there, there is everything. You know just like 34th Street Wall, you can place anything you want. – So if every business owner
that listens to this podcast contacts you and says we want
a mural, when do you say no? – When it’s for free. (laughing) But it happens, yes. It’s an interesting question. I had many funny requests
like for this weed sponsor that is about to be open
in Gainesville soon, they want a mural. We have some pet resorts
that want a mural. We have like sometimes
requests are really unexpected and unusual but depends on what they want. If they want something
specific that I’m sure I wouldn’t find artists
who would be willing to promote this and paint like weeds, maybe I would say no, but it depends. Maybe we can create something
interesting, you know, that would impact the community and we just have to
consider how to make it. – That’s cool. So tell me a little bit about
this book you’re working on. You’re working on a book? – Yeah, I’m working hard
like 15 hours a day. – [Collin] Really? – Yes, it’s really difficult. Originally I thought I
would just put images, collect some comments from artists, put together, and that’s it, but it’s not. So it’s actually developing
and I do research, so I study in the Warrington
College of Business and some of them courses
like marketing or statistics they really inspire to dig and apply to street art or allow us for example. Nowadays we have many cases
that are about graffiti and the controversy
whether illegal graffiti can be protected by copyright law. It’s very interesting. The industry is still raw and we don’t have enough precedence. We don’t really know how to judge and it’s very interesting
what’s going on now how brands may use murals as a background for the advertisement for cars, Mercedes or others would do this and then artist complain,
they try to sue brands, but brands have a lot of lawyers
and they’re more powerful. It’s very interesting what’s going on, so I’m going to write about some business aspects of street art, how I see this from my personal experience and I also collect comments from the most accomplished
artists in the world. like I’m going to have a 100 participants. Artists, curators, public
art administrators, property owners, you can be
part of it too if you like. – I mean, it’s super interesting. That’s really, really cool. So when are expecting to
be finished with that, like how long is that project? – September, I’m going to publish it. Yeah, so it’s almost
done, it’s almost done. There’s still a lot of work of editing and it appeared to be really difficult to collect responses from artists. Now I understand that statistics and all this kind of work, like service is really difficult because people are not that
collaborating, they’re busy. They have their own schedule
and it’s really hard to actually get the honest answer. So in this book I will
have both some opinions will be expressed
specifically from an artist and some opinions will be just anonymous, but I will have the lineup
of all the participants in this book but I want to
encourage artists honesty and to say what they really think about those call to artists,
what they think about working for some brands, businesses. What they think is considered
to be commercial art. What they think artists
have to promote themselves, like marketing how it has to be. It’s interesting that the answer sometimes can be really opposite, so
I try to put it in contrast. Somebody say that and the others say something totally different. At the same time at some
topics I have everybody saying just the same, just the same, but it’s opposite to what the
government does for example. So I hope this book would give
some insights to the field, what’s going on there
because all those topics is normally discussed
often between each other, between artists, curators, you know just gossiping
and I feel like some people have to know what people really want, because again, that’s
about the final consumer. Who is benefiting out of this? This is all for the community, right? But it’s interesting
also that I was told that in my work I have to focus
more on property owners, people who pay, but I
feel like I have to focus more on artists because
they’re my main asset. They are who created and if
we don’t have the respect from artists, if they are treated badly, if they don’t have enough
payment or bad conditions, bad organization, what happens often, because street art now is very popular and street festivals are put everywhere. They’re just like
mushrooms after the rain, it’s like here, here, here, and the curator doesn’t
have to have education, experience or something. That’s what happened to me. I became a curator just
because I submitted a proposal. So I didn’t have any art
education or anything as well. Well okay, I had the business
education so that helped, but looking back I understand
that if I would start a new project in Gainesville
now I would do it differently. I would first educate the
community, involve them, ask what they want, make it
more related to the city, because this is what
we are creating it for. – That’s awesome. That is so excellent. I commend you so much
and one, just want to, this has been an absolute pleasure. So thank you for coming on the show. – Thank you. – And thank you for changing
the landscape of Gainesville and being one of those I don’t
know, just an inspiration. I mean, like I love it. I love seeing people who are
invested into this community and changing it for the
better and it’s obvious that you’re doing that and
I’m super excited to see what the future holds
for your new company. – Thank you. – So Mike any last questions man? – That’s pretty much it. I just think just to echo that, it makes it super like awesome
to be a Gainesville resident when stuff like that pops up so thank you. – I mean it’s like a
little pleasant surprise. You know like go around a corner
where there wasn’t a mural. – And you see a new one, right. – And then you’re like, oh dang. I mean my wife being a photographer, like she’ll like scope them out for, just to get pictures and like I mean just, it’s really, really cool. – Well we did the the project, you can talk about that a little bit, like the the one for the
scooter, we did a scooter video, and incorporated a lot
of the murals in town. – Yeah, and it makes you
proud of where you’re from. – It just made a super awesome video for a distributor just to incorporate that and it gives it a little
taste of Gainesville. Not that it was a Gainesville video, but it gives a little
taste of that and art and it just made a really good canvas for something we’re already
doing so super cool. – I love it so thank you again. Where can everybody find you? – GNVUrbanArt.com. – [Collin] Okay and– – It’s easy to remember. – [Collin] Are you active on social media? – On social media I go
by Iryna Kanishcheva, if you can remember this. (laughing) – We’ll find you. We’ll put it up on the screen
so on the video portion so people can find you and cool. Well thank you again so
very much for being here and Gainesville this is
the WHOA GNV Podcast. The podcast bringing you
businesses and individuals that make you go whoa. We will see you later, bye. (upbeat music) ♪ Gainesville rock city ♪ ♪ Gainesville rock city ♪ ♪ Gainesville rock city ♪

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