Spotlight on Aleksander Tokarz (ArchiGuru)

Your work stretches across various disciplines, do you identify yourself as an artist or architect?
Ever since I was 8 years old I wanted to be an architect, and it’s the profession I have been involved with in the past 10 years. However I always find myself doing different projects that have nothing to do with architecture: mostly art, design, and other urban interventions. I also love taking pictures and writing, which I try to do as much as I can with my magazine. For me its important to be able to design and experiment in various scales, from airports that span across miles to small 3D printed objects. To me, they each hold an equal weight in terms of creativity and energy.

 

What are your favorite types of projects to work on?
Right now I like working in public spaces and making small-scale interventions. It’s also really important for me to involve people from the surrounding community in these projects as well. I usually try to reach out to local cultural centers and see how my talent can be used to help improve the local neighborhood, either by doing workshops or making a project.

 

 

You have been living in Mexico City the past 2 years. What’s it like to work in that type of urban environment?
It’s very chaotic and unorganized but also very welcoming and open. In the city there are many opportunities for small-scale projects and there are many people here who have the same ideas about urbanism and community involvement. I have also been very fortunate to be part of the team that is currently working on the new airport for Mexico City. Its one of the biggest projects in the country and it will be finished in about 5 years.

 

You were a street artist involved with graffiti for many years…how does this passion translate to your current projects?
I stopped painting illegal graffiti a long time ago, but the energy to leave a mark on the streets is still the same. I am currently struggling with different projects that I personally want to do on the streets, which would be done illegally. These of course do not hurt anybody or damage property, but they would be unauthorized interventions in public spaces. Expression is important to me and sometimes I want to avoid the hassle of asking local municipalities for the proper approval.

 

 

What inspires and motivates the choices you make in your work?
I get really inspired by the urban environment around me, anything from street art to sculptures to buildings. My main problem has been that I like a lot of things and when something grabs my attention I focus on it for a long time. I try to see if I can duplicate it or make my own interpretation of it. That is why my work spans across so many disciplines and I try to experiment with different materials as much as I can. While at times my work seems to have no relation from one project to the next the energy that I put into each one is the same, just the result is different.

 

What has been your biggest challenge in getting your art done?
Mainly picking the right thing to focus on. There are so many projects I want to get involved in, community workshops to organize, exhibitions to make. Lately I have been very picky and trying to make projects that will have a long lasting impact, especially in the public realm. What’s the point of having a painting in a gallery when only 5 people a week will see it. The project should be thought out so that it can have a positive impact on the community and the people who experience it.

 

 

What are your aspirations for the future?
I will probably live in Mexico the next few years and continue further developing my ideas. I would like to open an official studio by myself but I’m always collaborating with different people, so being mobile makes more sense now. As long as there is an opportunity for me to create something cool I will be up for it. I will also transition from making magazine issues to books. To me publishing a book seems more timeless than a magazine issue. Someone can pick up a book I made 50 years from now and it still will be relevant.

 

Do you prefer to work alone or collaborate with others?

 

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