Updated: Nov 24, 2020
As a continuation in our street art hunters series, we would like to introduce to you all Gnik Combor (@gnikcombor). As a point of clarification that is not his real name. We hope that through his answers you, our readers, get to know his methodology, as to build motivation to explore your local areas. Regretfully, our interview could not be face to face, however, we do hope that his answers will give some insight or spark an interest. Finding new positive-effect distractions during these times of limited movement and social interactions, especially those which can evolve into active participation and curiosity, are both mentally and physically beneficial to ones wellbeing.
1. I’ve noticed on your Instagram that you do not differentiate between street art and graffiti, is this intentional?
First of all, my blog is about both graffiti and street art. I developed a passion for both as an expression of art in public space. Having said that I don't think the distinction is very clear. Some say graffiti are the illegal pieces whereas street art would then be the legal stuff. Others distinguish between letters and e.g. characters or portraits.
Other lines of argumentation are following elements of street credibility. Bottom line I decided not to be dogmatic here. Most of the time I label #streetartandgraffiti. Sometimes I leave out the #streetart or #graffiti tags when it is really obvious or I know a writer considers himself as part of graffiti.
2. How do you go about locating the various pieces you have found? Is there a methodology to your search?
Methodology is a big word. But there indeed are various approaches. The best is just go out and walk or bike the streets. Look around every corner to see if something is there.Takes a lot of time. But the experience and reward of finding something new/unexpected is by far the best. Second best is to go to the regular Halls of Fame and see what has changed since the last visit. It's a mix between enjoying the new works and sort of documenting the scene. Then there is the mode where the piece has been photographed already but as a spotter (and photographer) I also want to make my own snap. If the location is known then I make a note and visit the place whenever I am around or go on a road/citytrip. When the location is unknown I try to figure it out myself. Google Maps and streetview are really instrumental to this. Provided I know the city I only need a piece of scenery to figure out the location in a virtual hunt. After doing so much spotting I have to admit I start to recognize the structure of some walls as well. When all things fail, spotters help each other out on challenging locations as well or one could ask the writer. But it feels a bit like cheating. Final category is when writers approach you proactively with the request for good photo. And oh yes, then there are sites like streetartcities which can be instrumental as well.
3. Do you prepare for the ‘hunt’, as in plan the locations you visit and follow various artists for when they have a new piece in the area; or is it more of a spontaneous outing where you record your findings?
When I go to another city, yes then I prepare. I go with a list of addresses and/or a map and prepare a map/route with the pieces I definitely want to see.
But many times I get lost because triggered by of my curiosity to look around the corner and the next one and the next.... I often end up having done only half of the route which means I have to go back another time for the second half.
4. Where, and how, do you keep and expand your archive?
I have all my photos on my NAS at home. Only part of it is published on instagram. A few I share on Flickr because of the better quality. Actually instagram sucks from a photographers point of view. After publishing they lower the resolution at some point in time.
5. How do you choose which pictures to post on Instagram?
Main point is that I publish what I like and provide a report of what is going on. Second is that I try to give a decent coverage to the different writers and artists out there. As I do a lot of spotting I am often 'first to the scene'. But having the 'scoop' actually is not my main objective even though it sometimes looks that way. Next to publishing the piece itself I try to make a good photograph, but I consider myself to still be an amateur (but improving by learning on the job).
6. Would you be willing to share some of your preferred locations for street art viewing?
Check out my instagram. I normally tag the locations as well.
7. Do you see the difference when the pieces are inside a “box”, as opposed to outside? How do you think this effects the pieces acceptance, either in the street art community or the general populous?
I can tell that (non-curated) art on the street for me is a better experience than exactly the same pieces in a museum / gallery or other "box".
It is the public / outdoors / on the street part that gives it an extra dimension to me. Also the fact that tomorrow it may be replaced again by something else is an element to this.
We here at SAMA would like to thank Gnik for the time taken to share with us what he has learned and seen over his time spent hunting. All photos used in this blog post were taken by Gnik himself, for which he has graciously given us permission to use. If you are interested in seeing more of his collection, of which is incredibly diverse, he has an instagram page with over 9 800 different pieces. You can see them @gnikcombor.