Our featured artist for March has talent that knows no boundaries – musician, hand-poke tattoo artist, painter, illustrator, videographer and photographer all rolled into one – helo samo will will push your boundaries of comfort and force you to confront your daily life as he aims to give a voice to a “parallel universe” that we know is there, but sometimes fear to acknowledge…
I will let the artist and his work speak for itself so let’s fire the questions!
Where are you based? Why there?
Currently, I am based in Greyton – a really small town in the middle of the mountain, but I was living in Cape Town for the rest of my time before moving here. I decided to move here for now to see what it would be like to live outside of the “city” and create while in a different head space. I love natural spaces and this seemed like a good thing to do.
What started you in your career of art? What sparked your interest in creating art?
I guess I just really liked drawing to start out with and liked seeing things that was an individuals depiction of ideas not possible to be addressed in the “real world” sense. When I found out during my formative years that you could make a living from making something beautiful – either illustrating or painting or whatever creative outlet you have to offer – I was convinced. No one told me how hard it would be though.
Trying to promote and expose your work takes intensive dedication and with the kind of work that I do, there are not many “commercial” jobs around that are looking for this type of aesthetic. So I’m incredibly grateful for the people who find my work and dig what it is and support what i do. I remember when I started working for myself, it was rough. I had to steal food for myself and my dog a few times…I tried to learn from those days. Let’s see what happens…
That sounds hectic man! We truly respect and appreciate the fact that artists go out of their way to create things and bring life to this ethereal world that might seem unreachable to most people.
Yeah…Someone asked me the other day “what’s the point of art? It does not feed you or keep you warm”. I responded by saying that we have lost the true value of what art is. Through living in this prison planet we have recognised the arts as a meal or a roof over our heads and it loses its true spiritual context in response to survival instincts. Creation is powerful and now the magic is being utilised to hypnotise the masses with advertising.
What inspires you to create art?
Truth and observational , non-institutionalised philosophy. Also, I keep thinking that the idea is to try and balance out the information that gets placed in this world. There are tons of artists, musicians etc. that look at the light side of things, so part of my inspiration is to give alternative thinking a platform and inspire others by doing so.
How would you describe your art?
It’s dark and sometimes disturbing for the most part. The themes work around the darker aspects of humanity that usually get overlooked to save our conscience from destroying our egos. I’m dealing not just with a single topic of concern, but rather looking at the mother plague festering its rotten agendas and materialising in the great divide of humanity from itself and everything we know.
I believe most people in the world are good, but have not been given a fair amount of information to be able to collectively stand up and abolish all injustice or even believe that some of these injustices occur because it’s so far fetched. All we are given are distractions to persuade us that the world we live in is “OK”, but in actual fact we have so much of a disconnection which is brought on by things like TV shows, malls and consumption, from the reality and the injustices we face everyday.
My work speaks about this dark aspect to remind us that it exists, not to wallow in it and feel depressed about it, but to rather be empowered and informed so that we can recognise the killer of humanity and empathy. Without really understanding and recognising the darkness we can not fully move into the light. All of this has nothing to do with me being “right”, I’m just showing the other side of the coin that rarely gets brought up. Popular culture is a distraction from questioning. The other aspect of my work deals with nature being truthful. In aesthetic terms I would say it’s a mix of surrealism and abstraction using a monochromatic palette.
What has been your best memory/experience related to your art?
I think being able to share these messages with the people…
Do you have any formal training/education relating to art or are you self-taught?
I studied graphic design and then animation for film and television. Those were the formal studies, but I also took it upon myself to further my knowledge and taught myself a few things like soundscaping, illustration and painting.
Any plans/changes/exhibitions/projects/anything exciting on the horizon for the near future?
I’ve been very quiet recently, but planning to give the handpoke tattooing a little bit more momentum. Other than that, planning on recording something new with Morning Pages which includes Caitlin Mkhasibe and Frank Lunar (who are both amazing artists as well) in the near future and I guess try to get more folks to know about what I do and especially making contact with folks who dig collecting the kind of work I create. Without the support, the things I create are basically the lost files from an alternate dimension.
What is your favorite medium/art form both to create and view/collect?
I enjoy illustration with ink and pen and I also enjoy making stop motion animations from found objects. I like collecting art from nature – for me nature is a master in art.
Who are some of your favorite artists (local and/or international)?
I would say for me, birds are pretty cool. They are like complex architects in an unforgiving world.
What other interests do you have?
Creating soundscapes, gardening and cooking. All of these actions are alchemical.
What do you do in your spare time to relax and unwind?
Sleeping is good. My mind is so busy a lot of the time so just being awake is a constant analytical puzzle.