Interview: icy & sot

Icy and Sot are stencil artists from Tabriz, Iran. the two brothers started painting the streets as early as 2006, and they influenced and dragged their friends to street art. Their work is about peace, war, love, ahte, hope, despair, children, human rights, and the Iranian culture. The two artists have held numerous exhibitions and unofficial street work in Iran and foreign countries.

The two brothers were nice enough to answer a few questions.

Hi Guys, tell us a little about yourselves? Where you come from? And when did you start doing art?
We are brothers, born and raised in Tabriz-IRAN, and now live in New York.
It was in 2006 when we started making small stencils and stickers and put them around the town, mostly our skateboarding spots and gathering places.

How is life as an artist in Iran?
As a street artist, it is hard. Street art has a long way to go before it becomes part of our culture and to people realize what it really is.
Also the risk level of it is high, because if you get caught, you have no idea what’s going to happen to you as they charge you with crime and do what ever they want.

I understand that in some countries, being an artist is not always easy, where there is little support, if any, from family and friends. How was it for you starting up?
In the beginning, being brothers helped a lot because we supported each other and then came our friends and parents.  Now I guess there are more people who respect it.

Do you have a formal arts education?
(SOT): I went to art school, but instead of university I went to military service to be able to get a passport and travel and work. 
(ICY):  I was studying to be a civil engineer in university and I dropped out and we both went to military service to passed that goddam period of time.

Graffiti is considered vandalism, how was it for you to go out and paints walls in the street in your hometown? Did you have some problems with the law?
There is no law in Iran we have to put our pieces as quick as we can and that’s why we chose stencil because it is so fast.

I understand that you had shows in the US without any of you present? Could you tell us more about that?
Yes we have had shows outside of Iran but didn’t have chance to be present as we mentioned in the question above. in Iran if a man wants to go out of country he has to serve one and half years of military service and our goal was travel and work in different countries.

Was it hard to leave Iran?
Yes and no.

Do you miss family and friends back home?
Of course but internet makes it much easier.

What have you been up these past couple of months?
we were on a US tour for a month, we had shows in San Fransisco, Los Angeles, Houston and Chicago and of course  we did plenty of out door pieces.
Now we are working on different project group shows and painting new stuff.

What’s the best advice you ever had about how to be more creative?
“seeing things not watching them.”

What’s your favorite thing you’ve ever created?

Are there any artists who particularly inspire you?
At the time we decided to go professional, the first artists that we knew who influenced our works were, Banksy, Dolk, Mcity. Also seeing so many artists that are active, gave us a lot of energy to work hard.

Do you have a message in your art?
Yes, different messages like society issues, human rights, love, hate, hope and despair, but they all are universal.

What was your most memorable experience? Have you collaborated with other street artists?
It was with our friends FRZ, MAD and ill in Tabriz, we found and old factory in the middle of city and we jump off the fence and got in, it was 5 am while there was 10 inch snow and it was freezing, we worked all day inside, it was the best.
here is the video :

How do you feel about the role of the Internet in all of this?
The internet is playing a very important role as street art is for public and the internet is making it more public and international. Even in the streets it may get buffed but at the same time people are sharing the picture online.

What are your plans for the future, both work wise and life?
Our next plan is a Europe tour, but also there is plenty of projects that we are involved in the United State and Europe.

Cool!! Good luck guys from SAUS and keep us updated on any future projects.


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