This Is Opium
Alex Simopoulos (aka Thisisopium) is a multi-disciplinary artist from Greece, currently based in London. His works span across both indoor and outdoor spaces, using a wide variety of mediums. His main interest is creating public murals. He has been on the forefront of the Greek urban art scene and through the years he has collaborated in various projects with artists from every background, exhibited solo in Athens and London and in group shows in the UK, Mexico and Spain and has left his mark in various countries among the world, from Spain and Germany, to Greece and India. His work in the public space is based on a visual language full of spiritual symbolism, using nature and our detachment from it as a key-point to discuss consciousness and the human condition with references that range from primitivism to surrealism. His work has been featured in numerous publications and belongs in private and public collections in Greece and abroad.
Graffiti tags often have a hidden meaning. How did you come up with alias name? Where does your alias the name originate?
Some years ago thought opium is opium, football and religion are the opium of the masses and painting is my opium.
Who are your biggest artistic influences? Who inspired you to become a street artist?
My bigger influences are not really other artists but I really like symbols so I ended up admiring drawings and paintings depicting alchemy and mysticism symbols as well as eastern religious paintings (Hindu,Buddhist etc.). I don’t really know about who or what inspired me. The streets seemed open to anyone that’s what I enjoyed.
Did you want to become something else and draw as a secondary job?
I wanted to travel.
You seem to create magnificent pieces of art in unexpected places. Do you intend to catch people by surprise?
Have you ever been collaborated with other famous artists before?
With cacao rocks hahah.
Have you ever been jealous of any other street artist? If yes, who?
Of all that get to travel a lot.
What do you think of Athens, during crisis?
I think of people living in the street, fascists rising and politicians eating with golden forks in a big surreal theatre play.
Do you enjoy seeing your work in a gallery?
Depends. Gallery shows can be as fun and playful as the street sometime. Other times they can be dull.
As you are getting older, does your aspect of street life change?
I am feeling cold painting in the winter.
It seems that death is a subject that preoccupies you. How come?
It preoccupies every one of us. Its the transcendence onto another state of consciousness and existence but we know nothing of the aftermath.
How do you describe the current artistic trend in Europe?
I don’t really know if there is a trend. The internet maybe.
Where does your inspiration come from and could you describe for us your typical ‘start to finish’ work flow?
I start with an idea and I try to visualise it. I use symbols often.
How do you advance from the initial idea until you develop this final piece?
Freestyle mostly. Symbols help.
What do you especially like about being and artist and what do you find most challenging?
I can daydream. But I constantly question myself.
Do you have a precise forecast for European Art Scene?
Do you consider yourself as an artist? If not how you describe yourself?
Everyone is an artist. I like to continue playing.
What is it about street art that you like so much?
Its open to everyone and you get messy.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how and when you got started in making street art?
I painted graffiti at school then I stopped at a time but started drawing again because I was watching great illustrations at skateboard magazines and I thought I should start painting images on the streets.
What motivates you to go out and put art on the streets?
A beer, a friend, a spot, tension it can be anything.
How often do you put your art on street?
There is no schedule.
Do you have any idea how many works have you done on the streets, so far?
What are you trying to achieve with your art?
Have fun, disturb the perception of my reality and of others reality.
Where the inspiration for your characters comes from?
From saddhus, from god-like figures, from people in altered states of consciousness. I like characters that present a form of positive tension.
Do you choose where to put your pieces in advance or do you improvise?
Where is your favourite town and neighborhood to show your work?
My favourite place I think was India there was a lot of interaction and virgin spots. Athens is surreal as well.
What do you think about street art inside a gallery?
Its not street art any more if its in a gallery.
Do you have a day job? Do you like to support yourself just with your art?
At the time not really. I would like to.
Why have you chosen to do street art?
I am still asking.
Is there a message or story you would like to tell through your art? If so, what is it?
Its good to experiment with our perception sometimes.
How long have you been active? How did it all start?
Maybe its 6-7 years now that I got back to paint on the street.
What makes you to put all the effort on street art?
What do you think about high prices in art?
I am in favour of someone who tries to make a living by selling his/her art but when it comes to millions or hundreds of thousands of Euros I think its not art any more. Its just a stock market.
What do you believe about the impact of the street art to the public?
Art does not help people. People help people.
Any turning points in your life, which give you the greatest impact?
On a scale 0 to 100, how would you weight the importance of art to your life?
90. Art is not just painting. It disguises itself in various fields of our everyday life.
You want to add something?