Andrea, or Btoy, opens the door and as I explain who I am, she explains how she had completely forgotten about me. But we decide that I will come back in an hour and she will be ready for me.
An hour later I walk into her home and studio, which truly looks like artist's nest. But which also is empty. Andrea calls me and asks me to come out to the local square.
Btoy is a street artist and her work is spread over walls, floors, buildings and other public spaces.
Since your work is not like the typical graffiti, how did your personal style in painting develop?
About then years ago I started painting in the streets of Raval, and the people had started to paint not only the typical motives but also a lot of characters. There was a lot of crazy graffiti everywhere. I started to paint geishas and then eventually also flappers. I paint in the spirit of the moment.
What is your main source of inspiration?
I paint from the history of the woman. The flappers were the first transsexual women and I get a lot of inspiration from them but also from the high society ladies that drank a lot, had corsets and had a lot of sex appeal. I get most of my inspiration from history, for example the big depression in the 1920's, and all the historical things that change the way of life for the woman.
Where does your name BTOY come from?
Toy is slang in graffiti and it means an inexperienced or incompetent writer. When I started in the street art, I was really lost and didn't know what I was doing. I was studding law at the time but then my personal life changed and I started to draw. But after a while I found my own style and myself and I guess I wanted to remember that time, that is where the name come from.
The buzzes from children and the busy surroundings are increasing and when I move on to next questions, the tension increases as well. I ask about the best and the worst thing about street art and Andrea's face takes a defensive look. Clearly expressing she doesn't want to talk about it, an odd silence descends.
- Graffiti and street art are a lifestyle, it is difficult to express your opinions about it, everything is so complicated.
Do you think, when graffiti first started in the 1970s, that the reaction of the government towards the graffiti was condescending because of their attitude towards the street artists?
It is about expression and it has always been. There will always be people who tell you do's and don't's and tell you what is acceptable and what is not. They prefer it all clean and that is the way to play. Nowadays people with a lot of money also make graffiti but it is still forbidden. I don't know the answer to this question.
Why do you think it is so hard to find restrictions for street art and to acknowledge it as a right of freedom of expression?
It is not about how the government and the politicians are thinking, it is about the nature of the human. We stick to how things always have been.
I remember maybe six years ago, Barcelona was completely dangerous to paint in, but if you went to MACBA, every one took pictures of their graffiti and made books you could buy. The government tries to find mediums for the graffiti to be legal, but the actual painting is still forbidden. You can paint and take a photo of it, and the photo is the medium to expose the art. That is a good way to earn money, but at the same time can the art be used in ways the graph writers don't desire.
What would be an ideal law involving street art, as a compromise between the government and the artists?
Graffiti is not going to be considered as real art, not in Spain at least, and therefore the government doesn't give a shit about finding rules to make it easier to paint. There is a famous old painter called Antonio Lopez Garcia, and even his work get's questioned even though he makes real paintings and nothing illegal, so they will never care for the graph writers. So I don't know about a compromise, it is something I never even thought of.
How do you feel that you, as an artist, can influence the debate to go the right direction?
Now I regard graffiti and the street art as a big oligram and it is a very big chaos. Art Tvs, vandalism, digital art, new media and the classic drawing. The idea is to make art, and the idea in my head is very clear. I don't think there is any special way to change how the situation is, just to keep on painting.
How do you think street art will develop in Barcelona? Or even in the whole world?
It is going to be like a tree, with a lot of branches. Some people will paint for fun, some for money, some work will be political and some not. I don't think the tree will come together; it will only develop to growing more branches.
What do you want to achieve with your work?
To be free with my life and my art, it is very simple. And to make enough money so I can survive in the city. I try to stay peaceful but it is impossible, there is too much going on!
BTOY put a spell on you with her magic figures