PE: Even though alot of people in the punk scene are familiar with your art can you please introduce yourself ?
Nesha: Hi Flox, first of all thanx for doing this interview with me.I Think people who are familiar with my artwork already know alot about me, cause my artwork transparently show my views of reality and my imagination…but for the record, my name is Nesha (better known as the guy behind Doomsday Graphics), I’m 36 years old, living in Berlin, Germany for almost 2 years now…born in communist Yugoslavia, grown up and lived most of my life in Serbia,the country that was involved in few wars, dictatorship, big economic crisis, international isolation, and brutal transition in recent history, that influenced me a lot as a person and artist. Beside this, things that influence me and I’m interested in,are visual art, especially painted/ draw surrealist art, and people behind it…different subgenres of punk and metal music, individualism, 70s and 80s post-apocalyptic, SF and horror movies and literature…comics…history of 20th century, especially World War II…
PE: It’s been years that I’ve known you now and it’s crazy the amount of work you have done. For how long have you been drawing ? And how did you get involved in art and then into punk art ?
Nesha:I’ve draw my whole life…my first memories are connected with drawing…when I was a kid,different kind of pens and paper was my favorite toys…but that was my thing in those times, I didn’t have vision of me becoming an artist, I grow up in small place, village, nobody from my family was artist or something…first time I was exposed to the world of art was when I entered high school for graphics design…I learned a lot there about technics, history of art, etc. ,and got exposed to work of Hieronymus Bosch, Eduard Munch, M.C. Escher, H.R. Giger between others, but also to the work of my classmates…About more or less same time I got into punk, and later d.i.y movement…I was attracted not just with music and lyrics, but also with covers of the records done by Gee Vaucher, Pushead, Jeff Gaither, Nick Blinko, etc. Also in those times there was a lot of art fanzines going around, like Sivulinen from Finland…first cover artwork I did was a tape cover for my first band Unutrasnji Bunt split with our friends Agitator(also from Serbia). After this my artwork started to be published in fanzines in Serbia and abroad…but that was different time, before domination of internet, the world was still not so small like today…
PE: Knowing you are from Serbia I imagine things don’t have the same reality and chances that people have on the western front. You told me you didn’t do any art school what so ever! What were your techniques to learn on your own ?
Nesha:One can’t choose place of birth, it’s simply like that…but on an another hand everybody should have a right to choose where to live, and to have right to travel, to move freely…this right was taken from me and the rest of the people who live in Serbia. For almost 20 years Serbia was like a prison, we needed visa to travel to most European country’s…and it was a really complicated procedure to get the visa…it was almost impossible…things changed lately…I Think you misunderstood me, I went to art school, and i really learn a lot there…but techniques I use now I learn mostly by myself during the process of drawing. After I finished art high school I wanted to go to art university but I couldn’t get in…that’s also the story of living in Serbia where art universities are considered like some kind of elite schools, so you needed good connections or money to pay to the right person to get in. So I was learning by myself, I was drawing every day, and during the years I was becomming better and better in what I do.
PE:You work alot on the black and white contrasts in some kind of Giger influenced art as some other punk artists such as Fartwork, Ratgrinder, Melvin, people from Pack, Sonia, Mid, etc… How do you work on projects for bands ? And how does the artwork form come together ? Is b/w a deliberate choice ?
Nesha:Yes it’s a choice, I like to work in black and white, this contrast always gives the picture kind of strength that full color pieces don’t have, at least for me. But also, somehow it was a set of circumstances, cause I draw a lot for fanzines in 90’s and they were always copied black and white so there was no point to make color illustrations, also if you do black on white you just need black pen and piece of paper, which is more practical and cheaper than to have all colors brushes etc.. Sometimes I also use colors in my drawings, and recently I did some color paintings also…cause I came to the point that I can’t visualize all I want just with black and white. When I work with bands, we first discus the ideas for the artwork, than I make a detailed sketch and if people from the band like it,I start with drawing an original artwork…usually it’s simple like that.
PE:Even though this is the art section of the zine can you talk to us a little bit of how it was growing up in Serbia in the middle of your teen years in the middle of the war ? How things have changed over the years there and how the situation is now ? Do you think this has affected your work and inspiration of creating a band as well ? As you were telling me that the situation living now in Germany leaves you a bit speachless as to lyrics because of the different atmosphere and politics here or am I wrong ?
Nesha:Huh, it’s not really easy for me to explain it, especially not in a few sentences and in english…but for sure the 90s in Serbia was not the best place to grow up, sure not the worst also…Serbia was involved in all conflicts on the ex-Yugoslavian territory, from ’91 and war in Croatia, to war in Bosnia, and war in Kosovo that ended up with NATO bombing Serbia in ’99. So how it was…living in fear, living in poverty, being contra regime in a country in war…avoiding going to army that was obligatory at that time…being anti nazi in country with Nazis in power…was scary sometimes, like walking around with the target on your back…but fuck it, it’s only one life I have, I also had a lot of fun in those dark times…in 2000. government changed violently, and lot of people were thinking that after this change better days are coming… of course that’s not what happened…local war profiteers and foreign companies were buying this destroyed country for cheap…all that what people build by their own hands after the second world war, was first destroyed and then sold for nothing…the new government was providing all this…same people that promised fairytale democracy when they needed help to come on power…so people were pissed, angry, more poor than before and still isolated, also nationalist hatred from past wars were never publicly discussed or recognized like bad thing…and that was a perfect ground for Nazis and the church to spread their sickness. The Situation now is maybe even worse than before 10 years….Of course all this affected my work and inspired me to create a band….when we started with Nakot, beside that I wanted to play fast and loud music, I wanted to talk/sing about things that happened and still are going on in the country I lived, and even more because nobody was actually talking about this, even in punk scene. In Germany the things are on a different level, oppression same as resistance are much more layered and better organized than in Serbia.
PE: Is the fact of moving to Berlin a choice because you don’t see a future in your own country, when you see that you have much more access to things here ? Has living in Köpi been inspiring for you as well to see and meet all these international bands, people and activism here ?
Nesha:You can say it’s a choice I made when I finally had an opportunity to choose (in December of 2009. EU finally cancels the visa-obligation for Serbian citizens). I lived all my life in one country, so I wanted to travel, to see and to experience something different. I wanted to see shows I don’t organize myself or play on them, I was tired of being responsible for this and that, for being always in the first row, trying to create something over the years there, but always ending up in the beginning…watching my friends leaving the country, or getting fucked up on drugs, or just disappearing. I was sick and tired of watching my back every time I leave the house, just because the way I look… I wanted to move from all this. At the same time I got together with Marina, and she was living in Berlin, so I decided to move here …and definitely I’m impressed to see all this places, not just Koepi, but lot of other houses and projects I saw in the last two years…places that exist for 20 years or more, something like “institutions” of the scene, we miss places like this in Serbia.
PE: As for the record you used to play in NAKOT which has some releases people can find. But how is the punk scene in Serbia and which bands would you recommend to people. What is going on in the punk scene there nowadays ? Politically you were telling me how crazy people were intolerant with the gay pride marches and the rise of more right wing and extreme right wing reactions over there. How do you feel about this ?
Nesha:Yes I was singing in Nakot, and we have few releases:
Nakot/Dyspnea split 7″
Nakot/Dazd split 7″
Nakot “Pod NATO bombama i represijom nacije” CD and Tape
“Grombiera & Paprika” 4 way split LP
with Murder Disco X, Nulla Osta and Corrosive.
I think most of this releases are still available and easy to find. Today scene in Serbia? Well some bands that were important in the last years are not so active any more like Dazd, or stopped to play like Nakot. But there are also some good new bands like Dishumanity from Kragujevac, or Katma and New Mortal Gods from Belgrade and Otvoreni Prelom from Senta. Less foreign bands are touring Serbia then before a few years, so there are less shows. Some active people moved out from the country, or just stopped doing things, and there is not much new, young, active people. On the contrary Nazis are getting bigger. They are supported by church and secret police and of course used to do the dirty jobs for them. Gay Pride march was always a big topic in Serbia. First march was organized in Belgrade in the year 2001, and a few people which had the courage to go out on the street demanding their rights, got brutally beaten up by hundreds of Nazis and football hooligans lead by a priest. 10 years later the situation is not much better, few weeks ago police forbid Gay Pride 2011, claiming that they can’t guaranty safety to the participants of the Pride Parade. That was the result of negative campaign that was going on for weeks, made from church, most of the political parties and nazi organizations. Few days after they forbid the Gay Pride march, one girl got stabbed on the street of Belgrade from a underage kid, just because she had t-shirt with the colors of Gay Pride flag. Sadly that was not a big story because it became common to hear stories like this. How I feel about it, same like when I lived there – angry and frustrated.
PE: Which artists inspire you outside and inside the punk mouvement past and present ? Are there things you have never tried that you would like to work at ?
Nesha:All artists who put a lot of effort and meaning in their work, and there is a lot of them. I hate to make a top list, but some of my favorite artists are Zdislaw Beksinski, HR Giger, Frank Frazetta, Ed Repka, Vania Zouravliov…And from the punk scene: Pushead and Gee Vaucher were the first I got into… I like a lot the work of Sugi, Septic art(my friend from Serbia), John Baizley, Florian Bertmer, Daniel Shaw, Adam O(from Copenhagen, who recently put out a really good comic book “Ruiner”)…
Yes, I would like to experiment with screen printing, printing my stuff with different colors and on different type of paper, and I would like to try air-brush and some other techniques.
PE: You’ve had a first book of your art that came out years ago! Since then it’s been sold out for sometime, are you considering working on a new one, since you have done tons of work since the previous one ? Your art has also progressed over time. What are your own 5 favorite works til now ?
Nesha:The book came out in 2005, and it was published by my friend Oui Oui( Louarn Konnaret Releases). I met him last summer and he had with him the last 10 copy’s from the book,which he found at his mother place. Maybe it is still possible to get this book trough some distros, 700 copies were printed, and that’s not too much. Before a year or two,Irena from Active Rebellion came with this idea to release a split book with Steve’s (VoW) and my artwork, but to this day nothing really came out of it. I still hope that this could work, cause like you said the old book is sold out and I did a lot of new artwork in the meantime, and it would be great to split the book with Steve, he is a cool guy and his artwork marked European crust. I like all the artwork I did, some pieces looked better to me at the moment I made them, then after few years of distance, but I think that’s normal. Again I love all pieces I made and I can’t name my favorite 5, I could name 5 favorite bands I worked with, but maybe that wouldn’t be polite to the others.
PE: It’s nice to see also your artwork etched by acid on metal plates by your wife Marina ( AC/D Witch ). How does that work, and is this something you two would like to develop since it’s quite original ?
Nesha:Marina’s metal work is really special and unique. I’m a fan from the first time I see it, and I’m really happy to see my art etched in metal by her. It’s like some kind of artifact you know, something durable, one day ink on paper will fade away, and paper will dissolve but metal will stay. It is also one higher level in our relationship, to produce something together, that’s really something special. Recently she started to make jewelry, and I did series of drawings specially to be etched on these jewelry pieces. You can check Marina’s(Acid Witch Produxions) stuff at http://www.acidwitchproduxions.de/
PE: You’ve also practiced a bit of tatooing! Is that something you would like to develop as well ? I feel it’s a great continuation / extension of your art and are tatoo artists also an inspiration to you ? When will we see the DOOMSDAY tatoo shop in Berlin ?
Nesha:Ha,ha…I’m not sure about Doomsday tattoo shop, but yes I would like to develop my tattooing skills…I didn’t do much tattoo’s in my life and I’m not sure if I could totally commit myself to it, which is necessary if I want to be good at it. At the moment I have some equipment and I urge to do it, and we will see where this will lead me.
PE: Ok so I’d like to thank you for your time answering these questions, do you have any closing comments and what are the upcoming projects for you ? Any bands you would like to work with in the future ?
Nesha:Thank you for doing this interview Flox! We will see what future brings, sure there is a few bands I would like to work with, not just one…also soon some good records will be out I did the artwork for, and hopefully I will present that artwork on my new website.