This year, Ballantine’s has teamed up with the enigmatic graffiti artist Felipe Pantone, who has worked with iconic musicians, institutions and festivals, including The Stroke’s Julian, Casablancas, Ushuaia Ibiza Beach Hotel and Life is Beautiful Music Festival.
Featuring his distinctive geometric patterns, vivid colours, holograms and optical art, Felipe has created three inspiring artworks for Ballantine’s which form this year’s True Music Series Limited Edition gift packaging for Ballantine’s Finest and 12 Year Old, sold globally from October.From Moscow to Santiago and Johannesburg, Felipe Pantone and Ballantine’s will create visually stimulating spaces that inspire and foster True Music artists in their quest to produce, perform and play the music they love.
Transforming each space with the artwork from the Limited Editions, Felipe will use sound reactive projections to allow musicians to experience a visual representation of the music.
Q & A WITH GRAFFITI ARTIST FELIPE PANTONE
You’ve recently transformed the popular Moscow music community space Nii with your artwork that features on the Ballantine’s True Music Series limited editions. Tell us how this came about. What made you want to partner with Ballantine’s for the True Music Series?
It was more than just the artwork for the limited editions. Ballantine’s came up with the idea of doing some installations around the world and that’s always appealing to me, especially with projects connected to the music industry. The Ballantine’s True Music series is all about giving artists a platform to share and visualise music which I thought was quite interesting.
Tell us about the creative thinking behind each of the limited-edition designs.
There is a music or a kind-of soundwave element in all of them, and that’s basically what inspired every piece.
That and underground club culture – the recording and production process; the ‘behind the scenes’ of music. They’re clearly a series of artworks but each has its own distinct trademark.
Why do you feel it’s important to support independent musicians and evolving music communities like you’re doing in Moscow with Ballantine’s?
It’s important to draw attention to small independent labels such as Gost Zvuk because it helps the artists and ensures we keep getting to listen to great music. I’ve heard there is a lot of talented musicians coming here (to Moscow) to perform, and I am very excited to see how my mural reacts to their music.
Can you explain how you created the artwork for the True Music Series space at Nii and how it will react with music?
We did this with my Rosendo from Sala25 and he knows way more about how it all works technically! We basically took the artwork I created for the Ballantine’s limited editions and turned it into a mural, mapping it digitally and dividing it into motion reactive layers that react differently depending on the frequencies of music.
Where are you off to next, what’s the next stop for the True Music Series?
From Moscow, we are heading to the Fauna Primavera Festival in Chile and then finishing up with a mobile studio collaboration with Kid Fonque in South Africa; so there’s some exciting things to come.
Ballantine’s is all about staying true. What does it mean to you to ‘Stay True’?
To ‘Stay True’, for me, means that I don’t let anyone change me or my ideas. I believe in my ideas and just go for it, without having to compromise them.
What do you want people to feel when they see your work?
My work is all about dynamism, transformation and also, I guess, impermanence. Those are really important themes in my work. In graffiti, everything is very ephemeral and everchanging, I think it speaks very much to the present moment and time we live in.
Right now, everything is like that. It’s the same with music and the way that works nowadays, with the internet and new technology and the fact that everyone can upload their own music online, everything changes fast.
I like to think that’s something my artwork is responding to; it’s impermanent in the way it reacts depending on whose playing, essentially changing with the flow.
Did you have a chance to explore Moscow when you were there and if so, what did you think?
What sort of music are you into?
I listen to all kinds of music, from electronic to rock to cumbia. All sorts.
Who are your favourite artists, musicians?
Right now, I’m listening a lot to John Maus, Buvette, Bad Bunny, Tom Waits, just to give a few.
When did you start getting involved with street artists, what age where you?
I’ve been doing graffiti since I was 12 and my style just kept evolving from there. I guess now that it’s become abstract, people call it street art.
So, you’re an Argentinian living in Spain but you studied in Leeds. Does your upbringing and background have any influence on your style?
I think it all has an influence on my work. I grew up in Argentina until I was 10 and then moved to Spain and we were always very nomadic because my parents were broke, so I’ve never really felt like I’m from anywhere.
I think the fact that I’m not attached to anything has definitely had some influence on my work, but I never actually change my style from city to city.
Can you tell us why you have chosen to remain anonymous in your work? Do you find it challenging?
I have so many other visual things to offer and my face doesn’t reflect who I am in the same way my work does, so I’d rather it not be considered relevant at all.
You are of course, a creative artist first and foremost, but we know music is important to you. Can you tell us more about your musical links?
I’ve always been surrounded by musicians who are friends. I had a record label for a little while and I try to collaborate with musicians when I have the chance. Music is a really important thing, like any other art – or maybe more important because it is always present. And of course, if affects my work, I always listen to music when I’m working, and I travel specifically to see people perform.
Ballantine’s is a whisky brand that’s all about music – so it was cool to be able to explore a style marked by flowing waves and bits, juxtaposed with my signature elements.
How have you combined your passion for music and art?
I’ve collaborated with musicians through album artwork, festival stage design and music videos. With Ballantine’s, we’ve connected a reactive sound projector to my artwork which will allow artists to see a visual representation of their music.
How would you drink Ballantine’s usually? Do you drink it with a mixer, on the rocks?
I’d usually mix with ginger ale.