Doing it Rouge - Ola Kalnins

Wolf caught up with Malmö based artist Ola Kalnis to talk street art, what’s in store for the future and the adventure of travelling to the US to continue his success. We caught up with Ola in his inner Malmo apartment, convenient situated two blocks away from his large open studio that looks onto the passing world on a quintessential Malmö cobblestoned street.

Things have come along way for Ola, starting of as a creative youth in a rigid Swedish society to exhibiting massive spray-painted canvas pieces stretching over 5 x 2 meters in international galleries. Recently travelling throughout South America and now using San Francisco as a base, Ola has been living the dream. Three successful exhibitions in Los Angeles has meant that he can continue to explore and do what he loves most, using the profits from selling his pieces to fund travels throughout the region, and allowing him spread his work out and really make a mark on the American street art scene.

Excited about the new prospect that print pieces offer to his growing audience, Ola took us through the portfolio that will accompany him on his upcoming trip to the US. “The trip is a great way to meet people, talk about my art and show more pieces” Ola explains, “and if I sell some pieces too, then that is even better!” His portfolio looks diverse, colourful, and on point for the current in-vogue love for all things ‘street art. Working with a photographer to get greatly detailed prints of massive canvas pieces allows for conveniently sized folio content, but also allows him to showcase his work in more diverse settings due to the flexibility that the size of the prints provide.

“You could just approach people about doing a piece on their wall, and they were so happy to have you there, bringing food and sitting out on the street watching you work, it was amazing” 

It is in fact Olas person-ability that has lead to collaborations with both the Diesel and Adidas in Stockholm. Being out and talking about his art has really paid off in the past, “I just met this woman at a party and she said that she had seen my stuff and if I wanted to do some pieces for their office and store at Diesel,” Ola says, “and it was there doing that job that I met the people from Adidas, so yeah its all about talking to people!”

Be it networking or traveling for enjoyment, Ola has been to some interesting places, Buenos Aires being a particular favorite of his, and the people there, being a particular highlight. “You could just approach people about doing a piece on their wall, and they were so happy to have you there, bringing food and sitting out on the street watching you work, it was amazing” Ola remembers.

Quite different to the sort of environment that Sweden provides for street art; with surveillance high and attitudes negative, however it is unique time for art at the moment, in that street artists are today in the position to take their art to the height of the art world, leaving their aliases behind for a while in order to gain some credit where credit is due.

Ola’s success throughout his American travels confirms that the love for street art is here to stay and not just a popular passing fad. The attention from the art world on this rogue form of expression signifies a departure from the traditional, stiff appreciations of art, and welcomes in a new era of self-expression and creativity.

Needless to say, Wolf is pretty excited to see more in the future! 




Words: Ash Francisco

Photography: Karim Helgstrand Nour