NYCHOS: Street Art Anatomy 101

“My interest in anatomy made it really easy for me
to jump into painting skeletons and guts.”

[dropcap size=dropcap]M[/dropcap]any moons ago a young boy in the Austrian town of Styria grew up within a family of avid hunters. While he didn’t take to the killing of wild beasts, he did become somewhat intrigued by their anatomical beauty.

Nychos. Courtesy of Sal Rodriguez.
Nychos. Courtesy of Sal Rodriguez.

The intricate networks of tissues, the colors, the skeletal structures and the textures produced a greater respect for life and and a fascination that would lead to creative inspiration. He used those images and experiences as the basis for developing an artisitic style that has become renowned the world over.

While his real identity may be hard to come by, his chosen name – NYCHOS – is one spoken in creative circles throughout the globe. He’s become a master muralist, with a style that is unmistakenly recognized. Stumbling across his work, as I did recently on the streets of San Francisco, is a treat to behold and something one can’t help but photograph and share with others. He now heads up his own gallery and artist agency in Vienna, called Rabbit Eye Movement, through which he and his team are also working on a new documentary film about his work around the world and life within the street art movement.

NYCHOS has come a long way since those hunting days of his youth. From Sao Paulo to Singapore, Detroit to San Francisco, and Vienna to Paris, his work continues to be enjoyed, respected and admired by legions of fans and critics.

It was with great pleasure that I recently posed these questions to this master practitioner of the street art mural:

My favorite street artists are those whose work you recognize the instant you see it. ROA, Mr Thoms, JR and Pixel Pancho are perfect examples. You fall into that category. Can you explain for me how your particular style of dissected/cross sectioned human and animal figures came to be?

I was raised in a traditional Viennese hunting family, so the anatomy was something that I always had in my head. The first several years of my art and graffiti career I was painting all of these characters and bones, lots of skulls and tentacles, and eventually it came to me to dissect the characters I was inventing. My interest in anatomy made it really easy for me to jump into painting skeletons and guts. Once I started doing it, it stuck, and it’s given me a really powerful concept that I use to push my techniques and ideas.

Nychos offers his take on TMNT. Paris, 2013
Nychos offers his take on TMNT. Paris, 2014.

Your creative talent is eclectic and you express it in multiple mediums. Why choose street art as your primary outlet?

I was drawing a lot when I was younger, lots of comic work and sketching. I never got into color until one day I just got ahold of spray cans. I worked out that it’s a lot of fun to paint with spray and that’s actually how I learned how to paint. It also got me back to the acrylic again. There was so much more to spray painting than other mediums. There’s something so fascinating about painting outside on walls. I love it.

Why NYCHOS? What’s the origin of your chosen name?

It comes from the word “Deinonychus” which means “terrible claw”–it’s a raptor race. The name started defining me and my work really early on, and it makes sense if you think about the whole dissection thing now. I’ve been writing “Nychos” for abut 15 years now it really makes sense with my style and concept.

I was born and raised in Detroit, where a friend of mine introduced me to your work. You seem to have a strong connection to Detroit. Why is that and what attracted you to the city?

Detroit is a crazy place and I like crazy places. I like that there’s a place where I feel like normal Americans are kind of afraid of it. Many people avoid Detroit and rather stay outside of it. But I only met really nice people there. It’s like a huge playground for graffiti or street art. I think it is very interesting to Detroiters seeing the stuff my crew and I have done there. Doing art in Detroit is not really about making money, but it’s just fun to go and find places and explore and see crazy things from the past which are just left alone now.

Nychos in Detroit. Photo: Sal Rodriguez.
Nychos in Detroit. Photo: Sal Rodriguez.

You are the founder of an artist agency called Rabbit Eye Movement. What is it, what is its mission, and why did you start it?

Rabbit Eye Movement was founded as a concept back in 2005 or so, which is a difficult story to tell, but we’re planning a book to tell it all. Basically it defines the way I approach my artwork and links me to all the other artists who are chasing their own missions out there. A few years ago I was actually able to create a company based on this idea, which is my art space in Vienna. The REM Art space is a gallery, illustration agency and a cafe, but it focuses on linking artists together and working as a platform for their art. I really want to make an impact on the way Vienna sees art. It will be big!

You and the Red Eye Movement team are working on a street art documentary called The Deepest Depths of the Burrow. What can you tell me about it and when will the public be able to see it?

The Deepest Depths of the Burrow is a documentary we filmed over the past year, and it follows me around through a huge number of different cities painting, having art shows, visiting other artists, and doing interviews. It’s meant to show what’s possible in a year when you live in this world, and to tell a story about graffiti around the world and the movement of artists who are telling their own stories on the streets. There’s a lot of amazing footage from Detroit for example that I think is important for people to see, and it lets you get behind the scenes of the street art world a little bit. We are shooting to be done hopefully by the end of the year or early 2015.

The Ghetto Bird. London, 2012.
The Ghetto Bird. London, 2012.

Other than street art, what excites you? Any other interests?

Heavy metal and anatomy. And cheese!

Tell me something about you that I can’t find on Google.

There’s a reason you can’t find certain things on Google, haha!

What other street artists grab your attention? Anybody in particular that you really enjoy? Feel free to offer as many as you’d like.

Not all of them are street artists, but for example, Tristan Eaton. I love his stuff. There’s also The Yok, Lauren YS, Alex Pardee, Flying Fortress, HRVB, Aryz, Rookie, DXTR, Look, CONE, Vidam, Two One, my whole crew, they’re all maniacs!

Any upcoming events?

I have solo shows in Paris and in Zurich next year. I’ve always got tons of stuff going on. Keep watch!

This mural commemorates 15 years of Nychos street art. Sao Paulo, 2014.
This mural commemorates 15 years of Nychos street art. Sao Paulo, 2014.

What are you looking for?