TASSO aka Jens Müller was born in 1966 in Eastern Germany. This famous German street artist and founder of the legendary Ma’Claim crew kindly agreed to answer a few questions for StreetArt360.
Hi Jens. Is there a story behind Tasso?
Thats a nice question. For sure there is a story behind. What do you wanna hear about? Childhood, school, graffiti?
Born in 1966, I grew up behind the iron curtain in the DDR (socialist East Germany).
I’ve had a very nice childhood in a small city and in my youth i was freaky and showy.
I was a good student. – I studied and became a skilled worker for meat processing- (which was not the worst decision, cause we didn’t have that much in east Germany)
After the wall fell, I worked as a construction worker- and since 2000 I am a free-lance artist.
I stayed always in my little hometown – because if you travel a lot, you love to come back.
Single, and no children.
where are you originally from?
I was born in Meerane (14.600 citizens), East Germany, Saxony
Where was your first mural? Is it still available to see today?
My first Graffiti was under a Traun Bridge 15min walk from my parents house
In this time i made the style: GESHWAY with a green line and purple Mohawk hairstyle (the hairstyle punks had in this time)
That was 1990/91, after the Berlin wall was falling, i was already 25 years at that time.
The artwork is still there- and it is one of the illegal pictures , which still exist. (i didn’t make that much illegal murals/styles)
When/Why did you start putting your art onto walls?
When in its initial, rebellious naivety, you do not immediately call it art, I began spraying walls in the mid-’80s, in the time of New Wave, Punk and Neue Deutsche We were the proverbial graffiti and the names of my then favorite bands.
Then you saw more and more often in music videos (eg BLONDI, Malcolm McLaren etc ..) these colorful graffiti and TV ran the reportage “Wild Style” and even in the cinemas of the Communist GDR, the movie Beat Street … This was the moment when the need came up to do something like this at times.
But at the time it was unthinkable for me, because a spray can cost one-tenth of a month’s salary and then it was banned by the State Security (Stasi) in 1986/87 and was taken out of public sale, because it could be used so easy to attach political slogans.
I then started the second time after the fall of the Wall, as I said this was around 1990.
Reason: I wanted to catch up on something that had been denied, in my GDR prison as a teenager, because there weren’t any spray cans available.
In fact, it should have been a one-time action. But then the graffiti virus had infected me and until today I am, luckily still not healed.
From this time Graffiti changed my whole life!
Do you paint with spray cans or do you use any other techniques or media?
Let’s say it like this, I almost always prefer the can.
If I take other tools, it has a reason. For example, in the case of the Tompteur-Bilder 2011, where I wanted to achieve a completely different look so I experimented with different materials and techniques around, until I finally came to the mix of glossy lacquered canvases and household sponges and acrylic painted motifs.
My motive usually tells me what it needs.
But with the wolves that I have painted a few years ago in Porto Alegre / Brazil, I was forced to resort to paint (normal wall paint), because there were only 12 cans / colors available for each writer and I, usually need these 12 cans for one eye.
Where do you get your inspiration ?
News, TV, advertising, films
Which of your artworks are you most proud of (And where can we find them)?
It is no single job, but the path I have gone on – with all the mistakes and all the bad pictures has made me better.
Have you collaborated with other artists ? Do you have any artists you would like to collaborate with ?
My first experience in regards to this was in 1991 a 15-year-old writer KIOSK, who, despite 10 years of age difference (well, I was 25 at the time!) was technically and knowledgeable about the scene, well ahead of me.
Very important was my time with my Ma’Claim guys – maclaim.de . The crew was founded around 2000 and the collaboration, goals, thinking, ambition of us four was just a perfect constellation. You could almost compare it with the Beatles.
Today I prefer to paint my own ideas, because it hardly makes sense to integrate another artist in a picture idea, because this means the other artist should have to subordinate unconditionally. But there are certainly exceptions, I would still like to work on a picture, because the cooperation then also guarantees a good result for both sides, such as. BANE from Switzerland or HELP from my hometown.
Is there a dream place worldwide where you would like to create an artwork?
Spontaneously: no. If there would be one, then I would have started already a collab.
Do you have any exhibitions or upcoming art festivals?
I had a big solo show in Zwickau / Germany, which was very successful for me.
I do not need much more during the year, because I can hardly manage to paint new canvases anyway. Actually, every five years is enough.
In May I’ll be in Finland at the Pasila StreetArt Festival and a really big event, the Berlin Mural Festival – berlinmuralfest.de , which I’m especially proud of being part of!!
Thank’s a lot . Would you like to add anything else for Streetart360 readers?
No, there is nothing
Thank’s a lot Jens…
Tasso mural artworks
Tasso painting on canvas
Photos by Tasso