Tell us about No Limit 2015. What to expect this year?
Our line-up was fully booked back in October last year, literally less than 30 days after No Limit 2014 ended. This was quite a surprise because last year invites went out and we had to wait. This time, we got replies rather quickly. I think it was because the invites went out right after the success of 2014. We were still heavy in media, including featured in the Huffington Post among many other blogs, websites and news outlets. So we got agreements very fast. We also got agreements from everyone I sent invitations to. Some are artists I invited for 2014 but couldn’t do it due to schedule issues, so this time around we worked it out. Others are friends of mine who I had the pleasure of knowing or working the past or met before and always wanted to include them. So this was a good chance. Curiot is a good example. I met him at Stroke Art in Germany a few years ago. We were both painting there and I remember being totally inspired by his work and his wonderful personality. Now, I decided I wanted to bring him here and have him be part of it. His work ethics and kindness really stuck with me all these years.
Others, for example like Joe Iurato, I had the pleasure of knowing. I actually exhibited with Joe back in Philadelphia years ago and worked with him on a few projects, including the Aquaduct Mural Project in New York last year, so it was nice to be able to work together again after all these years of knowing eachother. As for favorites, they all are. That is why they are coming. I wish I could have more, because my list of artists I wish to decorate our small city is very very long. But we are lucky to do it again this year so I am excited we can bring in new artists again for 2015. Hopefully this will continue in the future.
Will there be anything different from last year?
YES. So we looked at last year and learned a few things. We saw that Issac Cordal for example was very popular. His hidden sculptures around the city was a big hit and people felt it was like a big scavanger hunt to go around searching for them. So, we decided to expand that. So this year we have Joe Iurato with his cutout stencils for example. We will have David Zinn with his wonderful sidewalk chalk art which will be wonderful. We also decided to show the diversity of street-art by inviting Olek and Laurence. Oleks work has been seen around the world, and with Boras having a history in textile, it was a no-brainer. I think the nice bit is that we will have something for everyone.
Any artist you dream about to book?
There are a few. Some I actually had dialogue with but due to scheduling it has been difficult to get to come. Some prepare for exhibits or are committed to other projects at the same time. But to be honest, alot of the artists we had last year and this year I was so happy to get to participate. I have followed some of the work of all of them for a long time. The London Police I remember seeing their work in NY so to have them come here and take part of this project is a huge accomplishment for me. I never thought we can manage that. It is like inviting your sports heros to play with you at your backyard. You don’t really think it will happen so when they accept, it makes me very excited. Even as an artist myself, I still get very inspired and excited by meeting many of these artists for the first time.
Tell us a bit about the response to last year’s event
It was huge success I think. Both on paper and off. First, by the numbers we did very well. We had a great turn out of people. Visitors from all over came to Boras. Including outside of Sweden. Over 12,000 visitors just on the weekend were here. Our guided tours had to be split into two, sometimes 3, tours because we had more than 200, sometimes nearly 300, people show up for the tours on the weekend. The city had a great deal of people out eating, dining, so on paper it was great.
Outside of that was also fantastic. The artists had a great time. In fact, when invitations went out to the 2015 artists, more than one artist have actually said that they have heard great things about our festival and how well organized it was and I think that helped getting people to want to participate. Also, none of the building owners wished to cover the artwork. That was a great success. My biggest worry was that when this is over, if the owners or the residents will be happy. But every mural has been granted to be permited to stay until December 2017. And all the building owners have been very happy so that is great. I said it at the opening party that ”if at the end of the festival, the artists leave happy, the building owners go home happy, and the city of Boras are happy, then I feel like have done our job good”. And now I can say we did.
Was there anything that was not as you had imagined?
Yeh, I think the thing surprised me the most was the range of ages of people. I guess I expected mostly university students to come to the guided tours and events but was very surprised to see people of all ages come out. I think that was a huge surprise and made me very happy. Feels like the entire community gave support.
What can you do better next year?
What do the Borås residents think about the paintings today?
I think it has now become part of the face of the city. People still today even stop to take photos. You look up on instgram under hashtags like #nolimitboras or even just #boras and you can still find people who visit, who come to school here or live here post photos every week. Even now.
What did you get for comments from the street artists?
I think they all left very happy. All were pleased and even had a few ask to come back again soon which is a great sign that we treated them well.
Ok, so what made this event possible?
For one, the hard work of two important people: Stina Hallhagen and Ander Kihl. Without those two, this whole thing would have never been possible. They are the skeleton of the entire thing. I really think that if No Limit had to be defined by peoples names, it would be those two.
But it also was with the help of the entire staff of Borås Borås, the support of the community like building owners taking a first time chance, to restaurants giving food to the artists to hotels giving us places to let them have a good night rest. Most importantly, the support of the community. This is by far the biggest support because I was worried people will raise there fists and try to stop this. It is something new to Boras (and fairly new to Sweden on this scale) but to have everyone praise it, that just encourages us to do a great job in 2015.
How did you work to get all the people, politicians and sponsors onboard?
A magician never reveals his secrets haha. Just kidding. It took a long time. A lot of educating them. We had to show them works of the artists from around the world. Show them what it could do, how it benefits communities and most importantly, make them feel like they are taking part in something historic. Something really special and that they get to be a part of a group that will shift and change this city forever.
Some tips to others who want to launch something similar?
Be patient. I have been sitting on this for nearly 3 years now. Many meetings. Many ”No” answers. Many people telling you it will never happen. But you have to really want it and believe it. Once you convince one person, then you have 2 people who are motivated at convincing people, then you convince 2 more and so on. Be nice and think of it as a longterm project. You have to see it as something benfiting the community long term. You are doing the city a service and big changes like that take years to make. But when you get to make it, it is very very rewarding.
So how many cans were spent?
About 2000 spraycans and more than 700 liters of paint. We originally estimated 900 cans and 500 liters of paint. So almost got it right.
Foto: Anders Kihl.
Top pictire: Isaac Cordal.