The Peak chats with Lithuanian-born street artist Ernest Zacharevic about his designs for Johnnie Walker’s limited edition Blue Label bottle, his thoughts on Penang and art, and his favourite way to enjoy a bottle of whisky.
From public spaces to exclusive Blue Label bottles, tell us what was going through your head that made you decide to say yes to this collaboration with Johnnie Walker?
I never try to limit myself to a particular medium or type or work; I love the challenge of stepping out of my own box and having the opportunity to engage with other industries is always exciting.
How would you describe the design process for this project?
Applying art to such an established brand takes more than just one artist, plus it’s been great learning to work with a team to come up with a final product.
What are your favourite details about the final bottle design, and why?
At first glance, the image appears quite traditional but there are subtle details throughout which are quite playful as it references graffiti culture. I enjoy the idea of juxtaposing two styles to create something new.
Having lived in Penang for some time, what is it about this place that you enjoy the most? And how has Penang changed since you first arrived?
I like that it has a vibrant and engaging community. I have made a lot of friends in Penang who continue to motivate and inspire me to pursue my ambitions. Armenian Street is a little bit different now than when I first arrived 🙂 but there is also a lot more art than ever. My hope is that this continues as time goes on.
In your opinion,what’s the best way to enjoy a bottle of Blue Label?
From Van Gogh to Picasso, a lot of painters have created fantastic works of art while under the influence. Have you ever attempted this yourself? And what was the result?
I have tried, but I don’t think it works for me as it did for Picasso. Usually I just end up going back to my work in terror the next day.
If you could have a drink with anyone (dead or alive, artist or otherwise) anywhere in the world, who would it be and why?
Bill Murray…because who else are you going to call?
What’s next for you? Any other similar projects lined-up for 2017?
I’m currently in the middle of curating a project in Indonesia called Splash and Burn, which is a public art project that involves inviting international artists to create art and interventions within the urban landscape.
If you could choose anywhere in the world to mark with your art, where would it be and why?
Currently it’s Indonesia, but every place I can think of I will actively start pursuing. At the moment, it’s exploring the contrast between the urban areas and the surrounding natural landscape. Once I’m done with this, I’ll start thinking of the next one.
What motivates you to keep doing what you do?
The excitement of that next big project and being able to constantly learn new things while improving the practice of your work.
If you could travel back in time to meet with your younger self, what would you tell him to prepare for all this?
I’ve made many mistakes throughout my life, but to change any of them would undo who I am now.
What’s the best piece of advice that you have for someone who aspires to do what you do?
Pursuing a career in art requires a lot of self-motivation. There are a lot of ups and down, but what’s important is to persevere and carry on.
For more information, visit johnniewalker.com