Ortaku | Interview

Ortaku is one of the most active stencil artists in Romania.


You have been active as a street artist from the early 2000s. How would you describe your evolution over the past 10 years?

I started with tags and at that time it was important for me to tag everywhere. I cared little about the wall, and was more concerned with avoiding cops and curious people, those who get you in trouble.

Fortunately, tags weren’t my strong point, I realized this and started to do stencils. I liked writing on walls. At first, I used to do stencils as I used to tag.  Many were poorly applied, in inappropriate places. It was my rebellious period, and I didn’t understand much back then.

However, I never could abandon my stencils, they were always a part of me, we grew and got better together. Sometimes it’s nice to look back, at those important moments in my life, to see the evolution of my stencils.


Human figures are a constant element in your works. Why? How do you choose your models?

Indeed, my first and last stencil depicted a portrait. Most of them are portraits.

I draw for myself, for the pleasure of creating and highlighting what I think and see – millions of faces. Apparently, an obsession.

I love watching people everywhere I go. Sometimes I stare without noticing, I look at lips, eyes, and analyze them. I store the face somewhere in my mind and move on.

I recognize a face that caught my attention when I see it again, even though I don’t always remember the occasion, the moment when I first saw it. If I see it for 3 or 4 times, it becomes familiar, but am still confuse and not sure if I know the person or not.


In my sketchbook I also include ironical portraits, I am not very good at them. I look for portraits on the Internet, which I can later use. I end up saving a picture out of 200-300, and when I want to do a stencil I select only 4-5 pictures from a whole album.

Although I used my own photos to create my first stencils, I constantly searched for more expressive images. However, in the last two years, I started using my own pictures again and in the future I plan to stop using photos of photographers.

How do you choose a location for your stencils? 

I pay attention to texture and color, I usually like old walls with fallen pieces of plaster, places that owners do not care about anymore.

I ride my bike and know exactly when I find the right place and try to avoid bringing any damage.


We know you like to travel. What would be 3 differences you observed between Romania and other countries when it comes to street art?

The main difference would be that others have the possibility to express themselves whenever they feel like it. They either have legal walls to write on, or people are just friendly and open-minded, so that you don’t have to worry about the police.

In these circumstances, it’s much easier for artists to evolve, to do more and more complex things, directly on the streets, and people see these works and become familiar with street art. The public interest increases and special spaces for street art start to appear, where artists work together and learn from one another.


What artist/ artists would you like to meet in person?

My interest for art in general is rather limited. There are a few stencil artists whom I appreciate and saw their works. There’s an annual exhibition in Zurich called “Stencil Bastards”, where I want to participate next year. There, I would have the opportunity to work together with artists I like.

What would you like to do, but didn’t had the chance yet?

I want to do a piece on a 10-storey block, still don’t feel ready, but I am sure that moment will come.

Work in Progress

All images © Ortaku

Follow Ortaku on Facebook and view his portfolio.

[Originally posted on August 2, 2013 on The re:art Facebook page; Revised for the current version].