Influenced by her early childhood in East Germany, followed by the sudden flood of new technology, neon colours and fantastical toys after German reunification when she was 8, artist Super Future Kid’s work provides an escape into a saturated sensory experience reminiscent of this time. Through a mix of painting, sculpture and installation viewers may venture into surreal new worlds filled with pink skies, cowboys, sweets, stylised flowers and mushrooms. Now living in London, we talk to Super Future Kid about digital culture favourite childhood toys, the adventure of making sculptures and the importance of escapism.
Your paintings are vibrant, surreal oases to submerge yourself in for a joyful moment. During the anxiety and grief of a global pandemic have your fantastical universes been a place to escape for you?
Yes, absolutely. Painting is always like a temporary mental teleport for me. But I also think that it’s like a tool for my mind to figure itself out when I’m trying to capture certain feelings or ideas that are important to me at that time. And, because of that, the works I make feel like a strange reflection of my mind and become some sort of building blocks that makeup and expand my own world, a place into which I definitely like to retreat and escape into.
You have often reflected on the way the sudden influx of bright colours, toys and games after the reunification of Germany left a lasting influence on your art and life. However, do you feel your earlier years in the East also shaped your imagination and creativity?
I’m pretty sure they did. I really enjoyed playing with nature and wild elements, I remember building things made out of sticks, dirt, leaves, water and little rocks. Raw and natural materials really inspired me to play with them. The toys and games we had were also great but kind of basic compared to the weird and wacky stuff that you could get in West Germany. And if you didn’t know about Care Bears, Atari, Smurfs, Ninja Turtles and things like that, then you come up with your own stories and ideas. So, I think that my early years in the East definitely made me use my imagination a lot.
Super Future Kid Metalmagazine 2.jpg
Beginning with digital drawing on Microsoft’s Paint and making collages on Photoshop in your childhood and teenage years, how did you develop your distinctive aesthetic into what it is now? 
I got my first games console (a Commodore 64) when I was 8 and it instantly mesmerised me. Even though those early games were super pixelated it totally felt like entering another universe, quite literally (laughs), one of my favourite early games was He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. So, when I was just in second grade at school, I already wanted to become a video game designer. At least for a while, because it turned out that the basic programming for the C64 was super boring and complicated. It was definitely the visual element that attracted me and made me want to be able to create my own strange worlds.
When we got our first PC, that was the first time that I was able to actually draw and paint on the computer. I was first really into Microsoft Paint where I arduously tried to make realistic drawings and paintings with the mouse. Then soon I discovered Photoshop and I really loved playing around with photo collages. When the iPad came out I was finally able to draw and paint on a screen directly using just my finger or a stylus. My favourite drawing tool had finally been invented!
Since when have you been doing digital artwork?
Since I was 16 or so. Because of that, I feel really at home inside the screen, this is where I like to play with ideas and create my own world. But I have also always had the desire to create something out in the physical world; for me, it’s kinda important that art can be experienced as a real object and not just as a digital file on a computer. My work developed into what it is today by beginning in the digital and then transforming and materialising in the real world.
As nineties video games and cartoons captured your imagination and drew you into creating your own images and dreams, how has recent digital culture influenced your art?
Digital culture is so complex, I use it primarily for entertainment, to communicate and to see what’s going on. And because almost everything exists online, a lot of my knowledge, learning, interests and inspiration emanates from there as well. You can never really get bored from exploring what exists out there but I do miss exploring the real world a lot actually. The Internet just can’t compete with travelling and visiting real places.
Super Future Kid Metalmagazine 13.jpg
What are some of your favourite reactions people have had to your work?
Cheerfulness and joy are definitely some of my favourite reactions. When we had our installation at Spring/Break Art Show in New York last year, for example, it was so fun to see how much people enjoyed being in our space. I worked with Ché Morales and Mindy Solomon Gallery on this and we made this super immersive installation. There was a thick layer of salt covering the entire floor, as well as huge mushroom pillows and a little bridge crossing a stream of pink water. The walls were painted in a sunrise-style gradient and the paintings and sculptures all around it blended in as a part of this tiny planet. A lot of the people who were coming through seemed so elated, some were even dancing or napping on the giant mushrooms. You could tell that they were having a really good time, that was super enjoyable to see.
Complimenting their playful, toy-like appearance your sculptures often incorporate materials such as play-doh and glitter. Are there any materials you are excited to work with in future?
I really like trying new materials, I’m very much into anything from those kids' craft materials that you mentioned, as well as cement and high-end epoxy and urethane compounds and foams. There is so much to learn, how those materials behave, what textures they allow and what possibilities they can give. I think I will always enjoy playing with something that starts out liquid or soft and ends up in some sort of shaped and solid form.
How would you spend your time if you could live inside one of your rainbow-filled paintings for a day?
I’d be flying around all day and have some fun adventures like in a Doraemon or Steven Universe episode, something like that.
Super Future Kid Metalmagazine 9.jpg
You recently collaborated with Migrate Art on face masks to raise money for Refugee Community Kitchen. How was this experience and what does it mean to you to be able to help fundraise and support change through your art?
It was fantastic! Making the mask was a new experience for me and it was a lot of fun. They put a lot of thought into the whole production and process so that it’s very green and sustainable, and they turned out beautiful! I think it’s a brilliant idea to raise funds and support people in need with fun projects like this.
Previous exhibitions have revolved around themes of sugary excess, like in your Spring Break Booth Two for Me, None for You in New York City. And a sense of uncertainty, longing and leisure in Seaweed Sunrise at Over the Influence in Hong Kong. Are there any emotions or themes you are especially excited to explore in future exhibitions?
A lot in my work revolves around a sense of escapism. I think that everyone creates their own reality based on their choices and encounters in life. But we also have the possibility to visit someone else’s reality and maybe even enjoy it and take something from it into our own. That’s kind of what I hope to contribute to my work as well. To offer a place to mentally retreat into, hang out and enjoy, and maybe discover something about yourself in it and bring it back into your own reality.
Your work challenges the exclusive air that fine art can give off. Your installations, especially, provide a rich sensory experience that invites your audience to engage with your world – to relax, daydream or even nap in. Is this an approach to art that is important to you?
I absolutely love to be immersed in other artists installations, Pipilotti Rist and Yayoi Kusama are some of my favourite examples. So, yes, I’m really into art that has an immersive quality, it doesn’t even need to be an installation; paintings or sculptures can also have a similar effect. Any work that allows me to enter a new world or experience it from the inside somehow is very important and enjoyable to me.
Super Future Kid Metalmagazine 3.jpg
Super Future Kid Metalmagazine 5.jpg
Super Future Kid Metalmagazine 6.jpg
Super Future Kid Metalmagazine 10.jpg
Super Future Kid Metalmagazine 14.jpg
Super Future Kid Metalmagazine 7.jpg
Super Future Kid Metalmagazine 11.jpg
Super Future Kid Metalmagazine 18.jpg
Super Future Kid Metalmagazine 19.jpg
Super Future Kid Metalmagazine 8.jpg
Super Future Kid Metalmagazine 1.jpg
Super Future Kid Metalmagazine 17.jpg
Super Future Kid Metalmagazine 4.jpg
Super Future Kid Metalmagazine 16.jpg