Mysteries of youth, spirituality and the occult are all themes in Super Future Kid’s symbology, and her comfortable spelunking of hypernatural realms is vivifying. The following transmission proves she is a friendly visitor from another dimension, hence the name. Electric pink sugar runs through her veins, and she’s often trailed by a glittery mist. During a recent touchdown in Tokyo, she spared a few milliseconds to share the secrets of her space craft. We spoke via hologram and the artist appeared as what can only be described as a sparkling beam of luminescent jellyfish light.
Kristin Farr: Is Super Future Kid your real name?
Super Future Kid: My real name exists in a parallel world and belongs to a lady making watercolors of flowers. I wanted to choose my own name, and I’ve been using it for seven years now. It will still be with me at age 95... or maybe then it’s Kid Granny!
What are your super powers?
To be incredibly childish and yet able to do all the grown up stuff.
Tell me about your childhood and how it affected the art you make now.
I was born in East Germany and spent the first eight years of my life not knowing that there was a universe of colors, toys and all kinds of fun things waiting for me on the other side of the Wall. I had a great childhood but it got a massive upgrade after November ’89! I’m not sure if it was this sudden culture shock of pop, consumerism and neon that made me who I am, but it definitely left a very strong impression and a desire for bright colors and toys that hasn’t faded a bit since then.
What’s your favorite candy?
All flavors of Starburst and veggie-shaped marzipan. Since I live in my studio, I eat between painting all the time. If a painting goes well, I spend hours on end with no breaks, and if I’m struggling, I take breaks every 20 minutes and distract myself with snacks.
Where do you stay and what is the future like?
I stay in a cloaked ship in orbit, but I also live in a converted warehouse unit in N15 London. It’s a fantastic space if you are a painter who has near zero living standards. For example, our fridge broke about five years ago, but we realized that you can actually live without one. The bathroom is tiny, and all of the fairly little space we have is devoted to storing materials, paintings and making work.
And the future looks great—replicators, hypo-sprays, matter-energy transport and space travel—who wouldn’t like that?
Is it you that makes your paintings, or an unseen force that moves your hand?
I often wonder that myself. Sometimes it does feel like I’ve been programmed and there is some sort of stream in my head with all the work that is yet to be made slowly piling up. I really don’t mind this feeling, though, as it gives me drive and a sense of purpose.
What’s on top of the idea pile right now?
A painting of a person in acid green high heels strolling on a beach while eating a slice of pizza; some other ideas involve a mankini, melting ice cream, a fried egg, bushy pubes and blowing a dandelion—basically all the things you need to have a good time.
Who are the people in your paintings?
They are often a reflection of my personality, like an involuntary self-portrait—people that are like an alternate me or that reflect fractions of what makes me myself. Sometimes I think that painting is like digging, where the brush is the spade, and by shoveling around on my canvas, I find pieces that explain who I am, bit by bit. It’s me trying to make sense of who I am by creating all these characters.
Is there something significant you’ve learned about yourself that you can share?
Yes, that reality is a bitch. I can be who I want and do what I want in the painted life, but as soon as I leave the studio, I become this awkward person who doesn’t really know how to walk and talk. That sucks, but it also pushes me to change into someone who does. At least I try.
What kind of paintings are you working on lately?
At the moment, I have three that I work on in rotation. They all have some kind of easy, soft, party vibe about them, a bit like chilling at a rave.
Do your figures have names? Or nicknames you give while working on them?
I often do give them pretty dull and mostly unimaginative nicknames before they have a proper title. One of the last paintings I made I used to call the potato, or kartoffel in German, because that’s what it reminded me of.
Are there colors or elements in your paintings that you just can’t quit?
Yes: horses, cowboys, mustaches, pastel-rainbow colours, vapor and Mr. Potato Head’s body parts.
Why do you think these things are an inevitable part of your personal visual culture?
I was so hooked on cartoons and toys as a kid and I still am—to a much higher degree than I probably should be. I guess it’s the blur of very bright colors and neons in pop culture, and those ubiquitous images of unrealistic and über-positive ideas of life that captured me the most and certainly still find their way into my work.
Cowboys I’ve always found cool, since kindergarten, when my favorite costume was my cowboy outfit. The Wild West cliche is just too good not to like. Riding around on a horse in the wild, free of any social constraints, sounds like something I’d actually enjoy doing. Pastel rainbows remind me of watching My Little Pony, Care Bears and the like at 6am on weekends as an 8-year-old. Those cartoons had such an immersive effect on me, they were like a door to a wonderland just a few feet away from me behind a sheet of glass. And mustaches and Mr. Potato Head appeal to me because of their potential to change your appearance, and hence, becoming someone new or different. It’s fun to play with switching noses, eyebrows, hats and stuff!
Tell me about your collections.
Mostly seashells, stickers, fridge magnets, ’80’s action figures, and random little toy things (Happy Meal, Lego, anything really). When I was younger, I also collected price tags, banknotes, and coins from all over, bottles, stamps and rocks, but soon found the more exciting stuff.
What’s your favorite outfit lately?
My black-and-yellow Batman sweatpants, blue bleached tie-dye jumper, my very old North Face rainbow colored snow-boots, and my favorite wooly hat.
How did you become so magical? I could see you owning a unicorn or a jelly bean farm.
I sure wouldn’t mind owning either of those! I don’t know… I often feel like life is just a movie seen through a VR headset. Things start making too much sense in a way that it all seems scripted! And I’m glad I don’t give too much to mainstream crazes and just try to surround myself with things I like and do what makes me happy. Seems that this is a good way.
What brought you to London?
When I was 14, I did a language study trip to York in England, which was organized by my school and sponsored by the Rotary Club. We were 20 kids from all over Germany, and we each got placed with an English family for two weeks. It was a very memorable trip with me being on my own and on a plane for the first time, and also having to speak English 24/7. I loved everything about it, and I returned to the UK many times after that, and very soon decided to move there after graduating from art school. Seemed the only sensible thing to do for me because I also felt pretty bored and fed up with Germany and all its rules and regulations. The UK is so much more easygoing. I’d do it all over again!
Tell me about your current holiday in Tokyo!
Where should I start? We did so much, and we are still just halfway through our three weeks here! We are walking a lot; it’s a much better way to explore the city, rather than taking the subway everywhere. Some of the best places we saw were the Sensoji Temple at night when everything is closed. The store shutters around there have some pretty cool artwork painted on them. Then there’s Don Quijote, a massive store with seven floors of totally random shit, from Doraemon onesies to themed chopsticks and edible underpants. It’s open 24 hours, so you can find whatever you want, even at 3am.
There are a lot of very cool galleries in Tokyo like Mograg, Calm and Punk, Hiromart, Moritaka at Arts Chiyoda, the Hara museum and many more—and lots you can also find by chance. One of those random discoveries was the HATCH, which is located above a bar in Asakusa. The space is small and rough and had one of the best shows I’ve seen here.
Hunting for Gachapons is another fun thing to do; those machines pop up everywhere. For 300 yen, you get a plastic ball with a random collectable toy in it. The great thing about them is that they are often site-specific, so some toys you can only find in a certain part of town!
Other very interesting things we saw are cat and owl cafes, graveyards, killer hornets, shrines, temples, Kabuki, Taro Okamoto’s museum, Yayoi Kusama’s studio and museum, eating on the roof of Yoshimoto Nara’s restaurant, vending machines, and thrift stores! We have a great guide too, Hiromi from Hiromart has shown us a lot of awesome hidden spots we would have missed otherwise.
I had a solo show with small paintings and sculptures at Hiromart. It’s my first time ever showing in Japan, which is why I couldn’t help but fly over and see with my own eyes what’s actually going on over here. The location is also fantastic; there is a river just in front of the gallery with actual turtles in it, and just across from there is the most amazing Japanese garden where you can see fireflies at night.
Who are you traveling with?
My boyfriend! We have been a couple since the age of 14. He also always wanted to go to Japan and is loving every minute that we are here.
Is the trip inspiring new paintings?
Yes, totally! This city is so loaded with the strangest visual mix imaginable, both in 2D and 3D. I constantly come across kawaii signs, traditional and often creepy old paintings and masks, and weird product packaging for food or other stuff in stores. Everything looks just great, wild and intense. It’s impossible not to get inspired!
Who are some artists you feel your work is in dialogue with?
There are so many damn good artists that could be mentioned, but since I am here in Tokyo, I am totally in love with Rachel Harrison and Taro Okamoto for their incredibly playful sculptural work, as well as Kurumi Wakaki, whose work is just beyond bizarre.
Tell me about your sculptures. Is this a new part of your practice, and are they totems?
In a way, I see them as totems, yes. I’ve been making them for about a year now. I do like sculpture a lot and I wanted to make something that stretches my work in a way so the paintings get company, guardians, friends… a foot into the third dimension.
The first props were odd balls of expanding foam on which I painted a simple face, and I liked the effect so much that I kept making more.
Are you still making them with foam? Are they made to accompany specific paintings, or do they develop organically?
Yes, but I’ve also found other methods. I’m coating them with a mixture of cellulose fiber, glue, and cement to make them more durable. I was quite green with sculpting materials when I did the first heads, but have tried different recipes and started to feel a lot more fearless with the process of making them. The more materials I try, the more fun it is to use them.
I do make sculptures specifically for a painting but I also make more and more as independent pieces that exist on their own or in groups. I feel like I’ve just opened a new door to the wonderful world of 3D to explore and play in. Also, Unique Board is working on a limited edition of a full-color, 3D plaster printed head, which allows me to try new things with sculpture that wouldn't really be possible if made by hand!
How has your work changed or focused in the last few years?
I had quite a big change last year where I basically dropped everything that I did, including the medium. I had worked in my old style for over six years and felt that I had said everything that I wanted to; it was time for something new. I think it’s important to always try new and different things and to realize when it’s time to move on to make something fresh.
What kind of paintings did you make before that?
My previous style was a lot more realistic compared to what I am doing now. I was combining reference material from all over the place to create surreal, dreamlike scenarios by collaging and altering figures into dreamy landscapes. I enjoyed working in that style a lot, and people also responded really well to it, but I reached a point where I wanted to be free from using material from existing sources and instead develop a new technique and visual language for myself altogether, and basically start over.
What is an ideal reaction to your work?
The best reaction I hope for is that it makes them happy, that they can relate to it, maybe even that they feel I made a portrait of them without knowing who they are.
Do you get painting ideas from dreams?
They most definitely have a root in the real life but I never know where that is. Most of my ideas come when I go to bed. I keep my iPad under my pillow and often start painting on it as soon as I lay down. My brain seems to be most useful at that time.
Why do you think joyful art is important?
There is so much negative shit going on, so, to keep a balance, the dark side needs a big fat bright side, and happy art is contributing to that!
Amen. If your art is a recipe, what are the main ingredients?
Dreamy oblivion, intense drive, comfort and ease.
What shows are coming up for you this year?
There is quite a bit on my calendar! Mindy Solomon is taking some of my newest work to Seattle Art Fair in August; Storm Ascher is curating Superposition in Downtown LA also in August. Then I’m sending some new work to Semi Skimmed Gallery for a group show at BSMT in London in September. In October there will be a group show curated by Sasha Bogojev at Tales of Art in Italy, and then I’m also sending work to Thinkspace for their show at the MOAH Lancaster in October and SCOPE Miami in December. Next year a Residency in Amsterdam at The Garage in February, a solo show in Paris at Gallery 42b in April, and a group show at Galerie Droste in Wuppertal Germany.
What’s your favorite emoji?
On good days its (⌐■_■) and on less good days its (/ω＼).