Refugee, bad grades at school, wrong friends, sale of drugs: how a young man without prospects became the hottest online artist Criss Bellini.
"Art made for people who don't settle for mediocrity" is the phrase that comes up when Criss Bellini is asked to describe his art. The 32-year-old artist, who wants his art to speak for itself and therefore wishes to remain anonymous, has not been satisfied with mediocrity for a long time. Since 2019, he has been on the road under his alias, and with success. We arranged to meet Criss Bellini for an interesting interview, in which he talks about his youth, his first experiences with art, his goals and much more.
From no one to someone
If you ask Criss Bellini about his past and his youth, the answers rather reflect the dark years of the now 32 year old. As a young boy he came as a refugee to a small town in Sweden. School was not very successful. A lot of anger and ADHD led to problems, plus other difficult circumstances: Little money, lack of role models and few opportunities for advancement. All of this led Criss down a slippery slope. "The people who had money in our town at the time were criminals. Since we had no one else to look up to, it was the criminals we looked up to," says Swede. Criss kept his head above water with numerous job changes and selling drugs.
The moment it "clicked" describes Criss as follows: "I sat in a police car three times within a month. That's when I felt: this life is not for me, I have to change something. I wanted to inspire people and make a statement, in a good way." Motivated to start something new, Criss moved to a new city. Having started painting as a 12-year-old and started creating digital art at 17, he launched his first business that matched his skills: designing watches. The success? Rather moderate, as Criss admits, "I really enjoyed designing watches and making them. Unfortunately, I hardly sold any of them." Another attempt, in which he tried his luck via dropshipping also went wrong.
Criss was able to reap the first "successes" when he started sharing first copies of his art on Instagram and tagging famous people in Sweden. The plan worked: the first celebrities contacted him and Criss started making first images for them. For the first few years, however, this was mostly without significant payment. Strengthened by the positive feedback and the dilemma of not being able to find "suitable" art for his own apartment, Criss came up with the idea for his current business: he combines classical art with style elements from hip hop and street. The result is artwork like one of his latest works, "The Last Deal," in which he reinterprets Da Vinci's "The Last Supper." That the chosen path is the right one is confirmed to Criss by the sales figures.
Affordable but exclusive
Criss, who describes himself as "creative, driven and hungry for more," draws his inspiration primarily from things that keep him very busy in his own life. "Actually, I draw inspiration from everything, but mostly from my life experiences, music, movies and other artists. I motivate myself by thinking that I want to have a better life than before and leave something on this earth. I can do that through my art," Bellini says. It is precisely this motivation that he wants to transfer to his customers, as can be seen in some of his artworks. It's also important to him that his art is easily accessible. "I was pretty unhappy at the time because I couldn't afford the art I thought was cool. I want my art to be affordable for everyone. By having a maximum of 250 copies, I still maintain exclusivity in my art. That's important to me," Bellini says.
When he's working on a new design, it can take months to complete. "Some designs I finish in four hours, others take four months. Sometimes inspiration just takes longer," the 32-year-old says.
Success comes with originality
The Swede, who - work permitting - devotes his free time to his friends and family, is certain that it is no coincidence that he has now come to this success story after all these years. "I think if you do what you like and believe in yourself, any plan will work in the end. Success comes with originality," said Criss, who also has some big plans and dreams for the future. "First of all, I want Criss Bellini to make me even more famous and successful internationally. To achieve that, skateboard wall art will be coming from me soon. Also, I would like to work with bigger brands and develop something together. The big dream, of course, is to work with artists like Kanye West or Virgil Abloh."
That it's worth never giving up Criss Bellini has already proven a few times and his ambitious goals show that he is still ready to give everything. Because he is no longer satisfied with mediocrity.
Fotos: Criss Bellini
Instagram: Criss Bellini