BERLIN · while the excitement of Pictoplasma is over, we still have the memories. memories and a super sweet mural by Jeff Soto and Maxx242.

hailing from Riverside, California the amazing duo came to Berlin to speak and participate in Pictoplasma, a festival and conference celebrating character design. after stopping by the KUNSTHALLE, they noticed our empty wall and saw an opportunity to leave their mark in the best way possible.

and what they left is nothing short of amazing.

two artists with very distinct styles, Jeff Soto and Maxx242 synchronized to compose a piece that embodies contradictions while maintaining balance. Soto’s owl rests gracefully upon a tentacle of Maxx242’s octopus. the dark creatures, symbolizing both wisdom and mystery, are illuminated by bursts of blue and a rusty orange. the viewer stands in awe by the sheer size, realism, and quality of the piece. this collaboration was crafted with a kind of eloquence only feasible for graffiti masters and best friends, Maxx242 and Jeff Soto.

Maxx242 and Jeff Soto met as young teenagers in California and twenty years later they have a friendship that has outlasted most marriages. like most teenage boys, they shared a mutual interest in comic books and skateboard culture. they grew up exposed to the same art, had the same teachers, and were products of a character driven culture. despite differing cultural background and upbringings, the pair forged an enduring friendship.

as they grew up, Jeff was able to go to school to study graphic design. as Jeff grew an interest in books, Maxx dived into the real world, gaining experience doing professional work and being successful enough to avoid serving burgers to make ends meet.

while Maxx and Jeff took very different paths in life, today they are both internationally regarded as artists who define a genre. they have seen the genre develop, as well as experienced the varying degrees of urban art acceptance. to paint a mural in their hometown, they would need to go before a board, propose their sketches, pay 500 dollars, and wait to get permission to do their craft. here, all they had to do here was bring some paint and get busy.

the two believe Europe has “always been more artistic than the states.” back home, cities view graffiti not as artistic expression, but as vandalism. they prioritize removing it and invest heavily in graffiti task forces to repaint over everything. Maxx even said, “most of Jeff’s big walls are in Europe” simply because people are more accepting and they have more “freedom to paint.”

this freedom is not limited to graffiti masters, it is open to anyone with a can of spray-paint. for Jeff and Maxx someone tagging a piece they’ve spent four to five days working on is an inevitable part of graffiti culture. according to Jeff, “if local writers don’t like it, they’re gonna do what they’re gonna do. it sucks, stings a little but as long as you get a good photo, I’m okay with it.”

before anyone takes this as an open invitation to write over his piece in neon letters, consider the unwritten golden rule of graffiti art: if you can’t do better, don’t touch it. graffiti isn’t just about writing your name everywhere, it’s about taking something banal, something we see everyday and transforming it into a canvas for art with a style that evokes emotion and makes you think. graffiti is both a style and an art form.

if you missed Maxx242 and Jeff Soto while they were in town for Pictoplasma, don’t worry! they’ll be back to the fatherland on november 7th for show in Nuremberg. till then you can swing by PLATOON KUNSTHALLE Berlin to be mesmerized by their epic mural.

and if you’re gonna tag it, do it better.