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Maison Ookci's Warped Reality Comes To Life

The artist who’s created distorted prints for platinum artists, including Travis Scott and Young Thug, is releasing his very first NFT collection.

Crisitan Posella was birthed in a small town, South of the Amalfi Coast in Italy, which he refers to as “Madonna Del Carmine.” Looking further into it, this commune is properly called Agropoli and it’s located in the Cilento area of the province of Salerno, Campania. The town’s history and geography is only important to note because around the 1600s, the town was attacked by a gang of pirates, leaving almost everything to ruins, with only a couple hundred members of the population surviving the attack. This dark past lingers still and informs their art, no more evident than the artist by name of Christian Posella, better known for his other half, “Maison Ookci.”

Posella was working as a car salesman back in the Fall of 2020 when I first came in contact with his distorted imagery that kept popping up across my Instagram feed, with almost too much regularity to overlook: First with Travis Scott, then Atlanta producer Wheezy, and finally slithering his way into the inner workings of Young Thug and co., with the artwork for “Take it to Trial.” These Frankensteinian bodies and faces, took on diabolical features and illuminated jewelry, making their presence meta-physical and transformative, thus creating his own visual language. “Ookci isn’t an actual style, I’m not good at drawing and I’m not a good artist. All of this art is simply an Ookci manifestation of the way he sees things and people,” says Posella over email. “I always wanted to give my vision of something. So I took the photos I liked the most and made them look my way, Ookci’s way.”

This way was one that was found rapport with the kinds of artists Posella worked with, painting the rebel artist in a raw reverence of their own natural inclination to push back against the environment surrounding and any laws that attempted to govern them. Shortly after the first single cover for Thug, Posella was commissioned once again by Young Stoner Life Records to do single artworks for the upcoming Slime Language 2 project, crafting the covers for “GFU” by Yak Gotti, Yung Kayo and Sheck Wes and “That Go!” by Young Thug, Meek Mill and T-Shyne. The Ookci manifestation would continue to spread like wildfire, creating pieces with Playboi Carti‘s Opium label signees Ken Carson and Destroy Lonely, working with Cash and Sal of XO, Tee Grizzley, Tyga, superproducer CardoGotWings and most recently, collaborating on Working on Dying merch. Now, Posella wants to take his vision even further into his warped and twisted reality, delivering limited-edition NFTs of existing and original prints he’s developed.

HYPEBEAST spoke to Posella, or rather Maison Ookci, about how he began crafting this unique visual language of his, working with the likes of huge artists such as Young Thug and Travis Scott, creating contemporary cover art, and why he’s going into the NFT world now.

Talk to me about how an Ookci piece comes to life? What are the steps to getting to a final piece of work for you?

I don’t really have to do much myself. Ookci makes thing a certain way. I don’t see myself as an artist in the traditional sense of, “Oh I like to draw or I like this specific shadow of grey.” I just have a vision about the people I work with, and it’s more often about the mood than the image or person themselves actually. I just try to manifest it as an expression. Oftentimes, the artists I work with, I find some sort of relation with and that begins the process. It’s like a ritual, [Maison] Ookci takes over.

Can you explain who or what “Maison Ookci” is? Is he different from you, as Christian Posella? 

Ookci is a language, a character and a mood, all in one. In some ways, it is me, but in others, it’s not. Ookci’s first name is Maison because the French word for Maison means “House” and I think of it as a house for Ookci to operate under, in whatever creative fashion, whether— canvases, physical prints or digital art. Ookci simply expands and transforms the energy of the subject and translates that to a medium.

How did the Travis Scott piece come about?

Travis [Scott] wasn’t in my plans. Me and Sickamore (Creative Director of Interscope and Head of Music at Cactus Jack) had been thinking and discussing new projects for the label as a whole and that Travis one just happened to be a sketch that he really liked. I didn’t even know he [Travis] was going to post it! But he posted it, out of nowhere to his Instagram, and the next minute my phone was frozen. Fans ended up talking more about that Ookci photo than his PS5 collaboration.

Have you always been creating in isolation?

Yes, I’ve always needed to be isolated, sometimes minutes at a time and sometimes hours. At the end of the day, it’s more about the vision and vibe for me, but most times I do prefer being alone to finalize it.

Tell me about how the Young Thug cover came to be? And working with YSL in general?   

YSL is like the best family on the planet right now, in the most experimental way. I’m really happy to be working with them because [Young] Thug is a true trendsetter. Every artist walking is influenced by him in one way or another. He deserves to be taught in school books.

We first got together after I had the pleasure of talking to his manager, Geoff Ogunlesi (A&R of YSL and 300 Ent.) and he immediately took well to my ideas for Thug, so it was an honor. From this came three single collabs on the cover arts for “Take it to Trial,” “GFU,” and “That Go!”

When it comes to doing cover art, is there a particularly different approach to that, than a normal image you’re reimagining?

The process is often the same to be honest because Ookci takes anything he wants and makes it different like himself. Its always about mood and vision. Then he can manifest the actual “single cover” for the album or for a Fall/Winter collection or whatever, it doesn’t really matter the medium. It’s all about the plan. I’m inspired by Virgil Abloh, and RIP the great, because he had such a 360 vision for what his work could be.

You had a physical installation in a gallery with your prints, what did you choose to present for that and why?

We decided to choose what we thought was the most iconic one, obviously the Travis Scott one and then a few other prints on the newer artists we’re working with now like Tee Grizzley and Tyga.

Why did you decide to drop NFT’s?

Digital art may be the future of art and people want to own a piece of Ookci for themselves. Why not?

Why do you think certain artists are more drawn to your work? What about your work complements their style or music?

I have a clear plan with each step and any move is part of the plan. I don’t get caught up on personal tastes. In fact, I really just manage the relationship and the business. Ookci pops up and does his art on his own. Any kind of creative fluid can be expressed under Ookci. Your life can change when you get in contact with him.

People just need to be real ultimately and if you’re real and solid, you can make a real project. For me personally, this is a dream come true. I love my family and I love money because I wasn’t born with it. In that, I think some artists can relate and it makes our work come together even more easily. Because we make real things.

You can stay tuned for more updates on the release of the limited-edition NFT collection on Maison Ookci’s website or Instagram, going live via OpenSea.

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