GRAFFITI – 50 ans d’interactions urbaines’
Authors: Lokiss, Stephanie Lemoine, NIcolas Gzeley u0026amp; Julie Vaslon
Published: Livre Éditions HAZAN: November 2018.
I was personally invited by Lokiss, a French graffiti pioneer, and I am humbled to part of the book, where my words and works are featured alongside artists such as: DAIM, PEETA, MAD C, BATES, SAT ONE, ASH and other well known international artists.
I have words and works in this book, which is a documentation of 50 years of urban interactions and the development of the urban art form. The book features interviews and portraits of key founding fathers of graffiti, from whose styles and artwork, more abstract expressions has emerged and the book also hints as to where urban contemporary art is headed.
1. Can you tell me, in a few lines, your own ‘History of Writing’ and how you have become a part of it?
I started doing letters in 1986, but had focus on letters, dynamics, negative spaces and the structural and “bare bones” elements of the letter.
Seeing StyleWars, reading the books SubwayArt+Spraycan Art book opened my world, I felt definitely struck by visions by artists who stood out and brought some new ideas on the table. I had the focus on investigating how much could be removed from the letter forms, which basic core elements made up the letter form. I did a lot drawings, and considered them as finished works; not intended to wind up upon walls or trains. I did not venture into conceptual visual work, characters, background but wanted to strengthen the understanding of letters. After 10 years of drawing, I picked up a spray can and did a handful pieces. It quickly became clear, that I wanted to do legal wall spaces, where I could immerse myself in the flow of creating the piece, without having to getting the “kick” out of looking over ones shoulder.
For the past decades I have through social sharing media, been exposed to the popularity and acceptance and/or public demand for work in similar veins as mine. Seeing the “style” flourishing and blossoming up upon walls, interior spaces, galleries, murals, posters, graphic prints etc, so it encourages me and motivates me to get up/getting out there and present my ideas, my take on graffiti culture in a more openly and public manner.
2. Writing Culture has no manifesto, would you say it is a gap or a benefit ?
Its huge benefit not be limited of confined to certain rules or dogmas for the artistic method and approach, but its up to the viewer how they perceive my productions, whether its according to the rules in the graffiti handbook, whether it looks aged, or futuristic.
i am the producer of the art, but the opinions about belongs to and are solely in the hands and minds of the viewer. Myself, I have an open and more free approach to further develop ones ones self expression, steadily living, observing and moving along the lines breathed into life on different mediums and surfaces.
3. Do you feel close the gothic futurism created by Rammellzee ?
if not, did you perceive any philosophy emerging from the graffiti culture?
What I saw in the works of somebody like Ramellzee of the gothic futurism, was out of the box- thinking and an alternative and deconstructing the concept of how graffiti should be like. What remains as an echo of his philosophy, is that he pictured the letters as soldiers (or maybe as weapons?) For me, letters and the alpabeth are merely “individual tones” put together as a string and making a composition or melody. My output; letter based visual communication is essential a metaphor in the truest sense as in word equals worlds. Letters, in my understanding, carry an energy within and therefor, as all entities in the universe, has a destructive as constructive energy, and when put together they make “worlds” or universes to explore or dive into.
4. ‘Styles War,is competition still the core of your practice ?. If yes, do you keep this energy once you are in your studio?
I am battling my own imperfection, as in art is an externalization of ones feelings, emotions, ideas and visions, energy follows thought.
I believe in discovering new lands, new visual languages and new ways of turning letters upside down, doing only fragments of them, half-covered in mystic and magic. For me its a matter of using the art as a safe haven, but alsoas a therapeutic means to calm down, to immerse one self in the flow of energy, getting through the layers, and then getting the first lines down. The process is joyful, but is also an process of trial and errors leaving spots of elegance, magic, fulfillment and failure in the details. Learning to trust the intuitive flow of lines. The work is done, when I I can not add nor remove any lines, as the work, the externalized feeling or sense, rests in this tranquil state.
5. Is graffiti political ? or the individual or at a larger scale? how and why?
Some areas or countries has still an very active illegal scene, and its a constant reminder that some members of the society are beyond the political system and manifests their voice regardless of whats allowed and not allowed. In its “original form” it constitutes an anti-establishment approach, because its represent an anti conformity and an alternative lifestyle, beyond the law. Recently the world has observed the power of graffiti as a conveyor of messages, which caused revolution and uproar in countries like Syria, Egypt etc, but on a more personal level, its up the individivual about what goals or motifs, what drives her/him, when create to express ones opinion.
6. Can you relate to a specific style ? Which one and why ?
Developing your own style is a strong goal, or finally, a creative dead end (as ‘branding’ yourself)?
The style or the methodology is originating from graffiti with its aesthetics and elements, but I am seeking and exploring
the world of letters, so I freely can twist and turn the letters upside down, sideways, intensify keypoints of the letter and the structure, and maybe only drawing half of the letter or dissolve the letter shapes completely or repeat the same letter numerous times on the same illustration.
Theres only the rules, you put upon yourself.
My approach is not to repeate and writing my graf-name over and over again, but be flexible and make the words=worlds, I want to convey recognizable, but yet abstract forms, so within the lines, the areas of dynamics, the observer sees or imagines entities which resembles characters or narratives. I believe that are so much more to be explored and investigated using graffiti or writer culture as platform or a starting point, whether its presented as graphic design, abstract lettering or letter based visual art
7. Have you created your own technics, what was the aim of that ? How does the context influence on the medium’s choice ? Is writing limited to aerosol or do you mix it with other mediums or objects?
My technique is often a mix of mediums in a way unfold the narrative of different platforms and different media. Why should try to paint effects, that’s easier obtained using camera? Why should I do brush strokes splatters, when its easier to use aerosol? Why use masking tape, when its easier to use markers for thin line? I began to shoot macro shots of my work, print them large scale and hand embellish them with extended and enhanced linework. Dots and effects from spraypaint, joining and expanding the printed and static universe. The narrative continues and transforms into another medium. It had become a unique original, poster/canvas. Theres a few different streams of my work, developing alongside eachother and sometimes overlapping. I would not say that the technnique is “mine”, but having a conscious mind for recycling and upcycling older works, using bits and pieces in a new work, incorporating tags, handstyles, brushestrokes, spraypaint and what can contribute to the continuous breathe life into the work. I make walls which I print. I make illustrations which I take pictures of. I use the pictures as a canvas and turn them into posters. I make canvas work which I photograph and made into illustrations. I make murals which I turn I into a canvas, and a lot of people are asking why the signature is missing out in the lower right corner?
The works has been from an open perspective, where there is no predefined angle from which the work should be observed. Everyone has their own preference, and I would let the viewer choose from themselves and getting in tune with the work from the most inspiring angle. - often I turn the paper or canvas upside down during the process of making first lines – its a matter of which angle the viewer and the observed would find most interesting element and spark up the imagination.
8. Do you include urbex or vandalism in your practice ?. If yes, please tell something about that people frequently link graffiti art and the art of installation, some kind of urban and art, do you agree with this idea ?
If vandalism is considered tags, handstyles, graffiti letters then there are traces of those visible in my output I agree that post-graffiti of mural can be categorized and labelled as an urban art, and Installation or contextual placement of the tags have great importance within the peers and represents parts of subworld/culture. Its represents a counterculture and a subculture driven by passion.
9. what is your point of view on collaboration between artists and brands for advertisement or marketing? Is it a sad and nocive decay or an opportunity at the benefit of both parts?
There are numerous examples of former graffiti artists doing commercial work such as advertising, but as long the artist have integrity to be associated with that brand or marketing campaign I can only see it a benefit for both parts. .
In my opinion, throughout history the best works has been done as a commission. I believe that its an unevitable direction of merging or integrate art and corporations in one way or another. I am aware of cases, whereas the artwork, or “style” has been mass-produced, copied and without the permission or acknowledgement to the artists, but as along as the artists gets proper credit or paid for it, the financial support can pave the way and make the artist continuously sharing his/her talent and vision and develop it even further.
10. Post-Graffiti being already a thing of the past, how do you fancy the future of Writing ? Street art ? video art? sculpture? Integration into contemporary art ? political tool of urban gentrification ? or just the end?
I can see the future perspectives of applying writing culture or artistic expression in different mediums and formats such as VR, AR, 3D printing, drone painting or even as letter shapes as funiture or home decorations. Free to utilize any medium or format, that the artists see fit to communicate or explore his/her vision. Theres no limitations, but only imagination. Energy follows thought, which action manifests.