clandestilo magazine, mexico, #1/2000

Those guys in europe really know how to rip shit. While most of us in the americas scratched our heads in awe, a new school of style warriors emerged in the early 90s. Now at the beginning of the new millennium, it's hard to not have heard of at least a few of these guys. They're everywhere. Loomit, Delta, Daim, Seak, How and Nosm, Hesh... and I'm only mentioning a few from the 3d chamber! But there's a dude who appears from time to time, usually as part of all-star productions with his unmistakeable style. Unlike his wallmates' pieces that tear and rip and shoot outward at each other, this guy's pieces seem to float, quietly, ominously... like a Death Star or an ID4 mothership, somewhat stealthy in design and usually in muted tones.

To the outside viewer all his pieces seem to match each other. But after a closer observation one notices other forces at work. Balance, harmony, simplicity are the obvious ones that come to mind. But look again, a little harder, and you'll see a center of gravity, hidden shadows and lightsources moving across the surface, letterforms intersecting flawlessly, bending and twisting at the mercy of the creator... that's when you've arrived at his front door. Only he has the key, and you'll never get to see what goes on inside those pieces. So instead we decided to just talk about graff....

How old are you and how long have you been writing?

i was born in 1974 and started writing in 1989.

What crews do you rep?

cns - checkin' nuh skillz:

Favorite brand of spray?

i started writing with sparvar, but now i prefer belton. i don't use belton exclusively, but most of the time.

Favorite tips?

i only use regular belton skinny caps and sometimes orange or pink fatcaps. for ma tag i usually use a hexcap, but that's it.

Do you mix colors from can to can?

no. the belton range of colours is wide enough, and (most of the time) graded finely enough to work with, so i don't really need to mix new tones myself.

What have you heard about Mexico?

duuuhhh. hot, earthquakes, volcanoes, sombreros, tequila and the titty twister club. nothing, really. i only have the clichÈ image in my mind, i've had no personal experience with mexico so far.

Your influences?

everyone whose styles i like..... it would be too difficult and go too far to name each and every one here. the people who influenced me the most are naturally those that i saw painting when i started, like LOOMIT, SCOUT, HARLEKIN, RETCH, CEMNOZ, SITE, FLIN, NEON, CHIP, MOON, SONIC... ofcourse there were many more influences during my way through graffiti. but there are also a lot of influences from outside the graff world, i just keep my eyes open, and whenever i see something that impresses me, it just sticks in my mind, and probably gives me one or the other new idea.

Your opinion on style?

keep doing what you do, and a style will develop. for myself, consciously trying to develop a style has never worked. i just sketched and kept on sketching, and my stuff developed in a certain direction. then i realized that and focussed on it, and so on. i feel that style is the most important aspect of a writer and his piece. there may be good pieces but the style is obviuosly bitten, and makes it bullshit. but there's a thin line between biting a style and being influenced by someone else. as long as you're just influenced by someone, but work with these influences and build them into something of your own, then everything's okay. when you just take what someone else developed, and use it without any change, just rearranging the letters for instance, then that is definitely biting to me.

Define graffiti, aerosol art, vandalism, tags, bombs, toys, kings, selling out.

graffiti is the whole spectrum of what writers do: bombing trains and walls, tagging, piecing at halls of fame, doing big production walls and commercial jobs, canvases, whatever comes to mind.
aerosol art is probably anything you can produce with a spraycan. i've seen a lot of weird stuff that bystanders called graffiti, but i couldn't really relate, so probably i would call it aerosol art. some writers' graff production may fall under this category as well, i don't know.
vandalism is willingly destroying other people's property, and so in my opinion has nothing much to do with graff. graff is not vandalism, because in my view, nothing is being destroyed.
tags... signing your name. a signature. sometimes simple, sometimes very complex. what can i say? a tag is a tag.
bombs. illegal pieces / tags / throws, no matter on what surface.
toys (to me) are kids just starting out. the word 'toy' has in itself nothing of a dis, although it may be used as one. kids who don't know the rules, don't know the paint, don't know the technique, don't know the style, don't know anything. but hey, they're only getting on your nerves to learn. everyone's been a toy once, so keep your patience, they may burn you some day.
kings. have done it all. dominated the line, the walls, the city, the style, the years. so there are few kings around, if you ask me.
when you're doing something just for the cash and can't really represent what you're doing anymore, then you're selling out. it's okay to do commercials for every kind of company for every amount of money, as long as you stay true to your style and just do your thing. just ask yourself if you'd want people to see what you've just done and connect it with your name. if you get sleepless nights over that, you've probably sold out.

How do you feel about the commercialization of aerosol art?

see above. it's always okay to earn money (even BIG money) with what you do best. defnitely. hey, if i could live off my graff, i'd be happy as anything. as long as you stay true to yourself. when people start telling not what to paint, but HOW to paint it, you have to be able to say no. if you keep still and just do what they ask, it's just selling out the culture, but if you still represent graff and your name with your commercial job, no problem here.

Tell us about a train adventure.

haha, not here, no.

I am sure your family knows by now what you do in general. How have they accepted the fact you are a graff maniac and do you even care?

it was hard in the beginning, but now they know, they like what i do, they accept it, and they take an interest. my parents have my canvases hanging in the living room and the office, they have two of my pieces in the garden.

Would you consider yourself crazy?

what? who? me? naaaah. not me. everyone else though.

Tennis shoes or boots?

both, depends on the occasion.

Fruit loops or frosted flakes?

frosted flakes go down better.

Vegetarian? Or plain old cannibal?

cannibal, but wimpy: i like my meat well done.

Comment on the influence that technology has had on graff.

huh. i get most of my ideas from outside inout, so i guess most of the others do as well. the way that computer graphics and rendered 3d images came up more and more in the last years had a big influence on the trend towards 3d graff that i can see everywhere by now. kids are trying to start doing graff with 3d styles these days, and i don't know if i can think of that as something good. technology concerning graff itself, like better paint in more shades and more and more sophisticated caps has helped this movement along a big deal. not in the way the public perceives it, but we writers have a much better choice to put our ideas into reality. i'm happy i have a range of maybe 6 shades of blue to do my 3d fadings, since this makes it much easier for me to get a realistic effect. the same piece was possible with only 2 shades plus black and white, but this is a luxurious age, so why not take the paint, huh? plus, technology concerning the representation of graff.... i almost feel that all graffwriters are on the web, at least here in germany. the second questions you get asked is, do you have email? i feel that the net will help to bring writers worldwide closer to each other. what possibility would i have had to see pieces from hawaii or mexico or hicksville, mass. here in germany? probably none at all. so this is a good thing to me, even though some people may think it's unreal.

Comment on the difference between legals and illegals.

availability of time and sunlight. the aim is the same, the means are different. the effect is to me the same. a real burner can be a simple silver throwup in an impossible spot or the high tech full colour mural.

Are you a solo or you get down with other heads?

depends on the possibility. sometimes i have my piece in my mind and don't want to have to pay attention to other people's ideas, so i go out by myself to do my own shit. but it's always fun to go out writing with a group of people, i enjoy that a lot. so i'm down with both, solo and group work.

Stylistically, what is your strength?

simplicity. i hope. :)

Stylistically or techniquewise, what do you plan to do in the future?

i want to get closer to the image of my style that i have in my head.... my styles may all look the same to the public, but i feel i'm still finetuning it, i'm still not 100% happy with how they come out on the wall. i someday want to try and twist the style so you can see the backside as well, or warp it into all kinds of weird shapoes, as if it was made out of rubber. but that is definitely the future, i'll have to sit down and think about this more thoroughly. but right now it's summer and i'll do the sitting and thinking when it's too cold out to paint.

Does graff pay those bills?

nope. i'm not really running after those money jobs. occasionally, one comes my way and adds to my bill-paying fund, but that's all. i'm earning my money working as freelance graphic- and web designer.

You computer literate?

definitely. i come home and turn on the machine first thing. well, i work on it every day, soooo.... what do you expect? :) some of my graff may be computer-influenced, but my styles are still drawn by hand and not in 3d studio.

Do you color your illustrations with computer?

nope. if i ever get to doing sketches, it's just copics and fineliner, that's it.

Ever done canvas?

sometimes i do canvases, even with acrylics and brush ('unreal' i hear you yell). it depends on the mood. a canvas forces me to work with a certain space, a certain format, and to me that is an exciting task. on a wall, you can do it any way you want, since it is not usually constricted as much as a canvas.

Where have you painted internationally? How have your travels influenced you artistically?

uuuhhhh. netherlands, belgium, france, UK, austria, croatia. i think that's it. i don't think the travels had an influence on my style, just on the way i perceive people in hiphop. i have found people to be very open and friendly wherever i've been. graff seems to be a good common ground for meeting and talking to people.

Describe your style.

tight, simple, 3d, graphic. low-profile colors.

Is graff connected in some way to the other elements of Hip-Hop out there?

to me, it is. graff is a part of hiphop, and i can't see it as something standing by itself. i realize that there was a development of graffiti before it got connected to the other elements, but i feel it only grew this strong through the connection to hiphop. some people like to see it as something different, maybe because they are not really into any of the other elements of hihop, but i don't think that really counts.... i don't think that to write graffiti, you have to dig the music or bboying. if you're a punkrocker and write, that's no problem to me. but just because of that, graff is no part of the punk culture, it still is hiphop.

In your country, are the graff writers seen as a menace? Or a part of the community?

i think the bigger part of the community sees graff as a menace, seeing only bombings and tags without comprehending neither the meaning nor the style. a small but growing part understands what this is about and sees the beauty in a style, maybe not for the same reasons that writers do, but at least i feel that they're trying. most of those 'understanding' people still can't get the connection between legal, colourful pieces and the silver throws they see in the street. but maybe that's just a matter of time. anyway, in some interview i saw on tv they asked people in a train about what they think about the pieces on that train, and maybe half of them said they liked it, and it would be better than some stupid ad on the train.

What has your government done to eliminate vandalism?

dunno. the same things as everywhere else i guess. trainyards are patrolled, wherever you go with a can, on some private wall maybe, the cops will be there after 20min or so. but there is no restriction for selling or buying spraycans or something like that. so maybe we've got the soft deal over here.

What have they done to support aerosol art?

city or state youth organisations use graffiti to work with the youth, to interest them and give them basic knowledge about this. we have quite a number of legal walls in germany, almost every city has a few of them. so i guess maybe some guys up there understand about the positive side of graff and try to promote it as well as they can.

Currently there are two factions developing in graff. One says that graff is illegal and the other feels that the illegals are making it harder for the legals to get support for the movement. Where do you stand?

as a legal writer i cannot really feel that graffiti has to be illegal to qualify as graffiti. on the other hand, i don't think that illegal graff should be stopped because of prohibiting chances for the legals. illegal graff can and should never cease to exist, since illegal writing represents the roots of this culture we're all in. i feel a lot of respect for bombers, and i hope that i at least get some respect from them as well. these are two sides of the same coin, and one can't exist without the other.

Would you agree with the idea of there being a graffiti school?

no. people have to learn by themselves, make their own experiences, how else should they ever be anble to come up with their own style? i know it's harder to get the technique down by yourself, but still: that's the way we all had to go.

There are people who feel that if we as citizens in our city must accept huge billboards popping up all over the place, then everyone else should be willing to allow graff writers to go all city. Do you see a connection? Explain.

old problem: billboards are allowed because of the cash they bring. but we are not allowed to express ourselves simply because we cannot afford to pay for a billboard of our own. so what the fuck, if i want to express myself, then i will. i don't see why rich companies should have any other (and more) rights than i do. if they're allowed to fill up my vision with their junk, then i should be allowed to do the same with my art.

This article is © 2000 by Clandestilo Magazine, Mexico and O.Gelbrich / NeckCNS. Please ask permission before using this in any way.

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