POW! WOW! x Hawaiian Airlines

The POW! WOW! crew have been busy getting up in Hawaii, sharing some Aloha over there with Hawaiian Airlines. Click for more process shots from the team.

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Kamea Hadar and Jasper Wong, the directors of POW! WOW!, worked with a team of artists including owner/creative director of Fitted Hawaii, Keola Rapozo, Jared Johnston, Christina Delima, Defer, and Jeff Gress to cover the vehicles.

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Keola’s famous ‘island camo’ pattern, a camouflage-inspired motif made up of the silhouettes of the Hawaiian Islands was painted over many of the vehicles. The pattern emphasizes how Hawaii is composed of many islands that collectively make up the great state, and how like the pattern Hawaiian Airlines brings all of the islands together.

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Defer and Kamea Hadar collaborated on a portrait of Bailey Rapozo (Keola’s wife) on the side of a large hydraulic service truck. Kamea Hadar said that “she is an interpretation of the Pualani, the female figure that makes up the Hawaiian Airlines Logo. My Pualani looks up and to the left to not only interact with the plane and its passengers, but also to check out the original Pualani on the tail of the plane. Also, instead of wearing a flower on her ear like the original our Pualani sports a haku which Defer painted. The haku, or Hawaiian Headdress, gives the feeling that it’s a special occasion.”

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www.hawaiianairlines.com

www.powwowhawaii.com

Spraying Bricks – ARTSCAPE MALMÖ 2014 – ABOVE

Spraying Bricks are BACK with this coverage of ABOVE at ARTSCAPE MALMÖ 2014

ARTSCAPE – is Sweden’s first ever street art festival. Spraying Bricks were fortunate enough to be invited out to Malmö for this historic affair. We caught up with Above whilst out there, painting a monstrous wall. He is the first of our ARTSCAPE series. This is the making of his piece METAMORPHOSIS

Above was born in California in 1981 and has been creating art in the streets since 1995. He is known for his multi-layer, full colour stencils, spinning wooden arrow-shaped kinetic art installations, and large text-based painted murals.

Above’s artworks regardless of medium usually have a strong message or awareness about social, political or international current events. Above began painting graffiti on freight trains in California in 1995. At the age of 19, Above moved to Paris, France, where he started painting his, decade long, trademark arrow icon pointing ‘above’.

@abovestudio

www.goabove.com

Martyn Reed – NUART founder – Interview

Martyn Reed is the founder of the Norwegian NUART Festival in Stavanger. We got a little insight into his background and the origins of the Scandinavian street art festival in this interview…

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Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

I’m from a Northern underclass, mixed-race dysfunctional family of 5 brothers, 2 white, 3 Jamaican and a half Asian sister. Think of a trailer trash advert for Benetton, during the heydays of the National Front and you’ll be half way there. Teen years were the usual life of football gangs and petty crime sound-tracked by a postmodern mash-up of Yellowman, Afrika Bambaataa, Street Sounds Electro, Madchester, The Smiths and the Happy Mondays. A red thread through all of this was a genuine and, for my background, unorthodox, interest in art. This interest eventually led me South to pursue a degree in Fine Art at Middlesex Uni in lovely Wood Green, North London. I started DJing, knocking about at the Bass Clef in Shoreditch, which, shortly after, became the legendary Blue Note. The area was a mad mix of Metalheadz and Acid Jazz, Leigh Bowery and Tracy Emin, if you can imagine that. Josh Compton opened the Factual Nonsense gallery on Charlotte Road and the first Fete Worse than Death event kicked off Brit Art in a big way. The whole area and period was a really dynamic and creative place to be. This vibrant and massively inspiring environment of new music and art is something I’ve carried with me ever since.

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How did NUART come about?

At some point a kindly Uncle or Social Worker praised my drawings and kick-started a lifetime of chasing validation, praise and love through art. This was in the days before Facebook “likes”. Nuart’s just a continuation of that and the previous answer really. I had a DJ residency in Norway and made the move permanent in the late 90’s, set up a small boutique electronic music festival in 2000 and in 2001 Nuart was born. We initially focused on new media and early digital art, it still had this aspect of an un-policed new frontier, was activist based and related to VJ and club culture. New Media started to become fat and lazy in the early 00’s and so we shifted focus to Street Art. It was something I’d been privately engaged with for a while but hadn’t really considered it as being ‘Art’. The vestiges of snobbery a fine art degree bestows upon you hadn’t yet fully worn off.

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What’s the most exciting aspect of NUART for you?

The quietness of the curation in the early months, a mixture of reflection over what’s been and ambitions for the future is always an interesting time for me. In saying that, nothing can really compare to being right in the midst of the production once things kick off; intensely working with a tight team, often around the clock, to bring to life other peoples visions in such a short period of time is one of the most invigorating and intense experiences you can imagine. Finding and pushing the team’s, the artist’s and your own limits to create something that hopefully resonates for others is always exciting and rewarding.

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How does Norway differ from other countries in its view of public art?

I’d imagine it’s the same as everywhere for public art, a mixture of skepticism and general indifference, leading to outright condemnation when related to tax payers money being spent on art instead of hospital beds. For Street Art and Muralism however, a completely different picture is emerging, certainly in this town. This has a lot to do with being outside of the whole Broken Window Theory debate that, for decades, through countless Hollywood blockbusters – think Charles Bronson’s ‘Deathwish’ – related graffiti writers to rapists and murderers, rather than the arts. This ‘fear’ of Graffiti doesn’t really exist in the same way here. Most people’s first exposure to the culture has been a Blu mural, a Faith 47 or Dal East wall. You walk downtown and there’s Logan Hicks, Swoon & David Choe dotted about the place. The huge Eine and Niels ‘Shoe’ Meulman walls have become regional landmarks and the city has developed a certain pride in hosting these works. So in that sense, the public here have developed a more trusting attitude towards unsanctioned ‘public art’ than perhaps sanctioned works. In saying that, the city has a zero tolerance policy towards Graffiti, which all things considered, is a little ridiculous.

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Why did you choose this years panelists and topics for discussion?

The last years have seen an exponential increase in so called ‘Street Art’ festivals who take the safe and already well defined ‘mural’ route. There’s almost a festival circuit developing where we see the same major name artists headlining ‘events’ supported by a few local muralists. A shift to quantity and scale over quality and relevance. In some cases it’s beginning to look like morphine for the masses. I wanted to bring some industry and academic heads together to discuss and reflect over these issues.

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Do you still see graffiti and vandalism as valid forms of social discourse?

Absolutely, graffiti offers an opposition to political and corporate domination and control over public space, it’s still a powerful signifier. Even in Shoreditch & Williamsburg. Street Art, at it’s best, does the same, particularly on the personal scale. Generic large-scale muralism for the sake of it, however, I’m not too sure about. A stencil or a tag in the right place still holds tremendous power. Whether the same can be said about a Shepard Fairey mural on the side of a hotel, probably not.

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Is there a larger message to the public that stands behind NUART?

If there is, they’re not saying. I think when people notice that the art is no longer there, when it is missing from their environments, rather than appearing, then you’ve succeeded in achieving something of value. Hopefully we reach a stage where it’s the norm that communities create their own public art rather than waiting for it to be handed down from upon high.

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Where do you go from here with the festival?

We’re entering a period of post festival reflection (depression), we’ll sit down and review the year, start collecting walls and ideas and take it from there. We’ve always tried our best to try and reflect rather than attempt to define what’s happening on the streets, so in that respect, we’ll kick back a while and watch how things develop. It would be interesting to tackle another city at some point.

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www.nuartfestival.no

Photos courtesy Wallkandy

D*Face Scars & Stripes

‘SCARS & STRIPES’ Print Releases and book signing – D*Face will be signing books, boobies and releasing his latest print, Scars & Stripes in Hollywood tomorrow – available in person only – Sunday September 28th at midday. Click for more photos of the show by Birdman

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315 South Robertson Blvd
West Hollywood

50 of each print available online released at an undisclosed time early next week through www.stolenspace.com

Here’s some exclusives of his new work from our boy Birdman…

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Kid Acne – The Birth of Hip Hop

Kid Acne has been busy blessing walls (and mics) with his latest mural, THE BIRTH OF HIP-HOP.

Commissioned by THE FESTIVAL OF THE MIND in Sheffield, it’s got a distinctive nativity feel. Here’s some more shots of his work:

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Ahh, Summertime in Sheffield.

www.kidacne.com

NO AD – Jordan Seiler Interview

Off the back of his awesome bus-shelter keys initiative, PublicAdCampaign, Jordan Seiler is taking back the streets and taking on the ads in the virtual world as well as the physical. Pioneering the way for real-life ad blockers, Jordan has spent years researching and mapping out all the New York subway adverts so they can easily be digitally replaced by a carefully curated selection of art from over 50 (and growing) different international artists. We spoke to him to get the lowdown on his subversive new app: NO AD.

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VNA: What is the NO AD project all about?

JORDAN: This all came out of this anti-advertising ad takeover and my interest in augmented reality came out of that; how do I do the same work that I’m doing on the street without having to physically touch the ads? It’s an experiment, with the expectation there’s going to be a time and a place where we’re all living in the heads-up display world. So we’ve been researching this for the past three or four years now, knowing that heads-up display will become a reality. And about six months ago I realised the New York subway system was this perfect opportunity for this. There’s just a shit-load of ads, they’re all repeated in these four hundred and sixty-eight stations, there’s only about a hundred of them at any one time, and there’s a lot of users that are sitting there waiting idly for the train. So about six months ago, we decided to get our feet wet with it to see if it worked, and it did. And we went ahead and contacted fifty street artists, photographers and other artists that are friends of friends of ours. And that’s how we got the initial curation in line. What we’re planning on doing, and how I see the heart of the app being, is a constantly changing curation. So if the user goes and downloads the app today and checks out the street art, they’re going to get bored with it pretty quickly. They’re going to see a lot of the work and then put the app away and it’ll be done for them. So as a way of creating an app so it can become part of everybody’s daily experience, we’re inviting institutions to come curate the project. The first expected institution is the International Center of Photography, so they’ll be taking the app on October 15th with a photography exhibition of their collection. And then hopefully the month after that we’ll get into other institutions which will allow us to change the content really drastically so that users are presented with alternative content pretty much on a monthly, if not bi-weekly, basis.

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VNA: Obviously you have touched on some more subversive projects and perhaps slightly more legally ambiguous projects. Is this a step away from that for you?

JORDAN: It is and it isn’t. I think it’s an anti-advertising project in that it uses the ad infrastructure to create a new exhibition space, which is somewhat subversive. But I’m not unaware of the fact that using the app requires you to pay more attention to the ads. And that’s something that is just the nature of what we’re doing right now. Once heads-up display comes out and is more ubiquitous, this becomes more like a real-life ad blocker, cos the ads disappear before you even see them. So, in the future, it’s much more of a true ad blocker and subversive project. But the way it currently exists I see it as by chance using the ad infrastructure to create a new exhibition space; a new environment for artwork to exist. And hopefully a new audience that wouldn’t normally come to art – there’s a lot of riders on the subway. I’m a New Yorker and I get to a museum once a month, maybe once every two months, so hopefully this will be an opportunity for us to bring more culture to the average citizen, which I like.

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VNA: The first few things struck me about it were that it had massive potential to be a real-life ad blocker, but not sort of negating the ads, it was just replacing them. And obviously once heads-up comes in, it wipes out this constant stream of crap that comes at us every day. For me that’s a beautiful thing. Then you get into the realms of how much control you guys have over what people view. And then you reach the question of whether you sell advertising space within the program.

JORDAN: That won’t happen. There’s two things I’d like to answer there. Physical street art work that takes over advertising locations, if it’s going to be successful and widespread, it has this incredible hurdle to cross that there’s just a shit load of fucking advertising out there, right? And there’s absolutely no way that we can make a dent in that. So one of the things the app does well is that it does a lot of it. Like most of the ads in the subway station are removed. And where, say, Poster Boy might go and flip one or two ads at the weekend, this can go and take over the entire system. I really like that aspect of it. So the other interesting thing about AR is that AR is an opt-in technology. So let’s say we’re all living in a heads-up world, in the same way we stream our internet content down to a blog reader, heads-up displays and AR together will allow us to do a similar thing in a public space. So if somebody wants to see all the HBO ads as video content and have a more intense experience they can do that. While simultaneously I’m running the NO AD app and blocking all the ads. So there’s this semi-problematic aspect of AR that allows us to all personally curate how a public space is going to look. I don’t have plans, obviously, to monetize the app, but if an advertiser came to us and said ‘we want to use the infrastructure you’ve created for an advertising campaign’, I probably wouldn’t do that, but I feel comfortable saying I could without feeling like I’ve undermined my morals and my ethos. Cos I can simply then say to everybody, ‘we made $50,000 off Bud Light, don’t download that app, it’s terrible (laughs).’ Instead download some other artist’s or institution’s app that’s providing interesting content. So it’s like a digital song file, it can be shared among people. And this digital infrastructure we’ve created can be shared amongst multiple media platforms, etc.

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VNA: And can you explain a little more about how it works, or is that a trade secret?

JORDAN: No, what we’re doing is relatively simple. We spend a lot of time photographing and cataloguing the ad inventory. We load that into our system and the app is looking for those specific ads that we’ve photographed once you run the app. When it sees one of those it replaces the content with something that we’ve determined. And that’s about it.

VNA: I’ve seen stuff work with QR codes before and also some work from Jumbo in Sydney with entire building wraps where there’s some kind of app. There’s some kind of aquarium background and you hold the phone up to it and there’s fish swimming in it, for example.

JORDAN: Yeah, we’re doing something very similar. What we’re essentially doing is treating the ads as giant QR codes basically. And on a slightly different point, one of the nice things is that right now we’re running two dimensional images but the beauty of digital content is that we can present video content now, we can also present sound. So in the future, part of our curatorial process will be talking to record labels and having them run fifteen to twenty second portions of songs. So you might expect to be getting a two dimensional image as that’s what you’ve had for the past three months of curation, but suddenly the app flips and now you’re getting sound out of it. And every ad is a new soundscape or band or whatever. So we’re really excited about taking the content to the next level.

VNA: So you could have a silent disco with everybody in a live gig. Or the debut of someone’s album in a subway station. Or even, say you’ve got a few ads in a row, you could have some moving content through three adverts.

JORDAN: The ads are randomly placed in the subway so lining up some sort of narrative becomes difficult. But John Feckner did a project where you search out his name and it brings up a random assortment of words that he’s created – like a random poetry generator – so what I’d like to do is to have him provide content for the app. So as you’re walking down the platform you’re randomly generating a story or a poem, which allows it to be more narrative without it relying on an expected sequence of ads to follow each other.

VNA: So you’ve got over fifty artists you’re working with you right now?

JORDAN: We’ve got around fifty in the app and more contacting us to add content to it. It’ll probably run til October 15th provided the ICP comes through. And so all the street art will disappear and photography content will come in.

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VNA: So who’s funding the app?

JORDAN: This is a labour of love at this point. What I’d love to happen is as institutions come on they give us some small honorarium to have their month. That’ll allow me to pay the people who go out and photograph the ads and every Sunday I’ve got to spend six hours updating the app, so small amounts for that. But, beyond paying our operating costs, I’m not concerned about monetizing it. Though I do feel that if the right opportunity comes along with a brand collaboration then I will be willing to… Actually, talk about that because it’s opt-in, and if there’s a way I could without…

VNA: Selling out?

JORDAN: Yeah, so if Bud Light came to me and said, ‘hey we really love your anti-advertising campaign. We want you to create a Bud Light subversive campaign – go rip out all the Kenneth Cole ads and turn up these illegal Bud Light ads. I would never do that because I would be physically subjecting people to these Bud Light ads. Whereas if they came to me and asked me about the AR option I can guarantee to myself that I’m not subjecting anybody against their will to that content. So if there is a way to use that funding to then keep the art app going and work with really alternative curators and work with people that can’t afford to put an honorarium in, I think that’s worth it, the push and pull we all go through.

VNA: What are the next steps for you with this project?

JORDAN: In the next week we’re going to try to build a user base. With institutions when we go to them, this is such new technology they want to know do people use it and is it worth our time and investment. So, build a user base; we want to get up to five to ten thousand users to start. Then the next step is to begin curating the next few months and to really create a long-term schedule for this app so that people can see it our website and say, ‘oh man, next month is the Brooklyn Museum and they’ve just had this great exhibition that I missed. I want to see what content they have,’ etc. So building that timeline is really important. And obviously I’ve got a whole bunch of subversive projects I’m working on at the moment. A public access project that’s basically building all the keys to crack open all the bus shelters in the world, that’s something I’m still working on. I’ve been trying to get those keys out to as many people as possible so they do real, physical takeovers. You know, all those things are still operating.

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VNA: How does that sit with you in a legal perspective, if you’re supplying these keys for people to do these subversive actions. Have you come up against any resistance so far?

JORDAN: No, I haven’t been called by the companies. I’ve been pretty open about it on Instagram and my website. Maybe when I get my full website up, which will kind of be a one-stop shop for keys around the world. You’ll see a world map, you’re in Sydney, it’ll show you the key you need, you click on it, do you want to buy it for thirty bucks, boom, done. Maybe when that’s gone up I’ll get some resistance. But after talking to a few lawyers, it’s not illegal to own the keys, it’s not illegal for me to give them to somebody, the only real legal thing is using them. So I’m within my boundaries by just distributing them, I don’t think that’s a problem. It might cause unwanted attention to me but I’m not one of those street artists that’s hitting the street every weekend and if somebody puts a tail on me is immediately going to catch me and throw me in jail. So I’m less concerned about being followed and being really sought after and more concerned with just getting the keys out to people. Because, honestly, they’ve been being used by hundreds of people. They’re being used around the world. People email me pretty much every other day requesting keys and I’m sending them out. So I think the project is worthwhile continuing and we’ll cross that bridge when we get there (laughs) and then I’ll lawyer up.

http://noad-app.com

NO AD is a collaboration between PublicAdCampaign, The Heavy Projects and Jowy Romano of Subway Art Blog under the umbrella of Re+Public.

Currently it has over 50 artists involved, including: Adam Amengual, Amy Arbus-Beau Stanton, Caroline Caldwell, Dadi Dreucol, Dal East ,Dan Bergeron, Daniel Jefferson, Dr. D-Elizabeth Winnel, Elle, El Tono, Faith 47, Hugh Lippe, Ian Strange, Icy and Sot, Influenza, Jay Shells, Jeff Stark, Jilly Ballistic, John Fekner, Jon Burgerman, Jordan Seiler, Know Hope, Leon Reid IV, LNY, Logan Hicks, Luna Park, Mario Brotha, Michael Alan, Michael De Feo, Mobstr, Neko, Noxer, Nuria Mora, OX, Pedro Sega, Peter Fuss, Poster Boy, Remi Rough, Ron English, Rone, Saber, Sean Martindale, Sheryo, Skullphone, Stikman, Stormie Mills, Tara McPherson, Tod Seelie, Trap, Vermibus, WK Interact and Work Hard Be Nice…

‘A Study of Hair’ – Yusk Imai

In the today’s ‘A Study of Hair’ interview we speak with Yusk Imai.  The exhibition opens TONIGHT at Backwoods Gallery so don’t miss it!

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Damo:  for the uninitiated, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

YI:  I am a cat person?

Damo:  Can you tell us about your piece, and how you have responded to the artistic brief?

YI:  When I heard the next brief would be hair my mind went blank.  I always try to escape the obvious when it comes to “A study Of” shows, it is a great challenge.  But “Hair” was a tough one for me.  My pieces are bottom hair and top hair, both pieces start from the obvious, but soon they develop into something different.

I am satisfied with the result.

Damo:  What medium have you used?  Why did you choose this medium?

YI:  Ink on paper, it’s one of my favourite mediums to work with.

Damo:  Why did you agree to be part of the ‘Study Of’ project?  It is a very ambitious task – how do you think it will be viewed on completion?

I agreed because it is a very special proposal.  Not only a great opportunity for me to develop my own technical skills, but also to see different point of views of the same subject from many other great artists. Being able to see the results within a whole, makes me grow and develop artistically as well.  In the end, the collection gathered will be amazing. I can’t wait to see the completion of ‘A study of’ as much as I don’t wish it to come to an end.

Damo:  On a more personal note, what can we expect to see from you in the next 18 months?

YI:  honest concern and hard work towards the quality of my collaboration to the project.

TILT – Interview

We caught up with French artist TILT while he was over in Stavanger, Norway, painting things for NUART Festival. The mural he painted is also available as a print release. Here’s what he had to say for himself…

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VNA: What is your piece here in Norway about?

TILT: That’s kind of odd, the crazy thing is that I didn’t know [Stavanger] was an oil city and I originally did this piece on a canvas. It’s called Blue Pétrole (Blue Oil) because it was an idea about having this stupid American flag with pink stripes instead of red and then the top of the grenade was all blue. The thing is, it’s more of an excuse for doing graffiti, my work today, especially cos of street art. I just want people to stand in front of something they don’t really understand, because of the letters. Everybody will understand the grenade and people will make their own interpretation of the American flag and, for me, it’s just putting them in the same situation and letting people ask their own questions, and most of my work is like that. It’s like the bathroom, it’s the same thing, because it’s tags and throw-ups, it looks dirty, it’s dripping, it’s toilets and sometimes I do that on garbage cans or containers or stuff. And people shouldn’t like it, usually if you show them a garbage can, people don’t like tags and throw-ups. They will go to the city to clean them or to buff them, so I just try to work above that. But in this kind of festival, because of street art, everybody is critiquing stuff, talking about society or about capitalism. Actually my work is really, really not about that, but it was funny that this piece was about oil.

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VNA: That’s crazy (laughs). I didn’t know before I came here that it was a big oil country either, cos it’s green and clean and there’s fresh air.

TILT: Me too, I thought exactly the same. But this is a really rich country because of oil. But then I thought, ‘oh that’s cool, so you should have super cheap oil’. And they said, ‘no, absolutely not, it’s fucking expensive’. And I didn’t understand, because in the Emirates, water is more expensive than oil in some places. But here it’s a lot of ecology stuff, they want people to get rid of their cars so they say, okay, oil will be super expensive. That’s understandable.

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VNA: So tell me a little more about your toilet installation. What is the significance for you of having this shiny clean toilet and then bombed out other half?

TILT: I think there are two meanings. The first one will be exactly the same as my work when I do the bubble stuff, the figurative accumulation of letters. Same thing as putting people in front of real graffiti and then have them look at that with a new perspective. I was in Istanbul and did a bus, they cut the bus in half, we put it on the wall, I destroyed it and then the people there were, like, ‘oh, it’s beautiful!’ and that was full of tags and throw-ups and drips and stupid written stuff. So trying to have them thinking about that and then when they walk through the city and see a tag on a garbage can they might think, ‘oh, it reminds me of the installation in the museum or the festival’ and I might maybe change their way of looking at a tag, maybe… And if not, in that installation, it’s more about the idea of schizophrenia, like everybody has these bouts of chaos and calm. So when it’s going to be done, you’re going to have a perfect line in the room that’s going to cut and there will be talking about which part you prefer or if you could live in the destroyed part all your life? Of course not, but could you stay in the white part? No, of course not too, because it looks like an insane hospital – it’s clinical, it’s depressing. So you have to be in between, but in between it’s really straight and it’s not really real; you don’t even feel comfortable on the edge, because it’s too straight. And people who feel comfortable on that edge or in one of those two parts, they are kind of freaks. It’s also talking about what people don’t understand; should they be afraid of it? My work, it’s not understandable, it’s a little bit like that.

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VNA: So do you look at the way people cross borders as well, like refugees?

TILT: Yeah, I was talking a lot with the guys from Iran [Icy & Sot] and they were explaining their situation. That’s something that touched me, but that won’t be something that I want to express in my work except, like, ‘okay it’s not a stranger or a foreigner or refugees, it’s something you don’t understand’. It should be something more global than this. For me, as a Frenchman, growing up with ninety per-cent of my friends who don’t understand English – and at that time they didn’t – we loved the Beatles, we loved the Beastie Boys, we loved hip hop but we didn’t understand a single word except ‘bitch’ and ‘fuck’, you know? Like, ‘oh, did you hear the last Public Enemy [track]? Oh fuck, it’s super cool!’ But we don’t understand. Or we have birds singing in the morning and ‘oh, it’s so beautiful’, but you don’t understand. Maybe they talk to each other, but you don’t understand? So when I was starting to do graffiti, people were saying, ‘oh I don’t like what you’re doing, we don’t understand, it’s just names.’ Like, what the fuck? Do you really need to understand something to be into it? I don’t think so.

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VNA: How was it growing up doing graffiti in France?

TILT: It was really cool. There was one really cool thing, because I was sixteen and this was completely underground in my city. Before me there may have been five writers, the old school guys who started in ’87, like two years or one year before me, but they were the Kings already. That was so new that we had to look at documentaries like Style Wars and there wasn’t that big trend like there is today. I really felt I was part of the secret society. Coming from skateboarding, it was exactly the same thing, like ten people doing skateboarding in the city, wearing the same clothes, watching the same videos and feeling like when you’re a kid, you’re like five guys and you do a little cabin in the trees. That was exactly the same, it wasn’t about anarchy or being special, it was like, ‘okay, we are a group of people and we do something different’. Then that was really interesting and the only bad thing was all of our old-school people, from Paris, not from Toulouse, they have always been like strangers for us. Mode 2, Bando, all the old school BBC crew, all those guys, we started like four or five years after them. And they never have been like our daddies, like, ‘okay here is the culture, we’re gonna share, let’s paint’, they’ve been like, ‘no, no, no, we want to keep it for us. We started in ’85, you guys started in ’88. There’s a big gap and we cannot share anything.’ And for me that was really hard when I noticed that. Then I moved to New York in ’94 and I met T-Kid, Cope 2, many old school guys – today they are almost sixty years old, like Futura – and they have been showing me everything; taking me to the trains, taking me to the Hall of Fame, telling me stories. And I was like, ‘okay, cool, I have my daddies.’ They’re really super cool, like my friends and they really took me like their son, you know. Like ‘we started something in the sixties and you are doing something in the Nineties in France, you’re painting whole cars and trains? Oh, come on then, you are part of the family.’ And that was really intense for me. When I came up in New York, I had been painting eight years already but then I knew it was going to be my life. I was, like, ‘oh fuck, this is something strong’, you know? You’ve got this guy who’s older than you and every night he takes you to the train station because he’s scared something’s going to happen to you and he’s telling you the stories of the trains and this and that. I was, like, ‘wow, this is culture, it’s not only like painting and writing my name, I’m part of a big culture’. Then I went travelling, I went to Asia and then I realized it was so global and I said, ‘okay, I feel good in my family’.

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VNA: It’s interesting, because if you had perhaps been in New York growing up with them, but from a different borough, they would have probably hated you.

TILT: Exactly! And that’s what happened in France. But you can decide to act like this, or you can decide to act the opposite. Like now I am from the old school in Toulouse and every kid I saw back in the days I told, ‘oh if you want to rack paint, go to this shop’ or ‘if you want to rack markers, go there’ or if you go to the Hall of Fame, be careful because there’s neighbours and they are kind of stupid. But you’re right, that happened in New York, that happened in Paris. It’s like you can be super open-minded and super cool with foreign people, but in your own city you want to protect something, it’s like competition.

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VNA: Do you find with street art that because it’s such a global thing now it’s lost the essence a little bit, that it’s lost that core? Because I grew up with BMX and punk music and stuff and I wasn’t part of the cool kids at school but it was like our own cool set. We were like outcasts but then it became cool later on, after when I was too old for it…(laughs…) but it was like it had this sort of secret society thing. Do you think it has lost that?

TILT: Yeah, I think we lost the secret society thing, but there’s good things and bad things about that. The fact that it became so open, there was maybe five years when it was confusing; what is street art, what is graffiti, what are murals? Now I think people are starting to be more educated and they will make the difference between graffiti, muralist graffiti and real hardcore – not like between real or bad and fake – but real outside bombing trains. And then real muralism, Etam Cru and then street art. I think because of Banksy there was a big mess, cos it was like, ‘oh, this guy is doing stencil but it cannot be the top of graffiti, we need to find a new word. Oh, let’s say street art. But now I think it’s okay. But people now that will be interested in Barry McGee won’t be the same people that will be interested in Etam Cru or Aryz– well, even Aryz can be hardcore – but you know those big muralist people? You need to know a little bit about Ben EINE’s history if you want to understand those kind of letters. So I think we lost a lot, but I’m happy because I never did it to be mainstream. So if it’s only five per cent of people into my graffiti, Ben EINE’s graffiti or Barry McGee, Amaze, or all those kind of people that I love, that’s okay. Because it’s this ten per cent that’s already a lot today and you cannot say, ‘oh fuck, this is not graffiti, this is not street art, I fucking hate this, that is fucking cheap’. No, it happened, it’s open now. What about us, I feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be and I’m trying to represent what I want to represent. No matter if some other people are doing some more mainstream stuff, nice painting stuff, more political stuff, it’s okay. And then it’s even better when you see all that mainstream stuff because it makes you want to go back to that secret society stuff and talk about it and that’s why I was doing those big buildings with big sky and characters and hyper-realistic blah blah blah. And then I was like, ‘I don’t like that’. I like doing my throw-up at night, why shouldn’t I try to make this kind of illegal night-time graffiti become my day time paintings? So I try to do this but I think it was also because lots of the writers started to become more painters. And I was thinking I like fat cap tags, I like Barry McGee’s fat cap tags, I like to rock stupid block letters on the rooftop. So I think it’s better for me to keep what I started with because today it’s what I want to show.

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VNA: And how was that process been for you, switching over?

TILT: It was just like I told you. I was painting with those guys in Paris, the Mac Crew, they used to do big concept murals, like German painting from the 90’s, 2000. Like Dane, Lune, and it was okay painting with them during daytime, music, barbecue, big walls. But the painting I wasn’t comfortable with because it was super technical, you have to do crazy outlines, cut everything, think about what the guy close to you is going to do for outline because you don’t want to smash his piece with a crazy neon outline. So I was kind of frustrated and, at the same time, compared to those guys I was doing a lot of bombing throw-ups in my city. I was still doing trains and I was thinking, ‘woah, that’s what I like’. I was excited when it was 1am and I was thinking, ‘okay, you should take your cans and go out tonight.’ So I spent all day painting and feeling frustrated and feeling like I was working. And at night I was having fun and even my body language changed, my body moves were cool with the throw-ups. So I said, ‘fuck, I have to switch to that’, you know. And that was kind of hard because people start to say, ‘hey man, it’s too simple. You do Wildstyle, complicated characters and backgrounds and now you do bubble style? It’s easy, it’s simple, it’s cheap, it’s gay’ because I was using colours like pink and blue and pastel.

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VNA: I can see Cope’s influence in there too…

TILT: Of course, of course. And then I was saying, ‘come on, it’s my choice, I want to have fun doing my painting, I want to have fun making it’. So after so many comments, I think I did it a little bit more my way and then I had the opposite reactions, like some people from Germany or New York told me, ‘that’s really cool, we have a guy representing bubbles and symbols, graffiti style’. And I was, like, ‘woah, done! Happy, cool, thank you!’ (laughs)

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VNA: And how has it worked for you legally, like going from painting trains to doing big commissioned stuff, how has that been for you in terms of the law?

TILT: Oh, you know, I don’t care. I feel so lucky that I can make money doing my walls and selling my canvases, I can go through any trials, I don’t give a fuck about showing my face. I don’t do it like I used to do, like five trains a week – I’m not crazy about trains any more – I love them, but I only do them in other countries. I know this is the main dangerous stuff, talking about the law and fines and trials and jail, and some people say, ‘no, I don’t want to show my face because I did one throw-up last month’. But for me, I’m lucky to be able to pay a lawyer, to be able to pay a fine. And that happened three months ago, we had this big, big crazy trial in France. Twenty-one people, because we painted – not together but one after the other – we painted an army base wall. So the people from the city were, like, ‘fuck, I want you to catch the twenty one guys that did that wall, we’ll make a big trial and put it in the press and set an example.’ So they came to my girlfriend’s house, to my studio, they took my DNA, they took my fingerprints, pictures, they took my book, my friends’ computer, memory cards, everything, there was a big investigation for six months. And then we went to the trial and the judge, the one who was supposed to say, ‘that was bad, you’re gonna pay’, my lawyer was talking to him about my work and the show I was having in L.A., in Paris, in Japan. And so the judge said, ‘okay, we have to be careful, we’re not talking about vandalism, we’re talking about art, but made in the wrong place.’ So she changed the whole trial and I got a fine that was two hundred and fifty euros…for six months’ investigation, DNA…

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VNA: That’s crazy, that’s not even worth their time.

TILT: Yes, that’s what they said. They said that in this trial the justice and the police made a big mistake. ‘You are making us lose our time, we have important things to do’ and they were in their suits, talking about that in front of us. It was kind of a big change. I know that if I go to Singapore, I will be so careful, cos I don’t want my ass to be beaten with a stick. But in Europe I think it’s okay. So for me, is it okay if you show your face? Of course it’s okay. I think for Banksy that was a really good idea.

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VNA: Good marketing.

TILT: Good marketing for him, but at the same time in artistry that was the first time to have an unknown famous artist. It’s like we have one famous artist but we don’t know his face. Everybody knows Picasso’s face, Van Gogh’s face, but we don’t know Banksy’s face. Let’s say it’s interesting, but for a hardcore Spanish, New York, Berlin train bomber, it’s not so much…

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Pictures courtesy Butterfly and Wallkandy