The Wa painted last winter 3 bunkers from the Atlantic wall. The blockhaus now look like 3-d childish doodles.
The historic warrior side of the bunkers has now completely disappeared with such harmless drawings. And I think it’s pretty funny to know that on this project his mother helped him like he was still a young kid. The Wa is -to me- one of the most underrated artist from the so-called street-art scene and I highly recommend you to listen to the interview he did in Marseille with Ipin. (it’s only for french speaking people).
Zime started graffiti 25 years ago. His labyrinth style pieces have been a major influence to many writers. He has also been one of the main actor of the sticker craze that popped up in the late 90’s in Europe.
Reasons enough to do an interview with Zime from SOL crew and talk about graffiti, his friends, Eindhoven, Iron Maiden & Philips Videopac.
Can you present yourself?
My artist name is Zime. Born in the mid 70’s in Eindhoven, a city in the south of the Netherlands, and I still live there.
My tag in the late 80’s.
How did it all begin? What initially brought you to graffiti?
Before I got into graffiti I was already drawing a lot as a kid. My first graffiti memory I have is from the early/mid 80’s. I was drawing at my grandmother together with my nephew. He’s a few years older and is really into punk music. I remember he grabbed a marker and instead of drawing on the paper he wrote some names in punk style on a wooden box. As I was very young I didn’t really understand what he was writing but I knew I liked it! Every time I was at my grandmother’s I saw his tags on the box and I remember I copied some on paper. In the mid 80’s we had an Anti Vandalism project at our school. They showed photo’s of vandalism and some of them were photos of the first graffiti pieces in Eindhoven. I think this was the first time I saw a piece. It made a lot of impact on me. Amazing stuff done by early Eindhoven writers like Ace, Dusty, Freaky, Josh, Magic Mike (RIP), Skip, Spike, Mad (RIP), York and Yaki. From that point my school friends and I started drawing graffiti letters on paper and we did some pieces with chalk on the playground, but nothing serious. I did my first ‘real tags’ in the streets in 1988. I used the ‘A’ from Iron Maiden’s logo in my first tags. If I look back at my early tags now I can see the punk influence from my nephew. Also funny to see I was already using the symmetry in my letters.
Bombkid, Erosie, Late, Sektie and Zime (all SOL) and Sonik, Eindhoven 2001.
When did you get down with SOL crew? Who are the SOL crew members? (past and present)
I founded the Signs Of Life crew in 1990. First members were: Cray,Mause, Men, Rave and Wease. Sektie joined the crew a few months later and Erosie in 1993 when I saw him painting his first piece at our school. All members (except Men) were at the same high school in Eindhoven. The early members lost interest quite soon and in 1993 it was basically Erosie, Sektie and I. The 3 of us were in the same art class and we did some nice walls together in Eindhoven. Bombkid joined the crew in the mid 90’s and some years later Late. Some other SOL members: Ancle, Ane, Butch, Dres, Real and Sker. We’re mostly known for the Blind wall we painted in the centre of Eindhoven in 2001. This wall got a lot of attention in street art magazines and books. It was painted entirely with latex, paint and rollers. Back then we did sticker clusters with our names and symbols on it and this was the next step: painting our logo’s as a big cluster. From 1998 we started to use symbols. Erosie a Target, Bombkid a Bomb, Late a Clock with 2L8 in it, Sektie a Catgirl and I did the Skull.
Skull sketch 1989
Zime skull carpet at the Dutch Design Week, Eindhoven 2004.
Zime, Skull, Eindhoven 2001
Why a skull as a symbol?
As a kid I was already drawing skulls and in my early graffiti sketches you can see it as well. I was influenced by the art work of Derek Riggs for Iron Maiden (he created Eddie, the band mascot) and also by Vernon Courtland Johnson who designed the skull of Powell Peralta. I was not into skating but some of my school friends were in the late 80’s. We were tagging the ramp and street while they were skating. But why skulls? The death of some close people in my early youth must be the reason I was drawing skulls and why I was fascinated with skulls from some artists at such a young age. I don’t see the skull itself as a negative thing. It’s part of (my) life. In a way the skull represents my labyrinth style. I see my letters as a skeleton, there’s no decoration or flesh on it.
I do also like the idea the skull always remains. Lately I’m making photo’s from my old stuff in my hometown, tags, pieces, stickers etc. This brings back so many good memories. I even found some old tags from the late 80’s; great to see there are still some around. It’s also nice to see an old (paper) sticker in a city where I haven’t been for years. A nice thought, gone but still there after so many years.
SOL designs from the mid 90’s
Do you remember where your “Labyrinth style” comes from?
An important moment was going to a Graphic School in 1993. I learned to work with the computer and my favourite program was Adobe Illustrator. To learn this program properly we had to copy logo’s, which was quite boring, so I started to design SOL logo’s during class. I made some prints of it and put them up inside school and I did some silk screens on a shirt as well.
Style transformation: Zime Eindhoven 1994, Zime Berlin 1996 and Zime Eindhoven 1998.
At the same time my pieces became more basic/graphic during the years. Around 1995/96 I started to use less colours, no camouflage, just letters. The letters started to transform more and more. At a certain point my letters were built of only horizontals, verticals and diagonals. The next step was just horizontals and verticals with a thin outline. Then I did a sketch with the outline the same width as my letters and this labyrinth style was born.
Zime, Eindhoven 1998
When did you paint your first “Labyrinth style” Zime?
In 1998. A black and white spray painted Zime on a terra cotta colour latex painted background. From the first moment I painted this piece it just felt right. The style just suits me. The first labyrinths were painted free hand with spray cans. A little later I started to use latex paint and rollers.
Influenza and a SOL sticker from 1999 in Eindhoven. Still there in 2013.
SOL sticker, Berlin 2013.
Did you have an interest in labyrinths before 1998?
Yes, if I think back now I was interested in labyrinths before. I have this memory from the early 80’s. I was drawing as a kid at my grandfather’s and I was creating my own labyrinths on paper. I don’t know why, maybe I was just bored, but I’m happy I have this memory.
Around the same time I got my first home video game system, a Philips Videopac G7000. The covers of these cartridge games have very nice detailed illustrations. When you start the game the nice detailed cowboy on the cover was built of only a few pixels high on your television. But I wasn’t disappointed. I really like these pixel characters. Very powerful! My favourite Philips Videopac game was Munchkin, a game based on 1980 arcade game Pac-Man. Munchkin was available in 1981, one year earlier than Pac-Man on a home computer. This frustrated Atari a lot, so they sued Philips. But Munchkin wasn’t a direct clone. In fact it was much better then Atari’s Pac-Man. The dots you have to eat were moving, the labyrinths were changing and could become invisible but the best thing was you could create your own labyrinths! I was playing this game for hours, everyday. To honour Munchkin I created a SOL sticker with a Muncher (ghost) as a O in 1999.
First SOL sticker, Eindhoven 1998.
The sticker scene was huge in Eindhoven since the late 90’s. Can you tell us a bit about this era?
Before this time you could see some tags on stickers, I did some as well, but nothing serious. Phet15 did a funny kuNSt logo sticker in the mid 90’s, but this was more a single action. I think you could say the sticker scene in Eindhoven started around 1998. It was Space3, Erosie and I. Soon after my first labyrinth style piece I started to create more labyrinth designs on the computer. I had some some A4 sheets with paperstickers left from a school job and I printed my first stickers. It made more sense for me to do a sticker in the same style as my piece in stead of doing another ‘traditional tag’ in the streets which is not related with my style. The first sticker I designed was ’S skull L’ and I printed them on my inkjet printer at home. When I pasted them on the streets I found out that only the Epson black was water resistant. So that’s the reason I only did black and white stickers.
SOL sticker, Eindhoven 1999
The black ink faded in the years but it gave the sticker a nice touch. But at that time I didn’t like this fade so I started to put varnish on it. My room looked and smelt like a little sticker factory. There were A4 sheets with stickers everywhere as the varnish had to dry and I was in the middle of this sticker chaos creating and printing more stickers. I remember Erosie and I found a shop which sold boxes with 4000 Avery paper stickers a box for cheap prices. We bought all the boxes they had. A little later I met the 2 lads of Space3. It was the start of a big sticker explosion.
Sticker artists and things I remember from the late 90’s in Eindhoven: the targets of Erosie on his first stickers were done with a nice handmade stamp. The Evoluon/ufo based logo of Space3 was without the big round ears. A graffiti writer named ZXQL pasted little paper stickers with only his mysterious name printed on it… Rest In Peace mate.
The sticker scene was growing fast in Eindhoven after the Millennium. Some names: Betamaxxx, Bomb, Foxy Lady, Late, Schurk, Sektie and a little later Lempke. Also people from other cities came to Eindhoven to paste their stickers, like Influenza from Rotterdam, Toasters from Wolverhampton/London and Wood from Utrecht to name a few. The lamp posts in Eindhoven were pasted top to bottom and Eindhoven was known as ‘Sticker City’.
A very important thing for our (sticker) scene is that we really helped and supported each other. Space3 and I helped some guys to translate their symbols/ideas into a proper vector based logo. Space3 and Erosie did some great wallpaper designs with all the logo’s and as we were with quite a few sticker lads in Eindhoven we started to print our vinyl stickers together in one order at a sticker company in the city so we could get huge discounts. Lempke was always driving, it didn’t matter where in Europe, if someone did have an exhibiton we showed up with all the lads from Eindhoven. Good times!
Zime, Erosie, Dagu. Early 1999
Zime, Toaster and Sektie. Area 51 Eindhoven 2012.
Do you enjoy painting with other artists?
Yes, most pieces I did I was with other artists, or better to describe them as friends. Mostly I paint with guys i’ve known for a very long time. It’s so much nicer to be with one or more people at a wall than just standing there on your own. I painted a lot of walls together with Erosie (one of the most talented guys I know) and even more with Sektie. I’ve paint with him since 1990. I really like his letters and characters. We do very different styles but somehow they combine very well.
Around 2006 I slowed down painting walls. Everyone from SOL got into different directions and our lives changed a lot. I lost the pleasure in painting walls. It took so much time and sometimes the wall was destroyed in a few days. I was only interested in pasting stickers. Together with Lempke, Eindhoven’s most fanatical street artist the last years, we pasted thousands of stickers.
Kurz, CT and Zime, Eindhoven 2008.
I got an email from two young Italian lads in 2008. They were on a tour and wanted to do a wall with me. I checked their names at Ekosystem and I saw some amazing stuff. We did a nice wall in Eindhoven and their drive was unbelievable. It made me enthusiastic to paint again and it was the start of the Eindhoven-Torino connection. Thanks to CT and Kurz for that!
Another big inspiration is Toaster A, from Wolverhampton/London. He’s a really good friend. We’ve been doing stuff together for more than 10 years, at the beginning mostly stickers and posters. But from 2008 we started to do walls on a frequent base. Our graphic styles fit very well and we painted some really nice walls in Berlin, Birmingham , Eindhoven and London. Always a great time! Their image of the toaster became an icon, they are everywhere.
Zime and Sektie, Eindhoven 2003.
Zime and Sexy, Eindhoven 2013.
Which painting do you like most?
Difficult. With SOL crew I would say the Blind wall in the centre of Eindhoven. But personally… very difficult. I think one of my pieces with Sektie. But of course it’s not only the painting itself but also the relationship with the surroundings, the city where it’s painted and the story behind it. For example, painting in Mexico City was a great experience. I’d never seen so many police with huge guns on the streets as in Mexico City; it was unbelievable. Sometimes on every corner of every street, all for the war against drug gangs. It was a surreal setting. Neuzz from Mexico City showed me some nice areas and we painted some nice walls. I saw a lot of bright painted skulls and funny skeleton figures in Mexico City as they always celebrate Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead). So I decided to paint a big yellow skull. Unfortunately the yellow latex paint did not cover very well. It needed so many layers, even when I painted it white first. Luckily my girlfriend helped me to finish my piece in time. Her first and probably last piece :)
Mr. & Mrs. Zime and Neuzz, Mexico City 2009.
What does inspire you, and who’s work are you into? (Not necessary in the graffiti world.)
So many names… I already named some. To make it easier I will only mention my favourite dutch artists.
My main inspiration since the 80’s is Phet15 from Eindhoven. He had already developed an original geometric style in the late 80’s while most others were still painting a (sort of) New York style. He’s still doing great stuff and is a nice guy as well.
Other graffiti/street artists from Eindhoven; Deshamer (especially his Berlin period together with Ces53 from Rotterdam), Space3 (they are pasting great graphic posters since the mid 90’s, real pioneers) and of course my mates from SOL crew.
Do you make a difference between street art and graffiti? SOL crew started as a traditional graffiti crew but from 1998 we were transformed. Our styles changed and we started to use other tools (the computer, stickers, posters, latex paint, rollers, etc.). It was step by step but it was too quick for some. Some writers told us this wasn’t ‘real graffiti’ or wrote some stuff near our paintings. It didn’t bother me. I saw it as a compliment and a sign we were doing the right thing. Anyway we were street artists some years before the term street art was used. There was simply no name for it back in 1998-2002 and to be honest I liked this. Personal I like the name Street… but the label ‘street art’, I don’t know. I don’t have a problem with it, like some other artists have. Maybe the label ‘post graffiti’ is better to use? One of my favourite bands is Joy Division. Their music is labeled as ‘post punk’. You can see graffiti as punk, raw and dirty and ‘post graffiti’ as ‘post punk’, still intense but more refined.
Zime (SOL crew) and Toaster, Berlin 2012.
Late, Zime and Erosie, Berlin 2013.
How do you define your work?
My work is a mix of graffiti, graphic design and geometric abstract art. About the graffiti part: I still use my graffiti name. You can see my stickers as tags and my wall paintings as pieces. My paintings are not in a real labyrinth style anymore. A few years ago I started to construct my letters with U shapes. Now my 4 letters are chopped into 8 U shapes which form my name. It’s a bit like the game Tetris. I rotate the U shape in 90° until I get my letters.
Zime at Punct, The Netherlands 2004.
Do you also do exhibitions?
Yes I did some group shows in Eindhoven, Helsingborg, London, Prague etc. mostly with close friends like Influenza, SOL, Space3 and Toasters. One of the best was Ill communication with SOL in Urbis, Manchester. We painted a very nice wall there, maybe even better then the Blind wall in Eindhoven. This time with fresher colors. Manchester is a great city with lots of nice industrial parts and a great music scene.
SOL crew: Bombkid, Erosie, Late, Sektie and Zime. Urbis, Manchester 2003.
If I visited Eindhoven, which are the places I shouldn’t miss? Effenaar, lots of great bands played here, like Sex Pistols, Madness, The Cure and Joy Division.
Philips Stadium, from the beginning (100 years ago) PSV Eindhoven played their football matches at this ground. It’s situated in a nice working class area named Philips Dorp (Philips Village).
Evoluon, a UFO shaped building from Philips. It represents Eindhoven as a young and modern city.
Berenkuil, Hall of Fame since the mid 80’s. The pieces of Freaky by Phet15 and No Star Wars by Josh in Spraycan Art are painted here.
Area 51, an indoor skatepark at a former industrial area of Philips named Strijp-S.
Van Abbemuseum, MU and Dutch Design Week for art and design.
La Folie, the facade and toilets of this pub are covered in stickers. It’s the best pub in Eindhoven. Cheers!
Anything more you want to share?
Recently a true graffiti pioneer from Eindhoven died. He was writing since 1984 and was still active until this year. A very strong lad. Mad respect. At his fotolog page you can see a lot of his great pieces. Rest In Peace Med TIV.
Any last words?
Love to P&E
Zime, Catalonia Spain 2013.
Interview done in summer 2013 Zime on ekosystem photo gallery.
In 2007 i tried to make a magazine about painters on trains. I came in contact with active painters of totally different styles. Because i was never able to print this magazine, I want to publish two interviews. ( It’s never to late. )
HONET is one of my favorite train painters from France. His stuff never looked like typical “Hip Hop Style”.
In my eyes he was one of the few who started to “give a fuck” on the “Hip Hop Realness Attitude”. His stuff is much influenced by his punk and oi roots, later on by “urban dandyism” as he says. He is one of the few how is able to switch between art world and yard activity.
It’s always nice to see some fresh panels of him.
There are just a few trainpainters who are as long active as he.
Shl: Hello Honet, Please give a short introduction. And why did you choose the name HONET?
HNT: When I started it was fashionable to have a name with american words and connected with violent meanings like “crime time” or “bad boys”. Honet is more…”funny”and “cynical” in some ways!
Shl: I remember an interview where you explained yourself in the following words: “Samba&Fred Perry,
small,bald head, egoistic ,thievisch, lying, bitter
and antisocial , honet ( = honest)” ( published in
„Graffiti in Paris“ by Sybille Metzte-Prou
,2001, Schwarzkopf&Schwarzkopf ) Is this still your definition? If something changed–why ?
HNT: Are they the exacts words??? (anyway,I think I never read this book!)…so if I have to describe myself actually, should be something like: “Prada, Samba & Fred Perry, graffiti-adventurer & urban-dandy…with only one goal: to laught about life !”
Shl: I’m especially interested in your trainworks. When did you paint your first train? Do you have some special memories?
HNT: Sure! The really first time, some famous graffiti-writers from this time (early 90’s ) invited me to join them. We went by car outside Paris and did some cool damages on 2 silver-with-red-doors commuter trains. Colorz, Oeno, Veas and myself under the name of “Poe”. Then I decided to do it again by myself. With some friends, Natyo and Earl, we discovered a metro yard and found the way to go in. We came back one week after and I did a top-to-bottom and a panel before getting chased by a guard, but what-a-souvenir !!!
Shl: The book „Graffiti in Paris“ shows panels consisting of a character and a style. When did you start with that kind of characters? What was your idea behind that works, cause most of the characters showed skinheads?
HNT: Before being a graffiti-writer I was listening to punk-rock music, especially a cult French punk group called “Berurier Noir”. They were not only good as “musicians” but they had a “strong image” and an “attitude” (I was a great fan of Public Enemy at the same time, who had a strong aesthetic, too). Then I met two guys, Shun and Poch. We started to paint a lot together on trains and they were both totally into punk,oi music and skinhead culture. Step by step I discovered that Graffiti is not necessary connected with hip-hop: I’ve met lots of Writers, especially from Spain, who were into the same mind as us. Listening to Ska and wearing Fred Perry !
I’m not ONLY listening to punk music, I’m even more into electro or new-wave but I really like the Skinhead and Mod cultures. Ghetto dandies/ rude boys: that’s, for me, the perfect reflection of my life and the way I do graffiti. Then I used those Skinheads characters as a way to say: ” I don’t care about your rules, I’m walking my own way. I’m free and I’m waiting for you to follow me !”
Shl: Around 2000 i saw more and more of your works ,
especially the characters, in the streets. Why did you
change to paint more in the city?
HNT: Painting trains just became, not “boring”, but it was about “going nowhere” : one more train, one more picture, in a middle of tons of other train pieces from arrogant new-comers ( who probably dissapeared since that, crash down by some others ! ). I needed to grow up, to find a new way to rise in the middle of this crowd. I didn’t change, I just decided to explore new areas and use my trainpainter energy for new challenges but I’m still talking about the same thing: “GRAFFITI” and the faces that I’m painting are the symbol of it: hard attitude / a bit of romantism, minimal technic for a strong impact.
Shl: You still paint trains – but what has changed in your definition about trainpainting? What has generally changed in trainpainting?
HNT: Yes I still paint trains from time to time because I like it and I like to share those magical moments with my friends ( who are all train-painters ! ) but I’m trying to be more “relax” about it and fight against this obsession and my paranoïa. I’m more actually into searching for new metro-systems that I never painted before and where nobody, or just some jet-seters, went before me !
Shl: On your website , everybody can find something about your travels around the world. It seems that you are one of the oldest, still active interrailers .When
did you paint the first train out of France? And When was the first interrail tour? What has changed since your first interrail experiences? Do you enter international yards alone or with local painters?
HNT: We started in 93, first we went by car, Shun, Poch and myself to Belgium, Holland and Spain in the beginning of summer. Then we did an interail in september, we visited Stockholm, Helsinki, Copenhagen, Berlin and Munich. I’m still in contact with some crazy guys that I’ve met at this period like the MSN, VIM, FTC or the CDC and I’m still meeting them across Europe from time to time. Some I’ve met only few days, few hours in the night, but I will never forget them and we are all something like “forever friends”. Even if I see them only once in 10 years !
That’s also the reason why I’m trying, as much as possible, to paint with the locals. I don’t care about giving an “hardcore image” painting alone, I like to communicate and exchange experiences with people…of course sometimes they are just “unprofessional annoying young kids” but most of the time we have really good feelings and lots of fun together ! I don’t care about a nice panel with a good picture in an easy yard…I prefer a good action with cool partners in a risky hangar, even if we don’t paint at least !! that’s the most interesting part of this graffiti life, as I said before: sharing magicals moments !!
Shl: What do you think about the development that more and more west european painters go in the eastern parts of europe and rock their systems?
HNT: Of course, interailling is now a heavy industry : every writer is travelling and I like it, especially for the eastern ones, that’s a great oppotunity for them to discover the world. I like to watch how it turns into a big and massive mess for destruction ! I hope that soon some new waves will come from China, Mexico or Irak ?!
And : “hahaha”…I don’t beleive that the western painters are rocking the wild-east, maybe just a few like some guys from Berlin but the others just focus on easy targets like Bucharest subway. Instead I can see lots of east-writers, from Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungaria , crews like EWC, RCLS or GLK and now from Russia. They do big dammages when they are coming around. They have no fears and just laugh about our “human-rights” countries !
Shl: Do you still do trains in france, especially in paris? Did the development of the fast buff change a lot in your opinion about trainpainting?
HNT: I stoped painting trains in France in 2003…not because of the buff ( because sometimes french trains can run for a long time ) and I told you, I like the action more than the result. But I was tired to ONLY think about trains 24/7 and tired to became more and more paranoiac. Waking up every monday morning at 05:00 AM waiting for a cops house search ! That took to me too much time and energy. Now I need to enjoy life, spend good times with my friends and some time for working on all my differents projects !
Shl: ok that’s all – right know it s your turn – what else you would like to say …
HNT: Everyday I’m thinking about my friends, from Liege, Stockholm, Berlin or even Russia, about my partners, the SDKWUFCs, VAD, TMA, P2B and WMD, about all we have done together and all the things we’ll do in the future and it makes me so happy, it makes me mad every minute of my life…Graffiti is the strongest Art movement in the History and I’m so proud to be just a brick in the temple !
Je ne me souviens plus exactement de quand date la première mise en ligne du site. C’était vers la fin de l’année 1999, je venais d’arrêter le graffiti après 10 années de pratique. Le site était pour moi un moyen de conclure cette période et de passer à autre chose, je n’imaginais pas que contrairement à mon idée initiale ça allait maintenir mon intérêt pour 10 années de plus. Je n’ai pas acheté directement le nom de domaine ekosystem.org. Mon premier hébergeur était un hébergeur associatif gratuit altern.org. Le site au départ comprenait des photos de trains, et quelques graffitis un peu hors normes pour l’époque principalement des Bordelais comme Cha ou Sobre. Je crois qu’autour de moi assez peu de gens avaient accès à internet.
Il existait à l’époque quelques sites de graffiti; des acteurs majeurs comme aero.fr en France, et puis Graffiti.org bien sur, et une nuée de «petits» sites, mais la plupart n’avaient pas de critères de sélections, ils présentaient les quelques rares photos dont ils disposaient en numérique. Les photos étaient principalement scannées et de petit format, les connections internet rapides n’étant pas encore vraiment accessible et la photo numérique était balbutiante.
Les seuls sites qui permettaient de voir autre chose que du graffiti classique étaient celui d’Obeythegiant et les gens qui gravitaient autour de lui comme Acamonchi ou Do the math. Space Invader faisait aussi parti des précurseurs et Miss Van avait quelques fans qui avaient créé des pages en son honneur.
L’idée du site était de montrer des choses que l’on ne voyait ni sur le web ni dans les magazines: des trains du sud-ouest et du graffiti «émancipé du hip-hop».
I can’t exactly remember when the website was put online for the first time. It was around the end of 1999, I just had stopped doing graffiti after 10 years of practise. The site was a way for me to put an end to this period and to go on to something else. Contrary to my original idea, I couldn’t imagine it would maintain my interest for another decade. At first I didn’t buy the domain name “ekosystem.org”. My first host was a free associative website host, altern.org . The site in its original form contained train pictures and some graffiti deviating from the norm , mainly people from Bordeaux like Cha or Sobre. I guess that around me few people had access to the Internet.
At the time there were a few graffiti sites – main actors like aero.fr in France and of course Graffiti.org, and a swarm of “small” sites, but most of them had no criteria of selection and only displayed the few digitised pictures they had under hand. Most of the time the pictures were scanned and small format, since fast Internet connections weren’t really available and digital photography was in its infancy.
The only sites that allowed anything else than classical graffiti to be seen were the ones of Obeygiant and of people gravitating around him like Acamonchi or Do the math.
Space Invader was amongst the precursors as well, and Miss Van had a few fans that had created fan pages in her honour.
The idea of the site was to show things that wouldn’t be seen elsewhere on the web or in magazines : southwestern trains and graffiti «emancipated from hip-hop».
La SNCF n’arrive plus à nettoyer les TER du sud-ouest. La quasi-totalité des wagons sont peints. Le site présente une dizaine de nouvelles photos de trains par semaine ce qui pour l’époque était un rythme de mise à jour élevé. Les mises à jours étaient fastidieuses, et l’ajout d’une photo nécessitait la saisie de quelques lignes d’HTML.
Mon camarade de graffiti des années 90 et de demo-coding de la fin des années 80: Julien v3ga me rejoint pour faire vivre le site, il mitraille le réseau TER d’aquitaine et va très vite s’occuper de toute la partie technique du site et ce jusqu’à aujourd’hui. Le site recevait une centaine de visiteurs par jour. Ça nous paraissait énorme.
En parallèle j’essaie de mettre en avant des gens faisant des choses un peu différentes depuis un certain temps comme La Mano, Hnt, Jace, Miss Van, le 33 (east eric), Vania ou Space Invader et une mini scène se crée progressivement autour d’ekosystem. Des artistes comme Krisprolls, 108, Cre ou Santy se reconnaissent dans les travaux présentés sur ekosystem et commencent à m’envoyer des photos (souvent par la Poste pour que je les scanne)
La scène Parisienne est incroyablement inspirée et inspirante avec Space Invader, Hnt, Zevs, Stak, Andre…
Pas mal d’articles commencent à paraître sur Sheppard Fairey, le mot street-art n’existe pas encore, pas mal de gens commencent à faire des affiches et des stickers sous l’influence du géant californien, on parle alors de «propaganda». Akayism fera parti de ceux qui ont marqué cette époque en Europe. Space invader commence à être invité dans différents festivals dans le monde.
Stickernation.net apparaît, super design, super code, il accompagnera l’explosion des stickers au Pays Bas.
Naissance du site d’El Tono qui avant d’être un site centré sur son travail, présentait un panorama de la scène du moment.
The SNCF (the national french train company) can’t manage to clean the regional trains in the south-west anymore. Almost all waggons are painted. The site displays a dozen of fresh train pictures every week, which for the time was a high update rhythm. The update process was tiresome, and the addition of a new picture needed the attachment of a few lines of HTML. My graffiti partner from the 90’s and demo-coding partner from the late 80’s, Julien v3ga joins in so that the site can continue to live, he strafes the regional network of our region and very soon takes control of all the technical part of the site’s management, and is still doing it today. The site had a hundred of visitors a day, which at the time seemed huge for us.
In parallel, I try to put forward the works of people who have been doing slightly different things for some time, such as La Mano, Hnt, Jace, Miss Van, le 33 (east eric),
Vania or Space Invader, and progressively a small scene takes shape around ekosystem. Artists like Krisprolls, 108, Cre or Santy identify themselves with the work presented on ekosystem and start sending me pictures, often by post mail so that I can scan them.
The Parisian scene is incredibly inspired and inspiring, with Space Invader, Hnt, Zevs, Stak, Andre…
Quite a few articles are published about Sheppard Fairey, even though the word “street-art” doesn’t exist yet, people start making posters and stickers under the influence of the Californian giant, and the word “propaganda” is employed to define this trend. Akayism will be part of the ones who have left their mark in that period of time in Europe.
Space Invader starts being invited in different festivals all over the world.
Stickernation.net appears, with super design and super coding, and accompanies the sticker explosion in the Netherlands.
Birth of El Tono’s site, which before being centred around his work, presented a panorama of the scene at that time.
Le site commence à prendre de l’ampleur je me décide à acheter le nom de domaine ekosystem.org et à prendre un vrai hébergement payant. Les 1eres interviews font leur apparition (Space Invader108, Cha…).
Ekosystem devient le point de rassemblement pour toute une scène européenne émergeante. Quelques noms parmi les gens actifs à l’époque ( 108, Alexone, Bild, Bo130, Crusty, El Euro, Etron, Ewos, Flying Fortress, Gomes, Krsn, Pez, The Plug, Santy, Stirb, Supakitch, Wood…)
Le simple fait de peindre autre chose que des lettres, de ne pas signer son travail ou d’utiliser un autre outil que la bombe nous paraissait -de façon assez naïve- incroyablement frais et inventif.
Sous l’influence de La Mano, Suso33, Osta ou de Stak, c’est la mode des pictogrammes, un symbole à la place d’un tag.
The site is becoming more and more extensive and I decide to buy the domain name ekosystem.org and take a true paying web hosting. The first interviews appear (Space Invader, 108 and Cha)
Ekosystem becomes the gathering point for a great part of the emerging European scene. A few names amongst the active ones of the time (108, Alexone, Bild, Bo130, Crusty, El Euro, Etron, Ewos, Flying Fortress, Gomes, Krsn, Pez, The Plug, Santy, Stirb, Supakitch, Wood…)
The simple fact of painting something else than letters, not signing one’s work or use another tool than spay paint seemed to us -quite naively- incredibly fresh and inventive.
Under the influence of La Mano, Suso33, Osta or Stak, it’s the fashion for pictographs, a symbol instead of a tag.
Les réseaux sociaux n’existant pas encore, ekosystem était le passage obligé pour rencontrer et découvrir d’autres artistes. Le mot street-art commence à être utilisé ici et là, même si il est rejeté par la plupart des acteurs. Il sera cependant adopté faute de mieux dans les mois qui suivent et deviendra synonyme de graffiti branché.
Je met en place un forum de discussion sur le site et sous l’influence de Santy, Cha & Mr Poulet, on lance un projet collectif appelé: Don’t copy me. Une trentaine d’artistes (principalement européens mais aussi quelques autres d’ailleurs comme Above) m’envoient une production sur le thème de la copie. L’enthousiasme est réel, on commence à se rendre compte de la puissance d’internet pour connecter les gens et de la vitalité de la scène. C’est un vrai succès, le début d’une certaine visibilité, pas mal d’articles dans la presse sont publiés et le slogan sera même repris par une chaîne de magasin de vêtement en France.
Quelques fanzines photocopiés apparaissent, encore une fois la facilité avec laquelle Internet nous permet de réaliser des projets rapidement avec des intervenants vivants à des milliers de kilomètres nous semble incroyable.
Urban Discipline à Hambourg rassemble les acteurs les plus intéressants du moment Stak, Honet, Andre, Zedz, Alexone, la Mano et pour sûrement la seule et unique fois Banksy à visage découvert pour une exposition collective.
Quelques artistes qui marqueront cette année sur ekosystem: TT crew, Ewos, Erosie, Dave Warnke, Shes54 aka bfree, Hoernchen, Gil Bensmana, Pixel Phil aka OPT, BO130 & Microbo.
– Un nouveau site Parisien va rassembler la scène parisienne pendant quelques temps: Armvr.net
– Le collectif «Une Nuit» recouvre les 4 par 3 parisiens d’affiches de François Morel, Sich, Gilbert, Space Invader, Stak, Osta, El Tono, La Nuria, Parapluie, Hermes, Miss Van, Hondo, L’Atlas…
– Le Scrawl collective publie un premier livre sur les stickers: Stick’em up.
– Stickit.nl prend le relais de stickernation qui peine à sortir une nouvelle version de leur site. Les pays bas sont maintenant recouverts depuis plusieurs mois de stickers de Space3, Influenza, Sol crew, Ewos, Wood…
– Sortie du magazine WorldSigns dirigé par Olivier Stak.
Most of the social networks don’t exist yet, ekosystem was the necessary stop to meet and discover other artists. The word street-art starts being used here and there, even, if rejected by most of the actors. It will nevertheless be adopted during the following months in the absence of anything better, and become synonymous with trendy graffiti.
I organise the news group on the site, and under the influence of Santy, Cha & Mr Poulet we start a collective project called “Don’t copy me” . Some 30 artists ( Mostly European but others as well from elsewhere like Above) send me a production on the theme of copy. The enthusiasm is real, we start realising the power of the Internet in connecting people and the vitality of the scene. It is a real success, the start of some visibility for all involved, a couple articles are published in the press and the slogan will even be taken afterwards by a clothing company in France.
A few photocopied fanzines appear, and once again the easiness with which Internet enables us to realise projects rapidly and with contributors living thousands of miles from us seems incredible.
Urban Discipline in Hamburg gathers the most interesting actors of the moment, Stak, Honet, Andre, Zedz, Alexone, la Mano and perhaps for the one and only occasion Banksy openly painting, for a collective exhibition.
A few artists that branded that year on ekosystem :TT crew, Ewos, Erosie, Dave Warnke, Shes54 aka bfree, Hoernchen, Gil Bensmana, Pixel Phil aka OPT, BO130 & Microbo.
-A new Parisian site will gather the scene there for some time: Armvr.net
-The collective “Une nuit” covers the Parisian billboards with posters from François Morel, Sich, Gilbert, Space Invader, Stak, Osta, El Tono, La Nuria, Parapluie, Hermes, Miss Van, Hondo, L’Atlas…
-The Scrawl collective publishes a first book on stickers: Stick’em up.
-Stickit.nl takes the relay of Stickernation, which has trouble releasing a new version of their site. The Netherlands are now covered, since a few months, with stickers from Space3, Influenza, Sol crew, Ewos, Wood…
-Release of WorldSigns magazine directed by Olivier Stak.
Special thanks to Delco for the translation to english.
Russian translation of the article here by Aske/Sicksystems