Christian Hundertmark aka C100 author of The Art of Rebellion books shared a few words with us 13 years after the 1st AOR book.
– When you wrote the 1st Art Of Rebellion in 2004, the goal was to
present that new post-hip-hop-graffiti scene also known as street-art.
What is “Art of Rebellion 4” about ? In general it’s the same topic as the previous ones: introducing street art / graffiti to a wider audience. But this time with a new approach: Instead of just documenting / introducing the most interesting new works I asked each artist to select his most favorite work and write a short text why they had chosen the particular piece. This led to really interesting results which gives the reader a new insight on each artists work concept.
– According to you what are the biggest changes the urban-art scene have experienced last decade ? In my personal humble opinion I’d say that street art made a very
successful step in terms of attracting recognition from people outside
the scene which had both positive and negative aspects. I mean nowadays everyone knows what street art is…! One one hand that’s a great development as many artists got the chance to step into the contemporary art world, doing big art shows in galleries and can make a good living out of it etc., which I think is nice as it proofs that this young art form got the respect it definitely deserved. On the other hand it got a bit predictable, some artists works got very hyped even though their work weren’t very inventive and more or less unambitious.The use of stereotypes seemed like there was a ultimate street art cook recipe: Some drips here, some sampling of pop art there, some punk attitude and there you have the street artist the audience expect to be the next Banksy…. which I think is a bit lame.Still in general I think the quality of the works made a huge step!
– When I compare the photos of the 1st AOR and the new one, what I notice is that nowadays many artworks are huge and legal. Nowadays the
urban-scene seems to be run mainly by professionals. Is the title “Art
of Rebellion” still accurate ? And has the street-art scene been really rebellious one day ? Yes, this is a justified question and I think if it wasn’t a series considering another title would make sense :) but if you start form the basis each artist featured has street credibility and authenticity. Most of them still work in the streets illegally which could be contemplated as a rebellious act in a way, too. Still, I’m aware that „real" rebellion is connected to much more radical acting but I think the title is a great wordplay which makes totally sense in this context of art. Also I’d like to add that by asking the artists for their most favorite artwork they ever did anything would have been possible. And this is what happened in the end. This book is more like an opener for the viewer to get into the whole work portfolio of each featured artist. I.e. Honets feature (both photo & text), which is one of my favorites, it’s essential that you know both what his current works AND his background from day one. I’m really happy that this concept worked out so good.
– In the book we can see people work that were in the previous books, but also new artists. Can you tell us a few names of people you discovered recently and enjoy the work ? (they don’t need to be in AOR4)
I discovered the work of Hayden Kays, Hot Tea, Maser and Mobstr during the process. Even though others maybe knew their works before I got into their art more or less by chance and I’m really happy to have them in the book!
– Like many of us I like good punchlines and slogans written on walls or on stickers. Under your C100 alias, you did excellent “Cash rules ruins everything around me” posters. That was an instant-classic to me. But I
discovered in AOR4 that crazy story about the Wu-tang trying to sell
copies of your work claiming it was an original work from Banksy. Could you sum-up this unbelievable story ? Haha, yes to say it in one sentence: Wutang tried to fool the internet by telling that „The Cash ruins everything around me“ poster was done by Banksy and selling it as a limited screen print for 100$ as a Wutang/Banksy collab – and I found out about it! As
everyone knows, if you have Banksy involved the attention and value of a print will rise exorbitantly and very fast hence it’s much easier to sell…. The problem was that someone send me the link to that post on the Wu Disciples Blog and I found out about this hoax. In the very beginning the screenprint also had a Banksy Logo on it! Unfortunately I didn’t make a screenshot of this. After a few emails back and forth with Wu Disciples manager we agreed to make a screenprints with the original artist (me) and donate the earned money to “Doctors without Borders” but even though I organised everything at one point I didn’t got any more replies and it came to nothing. Luckily the internet doesn’t forget, so did I :) and when working on the book I found almost all links that proof the truth of this unbelievable story.
– Do you expect to do an “Art of Rebellion 5” one day ? I think it’s the same answer like for the last 4 books: Maybe, …we’ll see what happens. But I can imagine that this can happen, for now I’m happy with the latest result :) Thanks for the interview!
The Art of Rebellion #4 216 pages – English- ISBN: 978-3-939566-49-6 About 35€ – Available at Stylefile
I took advantage of the release of Get Rowdyby Rowdy from Bristol to ask him a few questions about his book, his work and his city.
– Can you present yourself? How did it all begin?
Well attached is the 1st actual Rowdy piece I did in Bristol in 1992 taken from someone’s (graffarty) instagram . I had different tags from 87 up until this point.
– Get Rowdy book is about your works from the last 7 years. You started in the late eighties. With such a long carrier, haven’t you been tempted to show your earlier works?
Of course it would be nice to show earlier work, much of which was actually destroyed due to a studio fire back in 2010. I was looking for narrative and wanted to show where my head is currently at, in terms of being a creative.
Has it been difficult to select the photos ?
It’s frustrating when you have done a cool piece and the photo’s don’t quite cut it. I think for this reason it was absolutely integral for the book to have Alex Ellison on board his work is mainly focused around London being the modern graffiti archivist he is very meticulous in his endeavors and captures a phenomenal amount of writers transient work and his night shots are stunning.
– Cats, rats and birds are popular animals on the walls. Do you remember how your obsession with crocodile started ?
Playing & painting in Quarries was the catalyst, dwelling in the underground space gets you thinking about creatures like fossils and crocodiles. Given the fact these vast clearances of the land pave the way for our roads and Cities helped me focus on the Ancient V Modern. Initially I decided to paint various creatures on some of the large remaining boulders one of the 1st being a Crocodile circa 2003. I went on to make several installations in different quarries during the mid naughties and not long after this I took the Croc to the streets.There were already cats like La Mano and Pez doing the logo bombing thing not to mention Keith Haring way back plus characters had always been a big part of my repertoire during my graff years. I just wanted to connect with a different audience whilst retaining a fairly hardcore graffiti aesthetic what’s more the quarry work wasn’t getting the attention of the usual graff watchers and I liked this, it was a great time as you know so much was happening and practitioners were pushing our beloved art form in all kinds of directions back then, and I didn’t feel to cynical about it as I do sometimes these days.
– You collaborate very often with friends like Sweet toof or Goldpeg. What do you like most, painting alone or with other people?
The shared experience of being wild and having fun is such a buzz. It helps set you free from the mental torment you have to endure on your own as an artist in say the studio or the business world. The crew helps validate each others work.On the other hand when alone there is the chance to really get in the zone see how far you can push things, this particularly applies to my abstract work.
– In the book you present some abstract works I didn’t know from you. This is really different than your graffiti work. Have you ever thought about painting such pieces outside?
On a couple of occasions this work has appeared outdoors and maybe I will revisit that idea again at some point ultimately I just wanted to keep something back for myself that couldn’t so easily be ripped,buffed or written over. To have some longevity in the contemporary art world as well as in peoples homes, slightly more conventional I guess but there again try being an abstract artist in Britain?
I’m also interested in some of the parallels between wildstyle graffiti and abstract art, many don’t like their street art too complicated so in a sense it provides a nice counter balance to my Croc work.
– Bristol graffiti scene has always been known worldwide thanks to 3D featured in Spray Can art book, and of course more recently because of Banksy. According to you has all this attention to Bristol graffiti scene been a good thing ? (Little story, a colleague who has absolutely no particular interest in graffiti or graphic design went to Bristol last summer. He told me the best thing about his holidays was the Bristol street-art tour he paid…)
Bristol has a fantastic history and it’s a shame 3D’s pieces never got the same Banksy heritage status but how could they given the times, I guess for me that’s why the book is a form of preservation. Jon Nation who works on some of the tours is undoubtedly a recommendation as far as I’m concerned as he’s a proper Bristolian and been around for time and a big supporter to all concerned. So yeah I would suggest it’s well worth a visit and the pound is now weaker due to Brexit. There are types trying to regulate our scene having never come from an Art/ Graffiti background offering up walls that are looking some what watered down or trying to hard in their approach . Generally it’s a good mix here but as property prices rocket we need more Artist lead projects if we want credible art in the City and hope the vandals don’t get caught going about their activity.
– If you could explore and paint anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
I’ve still not been to Lisbon, I think a spell in Canada could be nice. Many of my abstract works are a form of travel, fictional and imagined locations I’ve never been to like Franz Kafka’s vivid description of an America he never visited.
– Can you present yourself? How did it all begin? Did you write letters before painting pirates? Hello
everyone, i work under the name of Dreyk the Pirate and i’m living in
sunny Athens – Greece, working as a designer / illustrator mostly on magazines. It all begun in the late 90’s, with a couple of friends when I started spraying my crew’s name “BTS”. I was always the one from the crew, who drew a character beside BTS. My characters were kinda “comic-realistic” style so after a while i was bored of making shades. My Graphic Design studies and stuff through magazines, books and ekosystem.org, influenced me and in 2004 I started drawing in streets a navy motif. Boats, mermaids, squids, pirates, anything from sea imaginary. The last years I was using mostly blue and white but since the beginning of 2016, orange replaced blue.
– Your characters look more like fishermen or very nice pirates than actual dangerous pirates. What attracts you to pirates ? I draw mostly fat sailors nowadays and yeah, they look pretty far from dangerous. Actually, everything i draw looks childish and cute.
Dreyk the Pirate and
– You painted lately with Antios. Do you enjoy painting with other artists? Of course, i always enjoy painting with friends and other artists.
– You paint most of the time in abandoned house in broad daylight in
Athens streets. Is Athens as open as it seems to street painting? Well, that’s the thing about Athens… Athens is full with old abandoned houses, and i prefer that because (almost) no one gives a shit. Also I love the textures of old walls. So, the reason i prefer doing it in broad daylight, is that i love connecting with the people passing by or coming close to see what I’m painting. It makes me feel great seeing smiles on their faces. I believe, a walk through the center of Athens will convince everybody how open it is.
You used to paint with spraycans, but on your more recent works you use brushes. What are your preferred tool ? And do you have the feeling people are less “scared” when they see people with brushes than with spraycans ? Yes, let’s say, for Greek people is less “scary” if they see someone painting in streets with brushes and rollers. They have a “thing” when they see spraycans, plus, emulsion paint is much cheaper than spraycans.
– Which artists from Athens you like or could point out? I could say my favorite by far is Vasilis Markosian a.k.a. IMPE.
Dreyk the Pirate and Antios
– If you could explore and paint anywhere in the world, where would you go and why? Every place in the world has its magic, but if i have to choose then it would be Asian countries.
– What do you do when you’re not painting? I love drinking cold coffee with my girl, watching lots of movies indoors, listening music, and playing with my black cat.
When did you start the Toaster project? Is the Toaster a collective or a single person?
Myself and two others started the Toaster project on New Years Eve, 1998. We put our first stickers up the next day, January 1st 1999. For the last 2 years it’s been just me doing it. It was a naturally progression as I was always the one doing most of the painting and art anyway. We were all cool with the decision.
Did you write letters before starting the Toaster project? I wrote ‘traditional’ graffiti from 1985 when I was a young kid. I watched the film Style Wars and saw the book Subway Art and it essentially changed my life overnight. I carried on painting graffiti until 1997 but gradually I was deciding I wanted a change of direction. I still loved getting up but wanted to be more conceptual and to stimulate more questions from the public as well as other writers.
What keeps you still painting? Can you ever feel tired of the Toaster project? Do you see yourself still doing it in 5 or 10 years? I’ve honestly never got bored of the Toaster image I paint. Rather than it being restrictive painting the same thing I found the initial repetition quite satisfying. Once the image was up in many cities across the world and people knew about it, there was a natural progression for me to deconstruct it and paint pieces with abstracted elements of the Toaster. People still see the Toaster within these pieces but it’s also a way of me going full circle back to my graffiti roots. I’m painting walls that feel like graffiti pieces, with shadow, bold colours, graphic lines and shapes forming letters but it’s all done with me using parts of the Toaster. I’ve got plenty of ideas to push these pieces further, to go more complex or strip them back to be more minimal so yes I’ll defiantly be painting the Toaster in 20 years let alone 5 or 10 years! I’ve been doing it for 17 years already so why not.
You painted several times with Zime from Eindhoven. Do you frequently collaborate with other artists? I try and find a balance between painting in isolation and painting collaborative walls. You can learn a lot from both. I often take an element of my last wall and inject it into my next wall. It’s a natural timeline and progression. I’ve painted with Zime a lot the last 10 years. Firstly he’s a good friend but I also respect him as an artist. He’s very precise in his technique. He also likes using only 2 or 3 colours and I enjoy having to adapt my piece to complement his. I’ve also painted walls with Will Barras, Sektie, Space3, Erosie and Roa to name but a few. Also we organised a big Toaster show in London in 2009 with 15 artists. Each painted a Toaster collaboration piece with me and the other Toaster guys. That was sweet.
In the early 00’s in France there was someone named “Krisprolls” who also painted toasters. Do you know him or his work? What is the deal with Toasters? I don’t know the Krisprolls guy personally but yes I saw his work years ago. Sometimes people would email me asking if it was me but I only paint the one type of Toaster! When us 3 guys started the Toaster project it’s wasn’t because we were really obsessed with an electrical toaster! We simply wanted an image to get up on the streets. It had to be already recognizable so the public asked ‘why?’ not ‘what is it?’. Also we thought it would be cryptic to put the image of a household object on the streets. It would seem slightly bizarre and get folks asking questions. Finally we choose the Toaster image as an insular concept. Like I said at the start of the interview we came up with it on New Years Eve 1998. We were at a house party but as ever we found ourselves away from the main party. We always hung out in the kitchen. Yes it is where the fridge is which means we are nearer the beer, but also we didn’t fit in so much with the main party. We wanted to talk about graffiti in the kitchen while others wanted to dance in the living room. So we thought ‘let’s choose a kitchen object to represent us’! I loved the idea then and love still getting it out there nearly two decades later.
Can you present yourself? How did it all begin Muretz? I am from Sao Paulo, Brazil, and I’ve been working as an artist for many years, here and in the UK mainly. I am quite new to graffiti, been painting for about 3 years only. I began doing it just for fun, and seeing the reaction from people to my work got me addicted to it. I like to express myself with my art and found in graffiti a great way of doing so.
You live in Sao Paulo, you work doesn’t seem to be influenced by the vivid local scene. Could you tell us what are you main influences? Well I think the local scene is mainly about tagging and putting an art piece out there just for the fun or beauty of it. But I always thought street art is about communication, sending a message to the people out there and few local artists do that in their work, so I decided taking that path. My influences are mainly outside of the graffiti world, they go back to when I was a children’s book illustrator. I am also a big fan of TV cartoons, so a lot of my inspiration comes from that I suppose.
One of your iconic image is the red and blue 3D glasses. Do you have a childhood memory of these glasses like a 3D movie maybe? I keep a pair of those glasses at home as a decoration piece and one day I thought about doing something about it. I thought it would be interesting to put it out there and have done a few versions of it. People seem to have fun with that so yeah, I guess its one of my favourites.
If you could explore and paint anywhere in the world, where would you go and why? I want to go to the Middle East. I have never been there but I know it would be a great place to spread my art.
-Please, tell me a few words about yourself. -My name is angeltoren. I’m from Murcia in Spain. I discovered graffiti in 2003, but I started doing my first pieces in 2007.
-What does inspire you? -I am inspired by linear artists typerfaces
and architects. “Hans Vredeman de Vries” is one of the artists in my
current job references (fullines) apart from futuristic retro style.
– Do you enjoy painting with other artists? -I love painting with my colleagues and everyone who is willing to paint a mural.
-What do you do when you’re not painting? -I work in a company making 3D designs for processing stone and when I do not work prepare my next designs for my walls.
Can you introduce yourself ? Where do you come from?
I come from the Czech Republic but I currently live in Indonesia. Yogyakarta is the City where I study indonesian painting and batik at Institut Seni Indonesia. I am a painter based on the esthetics of graphic design which I did more than 10 years long and almost 20 years I deal with graffiti, street art and murals.
You are now living in Indonesia. Is it a good place to paint ? What are the main differences with painting in Europe?
One of the reasons why I’m here is absolute freedom in street painting. Here there are not something like illegal graffiti because it isn’t considered like an act of vandalism. Local people consider it as an art and the police also has more important things to do such as fining people on the street and standing at waroeng (local fastfood). Art has a long tradition here. Jogja is a cultural and artistic center of Java, if not the whole of Indonesia. Another advantage is the wild urbanist of Asian cities and Jogja is one of them. There are many places for painting like narrow streets and abandoned houses. But in the other hand i have to be more patient because of Tropical climate with strong sun and high humidity, which makes it very difficult to paint during midday and afternoon. Everything takes more time.
Is there a local graffiti scene or are graffiti only made by strangers?
I was surprised by the size of the local scene and its diversity and the proof is there are eight graffiti shops in the city. In the city it is also possible to meet world-famous names of graffiti and street art.
How would you describe your style? What are your artistic influences?
My work is basically abstract. I used to paint and deform letter but at the moment I fall in love with number eight which is also the symbol of infinity in a horizontal position. This describes my relationship to painting; infinity work, infinity satisfaction, infinity adventure etc…
I am inspired by contemporary grafffuture movements and the work of a lot of abstract muralist like Momo, Hense and many others. I am also inspired by the Poland scene and by my colleague LUDEK aka KEIM who stays at home with his family whom i collaborate with in distance.
What do you do when you’re not painting?
Travel, travel and travel. There are so many wonderful places that are awaiting to be visited for example volcanoes, temples, waterfalls, beaches, caves and many more. And of course sometimes i have to show my face at the school.
What aspect of Czech Republic do you miss the most in Indonesia?
Things work in a different way and pace here. I have to be extra patient when i want to buy something, fix, manage, or even dealing with bureaucracy. Sometimes the Indonesian exaggerated politeness combined with laziness and special logic can turn into hell on earth. And last thing that I miss are good beer and fine wine. Indonesia is an Islamic country that is why it is difficult to get a good quality alcohol. Lot of things which I don’t miss me more than that i miss.
Can you present yourself? What initially brought you to graffiti? And when did you make the transition to painting portraits? Hendrik ecb Beikirch, traveling the world. Currently living and working in Koblenz, Germany.
I started in 1989 with classical graffiti, but within a short while changed to more of a unique approach.
Back then my concepts where more focused on graphical shapes whereas nowadays the ideas of my work have more of a fine art approach focusing on textures, showing expression within my portraits through a more painterly means rather than just using spray.
Who are the people you paint? In both my large-scale murals and canvases, I want to paint people whose faces tell a story; therefore I take inspiration from accidental and brief encounters.
Taking life back to the streets. Real expressions, faces with stories to tell.
Digital media has changed the way we see beauty anyway. Most faces we see printed in public like on billboards or ads appear unnatural.
Are your faces always related to the place where you paint them? The faces are not always related to the place where they are painted.
The portrait has to fit the wall and vice versa, this is a lot about that first feeling.
From a distance, I hope it reads as photo-realistic perfection, yet somewhat unreal due to the drips and abstract textures.
My goal is one should relate so much to the painting from afar, that once he/she stands close, it becomes vague and abstract again.
Can you tell us what we will find in your book: Blurring Boundaries ?
documents on 208 pages my achievements of the last years. It captures the two fields I worked on: Fictional faces and portraits of real people, both on walls and on canvas.
Was it difficult to select the photos for the book?
As I do spend a lot of time on the photographic documentation of my woks it was kind of tough to select the best photos.
You’re known for painting large scale paintings. I can imagine it is very satisfying when the work is done. But do you really take fun painting these big walls? It is what I love to do. In fact painting big walls is relief and fun all at once for me.
When I am in the cherry picker basket – even if I paint quite fast, like doing the side of a 12 story building in three days – a day is less hectic and stressful just like when smoking from a CBD Cartridge.
If it comes to art in public space I believe you got two options to go for: Clandestine, small, hidden and tiny or as big or tall as it can get.
Art has to compete with architecture, advertisements, and passers-by attention in busy city streets.
You only got a few seconds to catch the attention, to get this first impact.
That’s why I go for the bigger the better.
When you have been asked to paint that 70m high wall in South Korea, have you instantly accepted or have you hesitated? When I first saw a photo of the wall, I was instantly stoked. Arriving at the site it was even better.
The Daniel Libeskind skyscrapers in the background offered a perfect background, both on an aesthetically and content level.
I can imagine you don’t suffer from vertigo… ? I don’t suffer from vertigo, but as the cherry picker basket was open on the front the view down was something I had to get used to.
Are you sometimes tempted by adding colors to your portraits ?
No, not really.
If it comes to capture emotions in a portrait I think black and white is the best way to go, plus with the big walls you have to break it down to a only a few shades anyway.
And just black and white are so strong by themselves..
What does inspire you, and who’s work are you into? My art teacher in school had lived in NYC in the early eighties.
In our drawing room hung a poster he had brought from over there with photos of painted subway cars on it. I was totally fascinated by the Lee Quinones “Stop the Bomb” wholecar.
Besides that the installation Gottfried Helnwein did in Cologne in 1988 in memory of “Kristallnacht” (The Night of Broken Glass 1938). A hundred meter long wall of pictures with large images of children’s faces, in a seemingly endless row. When I saw this back then it blew my mind.
Nowadays Gerhard Richter for his realism and diversity. Richard Serra for combining art and physical experience as well as for the way he works with public space.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Nothing last forever.
In the end all you have is what you stood for. I am trying to get this right.
BLURRING BOUNDARIES by Hendrik ecb Beikirch
208 full color pages
Please, tell me a few words about yourself. When and how did you discover graffiti? I’m from Italy and I started painting in 1994. I was just a kid but I already knew graffiti, it really started when someone painted the school facade. That summer I met the authors and I did my first piece. Twenty years later I’m still a kid.
– Your work is going more and more abstract everyday. Do you still have the feeling to write letters? Is the next step to go totally abstract? – I always begin with writing letters. My way of doing leads me to consider writing as an act of painting and painting as an act of writing. I think letters are abstract themselves.
– Some of your latest pieces reminds some works from the fat315 crew from Ukraine. Who or what influenced or inspired you? How did you develop your very personal style ? – Fat315 crew… I think their style is great. There are a lot of good artist in Europe, lately I enjoyed some works from Eastern Europe and Russia. Philosophy, literature, cinema, architecture and artists from XX century is what mostly influences me now but at the beginning only a couple of local graffiti writers inspired me deeply… Omaek193 above all. I have always considered graffiti as chances for changing in general. Sometimes I’ve moved ahead other times I’ve looked back but I always pay attention to the sign. It’s not only about technique: when I let the drips touch the ground or cover other materials, the piece seems to me real and unreal at the same time. I have developed Abik as a parody.
– What are your preferred methods of production and what materials do you like to use? – During this last few years I have focused on strokes. Basically I do a first monochrome layer with paint roller. When I paint walls in my town I wait for a few days or weeks before going back to the wall to make a second one. Sometimes I don’t come back at all. I like the fact that every step could work by itself… I want to feel time, for example in winter the weather creates some unexpected effects. I often use sticks to scratch the piece and eventually I add fast outlines… then I rest again…
– Which artists from Italy you like or could point out? – Most of my favourite writers stopped painting at the end of the nineties… recently, I rediscovered some works of Lemon (Milan)… unbelievable.
Won ABC has just released Zombie Love a new book published by Publikat. I took advantage of the book to ask to Won -a true european graffiti pioneer and zombie fan- a few questions.
Can you present yourself? What initially brought you to graffiti? When did you get down with ABC crew?
Hi, my name is WON from ABC crew Munich Germany. I started graf in 1984 like most europeans by the legendary film Wildstyle. I founded the abc crew in 1987 together with Cowboy 69 from Munich.
What does inspire you, and who’s work are you into?
Most inspiration comes by travelling around the world and life itself. Visual artists i like are: Hieronymus Bosch, Caravaggio, Robert Williams, Mucha, Michelangelo, Goya, HR Giger, Robin Page, Dürer, Leonardo Da Vinci, Simon Bisley, Bode, Milo Manara ….and some more.
You’ve been painting for such a long time. How did the way you see graffiti change over the years?
It became large over the world over the years, but it still does not get the respect it should earn.. but time will come soon.
I do remember when I saw for the 1st time on a magazine your famous dragon end-to-end. It has been a real shock for many of us. Can you tell us a bit about this piece?
I did 2 parts on train of that steel ta2 dragons in 1993, the third one was unfinished only outlines cause I had to escape , the main thing was to fill up a big surface on a train by just an image and not with letters, steel ta2 was a symbol for ta2ing trains with Canz.
I think you have been able to paint it again?
That is a funny story. The blue dragon was running for one week then the authorities buffed only the face of the dragon and let the train run damaged again, some day later I was so lucky by accident to find exactly this one in a train-yard and repainted it like before, but I forget one tooth, in my book colour kamikaze you can see both versions…just count the teeth.
There are 2 part in your new book “Zombie Love”. The 1st one is illustrations/comics about Zombies, and the 2nd one is about your graffiti work. Can you tell us the concept, or at least the idea of this book?
ZOMBIELOVE story covers 73 pages. Chapter one sets the scene for a zombie story in 2101, featuring a versatile character through various types and techniques of illustration. A scientist accidentally brings dead people back to life. The problem this creates for the citizens of Paracity goes beyond the zombies’ passion for graffiti and vandalism. By biting humans the zombies multiply and become a zombie epidemic, which soon threatens to exterminate humanity. The second chapter of the book features an 80-page retrospective of my work over the last 13 years in symbiosis with the storyline of ZOMBIELOVE. There are paintings, sculptures, train graffiti and other activities. Countries such as the United States, Cuba, Jamaica and many more have been infected…
On the 2nd part of the book, we can see many photos of your graffiti work with you or friends wearing zombie masks. Do you make the masks yourself?
Half and half, I modified existing masks the way they should look, an easy and fast way for me.
At the beginning of the book, there’s an enthusiastic message of one of your art-school teacher. What did the time spend at the Royal Academy of fine Arts in Munich bring to you?
He is a good friend of mine. At the Royal Academy of fine Arts in Munich I was able to realize my projects for 6 years without thinking too much about money with the student status I got some money each month, I only went there for half an year for some lessons, you had to do no tests. My teacher told me we can drink and paint together but this school system is shit. And that is true. You cannot learn to become an artist.
If I visited Munich, which are the places I shouldn’t miss?
Octoberfest and my studio.
Are you busy with any new projects you can tell us about?
I have plans for a new book about travelling, animals and plants the rest is secret….
And finally can you list your best 3 zombie movies?
All stuff from George Romero, Nosferatu from Fritz Lang, and some stuff from Lucio Fulci.
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.