A different kind of interview for us since it’s the first time we’ll be talking about style writing with one of the most recognized representatives of this kind in Greece. In other words, lune82…
Have you studied anything in relation to visual arts, how did you got engaged with graffiti?
My relationship with graffiti began around 1996 in my school and neighborhood, more seriously and intensively in 1998 with Dan and some other kids from my area. At that time there was no internet and everything was difficult for those getting involved with graffiti. So being influenced by some others associated with the NBW and by the period graffiti magazines we could collect we started getting into its culture while design as maniacs and whenever we could we’d go secretly from our parents to illegal graffiti. My initial studies are around the subject of business and management, no relation to visual arts and as it turned out then they didn’t win me over after all. My last degree though is around graphic design, something I like which continues to influence me in my style along with some visual trends.
You’re interested in styles, how difficult is it to create a piece of this kind and which are the stages of your work process?
My main subject in graffiti is style writing and my greatest love letters. To create a style every writer has his own ritual, so I always draw on an A4 with pencil and eraser, if there is time I’ll combine all the elements of the composition (forms of letters – elements – background) with the colors and the effects and details I want, if there isn’t I’ll simply make a clean and calculated drawing with all the forms of the letters, details and background without color and I’ll make the composition of the colors during the creation on the wall. In case I don’t have an organized color palette, I’ll do the color composition freestyle!
If there was any connection with graphic design we’d be talking clearly about typography. How has your engagement with styles affected your graphic design and vice versa?
There’s a connection with graphic design even though the common eye won’t directly see it, however it’s not just about typography, there are elements influenced by visual art movements such as constructivism, optical & kinetic art, pure forms of graphic design and gradients, as well as bold clean lines, symmetries and harmonies. My involvement with styles has influenced me to move more towards the creation of logos, typography and custom lettering, while graphic design to the things I mentioned above but also to deal with digital graffiti, something that not many writers do, which is also the combination of the two things I like.
This particular form of art in public space is probably the most misunderstood. Most people connect it with vandalism, since such pieces are quite on the streets and are usually created in a short period of time. Are all of them nice? How can a separation be made?
This “selfish” form of art has always been and continues to be misunderstood, perhaps even the word “misunderstood” isn’t the proper term. The art of graffiti writing, by its nature, place its object outside of society’s rules and orders, since to begin with you write your name in public view as often as you can in the way you perceive it. This whole process doesn’t take into account both reality and its rules and even visually it creates another one from the perspective of the writer. There are writers who consider vandalism to be something very normal, although this is the ideal original form of graffiti, and there are writers who consider vandalism as hardcore and most ephemeral, and prefer to make their part in silence.
The world outside graffiti writing culture perceives it as vandalism if it’s done in private property without authorization, or in public buildings, monuments or public transport. There is also the view that when people don’t understand something they dislike or overlook it, so they perceive it as visual violence, something they don’t really enjoy watching. On the other hand, there aren’t plenty good enough pieces, and this is because many writers are ephemeral and don’t know the roots and the history of the culture they are dealing with, so they can’t understand the creation of the style in its entirety. To create a strong personal style, you must certainly have the talent to do it, but also the knowledge and close occupation to the subject. In the past when street bombing was more difficult and hardcore each writer organized everything much better, from the way they’d spot their place, the all day traffic there, how much time he’d had, to the colors, the style, the photography, everything. Now it feels like going for a walk, almost everyone who has 5 sprays and has found a spot can do the action, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be good. For me a good style, must have personality in the letters, to distinguish who did it without even seeing the signature. A good style stands without its colors and extra features.
Style, wild style and tags. Which are their differences?
Style is a general term that encompasses all the features that portray each personality in the letters and stand out from those of others. Also, when a writer says he does style, he means that he does stylewriting, he “writes”, he’s painting his name on a wall, train, or any other surface, creating through his letters or through whatever he writes about every time.
Wildstyle is the most complex form of graffiti, it contains unreadable forms of letters, which are connected with bars, arrows, stars, haloes and other elements, geometric or personal depending on the writer’s artistic background. This form is a kind of code for writers, which is hard for non-writers to decode.
Tags – Signatures are the first graffiti signatures· they were created around the mid-60s in Philadelphia, USA by “Cornbread” and “Cool Earl” who signed their names all over the city, while in 1971 the New York Times published an article about a young guy in the city that signed everywhere under the pseudonym TAKI 183. The appearance of the unexpected name with the strange number next to it, promoted even more the article of the newspaper. He was the first recognized graffiti writer in the history of this newborn culture. In the course of time the tag was enriched with extra features and contours, until it ended up being wild style. The style of a writer is even more visible in a Tag since it’s his personal mark.
Exarchia seems to be “bombed”! Infinite visual information and the paradise of style. Personally how do you choose the spots you paint?
Exarchia is as you said “bombarded” in the sense of graffiti bombing but for me it’s not the styler’s paradise. Also the infinite visual information doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good information too. There’s more visual noise than quality. It used to be a paradise when there were clean and empty spaces, a degree of difficulty existed and everyone had respect for writers and their pieces. Now we can see pieces one above the other and murals with fans’ slogans, toys (writers without experience or respect) and every kind of pedestrian writing whatever someone can think of. If I choose to do an illegal piece (street bomb) I’ll pick a spot where when I do the piece I won’t be so visible, I’ll be able to do it undisturbed, have as much time as I can and take a good day photo. If I’m going to do a piece (style production) where no one is going to disturb me, then I’ll choose the spot based on the design I want to make and my composition. If there isn’t a chance to find the right place, then I’ll adapt my composition to the environment, but there will be times when I’ll just do my piece without any adaptation to the space, I’ll just place it like a sticker on the surface that I paint.
How do you choose the words each time. Does their meaning relate to the shape of the piece?
If it’s a collaboration with other graffiti artists, then the chosen words will be inspired by the central idea of each project along with my own ideas on it. In any case, words are symbolic in a sense beyond the meaning they describe when they’re read. If it’s a personal project or a style of my own, then the words and their meanings, obvious or symbolic, are linked to the whole composition and the form of the piece.
If you chose one of your own pieces not to exist, to be erased. What would that be and why?
I’ve never thought of it, graffiti is ephemeral since its birth, so most of these artworks that aren’t paying works or licensed will, of course, be erased. So I never get into the process of thinking whether I ever wanted to erase any of my pieces.
Any partnerships you have enjoyed? With who Greek or foreign artist would you like to work with and you haven’t yet?
I’ve enjoyed murals at festivals along with the friend and partner Billy Gee & Alex Martinez, with whom we are members of the international graffiti crew Color Nomads. Another one in Eresos in 2014, which was a 4-5 hour freestyle production on the main beach and was created thanks to Alex Martinez who organized it all. In the same year, a 2-day production on a basketball court with the view of the whole city, in a suburb of Lucerne in Switzerland, with my friend Ezra one. The mural I made in cooperation with Billy Gee and Alex Martinez in Paphos, Cyprus, when they called us there in 2017 as part of the Pafos 2017 – European Capital of Culture event. And several other freestyle walls with Greek and foreign writers, from time to time. I would like to work with Felipe Pantone, Faust and several other artists who inspire me while give boost and evolve the culture.
In ten years from now?
I’ll definitely continue to develop my style in stylewriting, and lettering, and I won’t stop making styles even if this is once in the 4 months!
Peace out & props to all my friends and acquaintances inside and outside of the culture.