About art and graffiti
When did you start painting graffiti?
My first good graffiti-piece I made in 1986, inspired by the first graffiti-trains I have seen in 1985.
My first graffiti-pieces weren't really burners. In my childhood I painted much and was much interested in art, but not with the ambition to become a professional artist. The greatest inspiration I got by an art book of Salvador Dali, which I have found in my fathers book collection. So I decide, yeah that`s my way. I felt this is the way to express what is inside me, the way to express what is beyond words. But this happened before I saw the first graffiti-trains. Until 1987 my graffiti-pieces were just middleclass, but in summer 87 I met Sonic and he accepted me as his disciple. He has shown me many tricks about graffiti, to handle the cans and the elementary basic of graffiti to construct graffiti-letters with blocks, what is the essential basic to construct proper graffiti-letters respectively graffiti-styles. Of course, I did what is the first job for an aspirant of a graffiti master, I had to carry all his cans at every bombing-action.
What do you call graffiti?
Technically or philosophically?
Technically and philosophically.
Well, about the technical I say this:
The basic of graffiti are letters, nothing more or less. It begins with tagging and is based on it. While a graffiti-exibition someone asked me the really dumb question, "Is there a different among a scrawler and an artist." This guy just proven he is on one side ignorant and on the other side he knows nothing about culturally and technically background of graffiti. Sometimes I ask my self why such people are interested in a graffiti-exibition. Tagging, by much people called "unreadable scrawling", of a graffiti-writer is the base of graffiti and was, respectively is, the source material of graffiti. Before the large graffiti on trains and walls appeared the early writers just tagged with thin markers. In the course of the time the markers became fatter and fatter, finally the logical result was the spray can. I have begun in the same way and I can say, some tags I see today are more brilliant than some complex master-pieces. In technical sense have abstract art and typography, or calligraphy, and graffiti very great common characteristics. But nevertheless, graffiti can`t be reduced to it. Graffiti extends the scope in such a manner, that I have to say: Graffiti is the „Ultima Ration“ of art, cause graffiti includes and integrates already mentioned and all other art skills. From the philosophical point of view I would point out that graffiti is basically open and accessible for each it wants to do. Graffiti does not ask for talent or education. Cause the base of graffiti is "writing", what almost everybody is able of, so the approach to this form of art is easy. As brilliantly and sophisticated somebody becomes is less a question of talent, but more a question of ambitiousness, learning ability and a general interest in art. Here I would like to remark: All what I said counts, from the philosophical point of view, not only for graffiti but for the whole hip hop-culture, what graffiti is part of.
Your portfolio shows many artworks they are not dealing with graffiti.
Well, why I should focus all the time just on graffiti? Art is a wide field and I`m not limited on graffiti, if I have a good idea for an artwork which has nothing to do with graffiti I do it. My favorite is graffiti, but as an artist it is not recommended to be limited in skills or styles. It bores me to do always the same.
For example, if I have no concrete idea in my mind I make something abstract, it`s just like playing around. On the other side it holds the fact that one is badly to be classified, people always need to pigeonhole an artist in this sense: He does graffiti, abstract art, impressionism and so on. But I`m generally interested in art and I don`t limit my self to graffiti.
... and how explained, graffiti is not limited in its self. For example a fellow. Z-ROK, studied a long time japanese calligraphy or Zher dealt intensely with Kandinsky, it is also interesting.
How do you work, which equipment and materials you use?
Simple said, everything what is useful to create an artwork but in detail: Pencil, paper, brushes, scanner, photos, transparency film, layout table, copic marker, lacquer pens, acrylic, computer, drawing pad, beamer, spray cans, canvas, wood and sometimes beer or ganja.
Some of your works are originated obviously on the computer. Is not that a little contrary to graffiti which comes originally from the street?
You say it ... comes out of the streets... where this goes nobody can say. A computer is just a tool, nothing more and to me is not known that there would be any "Graffiti-Out-Of-The-Box-Button" in any graphics-application. What I mean is:
It completely makes no difference how an artwork is generated, finally just the result counts. The question is, do you like it or not. Also on computer it is a lot of work and it does not matter which great graphics-application you use: You have to be a master of your skills. On the other hand graffiti-writers are influenced by computer design, for example DAIM used on mural the 8bit-pixel-style of oldschool-computer-graphics. The fact that I also can paint with classical tools and stuff I have already proven. Take a look at this Objects so I`m without inhibition to create graffiti on computer. For me the factor " accuracy " also plays a role. To paint graffiti on canvas with cans always carries inaccuracies and with brush it lasts to me too long.
Or said in a simple way: Why the dog licks his nuts, just cause he can!
If you work digital, which applications you use?
Which application somebody uses or which one should be prefered is not the main question, sure there are limits, to start in "Paint" is not recommendable. What you need is a proper vector- and pixel-application.It must be none of the "professional" applications. If an artist has a small budget, and the most artists have a small budget, use the free applications INKSCAPE (vectors) and GIMP (pixels), they work fine and have the same great range of options like the expensive professional graphics-applications.
Substantially is: You have to know and handle your application perfect, so let me say, you have to be able to work with it after you have drunk 10 beers. (Ok,10 beers are a little overdosed, let us say, hmm ... 7 ok?).
My approach is the following:
The first is to scan the scribble and redraw it in a vector-application, therefore the basic outlines remain nearly infinitely scalable in size. This makes sense, cause later in a pixel-application every part is proper editable and the basic size is variable. If finished export as EPS or SVG, which the pixel-application can import, than I go on working in the pixel-application with the mouse or drawing pad. Important is, the basic scribble on paper should be accurately and precisely as possible, cause correction of the basics on computer leads to not really satisfying results.
The main advantage of this approach is the fact that the dates are immediately digitally. If the artwork is first painted on canvas and you want to release it as an art print, so you have to take a really perfect photo, then you have to let it scan by a high-end scan service. This causes of course expenses: Digicam, scan service, canvas, paint, brushes and a larger time investment. To scan a photo on your own homeoffice-scanner is not a good idea, cause for a high-end art print the are not suitable. The problem is not the electrical system or the software, but the mechanics. The price for a really good flat bed scanner is about 15000.- €! If you take a photo you have to keep in mind, for a high quality art print or poster you need a resolution of 150 DPI/PPI.
So you can imagine what kind of digicam is needed to produce an art print or poster in size of 300x150 cm. Why such a large size? Think about this: You receive a commission for every sold art print or poster, with small posters or art prints the commission is lower. The customer can decide how large he wants to order an art print or poster, but if you offer just a small template he can`t order a large one.
And because the goal should be a digital template for an art print, poster or t-shirt the logical consequence is to work directly digitally. Keep in mind, you`ll get a huge amount of data. However, two things are to be noticed here with. The first is, an artwork which as an art print or poster is publicized is unattractive for a gallery owner. The second is, if you press Ctrl+S should enough coffee be ready. However, the digital technology still has other attractions. Interesting are the different products are offered by art reproduction manufacturers. Not only posters or art prints on canvas but also wallpapers, stickers in oversize, prints on acrylic glass.
How long does it takes to create an artwork?
Hmm, this is not so easy to be answered generally.
First it is a question of the visual motif. On canvas it can takes 2-4 weeks, with a computer 3-7 days. One should consider with the digital cases also the remachining. The finished, digital artwork has to be fitted to size of every art print- or poster-manufacturer, every manufacturer has his own dimensions and format specifications. This should be already considered at the beginning of the creative process. But finally I would say to work in the digital domain is more economic in matters of material and time if the goal is to offer art prints and posters.However, if one takes focus on exhibitions so the better way is to make unique pieces on canvas or whatever.
... & Nukem Empire
Do you do exhibitions?
In the past I did, but to be honest:
For me it was all rubbish. Often it happened that the visitors looked on us graffiti writers as we would be aliens and they were more interested on our person instead of the artworks. The most comfortable for me was to have a group show, cause I could behave like a visitor and somebody was clowning for the public. This is one of the reasons to distribute my graffiti-art-works by the internet. On internet the most don´t ask who you are, there the artwork is the main interest. Amongst others the internet is the greatest show room ever and what is really nice: Art can be bought as art print or poster. Graffiti is for everybody, not only for a single person, this is one of the fundamental ideas of graffiti. Also take a look at the prices. In a gallery you have to pay for an artwork, for example in the dimension of 120x100 cm, 1600.- € to 3000.- €, as an art print on canvas or poster it takes 150,- € to 250,- €, as poster on paper much less. It is a profitable position for both, the artist and the interested person. Today the printing technology is in such a way advanced and high quality that there is no great difference between an original artwork and an art print. It is just the ego who suggests to have an original artwork is more valuable than an art print. So those people have to pay for their ego.
Can one earn by the sales of art prints and poster well?
Oh my God, there a lot of work must be already invested. The payouts of the licence commissions of the art print-manufacturers online shops are not so high but right. Amongst others I´m very specialized on graffiti and there is not a broad market for graffiti. However, it is to be earned money with it. Not a lot but it`s ok. The pretty good thing is: As an artist you can concentrate on creativity and producing art, but with the production and selling of the art prints and posters you have nothing to do. Of course one must pay attention to what can be sold and you have to have the necessary knowledge how to prepare the data and about color calibration and print technology.
But to get rich ..., if I would know how without negating my self I would do it.
Do you look up to other artists?
Not really, but on internet or in studios of fellows sometimes I see images and think, wow fat, why I have not made it? On the other hand there are artists whose styles are fantastic but I would never paint like those.
For example some works of banksy are brilliant, but this is rather street art and I don´t do street art but classic graffiti. Sometimes I see images and later I use single elements of this images cause I like them or they correspond to my style, but a really role model, no.
Can you give an advice to beginners in graffiti or art?.
Well, if the graffiti writer wants to bomb in a "illegal" way: Do everything to stay unbusted. But today it it isn´t so easy to stay unbusted while in the 80´s. Today first comes terrorism and without delay graffiti writing.
The question is, what type of guy one is. In the age of 15 to 18 I would not exhibit anything, I would see my pieces on trains and murals. My favorite interest was to see my tags and pieces all over the city. If ones personality is the type of a "hardcore bomber" he wants to go outside and bomb graffiti on train and mural and he will not stop just it is "not allowed". For beginners the best is to look out for a role model or one who you can consider as your hero and then coping, copying, copying or in slang, bite, bite and bite. The best is to have a teacher who can give you constructive criticism and leads you. Start first with simple letters and not immediately with complex wild style. In the course of the time one should ask his self:
Do I want to be a graffiti writer or a wholehearted artist?
To do art is on the one hand nothing more than a job, may be a nice job, but it is first a job and on the other hand in the most cases with low salary, wether graffiti or a other kind of art. It´s a kind of lifestyle. If one prefer a 9to5 job, two times holidays a year than better keep of your fingers of art. Sure you can earn money with art but one should think about the ups and downs of this lifestyle.
What do you think about "illegally" graffiti?
What irritates me is the term "illegal". I would call it rather: "From single persons undesired change of urbane substance and the means of transportation in the public space. What means "illegal"? What banks and investment bankers do is "legally", germany, usa, china, france sell arms, this is "legally"? The fact that in germany nuclear power is going to be abolished but german nuclear technology is sold in other countries is „legally"? What Mc Donalds does is "legally"? To produce and sell weapons is "legally"? That Monsanto sells genetically modified corn seeds and prohibits using other corn seeds is "legally"? To sell alcohol and drink is "legally", to smoke ganja is "illegally" although many people die of alcohol consumption but nobody of ganja. What is the right definition of "legal" and "illegal"? For me there is no "illegally" graffiti, at best unwanted by a particular part of the society. But many things I see and know are unwanted of me.
If municipalities and local authority communes made available more free publicly walls for graffiti it dammed the problem already a little, but it wouldn´t avoid it completely. Every graffiti whether "illegally" or "legally" its significance has for me.
It does not surprise that most unlawful graffiti are inferior in quality.
For this are two reasons: On one hand the graffiti writer thinks, "If my graffiti is removed anyway immediately, why I should take great trouble on it". On the other hand: With the legal situation the graffiti writer wants to be away of of course from the "crime scene" as quickly as possible and in that short time nothing really great goes.
Therefore: The general view is that that "unlawful" graffiti are a smearing and the "legal" pictures are quite great.
But the truth is, in many cases the "vandalism" is done by the same guys who do graffiti of highest quality at free public murals.
To be honest, I hope there are many graffiti writers in the future who paint "illegally" and if I would be again 16 I would bomb graffiti again "illegally". But in the age of 40 it isn´t so funny to rock around on rails at night. Today I have other priorities. I think it is better, kids are painting graffiti on trains or murals, then behave violently against others or use drugs. Youngsters will always do, especially the boys, unreasonable stuff. There graffiti is still the most harmless one.
They could do sport.
Sounds like the argument of a teacher. Some are not interested in sport. On the other side, cause you take sport as an example: Isn´t it sportive to run faster and be more clever then the cops?
Kids who getting overweight and get sick by diabetes cause they stay the whole day at home at the computer or playstation also cause harm to society.
Do you think today there is more tolerance for graffiti then in the 80´s?
Definitely. Some of those who did "illegal" graffiti are today respected artists. Advertiser and graphics designer using graffiti. Graffiti, respectively hip hop culture is grown up to an industry. For example the spray can manufacturers MOLOTOW or MONTANA wouldn´t exist. Jobs have originated from it. Graffiti is a great economic factor, on both sides, which in any form are involved to create graffiti and astonishingly which remove graffiti. Also a whole generation has grown up meanwhile which looks on graffiti as something normal. Graffiti and also street art are a logical sequence of our urbanity. A lot what was built by architects must be painted.
Link: Graffiti-Homebase von Nukem Empire.
What is the meaning of this website? Cause my opinion is the most previews for art prints and posters are too small so I offer large previews and my whole portfolio at a glance
A happy an successful day wishes you