Throughout March and April 2013, weekly features were published on this news blog. We’ve compiled a PDF document with all nine Friday Features for free download. Click the link below:
Tattooing is a highly respected art form and is often linked to graffiti. We speak to two artists who both paint graffiti and tattoo…
Ross runs a tattoo studio in Johannesburg and has worked in England and Hong Kong. He loves full colour neo-traditional tattoos, as well as Japanese tattoos with a western twist.
Tell us a bit about who you are…
I am co-owner and tattooer at Handstyle Tattoos Johannesburg. I also paint graffiti under the names ‘Hate’ and ‘Wise’. When I still have spare time I play in a Hardcore Punk band called Conqueror.
How long have you been tattooing?
I’ve been tattooing for five years now and I’ve been painting properly since around 1999/2000, although I did some of my first tags under some terrible toy aliases as early as 1997.
How did you get into tattooing? Was it through graffiti or did graffiti come afterwards?
I think art and my fascination with sub-cultures led me to persue both graffiti and tattooing as another art form to express myself. The first tattoo flash I drew up back in 2000 was completely graffiti orientated, it wasn’t great but it was a lot better than most cherry creek flash doing the rounds at the time. Graffiti came first and has played a major role in the development of my tattooing in regards to colour, line variation and typography. But, at the same time, they are completely different mediums and tattooing commands a lot more respect.
What do you love most about tattooing?
The fact that you are constantly learning and progressing, meeting other rad artists and hanging out with my best friends. Getting the chance to travel and do guest work locally and abroad. Being able to translate peoples ideas in to a permanent work of art. I love the work ethic and being part of an amazing community.
What do you love most about graffiti?
I loved painting panels the most, I gave it up a long time back. But seeing panels run is the best feeling ever. These days I enjoy painting pieces and taking it easy and relaxed on a wall. I’m over all the juvenile politics and crew beef. Do what you love and love what you do, it ain’t worth getting shot over.
Shout out to Tower, Skiet, Drone, Hack, 2Kil and my crew in the UK; Spar Monster Colours NRFL.
Ninjabreadboy is a multi-disciplined artist who lives and works in Cape Town. He is intrigued by local gang culture and has been doing a lot of stick ‘n poke tattoos recently.
Describe how you got into the art… Design/tattooing/street art
When I was about eleven I got my first Blunt magazine which had an article on graffiti in it. There was a flick of Wealz130 standing on a bridge in Observatory with his hands in the air and his signature chrome bubble letter outline on the bridge in front of him. I cut that pic out and stuck it on the wall next to my bed, I always loved art and drawing but that was the first time I discovered the art form that appealed to me most. I used to skate a lot as a kid and started collecting a lot of skate mags. Any graphic element associated with skateboarding appealed to me – all the graffiti, tattoos and skate graphics I saw in mags were a big inspiration.
What inspires you?
As I’ve got older I’ve drawn my inspiration from so many different fields and mediums, I went through a phase where I was pretty obsessed with latino gang culture because of their use of tattooing and graffiti to express themselves. For me it was so much more “real” than what graffiti writers and tattoo artists were doing because it was so raw and had so much meaning and symbolism about it. This got me interested in local gang culture and the forms of graffiti and tattooing that they were doing. I also realised there is so much crazy shit going on around us on a national level that we just look straight past or ignore it when it allows for so much fucking amazing content. I’m very influenced by things happening internationally but like to try create work that has a ‘local’ context to make it more personal.
What are you enjoying the most right now?
I’m all about trying to apply my style to as many mediums as possible. When I started sketching hand-poke flash I drew in a pointillism style which adapted well to a hand-poke, this style started influencing the rest of the work I was doing. At the moment I’m really enjoying working with brush and ink, but always fucking around with different mediums trying out new shit.
Who are you and what do you do…
Hi! I am Urika Boss. Amongst other things I take photos and occasionally right my name on walls and objects.
Tell us how you became interested in photography?
My interest started when I got one of those silly lomography cameras for my 18th. I got over the perks of it pretty quickly and wanted something more. I then started to experiment with different manual film and cheap point & shoot cameras, which eventually led to my obsession.
When did you first start taking pictures of graffiti artists?
I guess I’ve been taking photos of graffiti for as long as I’ve been painting. It wasn’t until I really started to get into photography that I started to pay more attention to the process and people painting than the actual finished product.
What/Who inspires you?
I’m mainly inspired by photo journalists and street photographers who capture emotion and make you wonder who, what and why is the subject in the situation that they are in. If you can’t answer those questions then the photo creates curiosity and the viewer can create their own story behind it.
Besides graffiti, what else do you like to photograph?
Other than graffiti, I simply just take photos of life. To sum it up I enjoy documenting moments. In general it’s normally peculiar people, places, and things that catch my attention. Graffiti just happens to combine all those things!
What do you think of the current graffiti scene?
The current scene (in Cape Town) is going through a bit of a dry patch with the council putting up such a fight and buffing every single little thing - both legal and illegal! There also doesn’t seem to be as many new young writers putting up and sticking with it. Though I can’t talk much, I’ve been slacking.
On the other hand, the train scene is pumping. I can’t keep up with the amount of crazy panels being put up by you know who. Real world-class stuff! There still are a good bunch of guys who are painting consistently. Hopefully the drop of the ‘Painting Cape Town’ book will inspire people to start putting up again. It sure has motivated me!
Are you working on any photographic projects at the moment?
Sadly I haven’t been shooting that much this past year or so, I’ve been so busy with varsity that I haven’t had much spare time or energy to put into my photography. In the end it’s just a passion but I would love to have a photographic show or something one day.
The third annual City of Gold Urban Art Festival kicked off last Sunday with a bang! The launch was held at Grayscale Gallery featuring works by local artists and some of the international participants.
Pose (MSK Crew, USA) painted live at the launch alongside Kevin Love and Cureo. Unfortunately style master Revok (MSK) could not make it here to South Africa.
Pose, Love and Cureo:
Herakut (Germany) wall by Akut - Hera was sick and could not make it to the festival…
Solo One (UK) returned to Jo’burg for his second City of Gold.
Local artists Zesta, Mars, Bias and Rekzo:
Kid Kreol & Boogie (Reunion Island)
The film screenings take place tonight at The Bioscope, and the closing event is going down tomorrow at Alliance Français in Parkview.
Pose, Love, Cureo - Grayscale parking lot, Cnr. De Korte & Henry St. Braamfontein
Pose, Kid Kreol & Boogie - Cnr. De Korte & Eendracht St. Braamfontein
Solo One - Market Theater, Miriam Makeba St. Newtown
Herakut - Cnr. Commissioner & Miriam Makeba St. (Old Chinatown) Newtown
Zesta, Mars, Bias, Rekzo and Solo One - Cnr. Marshall & Philips St. Jeppestown
Kid Kreol & Boogie - Cnr. Op De Bergen & Corrie St. Troyeville
Love, Myza, Ekse - Cnr. Main & Browning St. Troyeville
Kid Kreol & Boogie, Love, Cureo, Ekse - Cnr. Matipa & Coka St. Soweto
Graffiti and street art is still very young in South Africa when compared to places like New York, London and Berlin, even more so for the rest of Africa. Very little graffiti exists in other African states, but this is slowly changing as more international artists have been painting and traveling throughout the continent.
Jace, a graffiti artist from Réunion Island, was recently in South Africa and also painted in one of our neighbouring countries, Botswana…
Jace painted local tuckshops in Old Naledi as part of the Arts For Change initiative.
Photos by Sebastian Modak
Local artists also painted…
This week Arts For Change has been hosting creative art workshops for local youth. The next project will feature Kid Kréol & Boogie (Réunion Island) after they’ve painted at the City Of Gold Urban Art Festival in Johannesburg.
“WHOOP WHOOP! Sound o’ da police…”
RUSHER and REPS are two Botswana writers currently on the down-low. These guys gained a huge Internet following with almost one million views for all their videos on YouTube! We asked RUSHER a few short questions…
How did you get into graffiti art?
I started writing in 2006 when we were driving home from a holiday trip in Durban. I always used to draw in the car – I drew things I noticed outside and eventually the graffiti that covered South African walls and bridges inspired me to start sketching. I started noticing the graffiti under the bridges, so every bridge we drove under I would jump from the right window to the left window to scan the walls for graffiti. I eventually did my first pieces ‘MF’ and ‘UFO’ and still have those exact pictures in my black book today! When I met Reps, in 2008 or 2009, I got him into writing and that’s when it started… It’s been a while now.
Describe painting and the scene in Botswana…
Botswana is still behind in the graffiti culture/lifestyle. In a way this is to our advantage, we are the ones inspiring others to start writing. I like competition and seeing new throws and pieces around the city, but that is often hard to find here. It’s always good putting new stuff on the streets so you can better others and yourself. We are not exposed to graffiti as much as other cities, many writers are born from the streets by noticing what they see on the walls and unfortunately there is not much here. Hopefully over time the people will become more accepting of the graffiti culture and it will slowly grow, we are the ones planting the seeds and getting it started.
I know a lot of youngsters notice our work and try copy it, but we don’t mind as long as they start writing. It’s nice to think we have inspired someone out there… The painting here is amazing, especially in winter, it’s our city! We love our country, our home…
I hope this isn’t the cops aahaha, if it is then fuck, it’s over, peace. Keep safe writers.
>> Check out more in our ‘GRAFFITI AFRICA GALLERY’
Graffiti is a typically male dominated art form but there are many females painting the streets today. We decided to add a little girl power and focus on three of these women…
Last weekend we caught up with Daisy at Mams Art Festival in Mamelodi, a township just outside of Pretoria.
How long have you been doing graffiti and street art?
I started painting approximately four years ago, where members from both DS and OWN crew were kind enough to let me tag along and teach me about the perplexity that is graffiti.
What inspires you to create art?
My art background spans for over tens years and within those years inspiration has come from a wide field of reference; people, life, artists, art, to name a few…
Photos: Irene Quirk
Tell us about your experience at Mams Art Fest?
Mams Art Festival is such an amazing collaboration between The Viva Foundation of South Africa, Mamelodi residents and artists from all walks of life. This foundation aims in creating a living art museum in an informal settlement located in Pretoria and is one of the very first.
Participating in this project is completely rewarding, especially assisting in fulfilling the goals of an organisation like The Viva Foundation (who do exceptional work in several amazing programmes in the Mamelodi community). I have a lot of adoration for this foundation.
What do you think of the role of urban art in today’s society?
As an individual who works in the built in environment, structures are erected to fill a function, as well as attempting to create a dialogue with the current context and be aesthetically pleasing. Urban art does the same thing. It’s role is equally as legitimate as art made in the studio, and other art forms. Possibly even more so where works of art are littered throughout the built environment, which in turn becomes far more accessible to the public. Whatever the statement or lack thereof, urban art engages with individuals on a platform that most others cannot. An art form the elite no longer have possession over.
Nard Star is a Cape Town based graffiti and street artist who is currently in America to paint and exhibit at the Trinity International Hip Hop Festival in Hartford, Connecticut, just outside of New York.
How did you get into graffiti and how long have you been doing it?
I got into graffiti when I was a teenager. I was always up to no good back then and used to spend a lot of time hanging out with my friends on the streets. We were all into Hip Hop but none of us did graffiti. I was already into art so it was a natural progression. You can say I’ve been painting solidly for about 4 years now….
Describe your graffiti style…
My style is just me having fun with shapes and colour. It’s like a intense game of Jenga.
What is your favourite piece you’ve painted?
I don’t really have a favourite. It’s usually the last wall I painted and then I paint another one which becomes the new fave.
What reactions have you received about your work on the street?
I usually get good responses to my art on the street. People enjoy the bright colour and figuring out the animals, but sometime people can just be really confused about why I am doing art on a wall in the first place.
Do you think it’s any different for a girl to do graffiti since it’s very male dominated?
No, I don’t think it’s any different for girls and guys…
What inspires you?
Walls, animals, progression, travel, other artists, the streets, shapes and colour.
I don’t have favourites, but I have respect and admiration to all artists that live their art and keep getting better and better.
What do you think is the role of art in todays society?
I think each artist has their own reasons for their art. Some make art without even considering a viewer so I cant really answer that question properly.
Last year, we linked Nard to a Toronto-based independent film-maker, Idalina Leandro Pifaro, who is currently in the process of shooting a documentary film about woman who write graffiti.
“All She Wrote” is a documentary that tells the story of female graffiti writers presented through the artist’s own voice. With emphasis on the women behind the art, the film uncovers a common passion but unique motivations and experiences. Spanning Europe and the America’s, “All She Wrote” is ultimately a story of powerful, dedicated, and ambitious women, presented through their own eyes and ears.
With the project nearly complete, we asked Idalina about the film and her interest in graffiti art…
What made you want to make a film about girls who do graffiti?
On a personal note, graffiti has always been my favourite kind of art, al though I can’t place exactly why. Perhaps I was a graffiti writer in another life, because I’ve never had the courage or the talent to do it in this one. But, I fulfilled my love for graffiti through photography, taking photos of spectacular pieces and of spray-painted walls all over the world. And it was when I lived in Portugal in 2002 that I first decided to find out about the women that were creating this visceral, urban art. I was so impressed by their passion for graffiti and the pieces they created, I wanted to make a documentary film that was dedicated to them. A documentary I could relate to as a woman, one that looked past the typical male-dominant graffiti scene.
What message do you want to say with your film, if any?
The message I would like to send in my film is if you believe in yourself you can achieve anything you want. All these women have empowered themselves through their art and have achieved great things by standing up for what they believe in.
How much work still needs to be done to complete the film? When do you hope to release it?
About 40% of the film still needs to be done, but I hope to be finished shooting by the end of the year. We will be submitting the film to film festivals for the 2014 season.
Are you working on other projects? And do you think you’ll make another documentary film after ASW?
At the moment “All She Wrote” is the only project that I am working on. Making a documentary takes a lot of your time, and I am also a full time mom, so other projects don’t have room. But yes, I will make other documentaries and films, I have lots of ideas and scripts we can work on.
A crowd funding campaign was recently opened to raise more funds for the film. Make a donation HERE.
One of the most notorious writers in South African graffiti is MARS.
A king in all aspects, from train bombing and rollups to colourful pieces that are out of this world good!
We caught up with him for an exclusive interview…
How did you get into graffiti… Was there anything that sparked this obsession?
I was 13-14 years old and first saw graffiti in a Source magazine. Later that year, a friend and I were watching a movie called “187” and these kids from L.A were drinking, smoking weed, skateboarding and doing graffiti. Graffiti was the subsequent misdemeanour – we were already doing all the other stuff. We drew some shit graffiti attempts and the next day made a mess in an abandoned church next door. Looking back, it had nothing to do with art, we were just fucked up.
How did you come across your name?
Maybe a year later, after dabbling with random names, words, characters, mostly on paper, still not knowing what graffiti is or meant to be, we were at the same church and I had an alien character I did. I wanted to put a word next to it, so being a dumbass I did the most obvious thing and free-styled a horrific MARS. I ran out of paint halfway through, this happened often in the toy days… At the time I was unaware that there are a million other Mars’ in every city around the world. I would have chosen something more original had I known.
What was the scene like when you first started writing?
There was no scene really, the only graffiti I saw was DS and DBS tags around my area, being young I also couldn’t get around much so that’s all I knew. There were no graffiti shops, no imported name brand spraypaint, no books, no blogs, no Facebook, no super-star graffiti artists, NOTHING… I discovered Artcrimes.com, and in the following years looked at every single page on that site, maybe even twice, no jokes.
Around 2005, I went to Cape Town for the first time and brought back two rare gems; the “Graffiti World” book and 2 Montana cans from the graffiti store in Canal Walk, I think. Less than 8 years later and I have over 30 books and 6 different international brands of spray-paint on my shelf. It’s been a crazy transition from fuck all to information overload.
Your style keeps evolving and you go through ‘style phases’. Give us a little insight… This new style of yours is very funky and ‘loose’ – and not symmetrical at all. Tell us more about your decision to move towards it…
For a long time I did symmetry pieces, and in recent years have been trying to make them more interesting than typical boring graffiti, you know, have the “WOW” effect. I came to a point where I realised that the symmetry had reached its highest point for me and it wasn’t going to get any more interesting or “WOW”. I still use a lot of the same shapes and elements, along with new ones. I always try doing something new, I like being meticulous and at the same time spontaneous; making a medley out of two extremes, often one prevails. At times you can see a piece is a lot more spontaneous and experimental. Bombing is obviously a little different, repetition is key. I try being versatile; characters, pieces, backgrounds, anything with a can that I want to do.
You like to add extra flare to your pieces by adding characters. Have you ever felt a need to explore characters more?
Definitely, like I said, I want to do it all – be well rounded artistically, that includes characters. Hell, I might even do some more street art orientated stuff in the future, who knows, I just ride the wave.
Tell us about your crew, Demolition Squad…
Your crew has been putting up high class productions lately. Do you plan a wall or do you just freestyle? And is it hard to translate your ideas from paper onto the wall?
Tapz, Tyke, Aybe (London), Fiya and Mars. Whereas a lot of crews are a bunch of weak writers coming together to make an average crew, DS is five individually strong writers who form a well rounded, prolific crew. We all have strengths and are all versatile; we bomb, do pieces, trains, jobs and live graffiti. DS has been around for over 10 years and has outlasted many crews throughout the years. Writers come and go within the crew, but those that are meant to be here are. I think we are the strongest now than we ever have been.
Walls get planned differently. Sometimes we meet for serious concepts, and other times we just do whatever on the day.
Favourite surface to paint on?
Lately; weird textured walls, over windows and protruding surfaces. I like how it looks - not so perfect like on a flat wall. Trains are also nice, if you don’t know why, then I suggest you go do one.
You’ve smashed a lot of trains in recent years… I’m sure you might have some crazy stories?
Being shot at definitely changes ones perception of life and how fragile it is. Myself, Angel, Trips and a German tourist writer, Azme, got to experience this one night not so long ago. Trips and I ran one way and were about 2 meters apart, we heard the bullet fly through in between us. I always cherished my time on this earth as I experienced death at an early age, but this definitely gave me insight to my own mortality and how much I love being here.
Besides graffiti, what else are you interested in?
Most forms of art, music, reading, hanging with friends and loved ones, Nikes, driving, hustling, watches, eating at larney (fancy) restaurants poorly dressed, tattoos, pulling wire, x-hamster, pulling wire on x-hamster, pushing buttons, cigars, disappointing people, gear, pissing off girls, trying to stay sober, slores, buying crap I’ll never use, avoiding authorities, experiencing new things, travelling, hating, loving, loving to hate, hating to be in love… I believe life is about experience, so I try everything at least once.
Which artists do you admire the most right now?
Too many to mention, all for very different reasons, some of which have nothing to do with graffiti.
How does it feel knowing that you are inspiring the next generation of graffiti artists in SA?
I never really thought I was inspiring anyone, I guess pretty well, if you say so. I think I still have a lot to do, I’m just glad when someone looks at my pictures, even better if they can relate, it validates my existence. I only hope someone picks this shit up by the time I leave.
Where is the best place you’ve painted and where in the world you like to paint next?
I really like the freedom Johannesburg has, in first world cities it’s a lot more difficult to get walls, do street bombing and trains, as the public are very aware of graffiti. Jo’burg graffiti is still in somewhat of a grey area, in all aspects… I liked Sofia, Bulgaria, it’s similar there. Brazil is a must…
Will you ever stop doing graffiti?
What do you think graffiti of the future will look like?
Probably like graffiti of the past, it all goes in circles. Crappy retro graffiti is popular at the moment, just as vintage clothing is. I wouldn’t be surprised if people start doing cave man scratching and it becomes popular. Then again, so is the new “design” style graffiti, which is definitely a lot more “futuristic” looking, with a dash of retro. I don’t know, graffiti is so diverse at this point it could go anyway.
Special thanks to MARS for this interview. ©GraffitiSouthAfrica.com
What is Street Art?
Street art is more than just graffiti. It’s a broad term commonly used to describe art found in public space – from stickers and stencils, to paste-ups and installations and more traditional graffiti. It’s a means of expression evoking a rich spectrum of thoughts, captivating the viewer. With a variety of themes and ideas, from social and political awareness to plain visual poetry, this art form continues to gain momentum.
Some regard it as vandalism and not public art, but most artists try to create something meaningful – beautifying a run-down building, reclaiming a forgotten space. Street art is more than a tag, or moniker to gain fame. It provokes us to think and feel with more depth in an otherwise sterile environment. Street artists dare to bring greater vibrancy, colour and fluidity into drab and monotonous urban superstructures. It is non-elitist and invites the public to reclaim their right to shared spaces. It provokes freedom of expression, greater individualism and diversity.
Freddy Sam, Cape Town bus terminal
Faith47, Cape Town
The international street art scene is thriving with a growth of amazingly talented and diverse artists and great exhibitions and festivals. Cape Towns Faith47 has been travelling abroad to paint and exhibit her work which is both entertaining and educating. She was recently in Hawaii for the Pow Wow Festival.
‘The Long Wait’ by Faith47 in Johannesburg - A wheatpaste series commenting on the high rate of unemployment. Photo by Derek Smith
Graffiti VS Street Art
A whole debate surrounds street art – is it graffiti? Many see graffiti as being more letter-based and street art as a variety of elements. Others downright think that street art is not cool. The beauty of the debate is that they have a symbiotic relationship, each evolving separately, but provoking one another to reach new frontiers.
Despite the friction between the two, we respect anyone who puts anything up in the streets. This keeps it interesting, diverse and colourful.
Galleries and art collectors are diving into this market. Banksy, Blu and Mr Brainwash have had works displayed in South Africa. Augustine Kofie, American ‘graffuturist’ artist, painted live at an exhibition at Lovell Gallery in Cape Town last year.
Augustine Kofie piece in Cape Town. He came from a graffiti background and is part of the new ‘graffuturist’ movement.
Street Art in South Africa
While modern graffiti is still very new in South Africa it has, nevertheless, spread rapidly in recent years. When seen on a global scale, the South African scene is very youthful, but is quickly gaining maturity.
For years graffiti artists have dominated the streets. Those that spray their stencil often fade away soon after starting. Things are changing. Urban art is becoming more popular as internationally acclaimed artists visit our shores.
Remed (France), Cape Town
Dal East (China), Cape Town
Unknown Artist, Cape Town
Freddy Sam & Christiaan Conradie, Cape Town
The /A Word Of Art Residency Programme has brought many street artists to Cape Town and Johannesburg. Highlights include the 5-man collective called BoaMistura from Spain and the Acrylic Walls project with Gaia (USA), Franco ‘Jaz’ Fasoli (Argentina) and Know Hope (Israel).
Gaia (USA), Cape Town
Jaz (Argentina), Cape Town
Acrylic Walls Johannesburg mural. Photo by Derek Smith
Other artists who have participated in the residency are Above (USA), Tika (Switzerland), Indigo (Canada), Yumanizumu (Japan), Scott Sueme (Canada), Remed (Spain), LX One (France), Mike Makatron (Australia), Hannah Parr (UK), Mymo (Germany), Pascal Paquette (Canada), David Shillinglaw (UK), Elicser Elliott (Canada) and Andrzej Urbanski (Germany).
Yumanizumu (Japan), Cape Town
Wesley Van Eeden, Cape Town
Masai (UK) works on a new mural in Cape Town. His recent works create awareness of the declining animal population.
Kasi (Breeze), Cape Town
South, Cape Town
Andrzej Urbanski, a Polish-born artist, has relocated from Berlin to Cape Town. “I fell in love with this city…. The street art scene here is small but very good. There’s a lot of creative people and a rising art community.”
He sees himself as a ‘contemporary street artist’ working in studio and in the streets. “Being out in the streets and sharing with the community is very special. The people of Cape Town are very interested and helpful. I really made a lot of good friends in the community while I painted.”
Urbanski & Elicser, Cape Town. Photo by Urbanski
Urbanski, Cape Town. Photo by Urbanski
Interesni Kazki’s AEC is currently here as part of the residence programme and has already painted one wall (with only brushes). Along with Waone, this Ukrainian duo live up to the meaning of their name painting “interesting fairy tales”.
AEC (Interesni Kazki) completed piece and progress shots in Cape Town
I Art SA is another project that has been developed by /A Word Of Art and features a range of artists and styles. This project took place in Woodstock (Cape Town), Soweto (Johannesburg) and Johannesburg City.
With his endemic animal paintings, internationally acclaimed artist ROA was one of the featured artists at I Art Joburg last year. The exhibition opened last night in Cape Town. Photo by Derek Smith
Last weekend, a group of creative individuals met up in downtown Johannesburg for an event they called ‘Open City’. The aim: “To make the city pretty”…
“I do this a lot. Whenever I’ve got chalk, I bomb. I make it normal. I’m not special… The streets are yours. Be the art you want to see in the world!” - Andrew, event organiser
Freddy Sam working on a mural in Johannesburg for WWF. Photo by Derek Smith
Mooki’s street art in Durban
Hundreds of painted stencils adorn the walls of Grahamstown, a quaint student town in the Eastern Cape. Many are attributed to a Mr Stevenson.
Hannelie Coetzee, chipped wood piece in Johannesburg
Kevin Love, wood blocks in Johannesburg
This ‘dog’ pasteup is found all over Johannesburg
We recently discovered the work of Cape Towns Grant Jurius and asked him why he does street art…
I love street life! The most inspiring artists are street artists – at least for me. The street is raw and real. It feeds me and I feed back.
What do you want to evoke?
I want people to think about a piece and create a sense of feeling of some sort… I use figures because I like the human figure and I think people relate to it.
How long have you actively been working in the streets?
I only recently had the confidence to start putting up bolder pieces. In 2011, I started drawing on paper and then progressed to more defined paintings. Then I started doing the opposite by placing work in the street.
Artwork and photos by Grant Jurius
Another proclaimed street art duo is Herakut from Germany. They will participate in the City of Gold Urban Arts Festival in Johannesburg next month along with Kid Kréol & Boogie (Reunion Island), Pose MSK (USA) and local artists.
Click ‘next’ to view more images…
For our Friday Feature this week, we speak to 2kiler & Optone about getting up. These guys have been painting for quite some time and always bomb hard…
Hi guys how are you keeping?
2KILER: Busy, overworked, underpaid, usual story. ..
OPTONE: I’m good, I guess?
How often do you bomb?
OPTONE: Depends on how busy a week I’m having. At the moment: On a bad week once and on a good week three or four times.
2KILER: I don’t really bomb, I get up whenever I can.
How do you feel about bombing vs piecing?
OPTONE: I don’t think it should be considered a versus thing. I think they should go hand in hand to a certain degree… Being someone that prefers bombing, I don’t mind painting a piece sometimes. As far as piecing goes, if you prefer doing them, that shouldn’t stop you from catching tags, a throwie or even stickers from time to time.
2KILER: Every scene needs every discipline.
Any interesting stories of late?
2KILER: I come across some interesting and entertaining people in the streets on a daily basis, but no one story comes to mind at the moment.
OPTONE: Nothing too recent, but about 3 months ago there was a week or two when every mission just went wrong – Held up at gunpoint, homie got caught catching tags, held up by 5 outies carrying knives, had some shit with cops for an open quart in the car whilst coming home from bombing, and then to top it off a homey got stabbed by some gangster fool… All separate missions with different people. I was beginning to think I was cursed. Luckily none of them resulted in any serious consequences, just some paint lost. Oh and after nothing but a long lecture, the cops gave our quart back!… Almost forgot this one: There was a day when a brick column of a derelict building collapsed almost crushing 2kiler. A close call to say the least!
What do you think of the SA scene?
2KILER: It varies from city to city depending on which political party is in charge. They all have their pros and cons.
OPTONE: Overall, Joburg is where it’s at right now. Proper shit going down there… Cape Town in general is quiet, but the trains are on another level!
Who else do you respect in the scene?
OPTONE: Besides my crews OTC and FUK, I respect whoever is out there getting up.
2KILER: Lots of writers… I don’t want to leave anyone out, so let’s say the ones that I respect know that I respect them and same goes for the ones that I don’t.
What was it like painting with Claw last year?
2KILER: Like painting with any other street smart individual who knows what’s up.
OPTONE: She was cool. It was rad to paint with a NYC legend. Besides that, we went pretty hard! A fun mission.
Plans for the rest of the year?
2KILER: I have a busy year ahead personally which obviously I won’t talk about in this interview. ..
OPTONE: I’m a full time student again, so other than studying and working part-time to make rent and fund bad habits, not much else.
Tell us about the zine?
2KILER: It’s our second issue and it’s called I LOVE YOUR WORK. It includes mainly street work from OTC and GLOK crews both locally and abroad. Issue 1 was about 36 pages and Issue2 will be about sixty.
OPTONE: What he said.
Thanks for the feature. Looking forward to the zine!
>> Read more exclusive interviews HERE.
Friday Feature is our new weekly feature. Every week we will delve into a different topic related to graffiti and street art in South Africa. Our entire aim of this website is to document and archive this art form and showcase it to the world. Urban art has a life of it’s own, sometimes lasting for weeks, years or only a single day. We feel it is very important to keep a record of these pieces of art and give them life on the internet.
There are two gentleman who have been documenting graffiti and street art for a while now and we are always glad to see their collection grow. Meet Derek Smith and Klaus Warschkow, two photographers who have fallen in love with this art form and are sharing their finds on the net. This is their hobby and they are both very passionate about it - always mentioning the positive aspects of graffiti art in today’s society, and always encouraging new people to fall in love with urban art.
Photos by Klaus Warschkow:
Derek is based in Johannesburg and is an eager follower of the scene, often embarking on adventures to dodgy areas and forgotten places. He sees the “value of street art in a scarred and broken society” and how it can create change and upliftment. “I’ve always liked graffiti but never thought about it much further than that” adds Klaus, who has been capturing the Cape Town scene with his iPhone. “In January 2012, I stopped my car in the road and walked a block back to actively take a photo of graffiti that I had passed a number of times. Instagram gave me an option to share my photos easily, right off my iPhone. It’s been a long time since and I now actively look for new and old graffiti in and around Cape Town. A number of my photos that I took during the Acrylic Walls Project in Cape Town have been picked up by blogs, webzines and magazines.”
With graffiti being such a controversial subject, it is great to see how these two encourage the art form as much as they can. “The graffiti by-laws have killed a lot of artwork in Cape Town. It’s high time we get some legal walls” says Klaus. Derek has also had trouble of his own, dealing with non like-minded resident associations who see graffiti as a very bad thing.
Derek follows most of the Jo’burg artists and regularly takes trips to Cape Town and other parts of the country to record works which he sees as an important part of graffiti archaeology. He is really excited for the upcoming City of Gold Urban Arts Festival where Herakut, a duo from Germany, and his favourite international graffiti artist, will be painting.
Photos by Derek Smith:
Klaus is very keen to meet more local writers and looks forward to seeing the new artists in residence at /A Word Of Art. He also hopes for more collaborations between local and international artists in the future. “We most certainly have local artists that are on the same level as the best of the international artists. A lot of them do deserve more international exposure.”
More photos by Klaus Warschkow:
(highlight the pic and click ‘next’ to view more)
We at GraffitiSouthAfrica.com are super excited for 2013 and can’t wait to see more international artists in our country. Our local artists are also pulling out all the stops and the scene is thriving. “Street art is gaining momentum in a big way in South Africa and this gladdens my heart. It is colourful, makes social statements and it’s art as healing.” - Derek.
More photos by Derek Smith: