Any reason is good when you travel and extend your ties with friends in other countries. This is what Gris One and Onycks (Lyon, France) had in mind when they went on a tour in Barcelona, Sevilla and Elche. Their final destination was Barcelona where we had the opportunity to make a wall with them, Some good food and a conversation over some wine.
Who is Gris?
Gris is a kid. I am 31 years old but its like if i was 16 or 17. I am the same person as when I started painting, o at least I think so. The Gris of today hasn’t lost his ideas because he doesn’t want to grow up. I don’t like the society we live in, so I prefer to live in my world, the world of my crews, Da Mental Vapors, Greetings, AYCE, XPLORER, W73. They are my groups that like to create projects with, walls, expos and travel around.
Why did you start painting?
I don’t know. I found some cans in my neighbors house when I was a kid. I took them and wrote the name of the girl I was seeing at that time so I could see it on my way to school. I liked the idea that everyone could see that it was there…
And why do you keep painting?
Because I have no other passion. To me its like boxing, I let my feelings go, and its a lot better than fighting.. more creative.
How would you define you’re style?
Thats tough. What I like is painting graffiti, letters, tags, throw-ups, pieces… My style is half graffiti and half illustration. I also really like styles i don’t personally do myself, like wild style and ignorant style.. In my style i mix the two things i like: Drawing and Graffiti.
When you are finished with a piece, what makes you see i as a great one or just another ordinary piece?
Well, sometimes I don’t like how it comes out in the end, but after been painting such long time it doesn’t really matter that much. The experience is more important than the result. It is not really that important to me.
What other writers do you think shares your vision of graffiti?
I believe my friends shares my vision of graffiti, the people I talk to, the same guys I am in the same crew with. Its more an idea rather than a type of style. We share a vision of graffiti, art and about true graffiti writers. We have the same opinion about people who paint the streets after having finished their studies, and they might paint better than the writers, but… a real writer starts out tagging, doing throw-ups, trains, street pieces. And we keep painting later even if its in abounded factories. Im not trying to say that people who comes from art classes are all shit, it’s not that. What i am trying to say is that they are not writers.
Why do you think a lot of writers feels the need to do more than just their tags or names after having reached a certain level as painters? Caring less about your name, and wanting to be known for painting stuff with a deeper meaning behind it?
Personally I don’t care so much about about painting the streets anymore, I prefer to take it easy with my friends and have barbecues, have a good time… to me it is more important than my name. Ive done that for some time now. If you put cans in my hands in front of a train ill paint it, but because I like it. I don’t have the same needs as when I was 25. I paint for personal pleasure, and I like sharing it with my friends which I have a lot of. Most of them are writers, and most my memories are related to graffiti.
Organic Gris (grey), Technical and grey…
Depends on the day, I like variety when I paint, and the final result is the same to me. I like painting one way as much as the other. Today for example.. I did a quite technical piece even if it was fast, and later I did a silver throw-up along the line, to me its the same. They are both as important as the other.
The paradox between colors and your name?
Before I was Gris I wrote Lime for about ten years. Like many other writers I got tired of writing the same thing, I felt an urge for new letters. I liked Gris for its letters and the for fact it is a color.
Exhibitions? Visions between art and graff?
I try to transcribe what I do on walls and in my day to day. I don’t understand people who does one thing in street and then something completely different in their expos. I paint this way, and I am not trying to say I am an artist. I paint like I paint in the street. The difference is that in the galleries you have to show people what graffiti is, and this is what I am trying to do. I want people to understand that graffiti is not he only thing they don’t like… there are also tags and the more dirty side of it, even though all that is a art form to me. For the people who doesn’t understand why we paint, trains and such, I try to explain it.
Do you believe that writers feels that graffiti is not classy enough when they paint stuff that has no relation to what they do in the streets? Or is it the galleries themselves who searches for this type of graffiti?
I don’t think so. They simply try to separate two worlds. Maybe it manifests the idea that real graffiti is in the street and is not for sale, like if they want to keep it for themselves. What is happening now is that the “Street-art” is in galleries everywhere and seems very important, but, Street-art just showed up yesterday. They are mostly people that comes from art schools and know they get paid well for doing this, easy money, stencils and these things. They painted for three months in the street and consider themselves artists…
Graffiti has a history, and we have make people see that we where here long before them, before there was money to make on it. We have been painting for free since more than thirty years now. Now theres cash out there, people wants to buy new stuff. Before there was only Banksy and maybe someone else, but now we have about 50 people doing the same thing in every city. All for the fame and the money.
I prefer to do my thing. Show what graffiti is, what we do and why we do it. It really sucks that they sell so much shit by putting that label on it. You see the names of the flyer and you only heard about 10% of them, you have no idea who the other ones are or where they came from. When I started out 17 years ago it was the other way around.
Today we have to turn down situations like this. I think that during some years it will look the same as now.
We have to explain why, because if not the buyers of our art will never know the difference. To me that really sucks. Its like a supermarket of art, and I am not Coca Cola, and I refuse to treated that way. I rather do one show a year and have people understand what me and my friends are doing. In my shows I always speak of them and the people I truly have respect for. They are in there, if you look closer you can see their names in the post-it piece.
This is something I made to make people understand. Generally people don’t understand why writers paints trains. They think it is some activity made by vandals that hides from society. It has to explained that graffiti starts there, and that all writers has to go through this phase. This is graffiti. You can not say you are a graffiti artist if you haven’t done this. That doesn’t mean you have to have painted all models in all countries around, but, in my opinion you have to have painted some trains. The train model was made to give my respect to everyone who have done this. I also have to point out that there are writers who have been only painting trains for more than 10 years, super talented, and only recognized by us writers. Then there are fools who have big names and fame without having done nothing really. This piece is not for sale, I bought the parts, painted them and set it up like it was an amusement park, for people of all ages to play with and enjoy trains. It is to put value in what painting trains is all about. What does it cost for a company that sells tickets for around 120 euros for a trip of some hundred kilometers to clean it off? They have too much money.
What worries you?
I live with my back turned to the world. I don’t want to know what happens out there anymore. If I start thinking too much about it I will shoot myself. I don’t have a TV, I almost don’t read the newspapers and everything is shit to me. I don’t want any kids because I don’t trust what their future is going to look like. The situation sucks all over, and my worries and thoughts are kind of egoistic. I just want to pay my flat and be happy with my girl and my friends. My girlfriend is a social worker so I think she does enough favors for humanity for both of us (laughs). I can’t do it. I don’t want struggle anymore since I know that the one who gets the last word is the one with the most money.
Travel, meet people, real people who are not superficial and don’t live to buy fancy shit they don’t need.
What is your opinion on writers with a lot of message, the ones who put up a fight?
I like writers who has something to say, but not only writers.. Regular people who picks up a spraycan and shares their thoughts in public. I take a lot of photos of stuff like that. I like when people express themselves. I like people like Banksy who came to a point where he has the power to make people listen to him, or sell art to the same people he laughs at. Take Dran who made a painting where a man admires a canvas of graffiti in a museum, while at the same time a writer is stealing his wallet.
Who to paint with?
I like the work of many people and if one day we meet and I like them as a person i would love to paint with them. I have friends who are “toys” that paints two times a year, but still i love painting with them since they bring me good vibes and nice memories. I like a lot of people, some of them more public, and others more invisible. I put more importance in personality.
Is there something you don’t like about graffiti?
Too many things, but I don’t want to talk about it… (laughs)