The south of Spain is rich at multiple levels, and in graffiti could not be different. One of the gems that we can find is this writer from Malaga, Imon who has captivated us by having a sense of humor that applies in a very fresh way both to what he paints on the wall and his paintings, many of them relate related to graffiti internal jokes.
‘I think anyone who understands a joke or a meme can understand what I do, and everyone understands a meme.’
-How did you start painting, how you define the style that encompasses everything you do?
I live on the coast near Malaga, in a place similar to the ones I paint in my drawings. I started doing graffiti like everyone else, signing my name as a kid, but then it got serious.
I paint. I wouldn’t know how to define my style, I like for the viewer to decide on that.
-In the case of your pieces, you try to play with concepts that go far beyond conventional graffiti by using drawings, memes and very creative ideas. These ideas seem to be the main part of your pieces, apart from the style. How did you get to this point?
I have always painted what I liked and what has always accompanied me through life. Now it’s still the same. I paint concepts related to my life, the internet, what I consume and so on. In the end it’s all about experimenting and not being afraid when it comes to painting. It’s all evolution. I think my pieces have evolved with me, as a person. When someone has other concerns and interests, it shows in their work, whether it’s music, art, cinema, poetry, photography… everything influences you.
A very difficult exercise for those of us who paint graffiti is to get rid of the ego, that is, to go out and paint and not leave your name on the wall.
‘I remember one time when the police came up on us doing a wall and one of them took a can and wrote TOY on the piece… haha!’
-Is your graffiti different from that of most writers? Is it because you have a different goal? What is it?
No… It sounds like a cliché, but the only objective I have when painting is to have a good time, to enjoy the moment, and I think that’s what all writers do in their own way.
I’ve never had any objective when it comes to painting a wall. I have no involvement with the art world and I don’t try to transmit a concept to any viewers. I go out to paint the same way I did when I was a child and I have the same good time I used to while doing something different.
-How do you come up with these ideas?
Walking around the streets, watching a movie, listening to music, wasting time on the internet, visiting a museum, doing sports, talking to friends, having a shower or taking a nap. Ideas always come from everywhere; past, present and future. Some pills my doctor prescribed to me also help.
-Do you get a lot of criticism for making such unconventional graffiti?
Criticism always comes from people in the graffiti world or from someone with a classic or more closed mind. It’s almost always comes from within my city or country (in that order). Then again, I have a good time talking about it with friends and reading things like “ 5 year old could do that” or “what a bad outline” or the famous, “that’s hipster style”. Outside my city everything is more positive and that’s what stays with me. I am very grateful for every good vibe comment or message that I’m sent. Kisses to everyone. I’m corny.
-Surely most people who say something about what you do is because they like it. Do you think everyone understands the ironic messages or do they just like it because they are drawings? Would you take the time to explain these ideas to them a little? What would you say to them in general terms?
Memes. I think anyone who understands a joke or a meme can understand what I do, and everyone understands a meme. When it comes to memes, Imon Boy is almost always the one who stands out. In the end it’s about putting up my name, but in a different way.
As for the rest of the works, there are some pieces that have a bit of humour and irony, and they tend to go a bit against the classic graffiti mentality. The phrase, “graffiti is on the street and not on the internet” comes to mind, and I imagine someone with a classic mentality (with a propensity for vandalism) seeing how a writer positions himself on the internet side instead of the graffiti side, and I find it funny that he thinks that I am a toy. Graffiti is wherever I want it to be, and that’s why it’s mine.
After all, I’m egocentric. I only talk about myself.
‘A very difficult exercise for those of us who paint graffiti is to get rid of the ego, that is, to go out and paint and not leave your name on the wall. ‘
-Are the scenes that tell stories about police based on real facts?
Have any police ever seen you painting them? What did they say to you?
As for the alien scenes… I can’t give any information about that… They made me promise I wouldn’t say anything.
The police scenes are much more common, and some are based on actual facts.
I remember one time when the police came up on us doing a wall and one of them took a can and wrote TOY on the piece… haha!
A year ago, a National Guard came to the wall, and they let me drive their car through the neighborhood. I ran into my mother and turned the siren on for her. (It was amazing). Recently, in a chase, a patrol car crashed head-on into one of my pieces and I got a great photo.
This story is a bit sensitive… very recently, a woman caught me tagging and she was an undercover cop. She told me to remain calm, that she followed me on instagram and liked very much what I was doing, that I should be more careful next time and that maybe we could have a drink together some day. I freaked out… She gave me her phone number and I lost it like an idiot. ((If you’re reading this, write to me <3 ))
There are bad stories too, but I’ll tell them after the trial.
I get along very well with them, they are very sweet.
-Imon boy is a graffiti writer but also an artist. However, everything you do away from the walls also speaks about graffiti. Do you consider yourself a writer who does art or an artist who does graffiti? Why?
I consider myself a person who paints. Graffiti and art are fundamental pillars for me, but they’re not the most important things in my life. That’s why when I paint or draw I introduce many concepts from the world of graffiti, and from outside of it.
‘Graffiti is wherever I want it to be, and that’s why it’s mine.’
-If you stopped painting graffiti, what stories would you paint in your illustrations?
The Netflix team asked me the same question. They proposed to make a mini movie about my work, but it was left hanging. We postponed it for two years.
So I guess I would talk about these kinds of anecdotes in my works, or about my addiction to peanut butter, or my old elevator job, or the TV series I like, like Trailer Park Boys or the things that have happened in my life. And if they haven’t happened to me, I invent them. That’s what I usually do.
-One of the things we love most about what you do are your paintings and illustrations away from the wall. They tell funny stories within the context of an often surreal type of graffiti. How do you come up with these ideas? Give a specific example, such as the painting of cowboys or astronauts painting trains.
Ever since I was a child I’ve been interested in everything related to space. Some of the requirements to be an astronaut are: to have blood pressure lower than 14, 20/20 vision without glasses and a height between 1.49 and 1.93. I have a PhD in physics and space science (astronomy) and was not allowed because I was 3 centimetres taller and had more muscle mass than what was allowed. It’s because of these types of things that I like to fantasize and paint scenes like those of the astronaut painting, something that I wasn’t able to do. 🙁
Besides my interest in space, I am also interested in art, videogames, cinema, music, my friends, photography, etc… All this is the basis of my works.
I have ideas about anything, and those ideas come to mind when I draw. It’s like telling a joke that’s not funny.
-Tell us of some writers and artists you like and why.
My crew, who have no name: Temek, Back, Webo, Jean, etc.. My friends, with whom I usually go out to eat some sunflower seeds, go to the beach or exchange memes, and who are also artists.
I really like Ana Barriga and Jonas Wood’s painting. Also new stuff like Austin Lee or the work of Escif, Aryz, Gordo Pelota, etc. It’s difficult to talk about one in particular.