Every year a lot of writers land in our city to share great experiences with us. Gomer and Onix came in January and we had the opportunity to chat and share some wine with them. This is the result of this “We need to talk”.
First, let us introduce you to…
Gomer: painting for six years, lives in Lyon.
Onix: painting for ten years, he is from Marseille, but currently lives in Lyon. Crews: PM/ ‘Puta Madre’ (Rish, Heng, Revert, Peak, Just, Acet, Asol, Lamo, 1Kult, Blo, Vasko, Lipo, Vega Nick2, Brio, Delirz, Dely, Enragé, Jaws, Tchad, Pekno Amigo, RIP Jeky, Surf, Flut, Kish Lala, kalm, Slop and Cuba), Greetings (Ogre, Gris, Peak, Bomk, Tchad and Revert) and VG/ ‘Vandal Groove’ (Zizir, Vasko, Lipo, Enso, Sinje, Frime, Elia, Nors… and many other little vandal minded guys).
The wine flowed freely (not for Gomer; he doesn’t drink) and the conversation went like this:
How did you get into graffiti?
Gomer: I got into graffiti through my cousin. One day he made a sketch of my name and he told me to fill it in with color. I was 10, that was the first time I noticed that you could draw letters instead of just writing them. I never saw things the same since. I remember when I came back after that vacation with my parents, it was the first time I noticed the letters and drawings on the highway. I was really young and it looked like an adventure and mystery to do that. I was hooked instantly.
So I only drew letters on paper until high school. I started to find people who were into bombing and painting and they told me where the graffiti store was. Before that, the only guy I knew that did graffiti was me, when I just robbed some black cans in hardware stores, and did some black, dirty tags.
I met people in high school and we started a crew, but it wasn’t anything serious for them…they were more into partying and girls… none of that mattered to me and I am the only one who kept with it.
Onix: I was in school in Avignon. The first wildstyle piece I saw was from a guy called Mezo. One day we bought some cans, Hardcore cans to be exact. We painted and we get caught.
What are your strong and weak points?
G: I have trouble with freestyle, with letting things flow. I really like to plan what I draw, paint and create. So it’s hard for me to adapt when something goes wrong. It doesn’t mean i can’t do it, just that it’s not natural for me at all. My strong point is that I plan, and really analyze everything so that it turns out well. That’s the other side of the same coin.
But you are the kind of person who enjoy traveling, not just the destination…
G: Yes, that’s why I do things that way. I sometimes like to freestyle and work without a goal, because it’s a challenge I’m giving to myself because I know I have to work on that. Now I’m starting to enjoy it, I learned a lot watching Ogre and Gris. For years it was impossible to make a piece without having a sketch before me. It’s only this year or the year before that I would go to a wall and freestyle without having a plan and idea. I’m not happy with the result, but I’m happy with the idea of doing it. And I’ll try to keep working on it…
Strong/ weak point…
O: I am a walking paradox. Maybe sometimes I don’t like something, and after some time I like it. I quickly get bored of things. I’m more emotional than logical with graffiti. Graffiti is my girlfriend.
What have you both gained and lost doing graffiti?
G: I got the chance to see the world, life and things in a special way, which is unique. To feel them, and be able to reformulate them by painting, drawing, doing music, or whatever, I think it is a kind of school, that teaches you different ways to see life, and see the city, like a playground. This can be applied to every aspect of life… but the opposite is also true, because you exclude yourself from other things, like when you’re used to do something for free, for example graffiti, or being in love with an activity that you do only for the love of doing it.. you start to hate people who create things for money, so you can’t stand watching tv, or some kinds of movies, or music. I don’t do that, but it’s a way to exclude yourself, from common things in society because it’s not working alongside the codes and rules of your way of thinking.
O: With graffiti I gained a lot of friends, and I lost a few friends. Graffiti gives me the posibility to meet nice people, who you connect with first in mind, and become friends. And you lose people, ’cause you can see in a difficult situation the bad side of those so call friends. You can see them evolve in the game and get disgusted by the way they show themselves.
Do you think that graffiti is like a magnifying glass?
O: No, I think it is like a small highschool, with very juvenile people and guys with ego problems.
Do you have an agenda? Where do you want to reach with your graffiti?
G: My life is not planned for dedication to graffiti. Graffiti is a part of my whole life, and I know what I want to do with my life. Graffiti is the main thing occupying my everyday time but it’s not part of a plan. I want to enjoy every second of my life, and to take everything I can from life, and from each day. Graffiti is the best way I have found so far to enjoy myself, to find some freedom, and to be able to meet a lot of people from different places. That’s something that I really like. It’s not a plan, it’s just the easiest way to do it.
What I mean is that I want to grow as much as possible, but not in a way of being known or famous, but in the sense of enjoying or experiencing as much as possible in this short time which is my life, and if this means to traveling, and making a name for myself, I’ll do it ’cause it’s the way to achieve the goal.
O: Not at all, because I wouldn’t do graffiti if there were schedules and obligations… I want to travel, see new things, and experience new sensations. I want to go where I’ve never been before. I want to live graffiti, I don’t want to be driven by graffiti.
In ten years…
G: I see myself painting cause I’ve been drawing all my life, even before painting. I think it’s something I need to express myself. I don’t know how I will be, I can’t really answer that, but my intention is to grow.
What I mean is that I will be doing something creative because that’s what I love, and it’s the way to express myself, and if it’s not graffiti, it will be something else that makes me grow, because I want to go forward in my life. I have been trying to improve my work, to improve the person I am. And I hope I’ll still be working and going in that direction.
O: I don’t know what I will be doing in 10 years and I’m happy with that.
What do you want to express?
G: I don’t know what I want to express, I know what I like to see and to do. And the things I like in creation in general is contrasts. I like black and white. Black alone doesn’t work.
What I would like to do with my outlines now is to show this contrast, with some parts crazy and others smooth and simple. I’m trying to do so, lately, in my pieces with the filling being a clean fade and with other parts more a mix of shapes. I love collisions, shocks, contrasts, I love to see things which are not expressing the same feeling next to each other, making you feel like you’re in a rollercoaster. This is, in my opinion, what creates emotion.
O: I want to explain the paradox. There is a link with music; what I like in music is everything which is dark, it doesn’t always mean something serious. We can do something really dark like wildstyles, with arrows and so, but do it on the beach. My pieces are chaotic, they reflect my chaos, but they’re also very organized. I don’t want my pieces to be happy and joyful. I only want to put colors on gray things. Dark is good.
G: Every creation is representative of the person who did it, because you will be faking it if you paint flowers but are a dark person. The reader of the creation can see if something is wrong. But I also know that sometimes you can fake it. For me, in bad periods, taking photos is the easiest way to express myself. I don’t feel comfortable talking to people about my feelings…so creating is a way to extract those feelings. So for me, creation is a mirror of who you are or what you think.
What is your creative spark?
G: It could be anything; seeing someone’s pieces, a color scheme in a movie, listening to a song, or pure feelings. Anger is the easiest feeling for me to express; I’ll go bombing and I can feel my body expressing itself, running, climbing a roof… it’s a painting from within my body. When I paint in a hall of fame, it’s my mind creating something so the origin is not the same.
O: For me the spark comes from competition, seeing people doing huge pieces great pieces, mainly on trains. The competition on trains is fun. Experiencing the same situation in different places is exciting.
What do you love and hate about graffiti?
G: I don´t like people using the same colors exactly the same way… I like people showing who they are, and that doesn’t happen when everyone is doing the same fade. In my opinion painting is a way for people to show who they are; some call it style. When I see ten people doing the same fade, there is no one to be seen… just an average of everyone… that’s not interesting for me.
I like to do walls with different colors, with no connections between the pieces, but that’s not what I like to see the most. I think the best way to see someone style is to get people to use the same colors but to let them use them the way they want; then you can see the personality. It’s a very good way to see the differences, the contrast of the pieces. I feel nothing for the walls with the same colors fades/shapes… for me it’s boring.
O: I hate people who want to do the same colors, and organize everything on the wall. I don’t paint with that kind of person.
What do you think about graffiti right now? What do you like?
G: For me, there are two types of graffiti that cause a lot of emotion in me. One is the swedish style or kiddish style, because it’s really far from my own way of expression and my way of seeing things. I wouldn’t like to paint like that, and I’m not sure that I like to see it, but it’s still part of this game, and it has an impact on me. I love the fact that people are doing this style, I love the idea that people in the same game as me have such a different way of seeing things.
I love the German styles, northern styles. I love things that are planned, sharp, clean, and with strong shapes. I wont say any name regarding influences… it’s too specific. And if you look at my pieces, you can see where it comes from, no doubt.
O: I like the New York and Berlin styles. I know it’s not new, but I like it. Poet, Phos4, Mr Ice, Yes, Ces, Jepsy…
What’s your opinion of the various branches of graffiti?
G: I have two stances. There is the graffiti writer in me who hates that people call things graffiti when they are not graffiti. I hate that, because you have to name things and clarify the difference. In the other way, the human in me, likes the fact that people are doing things in the street, expressing themselves, being creative.
Graffiti is not just one discipline now; there are people that only do illegal stuff, and people that only do hall of fame, but it doesn’t mean that only one or the other is graffiti. Graffiti is want you want it to be. You decide. It’s no one’s place to say what graffiti is or is not. Graffiti is freedom, and so do your best, and respect the other freedom the best you can.
O: I usually get amused by street artists, as normally there’s a bad opinion of them. But I like people doing what they like to do. I may not hang out with them, but they’re free to paint what they like.
If Graffiti is freedom… what about private property?
G: A city belongs to the people that live within it and, in the same way, a piece of art, when it’s done, doesn’t belong to his maker. Things belong to the people that use it. That’s my feeling about the city but of course it’s not so simple; I would never do a piece on someone’s house.
These are just general statements; in everyday life you have to thread the waters and make decisions as they come. But this is not working with the government because they have to make general laws. The state can not think in gray, only black and white. It can’t consider people as two things at the same time. You are a writer but also a worker, a husband, a son…
O: As a selfish person, I have to say that it depends on every situation. Case by case.
O: Good moments, traveling, meeting good people, stories, graffiti. “We need to talk” situations.
G: I’ve been doing a lot of videos lately, and I’m trying to do it more and more professionally. I have some different projects on the go, directing and editing. I have some video to be released, like one in Barcelona.
I hope to paint more because I haven’t been painting a lot in these few last months for several reasons, personal issues, and also I was not really comfortable with the things I’ve been doing lately. It was good in itself, but it was not what I had in mind. I was looking for the next step in my paintings.
I had the chance to meet a writer that I had loved for a long time, Monster, who lives in Paris. I went there for a job, and I stayed 7 days. I spent 2 or 3 days with him, before this job. We went to paint, and he has a specific attitude towards painting. He puts paint in places, and then works around it. And to have the chance to paint with him made me see my painting in a different way, it really helped me to unblock something in my mind, which I’ve been trying to apply ever since.
His painting is still graffiti, but without limits. Painting with him is a big challenge because there’s no classical limits of space. He paints on the left, on the right, and in the middle of your filling, over your letters, and you have the opportunity to do the same. It helped me to see the bigger picture of the painting. Its not only my piece, we are painting together, not just next to each other. And there’s a big difference. I would love to, in the future, have the chance to paint like this with other people but I know that it would be scary for a lot of writers.
What do you carry with you always?
G: I’m always carrying my camera with me.What I see or experience stimulates me to create. I want to save that spark, and filming or taking a photo is the best modern way to save the sensation, to use it the best way. Because when I see something, I can’t alway draw instantly to take advantage of it.
O: I am always listening to music – like Cannibal Ox (for example) – and I have always something to cover my head.
The bottle of wine was empty and the conversation made way for some more fun…