12 Shots is a series of articles published by drips.fr that allows different writers to tell the stories behind 12 photographs taken during their career. The latest to participate in these original interviews is Fuzi, and we’ve translated the entire article for our English readers. The stories of the UV-TPK member do not disappoint, revealing the purest and rudest aspects of graffiti: attitude, secrecy, style and violence. His testimony makes it clear that no matter what, Fuzi remains a true graffiti lover to the core.

In the year 86/87, I remember bombing skinhead Ska tags in primary school after seeing a report on TV and having no idea what they meant. Soon after, I discovered the hip-hop movement and did my first tags when I was about 13 years old, back in 88/89, with Neroy and Run, names like Type2 and Naro. At that time I was a toy, living in Gisors, a few steps from the train yard, which was our playground at that time.

Then I meet Stero and the LTK, at the Pontoise Rugby Club. It was in the same changing room where I saw Subway Art for the first time. All the lads at the club were writers, more or less. The bus that took us to the games every weekend was the ticket that showed me what happened on the walls of Val d’Oise and other suburbs. These two factors would forever influence my graffiti.

# 1 Opsen with P

“We went back to the spot by train to make sure, and sure enough, my little piece was right in the middle of his huge silver!”

For the record, when I decided to choose the name Opsen, I was convinced that it was spelled like that, with a P (!). I did my first solo piece on a wall in the North, a little before Saint-Ouen-l’Aumône. I saw a virgin spot. I went there during the week, at two in the afternoon. Kesler FB had made me a sketch, with model letters, I was super proud. I walked along the rails and then stopped. I made a sketch with chalk, then my piece, on the lines between two train stations. I went speeding past again, and it was the most beautiful moment of my life. The next day, I saw Stereo and he was panicking. He told me that I’d painted over a Lucid CUD (Criminal Ultra Dangerous) piece. I denied it, there was nothing else on the wall. We went back to the spot by train to make sure, and sure enough, my little piece was right in the middle of his huge silver! I was so focused on the wall that I hadn’t even seen it. Stereo fixed it and saved me from being beat up.

# 2 Northern Suburbs

Since 91, I’ve spent some time in the northern suburbs: Montmorency, Domont, Sarcelles-St-Brice. I’ve tagged the neighborhoods a lot, almost always alone. In 1994-95, I’d often go to the Epinay yard, between trains in the early afternoon. The trains are so close together, you can barely take a step back. You can do four panels on the four trains that have more space at the end. I knew about the legends like 93MC and NTM of Gare du Nord, but at that time it was dead, I never saw painted trains, only mine. The active writers concentrated on the tracks.

You can clearly imagine the aesthetic criteria of the time. Some will say that I used to draw an inflatable doll, but it was supposed to represent a curvy girl.

# 3 Provocation

“I also saw a relationship with what I wanted to do in graffiti. Knowing the rules to be able to better destroy them.”

This photo was taken by Rap, my partner at the time, and the person who I’ve painted the most graffiti with. It was April ’96, the time of the release of Doc Gyneco’s first album. It was a real shock to the world of French rap, a way of playing with the codes of gangster rap. We both recognized ourselves in it, in this provocation. Posing like a scumbag. I also saw a relationship with what I wanted to do in graffiti. Knowing the rules to be able to better destroy them. I was experimenting with this piece. It doesn’t really work, but it’s symbolic of my focus. Face it, be different, don’t give importance to anything and have fun. Despite everything, the photo is magical, half naked, with my hand down my pants. Purists will appreciate it and girls will too ; ).

# 4 Passage de Clichy

Another one of my stupid nicknames that I had for about two months. Around 98, the Clichy junction was our turf. An alley the width of a car, which joined l’avenue de Clichy with the boulevard of the same name. A seedy circus of a walled wasteland. A  shortcut that was reserved for us. I lived in a storeroom above the cinema on Place Clichy, ten floors up with no elevator. There was no shower and we shared a bathroom on the landing. When police searched my appartment, it took only 5 minutes since it was so small. A short walk from the Gare Saint-Lazare. A stone’s throw from the boulevard. The Castorama, the 24-hour tobacconist, the Quick and the Greek fries close by. We painted, smoked, drank, fought, sometimes dealt drugs, stealing and had a lot of fun. The local s hated us. We couldn’t imagine why. It was the spiritual home of UVTPK at the time.

Shout out to the soldiers who came through Place Clichy: Salo, Kilo, Gaz, Erol, Eyone, Takl, Frez, Semee, Kiss, Dok and all the others.

# 5 L ’Écho des Savanes

It’s 1997, we’re loaded with paint, there’s probably about fifteen of us, maybe more. There’s also a photographer who does an article for the VSD newspaper. I don’t remember the details, not even if the article was published, but if anyone finds the guy or his photos, let me know! I even dedicated the train to VSD. UVs wouldn’t be created until a few months later. Four of us jumped onto the platform to paint two whole cars. I think Gaz, Cezam, Club and me. The rest were doing panels and tags (Babs, Fast and others). I was inspired by a drawing that I saw as a child in the newspaper “Écho des Savanes”, a giraffe that a boy was hanging clothes on. My references were already super abstract in my head at the time. Krylon red fill in, Aspect Chrome outline, all stolen from BHV, that was my color scheme from that era. I was testing things, it worked well for this piece, but it didn’t always turn out like this. I remember Fast walking between the two trains to ask, “Who did that giraffe?” It’s totally wicked!” It wasn’t the kind of thing you saw on trains back then. And I think it meets all the criteria of what has been called “Ignorant Style.”

# 6 Barcelona

“I immobilized the hand holding the bottle and kicked him dozens of low blows to disarm him, and Afiler hit him in the head at the same time.”

I don’t remember the date very well. Probably 2008. I was with Afiler, Trane, Drag and Salo. Just before going to paint, we stopped in a youth hostel near Las Ramblas. There were five of us in a room with three beds and the receptionist, ended up kicking Afiler and me out after several phone calls and screams. We decided to go get some beers and come back when everything had settled down. The street was under construction, the sidewalk narrow, between two fences, leaving space for a single passer-by. A tall guy comes from the corner with a broken bottle in his hand and lunged straight at me, grabbed my neck and threatened to smash it in my face. His friend threw himself at Afiler. The boys were apparently under the influence of a potent drug and were acting wildly but determined to fight. Afiler got the better of his opponent, who ran away pretty quickly; then he got a broom to come help me. At the time, I was training and practicing Thai boxing regularly, so this guy was supposed to be easy to deal with. However, this was not the case. I immobilized the hand holding the bottle and kicked him dozens of low blows to disarm him, and Afiler hit him in the head at the same time. But nothing, the guy was in a trance and it seemed that our blows didn’t affect him. Finally, he dropped the bottle, as the punches continued, and he staggered in the direction of the hotel as our friends came out to join us. His unconscious state was probably what saved his life. He must have woken up the next day with some nice bruises.

# 7 PSL 1999

I did this piece at Cergy in the late morning like many others at that time. We felt at home, jumping the wire fence by bridge and painted. No stress, right on the platform. This character is directly inspired by the vibe of the top to bottom “Eat Shit” character by Reas AOK. I took the photo on the Saint Lazare platform during rush hour. After spending the afternoon shoplifting from department stores, we joined the crew and hung out on the Boulevard de Clichy, drinking, laughing, and robbing tourists. Our day to day at the time.

# 8 Angel or devil?

Part of a one man whole car. RER C, early 2000. A double Fuzi with this character in the middle. I made it up on the fly. An urban angel, a clear message for everyone. We are not angels or demons. At that time, the RER C was completely destroyed. We spent all of our time painting in the many yards and pathways that made up the huge network, which ran from the western suburbs, north to south and through the tourist heart of Paris. At peak times, my friend from the Rap era and I spent a lot of time at the Musée d’Orsay station to take photos of our pieces or other graffiti. It was very rare for a clean train to arrive at a station. Many whole cars and top to bottoms ran for months. Finally, we could express ourselves and see our pieces in traffic. The competition was tough. Everybody wanted to paint the C. Writers came from all over Europe to paint it. It was an open-air Hall of Fame. With different nicknames, mainly Fuzi, Myth, Voyou and Moloss, I never let anyone take liberties. I probably did my most successful pieces on those trains.

To give you an idea, one day we painted whole cars with Babs, Rap and a couple of others at a great spot. The guard arrived with a dog, I walk towards him, insulting him to scare him. We quickly finished our pieces and walked away, crossing the tracks in plain sight. When we reached the road, we came across a group of young people, hiding in the bushes, who were also going to paint. We didn’t tell them anything about the situation and we wished them good luck.

Dedications to the active people of the time: Babs, Erco, Trane, Kroe, Tirz, Songe, Mech, Kiss, Dok and others. Oneax, Kidz, Thug, Mock, VF, See, Amine, Arom, RDK, 1K, etc.

# 9 In the Bathroom

“You had to be careful not to get cut in half by a train or smash into a pole.”

Tagging trains was our daily routine. Painting everything: insides, outsides like the photos of the New York subway, that was the goal. We had our techniques. Leaning out the windows was one of them. There’s no secret: with your paint and your balls, you stick half your body out the window while the train is running, put your ass on the ledge and you have room to make a big tag or a throw up. You had to be careful not to get cut in half by a train or smash into a pole. Then you went back into the train, your ears full of paint, your eyes watering, your jacket and hands stained with paint, but you have a place that they couldn’t clean completely. Then all you had to do was tag the insides before reaching your destination. Greetings to those who tag the commuter trains that lowkey give life to graffiti.

# 10 Scoop!

2003. I was snooping around when I saw this subway where it shouldn’t have been. This chrome model was cool and rare. I called my friend Trane and we went down on the platform, plastic bag in hand. One panel each, mid-afternoon. We pulled out the stolen mini Olympus, the Kodak went click clack. I posed shirtless like a boxer. Trane posed in a more restrained way and off we went. Nothing to declare, like most of the time in fact. I didn’t sweat a drop. Next stop: Rue de Rome to develop the photos and wait three days to see the results.

# 11 The dirty south

“Should there only be graffiti in big cities? Does a career in the provinces mean less than shining in the capital? Do you have to earn your stripes under the lights of mega cities to be successful?”

2017 with friends from the South, the Dirty South. Perpignan, the center of the world, my second home after Paris. Another environment, with different strategies for painting, but true friendships and true enthusiasts who have nothing to envy of the great Parisian writers. Should there only be graffiti in big cities? Does a career in the provinces mean less than shining in the capital? Do you have to earn your stripes under the lights of mega cities to be successful? The TER have their charm, their merits and legends are born under every sun. RIP of the Z2. Ninja, Smole, Afiler, Roti and shout outs to the other provinces.

# 12 Evolution

I have evolved and flourished in different artistic directions (tattoo, art, photography, writing, etc.) but graffiti has always remained by my side. A solid foundation that I trust to understand the world. I have experienced its evolution for more than thirty years and I am delighted with the richness of this movement. I am proud to have been and continue to be one of its participants. Through my podcast, I have tried – after getting through the hell of hearing my own voice – to give a voice to others. People I’ve known or I’ve painted with. For example Eyone, who told me about the wild times of robberies and fights, or Babs’ vandal tales and his connections to French Rap and his city, Vitry. We talk about graffiti of course, but above all, about the spirit of graffiti. The spirit of freedom, rebellion and creativity; that can also be found in other disciplines or personalities. It’s happening now, so enjoy listening and what’s to come!

Check @banlieue_analog for unpublished photos from the time, and my website: www.fuziwashere.com

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