Describe the word art. We are also interested in more details about your own style? As an artist, There is a major subject that motivates each one of us artists so I hope you can tell us yours?
I have such a high a definition of “art.” Honestly, to finely and yet narrowly define something that revolves around a person’s creativity, I find myself speechless. I simply can’t find the words to express this particular answer. Instead I find an infinite amount of words explaining the beauty of this world. “Simply put art is life. Art is anything that has beauty and is worth appreciating.”
I recently defended a most famous Italian street artist in the Court of Appello. The court is located in Milan. We were actually in the news paper, which I am most pleased about. Maybe you are familiar with the artist Manu Invisible whom is from Italy. During court, I said to the President, “I will not venture into defining what is art and what is not. This is partially because the criminal code of our country, does not provide a specific definition about it. So, I feel that there is a small invisible line in between vandalism and art. And I might waste my breath to speak about street art to the deaf, dumb, and blind people who can’t understand other people’s culture. What I call art is different from what you think, and you will never understand it because you will never experience the same feelings that we do. We live in different worlds from each other. And to be honest, I will leave here the same way I came in, ENLIGHTENED. If I had to guess, most of you will still be ignorant. I don’t think this will happen, but please let your ears understand the truth. If I paint over a caveman’s wall it is vandalism, but if I paint on a city wall, why is it vandalism? But we have more talent than the caveman could ever think of. So that is why I say that I am preaching to the deaf, dumb, and blind. So did we really break your law? Maybe the governments are vandals because you guys prevent us from making your city more beautiful. The government is breaking the law if you ask me. To end this short speech, I believe in God and you truly own nothing. Everything we have is just being borrowed from God. So go look in your Bible and find where it is a sin for us to create beauty. Once again, the first murals came from caveman, so go build a time machine and arrest the first vandals.”
I started painting when I was about 12-13 years old. I think that can be considered to be an average age where we truly start focusing on our talent when you truly realize that you have one. That was the first time in my life when I truly felt that I started to exist. We always hear stories about people who don’t truly know themselves, but I knew at an early age why I was put on this Earth. I knew that I am blessed.
I never lost myself. From an early age I always knew that I was put here to do art. Simply put, I never lost myself. This is my identity, “I AM AN ARTIST.” It is because of that, that I feel that artists are a very fortunate type of person because I think we might find our soul and the beauty within this universe at an earlier age.
About the streets. The difference in our form or style of art is that we are expressing ourselves in an illegal way. To become better, you have to cause much destruction. It is impossible to get around that. I believe that is why the cops don’t understand. I had never even had the slightest thought that there was another way of painting in the beginning. So, for my first years, I was a pure striker.
When I first saw the magazine “Fanzine,” which was in 1995/96, it stayed like a tattoo within my mind. It included, 12 oz prophet who came from the USA. I started to realize the opportunity to expand my perspectives within the world of art. I must say that the style of the letters, with the combination of illegal tags and throw ups were something that had always fascinated me. I am sure I was hooked from the first samples I saw on the subway as well.
In the old school days, it was said that if you leave only a tag or if you only went to bomb, then you were not a real writer. It was important to have a disciplined style to truly be in the Hall of Fame. The development of my own personal style into a perfectly recognizable piece, had become the primary purpose for myself and the other old-school cats. So, I concentrated for a long time both in the illegal distribution of my creativity, and legal pieces. Illegal pieces teach you to be quick and clean, but legals provide the time to perfect your talent with patience as well as well as experience more styles.
Was there ever an incident where you had gotten into trouble with the cops or anything? If not maybe what was the biggest obstacle into doing huge projects?
Amongst the larger projects that I have participated in, as far as the terms of size…well my biggest painting was called called “Against the war of Iraq.” That was in the year of 2003 and it was one side of a football field. It was about 100 meters long and 3 meters high. But I also love the artwork that I’ve made in Forlimpopoli. I painted the doors of the side of a medieval Castle with Maso and Jhal1. In addition, I painted the façades for the country of San Separate in Sardinia with Manu Invisible. All of those walls were legal work.
Certainly some of the works that I did were more “risky.” An example would be one that I did on an overpass in 2007. On that one I could have fallen about 8 meters down to the main road. I had dressed so very elegantly in mechanic overalls which had been given to me by one of my friends.
It suddenly became a difficult situation. I could see the police before they could arrive to the spot. I saw them coming from afar so I took off on my own. By the time they got to me, I was not in a mechanic uniform anymore, I was a business man wearing a suit and tie. When the cops stopped me they did not ask for my identity card because I looked like a person too good to go writing on walls.
As far as what my favorite work is, it simply does not exist. Every time I finish a piece, I am dissatisfied with it. I enjoy my paintings, but as most people like them, I am looking at what I don’t like. I always hope to do better with my next painting.
Sorry to answer the questions backward but I like to endorse the legal side more. For the cops, Yes! I have spent some “fun” times with the police. Especially when I was really young. Once, while in a yard with some friends, we were suddenly joined by a plain-clothed policeman in a jeep. After he spotted us he then pointed a gun at us. There was only one solution to the problem, RUN! So we proceeded down the railway. In our need to get away from him we found ourselves stumbling upon the stones. Then with all of that running we finally arrived in a dark alley. After a few minutes, we saw the same damn cop! We were trapped in the alley-way because his car prevented our escape. At that point I suddenly realized that behind us, there was a steel structure. We used it to climb up on top of the roof. From there we took the opportunity to flee. I must say that on about 4 different occasions, the cops chased me. Somehow they never managed to get us! Guess we are ninjas!
What is the best thing about wall murals? What is the worst thing?
The biggest obstacle with which I had to fight with to assert my own style was primarily the pre-judgment from the haters. From the beginning it was in school, at home, on the streets, and among many of my classmates. Hate can be found everywhere. I can’t fully explain why but maybe it was because of their jealousy. To me, I felt this can damage an artist’s mind. I always saw a constant distortion of writing: a vision that truly lacks the capacity of truly showing the internal message of the artist. When I painted on the street, people always criticized me. Since there was no internet available during those times to educated the people, and combining the fact that this art still exists today, I feel there will always be a form of disrespect within this area of art. Mainly cause from the beginning there was much hate and it will probably always exist.
I nicknamed my style years ago as, “Frode Style.” This is because I have acquired a range of subjects that our authentically mine. All of my art comes from within. This art carries a deep personal message from deeply searching within my own mind. Even if you don’t like detailed definitions, my style of lettering joins the evolution of my tags which over time has turned into metropolitan cities, people, and it creates a kind of realistic view of life. Because of that I believe the realistic parts of my art makes people like is form of art. I particularly like to work hard on the backgrounds which are truly affected by shades. I must add that my greatest inspirations came from my adolescence.
My vision of painting is essentially very colorful. The level of impact I want to convey hopes that the viewer can see further into the world around him. I want them to see more deeply into what lives around us. If we can see the immediate positivity that lives around us, it can help our minds keep or regain our peace. I live with that type of mind, trying to appreciate the beauty of this world. I have tried it for the past few years. I tried this method several times, especially within these recent years. After the death of my father, I found a religious theme.
Death is not a negative thing. So I started reinterpreting classic themes from the Bible. I thought that many people ignore what is written within the Holy Scriptures. Mankind tends to desecrate the messages of Christianity. Because of that, it gives it a completely opposite, and out of fashion meaning. I took some subjects, such as Madonna or the Good Shepherd, and I have proposed them again in a strong street style. I must say that the impact, especially through the association with our beautiful videos has a really strong effect upon our observers.
It has always been my dream to do a 4 story plus wall. Is there a special way you go about doing a project of monumental size? Example, like scale it from paper and make a grid on the wall?
Some muralists share the design on a grid and then sketch it after they put a grid on a wall, for example C215. Others usually use the projector to project the photo or drawing on the wall at night, for example EL MAC. I personally proceed entirely by eye. I do it without using any kind of technical foundation. In some cases, with the help of my partner, he will sometimes use a laser. If I get out of scale he will then use a laser to help correct me.
Our future needs wisdom and advice from the already amazing established artists so what can you teach to these younger people?
Wall murals simply imply that the person needs to give themselves completely to the final product, and then invest their imagination and their strength into every project. Every time I start a project it is like climbing a step in my life and I apply again similar colors and forms while experimenting further. This is a great thing because it is a form of positive energy which flows in rivers and provides satisfaction with no ending in sight. The bad thing to me, is that quite often, the artist is not recognized or given the proper reward for his efforts. Many people do not realize the effort behind these large works and although these works are appreciated, I feel there is a certain amount of disrespect at the same time.
As a child I never even remotely imagined that I would be an advocate and street artist for my profession. What I did was always follow my dreams with tenacity. Today I do the same and I am living like I am in a dream. I truly did find happiness and I am so truly blessed. As an artist, I feel that happiness comes from taking a piece that is important to ourselves and work on it every day to make it come into a full existence is the best thing. When you are done, you are only satisfied very smally. After that, you are studying your mistakes. That is how you evolve. You are happy and unhappy at the same time.
When we try to make art, we will always encounter a crisis that can make us better. Simply go through that battle and every time you will be reborn, so do not let yourself feel discouraged.
Last, give a personal message, and shout outs. Show some love to those whom have helped you.
I am grateful every day for my life, to my family, and my parents. To my love, my wife Nadia. My sister Paola as well as Pietro, Daniele, and Martina.
In addition, peace to my brothers crew, Pizza Connection: Maso, Jhal1, Akua, KesSilviaEttore, Bagli, and my brother Manu Invisible.