interview with atek 84 | graffiti murals & street art  18/02/2013

Q: What made you to become an artist?
A: My father is an artist, so when I was a kid I grew up in a house that was one big gallery of canvasses. I need to go to one vernissage, after an other and hear all those boring speeches... This had an influence on me without a doubt. Than I started to draw my own comic books and so on...

Q: Why graffiti? How long are you into graffiti? Give me little background of your starts.
A: Graffiti is fast, hard, colors, chromes, a lot of expression, it's stress, it's photography, troubles, ego. It's walls, steel, emotions, sketching, travels, people, obsession, court... When you are a teenager bored of everyday life this is the perfect thing to fall in love with. I'm painting now for about 10-12 years. My alter Ego Atek84 started about 4 years ago when the more relaxed aspect in graffiti started to attract me...

Taking time to develop style, experiment with no limit like time and so on... this is a new element for me and makes the game more interesting in some way. Still, to much time can create boredom...the enemy of this time.

Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Socially, Church, Bloody, Expressive ...

Q: Seems like your very inspired by the comic books and cartoons. Do you have any favorite characters? How much does the character design helps you to express your own opinions, generally through the graffiti art?
A: The Marvel Series in general. But also Blacksad, Tank Girl, Sin-City and the Criminal comics. As a kid I always was fascinated by comics, so now, all grown up, I felt this nostalgic feeling to create a superheroes series. The mythology around superheroes is interesting. When I'm now thinking about it the immortality and invincibility of the superheroes, those where probably the main characteristics which were fascinating to me. Now I see myself thinking about the same ideas but in a more mature and intellectual way.

Q: Can you tell me about the making process? How do you usually develop your basic ideas to the final one? Do you use a sketchbook?
A: I like to work around concepts. And if you want a concept you need a idea, so if I have my idea I start some natural brainstorming process. After this I go search for a nice spot. Than I start to sketch, go to the spot, do the thing I do, take the photo and it's done. Up to the next.

Q: Being a graffiti artist must be fun. Have you ever worked in a team with a bunch of other artists?
A: I painted a lot outside Belgium so if you need spots it's natural that you hook up with people all across Europe. From Bratislava to Berlin, from Marseille to Copenhagen, from Riga to Valencia, from Milano to Budapest and so on....

Paint, chill with the locals and have a good time. The interaction with people from a different background and roots can be very interesting. Still... When I'm in Belgium I don't have the urge to hang out all the time with people just because they paint graffiti. I like to paint alone at my home ground.

Q: What role “tagging” plays in street art?
A: The tag is the roots of graffiti, its the necessary core.
But...It depends what your roots are in graffiti, if you started illegally a tag can be an art on it self, it needs to flow, it needs to be nasty, it needs to scream! You can love tags...even more than a piece. If you started legal, most of the time your tags look crooked and you don't pay to much attention to them. It's ridiculous that there are people who do real nice pieces but can not throw a decent tag.

Q: When would be the "dream" piece you would love to work on?
A: Painting on some North-Korean battle ships would be nice I guess.

Q: Since your style is well-defined, would you change something in the near feature?
A: At the moment I making an old fast-food building into a church... Have painted a wall from 29 feet high that has a real working flat screen 50 inch TV on it playing day and night... We can see this as some completely different. Still, bricks are involved. So if you have some connections in North-Korea hook me up!

Q: Do you think that graffiti art can make a social impact in some way? How do you feel about being able to make an art "revolution" or "rebellion" with your art?
A: I'm sure it can make a social impact but I'm not a revolutionist or a prophet. I have a need to express myself, to express my ideas...I do this mostly with the can and I do this on walls.

Most of the time, visible walls for a crowd. I do this because I need to get some ideas of my chest, if people don't like it, no problem. If people like it, also... no problem. When I hear the word rebel I feel sixteen again...that faze is some years ago now...

Q: What are your feelings about the graffiti scene at present and the transitions in styles you must have seen since you began writing?
A: In my beginning days it was all about letters and characters... The internet was present but not a big player on the market, now everybody has a blog and a website. Overkill at his peak! It's killing the identity of a lot of writers and pieces.
Ow...and since some years you have this awe full word called “ street-art”.

Q: Talking about the popular culture... Do you think graffiti is mainstream?
A: Off course it is. Whole the world jumps in on this “hip” movement. It's cool and groovy, hip and square ...But it was cool and groovy in the 80's, the 90's and the Y2K's.  Still, you need to be true to yourself. Respect your roots.

Every hipster I know is now fan of “street-art” they see some Banksy stencil and go crazy about it, want to do some “hip” stencils in the street and gain as much as respect and fame as possible...But after a year or two they quit. And still..after 35 years they are still talking about it to there grand children after Christmas dinner.

But hey, you all ways have the other side of the medal, there are still people pulling planks and pushing limits out there. So just like music, you have the good old Wu-Tang, A Tribe Called Quest, Lord Finesse and on the other side the mainstream Lil Wayne, 50 cent and Justin Bieber crap...

Q: Do you still enjoy painting as much now, or do you feel jaded at all, do you still have the enthusiasm?
A: I appreciate the painting itself now on a different scale than in the past. And I mean that in a good way.

Q: Art is like unknown destiny to many artists out there. What is the best lesson that you've learned from your art journey?
A: Travel is the key! Billy Pilgrim style.

Q: Do you have any advice for the new artists?
A: Don't use crack.

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