Farao catching tags with grog squeezers, check it out.
We got the chanse to talk too the great photographer Vivian Brussels about his recent projects and how he got started in photographing the graffiti culture. In this interview Vivian Brussels choose to show 10 portraits of some of the worlds most famous graffiti writers representing London, New York, Helsinki and Amsterdam.
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I started photography at 16, shooting the skate and snow scene. I then started to hang and shoot around the Brussels graffiti artists and hip-hop scene. Today I am mostly doing portraits, documenting street life, subcultures & strong characters.
Where do you live?
How did you get into photography?
My grand father was into it, so I received a camera around 12 and later I start to make pictures when skateboarding and then got some publications.
How come you started photographing graffiti writers and the culture?
I was into writing by myself and I start to shoot the burners on the train track and then I met a local king and start to shoot with him (see my book brussels gold school).
Have you been involved in any other sub-culture and photographed it?
Yes, I started shooting skateboarding, create my own fanzine in 1991 (Def Skate) and started to get published in Anyway, a french skate mag, and I also shoot snowboarding. Check som out here: Vivian.brussels/archives
Tell us a story of when you followed a graffiti writer out on a mission?
Not specially, I didn’t follow a lot of missions, just a few. I used to do the mission for many years, I can tell you we where doing the Amsterdam subway when we were chased by the guard early 2000 I think it was bloody scary.
Do you have any favorite photographers?
Not specially, there is tons of good ones, too much I would say.
Do you have any other projects you work on?
Yes I’m working mostly on badass & street life, like weed dealers, striptease club, old bank robbers, bad guys living in the social housing etc.
Who or what inspires you in photography?
First the atmosphere from the 70’s cops movies and then meeting people with a non ordinary life, unconventional and street minded, I like the vibes from the ghetto, the old new york, the rough places.
Do you have photography as your profession?
I’m 100% a photographer, working mostly for the european bubble here in Brussels, it pays the bills.
What equipment do you use?
D700 mostly, I’have a Mamiya 645 and some old nikon.
Three words that describe your photographs?
Life, atmosphere, youth!
Do you have any future projects going on?
I try to stick to my list, next project is to portrait old gangsters.
Do you have any favorite city in the world and why?
NY of course, I went there the first time in 1993, the atmosphere was intense.
Natural VS artificial light, which do you prefer working with?
Natural only, I’m documenting mostly so I want to stick with the real.
What do you do when not taking pictures?
Seeing my girl or my friends, traveling, reading books, exploring the city to find some dirty places.
What do you think of social media, give us your thoughts on the positive and negative side of it?
It’s cool to see whats going on everywhere in the world, its too bad how people are mad with social network, quality work is not anymore the criteria, now its how many followers you have.
Follow Vivian on instagram here: www.instagram.com/vivianbrussels
Check my two books out here, one is about pieces from the end of the 80’s & early 90’s in Brussels, the other one is portraits of graffiti writers: Vivian.brussels/books
Digital/Analog: Analog, but I shoot mostly digital because of the cost
Type of photo location: ghetto/dirty street
Lighting: Natural only
Finally the 20th issue of Incognito Magazine is out, check out the video and get the magazine over here: www.spraydaily.com/shop
We are proud to treat you with a special feature from the legendary member of the Goat Squad, Renks. Then another classic writer from the European train scene Beats who shares the memories from some great-unseen missions on various types of steel across Europe. On the rougher tip we get down to business with the rugged New York street bomber Goog and wrapping it up with the French writer Alfe sharing pictures and thoughts from various types of wild actions around in the country. Also on the menu is some xxl-sized categories full of unseen walls, trains and bombing by the best writers from all around the globe that we guarantee will keep you busy for a minute.
After a short spell of living in New York and building relationships with the Kings of New York, he then returned to London bringing NYC’s bombing style with him, gaining the respect from artists such as Eine, Barry McGee, KR and Banksy to name a few…
In 2000 he was sentenced for graffiti and in 2013 again for 2 years for painting on trains. This lead him to rethink his practice, ‘Going Against The Grain’ shows not only OKER’s artistic development, but also a development in the way he thinks about his art and an important step in his artistic practice. He can now safely move forward without the worry of being arrested on his opening night. He served his time, and this inaugural solo show will show how far he has come.
What first made you interested in graffiti and how did you end up on that track?
I first discovered graffiti when i was 10, the guy that baby sitted for me was already well-established graffiti writer, that was around 1985, he showed me Subway Art and history. Then I started writing in 1988. During the years I’ve been influenced early by Robbo, FURY, London Giants, old London graffiti and Subway Art. And I’ve always kept that sort of 70 and 80 New York styles.
How did the sentence changed your life and perception within the graffiti scene?
The first time i was in prison it didn’t changed at all, I just saw it as occupational hazard. But as you getting older getting arrested for graffiti is harder, you can’t get back the time taken from your family. But it doesn’t stop me thinking of doing it.
How you came up with an idea of the exhibition in StolenSpace and what is your future plans?
Just through drawing and wanting to make things that are 3D and stood alone. I will continue to create art and draw graffiti and see where roller coaster takes me.
Photographs courtesy of StolenSpace Gallery
New book out by The Taffy called “2006” with only analog 35mm photos from 2006!
52 pages of unpublished trains from 2006, Limited Edition of 200, signed and numbered, Printed in Great Britain, A5 perfect bound.
Available from www.thetaffy.bigcartel.com for £12, check it out!
Photos from: Cardiff, London, Liverpool, New York, Hamburg, Paris, Lille, Marseille, Stockholm, Moscow and more…