In late 2006, Ironlak spray paint had been on store shelves for about two years, and was starting to gain momentum. As a brand built by writers, we were always working with our peers to improve what we were doing, and make the product better for everyone painting with it. Supporting writers is embedded in our DNA, so at that time we decided to put together an official team to rep the brand – just like a sponsored skateboard team. We called upon our five favourite Australian graffiti artists and the ‘Ironlak Team’ was formed.
Sofles, Tues, Sirum, Linz, and Reals got down – long-lasting friendships were forged, and walls around Australia were made brighter. As the team evolved into the Ironlak Family, and the years clocked on, there has always been a sense of nostalgia associated with those early days of Lak. Memories of good times spent, that could probably fill many pages of a book some day. In the spirit of those good ol’ days, the original five dusted off those old bones, and caught up on Australia’s Gold Coast to reminisce and rock a quick wall together. No frills, just quick and funky graffiti letters.
The Cartel 29 presents his first book: more than 15 years of history on 416 pages and 1000 pics.
In 2014, Cartel 29 celebrates its fifteen years and the idea to retranscribe this adventure through a book was obvious for us. Two working years were necessary: a whole year for the photo archive, and a second one for the design and the layout. Today the book is finally ready to be print!
The book is divided into three big periods from 1999 to nowadays, which represent the main evolutions of the team, from Brest to Paris, Nantes, Cherbourg, Lyon. Each periods consist of photos – among which certain unpublished works – atmosphere, chromium, frescoes and some concepts.
We chose to publish our book through a crowd funding to control the editorial line to the end. For better tracking and quality, we chose to print the book in Brittany – France.
Name: Akume Crew: TNS City/Country: Sydney, Australia When did you start writing?
I think I rocked my first piece in 2004, did what I could here and there probably didn’t get stuck in till 2006 even then it was on and off.
What’s graffiti for you? Graffiti for me is an escape from the standard day to day life throws your way and always a good excuse to catch up with the boys. (And girls) Leaving something when you walk way that you may consider old and done, but the next person will see it as new and fresh.
Influences? I could say a number of things that influence me, but one that always gets me is that some of the older boys in the crew, a few being twice my age. Even though there life is filled with family, work and life commitments. They can still get out and paint and have laugh. (And maybe get up to some mischief along the way)
Tell us about your city, how is life and graffiti there? Life here in Sydney ain’t too shabby, I mean.. I’m not complaining. Add graffiti into the mix and you’re onto a winner. Lots of style writers, lots of bombers. Sydney has it all, from the good the bad and the ugly. Beef here and there, but nothing out of the ordinary.
What keeps you still writing? Well you can always do better then your last, chasing the next colour scheme, chasing a new spot for your name to be applied to. Travel the world, meet new people and understand there way of life. Really the answers are endless!
What first made you interested in graffiti and how did you end up on that track? I stumbled upon a website in class. Yea.. a website. I’m a youngen, we had the luxury of computers. 156 all stars website to be exact, they opened my eyes to a whole new world.. GRAFFITI! Since then it’s really the one thing in my life I have been consistent with.
What trends are you seeing now in the graffiti world that you don’t like? Bubble writing.. I’m not a fan of the quick throw style pieces. I get it, in some situations it’s required. But surly more effort can be put in to get letters in proportion with a little style and flow. They end up just all looking the same. Different writers, same pieces.
What do you do when you’re not painting? When I’m not painting I’m either hanging out with the homies talking about painting and sketching. Having a beer, enjoying life.. not being a sour puss about what the next man is saying over the internet. Getting on with it.
How would you describe your style? My style.. well, I feel as I have always been inspired by styles New York has produced over the years. Semi wild style in some areas with a hint of the euro flow I like to just let it flow as I go and see where it takes me.
Can you remember the first piece you did? Yeah for sure, was middle of the day with another school mate. We hopped onto the lines just off the station and sprayed away.. wasn’t long till we heard the horn of the next train and were followed home by the boys in blue.
Future plans? I guess keep travelling the globe and getting my name in as many countries as I can. See where it takes me!
Do you adapt your pieces and tags to the spot/surface? Yeah for sure. Depending on time and the space I have to work with. I’m just as happy to rock a quick 3 colour joint on a rough surface as I am to unleash 30 on a planned chilled out spot.
What do you think about the new generation of writers in your city? I feel like they care to much about what the older artists care about. Be respectful of course. Don’t take graffiti away from graffiti. But do your own thing. If I could say anything to the newer generation. It’s that to think outside the box..
What are the best and worst aspects of graffiti? Always a big fan of discovering new colour schemes. When you’re sitting there and something just clicks, check your stock and you can make it work. Me.. and I’m sure most other writers hate how you can walk up to your wall a few weeks even days later, and it’s just been destroyed. Tags all in the background..kids, that gets you no where fast..
Who do you paint for? Myself.. but it is always a good feeling to show ya crew what you’re working on. To the people you look up to give you the unspoken head nod.
What writers have inspired you? Farrrrk, the list goes on. But the heads that got me hooked on the graffiti scene would have to be ZEK (156) OCLOCK (156). To this day seeing the work of KEMR (VMD, 3A) and PUKE (MIA). Every time I see new work about, I am always gobsmacked.
Can you ever feel tired of graffiti? I wouldn’t say tired of graffiti.. tired from the countless heavy nights before I was meant to be painting is the one thing that can delay me getting colourful.
What do you hope people will think and feel when they see your stuff? I hope there eyelids peel back and there eyeballs have a few seconds to roll around and take in what they are seeing!
FIVE FAVORITES Spray Paint: MTN 94 City: New York Markers/pens: Always been a fan of Solids! Surface: Fresh untouched pre fabricated concrete. Cap: Stock MTN skinny cap!
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.