Abys Osmoz Colors Graffiti Intreview

An interview with Abys: “Graffiti to take back urban areas”.

We interviewed the French writer Abys who told us about his beginnings, his crews, the best writers of the moment and the current cultural impact of the graffiti movement society

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Thank you for the opportunity to ask you some questions. We’d like to start by asking when and how your love for the Graffiti culture was born…Do you have any artists in your family? Can you tell us some early memories of when you took in your hand the sprays for the first time?

Well, as far as I can remember I always had a pencil in my hands, my father drew a lot and taught me to draw when I was 18 months old, since then I have never stopped filling in pages and pages. The graffiti came later, when I was in high school, I met Suroh who was already passionate about the movement but had never painted. One afternoon we went to get cans, in the evening I went to “sleep” at his parents’ place and we went out to paint for the first time, I painted A Rasta Sheep with a joint, classic!

After that, with 3 other friends we created the “Bêêêh Crew” and we started painting sheeps in the streets. Later we discovered the different spots of the city, others joined us and we painted for a few years under the team name “La Meute”. I loved that time.
Over time people moved, stopped painting, I found myself teaming with Suroh once again, like at the start, and we created Osmoz Colors.

Today I paint more regularly with Scaf and Valer who are a generation above me and whom I met a little later, it gave me new perspectives at a time when I was spending more time painting alone, they are real enthusiasts, and I owe them a lot.

Can you talk about your collectives, Osmoz and Nid d’Guêpes? What’s their story and how did you become part of them?

When I found myself painting alone with Suroh, graffiti was gradually starting to take hold in our cities and we wanted to be part of it more seriously. Over time, our styles grew to be very different and opposed that we each tried to put our ideas aside to work on a common identity, hence the osmosis.

We were still young and our styles lacked maturity but it was a really, really cool experience, it’s important to compromise, for the art, to come up with a satisfying collective ensemble. Even though we often spent more time talking about how we could work this or that part than actually painting it. Now it doesn’t make a lot of sense because I mostly paint alone on my pieces, but I keep Osmoz as a souvenir, and maybe one day we’ll work together again, who knows.

Nid D’Guêpes is a Collective of friends bringing together several rappers, graffiti artists, dj etc. we were quite numerous which allowed us to organize a lot of small events to bring our neighborhoods and cities to life, simply for the pleasure of sharing our passions with those who want to experience it. I love that side of our culture, although it tends to get lost a little.

How was your path in graffiti writing and how has your style evolved on the walls ? We could say that now your style is mostly “figurative”…Has it always been like that or before it was more about letters while at a certain moment you decided to widen your space?

Well I’ve come a long way, like I said at the beginning, I started painting sheeps, and very ugly sheeps! I used to work hard on paper illustration, and I took the graffiti as a joke, it was really to spend time with friends and have a laugh, like going fishing on Sunday! Later, when I discovered the Maclaims at the time, I realized that I could go much further into my paintings and I started to do realistic stuff like many at that time. I worked a lot and perfected my technique thanks to it !

And that time, in no way I got around to write letters, I was so bad, everyone was laughing at me, and there were already so many letterers that I made characters for the whole team for a long time! With time the realistic stuff didn’t interest me anymore, I knew that I could do it and I wanted to create, not reproduce, so I went back to what I was doing at the beginning and I started to draw a lot again.

During this same period I found myself a little alone going to paint and painting a character alone didn’t interest me so much, so I decided to give another shot at lettering. Little by little I started to create compositions by playing with the characters, the decor, the letters, the colors, the moods, and the more I drew the more I wanted to draw because there was so much possibility in juggling all these elements, and back then, I started to really have fun.

Your murals are amazing … where do you get inspiration for subjects and puppets?

When I was younger, I dreamed of designing characters for video games or cartoons, but over time painting took more and more place in my life and finally it didn’t happen but you can find a lot of inspiration from these universes in my paintings.

I’m not a big fan of realistic video games, I always have been more fascinated by games with a fun universe and a real artistic work, from all the Mario universe to Ratchet & Clank through Ori, Zelda, Worms, Banjo & Kazooi, Jack & Dexter, etc…  This kind of things inspire me a lot. When it comes to cartoons, I’m quite blown away by what can be done visually today even though I have a soft spot for more old-fashioned stuff, in short, overall it’s a crazy source of inspiration.

I have a lot of books and sheets with bits of unfinished sketches, it’s more some sort of little drawing exercises and when I really have to create a visual, I take sketch pieces from my books and I assemble them, As it goes, it gives me other ideas and I arrange it all until I have a composition that I like. As i can’t animate my own characters, I try to create the most lively compositions possible, like a kind of freeze-frame in full action, roughly … I like it when there are details, references, life, that we can imagine the situation or invent a little story.

When did you realize: “ok, I’m really good at this. I can reach some level in this culture” ? Do you have any work that you like the most and that you are particularly attached to?

Honestly, I never really got attached to my paintings on the wall, it was covered up so quickly when I started that, I quickly moved on and that’s great because I’m never really satisfied with my productions. The paints that remain, when I see them back to a few years / months later, I just want to cover them myself. This is what keeps me going, It always makes me happy when I have compliments on my paintings of course! But my main focus is on what I can improve for the next time.

How and when did you turn your passion in something to live by? Have you ever felt conflicted between business and the respect for your art and the graffiti culture? Why?

When I left my parents’ house, I must have been 19, I had to make a living, I did some odd jobs and then I told myself to do something that I like, I created my own business and I started doing decorations. At first I was happy to be able to make money with it even if I didn’t really do what I wanted, it was formative but with time it completely disgusted myself with painting and I almost stopped everything. I tried to apply myself to proposing original projects and finally I found myself with a rotten photo to reproduce, I wanted to create and my clients most of the time were looking for a “wall printer”…

So I stopped all that. To continue earning money I started doing a lot of workshops with kids, which were much more fun than working for some customers… The rest of time I painted only for my pleasure, Over time I managed to “recreate” my identity and now I take pleasure in painting for customers since they generally give me “carte blanche” and call me to have my original productions. People call you to do what you show, so as now I only show my stuff, everything feels so much better to me.

In your opinion, Who is the strongest Graffiti writer at the moment?

Frankly, I love the work and the style of so many people, it’s really hot! I’m going to cheat a bit by quoting a crew, “The Weird”, all killers!

There are a lot of artists that impress me right now, but if I had to pick one I would say “Maye”, he’s an alien… The strongest artists, everyone know them, so I will end by giving some names that may be a little less known but which are underestimated in my opinion: Horor, Korsé, Enora & Koye, Zeklo, Koga, and all of those I forgot, sorry

What would be your first advice to kids who would like to get some steps into this discipline?

Today there are so many levels, it makes you want to and paradoxically that can discourage. The best advice is to persevere and practice over and over again, fail and succeed, these are what make you more experienced. Do not skip the steps and have fun above all!

What are your biggest goals and plans in the next future?

Above all, continue to paint and improve!

The last few years have been crazy, I’ve had a lot of luck, been invited to a lot of events, had a lot of work and I hope I can keep it up! But I also miss my little weekly paintings , I will have to get back to it in 2021! it is not always easy to combine passion and work.

I also hope to have the opportunity to do some facades, It’s crazy to be able to do this kind of format today, I had the opportunity to do it but either as a team, or in conditions where I couldn’t really do what I wanted.

How has this Pandemic situation changed your approach to your art ? Do you think that the graffiti culture could be, in this particular moment, motivating or inspiring in this particular moment ? How?

Of course! graffiti always creates surprises, it’s the art that comes to the public directly in the street, free for all, It can only be motivating and inspiring! Especially since in a sense no movement has ever been so diverse and rich, if the culture of graffiti is so successful it’s not for nothing. People who no longer felt concerned with overly elitist contemporary art find themselves more in the graffiti culture which has partly brought the aesthetics in art up to date.

And then people need to reappropriate urban spaces, to share, to create, it’s just human… Although we are lucky to live in times of peace, in our modern society currently very formatted, I think that we all need that, not just in times of pandemic.

Personally the Corona has not really changed my approach, I could not paint a lot in the streets this year unfortunately but I took the opportunity to concentrate on my sketches and my canvases and then I became a father so all that allowed me to take a break to come back better in 2021!

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