Interview with Miedo12: «I feel empty without graffiti»
The Spanish writer MIEDO12 told us his first steps into graffiti, his artistic career, how he met and joined the Italian crew BN, how he got inspired by the Japanese comic and video game designers and much more…
Hello Miedo12. Thanks for the opportunity to ask you some questions … First let’s start from your background: where do you come from and when and why did you approach the culture of graffiti? How was your stage name born?
I was born in Valencia, Spain. I started in ’98 and I lived in the periphery of my city. At that time, my neighborhood was like living in a graffiti movie, all the streets were full of murals, there were several parks where everyone got together to break dance or rap. There was also the entrance to the city’s train station, so everyone wanted to paint there.
Compared to all my friends I was the last to start painting, I was skateboarding all day, and I also listened to punk and trash metal. So I didn’t feel very much into the graffiti and rap movement. So one day, out of boredom, a friend (MIVE) asked me if I wanted me to paint a train. I only drew comics. But I said… why not? In the morning I had an accident with the moped and in the afternoon I went to paint. The first time I actually took a spray was on a train.
On that train I tried to do some letters, copying from a fanzine and it was horrible, as expected. The letters turned out so bad for me, that I decided to improve myself so that I wouldn’t be the laughing stock of my friends and my neighborhood.
So I could say that I started to get into the culture of graffiti writing because of an adolescent searching for an identity, being respected by the people in my neighborhood (graffiti writers are like neighborhood superheroes) and a feeling of self-improvement.
My artistic name was born because I thought it was very important that it had a meaning while letters without content. Fear in Spanish means Miedo. Later, I kept it for a matter of aesthetic balance. The M is similar to an E lying down. The number 12 is a matter of superstition. It is a number that has always been present. What does bother me very much is that the posters of the exhibitions do not put the whole name. My name is MIEDO12 not Miedo.
In your bio there is a part talking about your trip to Milan in 2005 that represented a milestone in your path as a writer… Can you tell us more about it?
It’s true that a year before I made a trip to Milan to see Maclaim live painting at the AIRBRUSH but it was a trip with friends, although we were all part of the same crew (Only sepia crew). It was thanks to ROMPE that he came to live in Valencia and gave us so much that I can never thank him enough. I had only left my city to paint in the National graffiti Championship in Madrid, Seen came as a guest and sometimes I went to Barcelona. But I’ve never been outside of Spain.
In 2005 there was a very big decline of the movement in my city, there were only fights and writers crossing each other out. So I was crazy to get out of there. I had made a good friendship with REBEL – Phantom that I still have and he is one of the best people I have ever met along with Reeno Dosher. Rebel invited me and my crew back then to participate in the exhibition that he organized together with BN. There I could see SODA, SMASH, WOW, AKUt, Cruze, dumbo, BOOSt,…. For me, to see that mood, to be able to see my idols paint, to see the graffiti writers that I had only seen in magazines, to be able to see their skills. And I’ve also understood that you could paint as a job and to have a future. It opened my head. He made me change the chip and gave me a reason to pursue what I loved without paying attention to the social discourses that I was used to, in my day to day.
How did you meet the members of the BN crew and how did you also join the Milanese crew? Do you have any particular story that you’d like to share with us about the time spent together?
I honestly met part of the BN in Valencia thanks to ROMPE who came to live in this city. In the summer DOSHER came to pay a visit to Rompe and a few months later he got back with REBEL.
I don’t remember the exact dates but when summer came, part of the BN always stopped in VALENCIA. And I have been to Milan 2 or 3 times since 2004. Rebel invited me to paint on a wall with the BN at the Milano Triennale and we painted 2 more walls. The last night before returning to Valencia, we had a dinner party and almost all or many members of the crew were there. At that time, I hardly spoke Italian so BEPS gave me a cd where it was written …”FEAR12 GOES BN” jajajajaja. Between the fact that I didn’t understand, and I was still smoking, I didn’t know if it was something serious or a drunken joke. Even the next day on the way to the airport I asked Rebel if that was happened.
For me it was a shock, they had always been my mentors and to my eyes they were always far above me, in terms of technique, history, skills and others. No matter the years I will always see the BN as the crew that gave me everything and have been my teachers. Obviously none of that would have happened if it weren’t for
Which crew do you belong to and which one have you been part of before?
I am only in BN and in VOGANS
Vogans is really like a group of colleagues who get along, we are FOLK, LILY BRICK AND EMAK. It is curious that each one of us does a different style, but we get along very, very well from FOLK with a super wild 3d (the truth is that you cannot be very objective with him because he is one of my best friends and someone who has always been there, come on whatever happens), Emak who for me is the best of the best in my country and far ahead of the rest of the writers. And Lily Brick is a marvelous talent with the sprays, I do not know anyone in this country that has a realistic style, with a devilish speed and at such large sizes.
Previously I was in “TF‘s crew” (toy fans crew), my first crew where I did bombing, “Only Sepia Crew” my original crew, it might be wrong to say but we were too ahead of our time for our city. We made walls that nobody else made in 2002-2004. We were misunderstood. I was in Kitche crew, Gpc and in GFx
What can you tell us about the graffiti scene of Valencia? From your point of view, which are the main differences between the Spanish scene , the Italian one or the rest of Europe? What can you tell us about the Spanish scene regarding trains and subways?
The scene of my city has changed a lot. Before, the difficult thing wasn’t to paint a wall, but it was to be able to paint a wall as there were always fights between writers and a piece could last without any crossing, sometimes for 1 day. Nowadays I’m not much in the scene and the impression is that new writers want everything very fast at any price. The important thing are the likes on social media.
The main differences I saw between the Spanish and Italian scene were the sizes. Architecturally, my city didn’t have such large walls. In fact, I painted with the mtn classic the first time I went to Milan. There were not such sprays so I asked if someone could give me a skinny cap and the answer was :…”make the piece bigger…”
To be fair, there was a higher level in terms of composition and murals by various graffiti writers in Milan. The style was more wild-style while in Spain what abounded was a style closer to Sento. In fact, my city was known in the rest of the country for the scene of the trains, where what was trending was a very very simple style. I’m talking about the late 90’s. It is true that in Spain in characters, for example, you had Rostro and Poseydon or the elaborate graffiti walls of Morse, Mast, Nem or the oldest walls of Zeta and Chop or Tck. But in my opinion, they weren’t murals that big especially in height, possibly there are always some exceptions.
As for the Spanish trains panorama, I have been super disconnected for many years, but before I always hung out with friends who used to burn the subways. But I haven’t heard from them in a long time.
How did your style evolve over the years? Do you like to use different supports and techniques?
It’s a difficult question to explain. I think it’s linked to personal growth, travel, research and experiences. In terms of aesthetic features, I went from deforming the letters a lot and putting many unnecessary outlines to a more minimalist attempt, going through a copy of classic structures from the 90s to a wild wild style but with a middle point of balance.
Regarding the psychological part, I went from hiding the letters to having confidence in myself and in my technique to make correct strokes. To later look for an exaggerated aggressiveness in the forms, which express violence and fear but with a great touch. Ironic. To finish, I try to find a sense of movement of static letters with a midpoint of aggressiveness and style.
The truth is that I never gave importance to drawing, until I finished my degree. I put drawing characters and drawing pieces at the same level.For my family circle, my teachers, friends who did not paint or ex-partners, drawing pieces or characters that were not self-portraits or realism of a photo, was a waste of time and that only meant that you were not going to have a good job in the future.
To the rest of the world outside of graffiti I was a loser for that. So I always drew in secret. I say this because it wasn’t until I decided to sign up for a neighborhood comic workshop, where I realized what I liked to draw. Having time for myself was a revolution. Anyone who knows me at that time, whenever I arrived at a house, I took a pen, a piece of paper and I began to draw for hours and hours.
I really like drawing characters, but I still have a lot to improve. The graphics tablet is a delight while it really slows me down. I like acrylic and painting canvas from time to time. although there is nothing like spray painting.
Who are the artists that inspired you the most over the years? Who are your artistic reference points?
Within graffiti, I am super influenced by MODE2, MORSE, WOW, CES and t-KID in terms of letters. As for characters TOAST, LOGAN, POSEYDON, BOOST, ANUS and PEQUE. Obviously MODE2 and TRETZE…. Although I know I can never do anything like them.
I think it is necessary to name who were my direct or indirect teachers.
EROZ, MIVE, BERS, SEB(tBS), ICH (SAOK), DIME-LOE, JN2 ,BREAK, REBEL,
DOSHER, BOOSt, FOLK, ZEUS (Wildboys), AROE, PENCIL, SWET, TRETZE, BONZAI, EMAK, NASE, DIOM, SUCIR, ZOER(Z-ROCK) , ZURIK, MANKEY and BNCREW.
My artistic references…. I could say that the masters of the Italian Renaissance, but I would be boring and I’d lie. I started painting as a teenager. My influence on characters is Toriyama , Otomo , the 90’s video game characters from CAPCOM. There was a season that I was inspired by Jordi Labanda. In general, also the European comics as Skydoll.
Often, at some point of their career, there are many writers that prefer to focus on their art, leaving behind trains and walls, that for many are considered as the essence of writing…was it the same also for you? When did you decide it and how did this happen?
The truth is that since 2005 I have always been about to stop painting and focus on something “SERIOUS”, but it has never happened. When I spend time without painting I get sad and I feel very empty. I need to paint on a wall or my head starts to focus on my internal fears. I focus on painting a wall.
In my case, 8 years ago I decided to leave my job as an industrial engineer to focus on what I like and what I feel, that is painting. It’s true that there are times when I don’t have as much time as I would, because of my job ( making canvases or illustrations ) . But I need to paint. For me, making an illustration on a wall or a decoration is like working as a waiter. It’s a job but a little better. I never saw graffiti as something for others or to seek approval. It was and it is something for me.
Focusing on an artistic career goes step by step with creating a product that the market or society accepts and likes. My graffiti are just for me and I don’t care if the market doesn’t like them. To seek approval I can always make flat colored canvases and invent something boring. Ahahahaha.
What’s in store for the future?
To paint and find again the “hunger” that I had a few years ago (life sometimes hits you and you have to stop). There are projects of a book, serigraphs, dolls, etc…. But I will see what will happen… The first thing is that nothing and no one takes me away from painting on the walls. Life is too short to pay attention to the vision and opinions of others.