Making a business out of writing your name
What is the goal of Handstyler as a project? To showcase the art of the graffiti handstyle in its various forms as well as working closely with artists that align with the same vision. What are the qualities of a good handstyle? If any Over the years I've thought about this quite a lot, and have boiled it down to two core elements - one primary and one secondary. The primary element is execution. How the tag is executed is the difference between an amateur handstyle and a great one. There are many styles based off a chisel-tip marker, but when you see a writer who knows how to use the chisel-tip correctly and understands things such as spacing & letter balance then that sets them apart from the masses who don't. The same can be said about flares - just because a tag has flares, it doesn't mean they have been executed correctly. The secondary element is originality. When I say secondary, I mean that a tag doesn't need to have originality to be a good handstyle, but when it does then it will rise above the rest. There are many styles that are similar, and when executed correctly they are still great handstyles. However, as soon as a writer has brought their own original flavor to it, and the tag is executed well, then it immediately becomes something to admire as an amazing handstyle. These are the writers where you know a tag is by them without it being their word. I feel like people like to say that art doesn’t have any rules, but when it comes to lettering, there are a couple elements that show someone knows what they are doing. Do you think there are any rules to graffiti? Graffiti as a subculture is born out of breaking the rules, so there isn't a black-and-white answer to this. Additionally, graffiti is so widespread now that you can have totally opposing ideas within this same subculture based on your location, your experiences & your life outside of graffiti. A rule might exist within one circle of writers and not at all within another circle. The only rules that matter are the ones you follow, as long as you understand that others have a completely different - and sometimes opposing - rules that they follow. How you interact with these people is what matters more than the "rules". What about tags are so attractive to you? I always enjoyed looking at tags, and at times preferred to over pieces or throw-ups. You're able to see the movement, and you're not able to hide behind pretty colours, cutbacks or effects. A tag can be maximum style in minimum time. It can be as small as a white-out tag or as large as a fire extinguisher tag. There's a lot of versatility, and they able to be done anywhere. I also feel that a tag best shows the writers control over the tool, such as a can, marker or mop. I think it’s safe to say that tags are the foundation of all graffiti. Without a good handstyle you probably won’t excel at doing throw ups or pieces, what do you think is the importance of perfecting your tag before trying to go crazy and do bigger things? I don't agree that you need a good handstyle to move on to pieces or throw-ups. That's the beauty of graffiti - you can do whatever you want in any order you want. To aim for perfection before moving onto another element of graffiti is simply not possible, as any artist knows that achieving perfection is not possible. However, one of things that Handstyler prides itself on is the fact that I showcase and work closely with artists that focus on developing their handstyle above some other elements of graffiti. In the past, through magazines, videos & social media there has always been a spotlight on writers doing burner pieces, or trains, for example. I believe there should also be focus on those who work on their tagging and lettering, and I hope Handstyler is able to fill that gap effectively. Do you ever see writers that can do impressive murals but have a ugly handstyle? Sure - it can definitely raise an eyebrow when you see a burner piece signed off with an amateur tag. Unfortunately, some writers don't see tags as important and only want to focus on other elements. With that said, it's super rare to find a truly balanced writer that has all elements of graffiti on lockdown. So ultimately it's not an issue for me to see a bad tag - it's just one of many :). Do you have favorite indigenous handstyles to specific regions of the world? This is hard to answer as I'm from Australia and have not yet traveled to every continent, so I cannot comment on favorites as such. Additionally, with the internet now it really blurs the lines of where a particular style comes from. Sometimes I’ll get lost repeatedly writing my name, maybe half an hour has passed and realized I’ve written my name a couple hundred of times. I start thinking that if anyone had been watching me, they probably would think I’m crazy. Do you ever feel like this?
Not particularly, as half an hour spent developing a skill is better than half an hour scrolling on social media or watching TV, so I never feel crazy about that :). What do you think people misunderstand on why people write graffiti? I think fundamentally people misunderstand the contradiction of morals, and the fact that morals and laws are not mutually exclusive. Breaking the law does not mean you are immoral, and it's possible to be a good person while doing so. I believe this is where most outsiders have trouble understanding when looking into the scene. How many time do you think you’ve written your name in your life? Its over 9000!!! What do graffiti and calligraphy have in common? By graffiti I assume you mean tagging/handstyle specifically. I think the analysis & breaking down of the letterform is what is in common. Seeing what you can do to a letter while still retaining the fact that it is the letter R, for example. Breaking down a letter into its core elements, then making your own twist. The difference with calligraphy is that there are many more rules to follow, and once you begin breaking those rules it no longer can be called calligraphy. Within graffiti, there are less of these rules, and in fact by following a set of rules it blurs the lines between them both. What’s the secret to interviewing graffiti writers without them thinking you’re the police? Spend your free time & money running a website, social media pages, create content, run exhibitions and launch products over the course of many years. Give that a shot and see how you go. Who do you think are some of the most influential writers when it comes to handstyles? It's a tricky one to answers as there are many writers with their own influence from all pockets of the world. I'll list a few from the top of my head that I would say have had a degree of influence over the scene: Twister, Totem2, Sure, Sicoer, Bates, Rizote, Canser & Faust. There would be many. many more. Who are some of the most interesting writers you’ve gotten to talk to and why? Honestly, all of them are interesting in their own right. Some I've spoken to in person, and some over the internet. Each one has their own reason why they went and stayed into graffiti, and also their own reason why they focus on their handstyle. Who would you still like to talk to? Anybody who works on developing their handstyle or has an interest in it. In term of known artists, Twist would be great, as well as Totem2. Sure unfortunately passed away, but it would have bee great to chat to him as well. I'm sure there's more, too!
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