We have met many writers visiting Budapest in the last few years, and one of them is the mighty TWIK from DFE/BANDITS crews, who we had the luck to have a few beers with, and a good conversation too!
I have to ask you some basic questions first, because I usually do some research before we sit down, but I could only find the bombing science “speak and spray” interview which was really short. So please introduce yourself a little!
I started painting in 1999; I was born in the Cologne-Aachen area in West Germany. There was a german hip-hop magazine called Backspin from Hamburg and some kids from school had this magazine. That was the first inspiration to start tagging. Haha, yeah it was a long time ago and I remember buying some cans and doing some shitty pieces.
And what was your first interest; I mean you mentioned Backspin magazine, but what was your interest, trains or walls?
It was mixed. That time I lived near to a train station between Cologne and Aachen. In the beginning I took a lot of photographs of trains running between the cities and I consumed a lot of panels done by other writers. Then I met a guy called “DEO” who started in 95 who taught me a lot. We sketched on the weekends and bombed the highways at night. So yeah, we just did it, we were partners in crime you know, haha!
So was he a mentor who saw your motivation and talent, or was he more of a friend?
It’s a funny story because he started to paint but he was alone. He did a piece under a bridge and I crossed it a few years later. So he searched for the guy who crossed him but not to beat me, he was just looking for other writers to paint with! I did that “toy” move but he saw, “oh that guy has the same interest like me”. That was the beginning of our friendship.
Oh, was it a small scene back then?
It was a small town, so there was no scene actually at that time. So I started without big influences. We only saw styles in magazines or movies like wildstyle, beatstreet etc. and of course the trains I saw passing by.
Did you start painting trains too?
Not really, I was more into bombing walls. When I´m looking back now and thinking about the old days im a bit pissed because I was never active in finding new connections in the bigger cities. There was and still is a big active train scene in Cologne and it was “easier” to paint trains back then but we didn’t get out of our comfort zone, you know. There were only the two of us so we focused on highways and train lines. Later on we met some other writers in a town near by and we formed our crew called “KBS”. We became more active, painted a lot, travelled a lot and were Krazy Bout Style.
So you had your first crew..
Yes, It’s interesting to look back because I put a lot of emotion and energy in my work you know and there were two of our crewmembers who had a lot of talent but they didn’t really push it to a new level. I was the person in the crew who always wanted to push it forward, to make the crew more famous, for example to be part of the Write4Gold battle. But you know everybody has its own mind and they started to make fun of me like “slow down, you’ll never be famous…”. And I said fuck it and started to paint more and more! Because I love to paint, just love it!
That sounds like motivation! When did you start travelling? Did you start going with the crew or on your own?
After 5-6 years from the beginning I started travelling; in the beginning together with the crew inside Germany. I got my first car around that time. Later on internet changed the game and all those stuffs like ICQ or Myspace made the connections way easier. I visited many festivals in Germany like the Wall Street Meeting (the origin of the Meeting of Styles), met a lot of new writers and saw many big names like Bates, Can2 and Berlin guys. It was always my aim to connect with other writers.
I didn’t sketch a lot around that time, I mean when I’m at the wall I don’t have a sketch in my hand, I just have the basic idea and do freestyling. I think because of this it was hard to develop my style or to feel the colors and details. And it was also difficult not having a crew in my back. I mean I had the old crew and i’m still part of it but we didn’t have real exchange like “Hey Twik do it like this or do the letters like that”. I did a lot of experiments but nobody taught me style so this is the reason why I traveled a lot to find other writers who could give me new influences.
How about fame? It seems like the style itself is very important for you, and to create a burner, but on the other hand there is the quantity and illegal fame; Is it important for you, or you only care for the style itself?
The main thing was always to create something new or just get in the process to paint; I think the main reason was really to paint and the fame was a good side thing. I was thinking about this question some days ago “why am I doing this graffiti thing?”. I told my wife when I started to use a spraycan I was really fascinated to create something with a metal thing which you push with your finger and some paint comes out of it. That is something you can control and use to create! It was really cool to paint, haha!
So you are living close to Hamburg now; Did this moving change your relationship with painting?
Not at all, because I spend most of my “painting time” out of the city where I lived so the moving didn’t really change anything. There are other reasons which affects my painting.
For example I had a big influence by my man “MOTER”. He was a big motivation for me because he had the same attitude and thought about graffiti. So it was obvious that i became a member of the crew “DFE”. When we paint together we don’t really need to communicate, we just do it and it always fits together. He changed my style appreciation; It’s hard to explain but I have to look a few years back to realize how my pieces changed. Later on I met “PLAQUE” from the Bandits crew who invited me to be part of his crew “BANDITS”. For me it’s very important to paint in good company! This step had a big impact on my style because this gave me the pressure “if you are in the Bandits, you have to get better!” That was around 2013. I tried to include straight lines on my letters and it worked.. haha!
You are mostly interested in classic graffiti, right?
Yes, fadings, outlines, highlights, 3ds, funky background, mixing colors, bubbles!
And the whole crew has the same attitude. The DFE and the BANDITS crew are about that classic funky graffiti style! The big production walls are very important to me but sometimes I like to do my own stuff. I mean if you paint a good production with others for me it’s a bit stressful. If we have a color concept it’s cool but if there is a special theme like a Style Wars wall or whatever it is hard for me to help. I am not that character, theme based background guy…
You started your trips in Germany, but by now you went worldwide..
In general I enjoy travelling and meeting other writers in other countries. I try to make a piece in every place I travel. If I visit a country or city and I didn’t paint there it was a bad trip. It feels like I wasn’t really there! I have to say my wife is my best support. On our travels she is with me when I paint. I think without her I couldn’t really do this and it is really unique that a girl is always with you while travelling and allows you to paint in every city. Especially if you have only 3 days for example in Hong Kong.
Networking is really important for me. I mean when I’m back in Germany I say, hey I met these guys and I know the All Caps guys from Budapest, you have to go there. So I can help to connect people, that feels good!
Are you working as an artist or you work to support your habit?
I have a completely different job. It’s funny, usually when I meet other writers and I ask what they are doing for their income they say: I’m a graphic designer, painter or whatever and i’m a finance consultant, haha! Before that I studied to become a carpenter.
Oh, and how are you able to separate your work-life and your graff-life?
For me it seems easy. I mean when I’m working I’m really focused, I try to do my best because it’s important to be successful in my job. When I’m painting I am focused too because at the end I want to have a nice production captured on my camera. I think it’s the same, different ways but with the same focus.
And are you able to feel the “flow” in both?
No, only when I’m painting. That’s something that keeps me alive. During the process I don’t care of anything around me.
Plans for the future?
Yes, I want to paint more canvases! I started it some years ago and I want to improve my works on canvases, getting into galleries. So now I’m looking for a studio place to work on my canvases but just a small one. I was part of the art show “Unframed” in the Netherlands and I didn’t sell anything there. It was a cool feeling just to be part of it. Later I sold one of the canvases to a guy in Denver. It’s an amazing feeling when someone would like to buy your work. That gives me new motivation to make more canvases to make those people happy! So I would like to focus on this in the next 2-3 years and I would like to paint bigger murals!