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BIZARRE BEYOND BELIEF

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ARTS + CULTURE

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ISSUE #20 february 2016

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PATCH WHISKY • SIGHT ONE HANNAH STOUFFER • VILX STEPHEN ORMANDY • FUCCI GREVE • KWEST


Dedicated to the brilliant, beautiful and bizarre. Whimsical tales, visuals and various odds and ends about obscure and misunderstood sub-cultures. Bizarre Beyond Belief is a bi-monthly digital publication & daily updated blog with an online shop. Disclaimer: Some of the content on this site may contain offensive nature. BBB does not condone or promote the activities portrayed, it is merely documentation of said sub-cultures. Submissions & general inquiries to: contact@bizarrebeyondbelief.com Advertising proposals & press requests: contact@bizarrebeyondbelief.com

Cover: El Mac Boston Mural - Photo: Todd Mazer Website www.bizarrebeyondbelief.com Shop: www.bizarrebeyondbelief.storenvy.com SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS: Instagram: @bizarrebeyondbelief Facebook: www.facebook.com/bizarrebeyondbeliefmagazine Twitter: @bbbmagazine Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/bbbmagazine Tumblr: www.bizarrebeyondbelief.tumblr.com


MAGAZINE

ARTS + CULTURE

ISSUE #20 FEBRUARY 2016

CONTENTS

TABLE OF

BIZARRE BEYOND BELIEF

INTERVIEWS Patch Whisky Sight One Hannah Stouffer

FUCCI GREVE VILX KWEST

PAGE. 4 Page. 30 Page. 46 page. 60 page. 72 page. 90 Page. 104

IMAGE FEATUREs Stephen Ormandy

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P AT C H WHISKY Patch Whisky is a South Carolina based multidisciplinary artist who has made Charleston his home base but he’s definitely not locked down to one city. Though we’ve been aware of his art for many years, the first time we got a chance to see one of his awesome works in person was last year in Detroit. Patch Whisky has been painting his work all over the United States, worked with incredibly massive corporations like Warner Brothers and Absolut Vodka and has exhibited at impressive and prestigious galleries and museums like the New York Museum of Sex. We were fortunate enough to snag an interview with him recently, and we are thrilled to have him in our long awaited twentieth issue. B

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“We really want to democratize street art by making it accessible to all.”

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Bizarre Beyond Belief: We’ve read you began tagging in the 90s but it wasn’t until later you began painting more in depth, what inspired you to take it more seriously? Patch Whisky: I loved graffiti and the act of putting up art in the streets for the people back in the day, I just didn’t have my chops up back then. My stuff looked pretty bad and it wasn’t polished. I was still trying to find my style. I moved out of Pittsburgh for awhile. Started hitting my black book hard, taking all the inspiration from the street culture that I was engulfed in and began to hone my craft.This took place over a 4 year period.That’s when I returned to Pittsburgh. BBB: Being that you’re rooted in tagging/graffiti, what led you to paint character based work instead of lettering? PW: I have always drawn characters since I was little. It’s just something I was interested in doing. When I first started doing graffiti I did letters because the guy that taught me (Werk) how to use cans did letters. My

handstyle was garbage... it’s still garbage, haha! I feel people can relate more easily to a character than a name. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good handstyle but it’s just not my cup of tea. My monsters carry their emotions on their sleeve and the get to coexist with their surroundings. That’s where my passion in creating lies. BBB: Can you describe your creative process when preparing for a mural? PW: Most of the time I don’t have an idea planned before I paint a mural. I like to get to the location and soak it all in for a bit. I will touch the wall to see what it feels like. I will look at any unique features it may have that I can play off of. I check out the surroundings of where the wall is located. For that moment in time while I am painting I have a connection with the wall. I give it my undivided attention. My mission is to bring the wall to life. BBB: How does this change when creating smaller canvases or commissions?

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PW: Canvas work is a more of a personal experience for me. Painted in the privacy of my studio. There are no outside elements for the most part influencing my thought process. It’s mostly brushwork compared to aerosol cans for the murals. The canvas work takes a lot more time to complete but it also will last a lot longer than any wall that I will ever paint. Some of the techniques I achieve on my canvas work I can’t do on my murals. I feel I can throw in a little more of those magical details on canvas that may get lost in a large scale production. In commission work, I try to not let anyone have too much control over the final outcome of the piece. The less guidance someone gives me, the more pure of a product they will end up with. BBB: You moved from West Virginia to Charleston, what

prompted the move between cities? PW: My wife and I are from the same small town in West Virginia. She had a job opportunity open up and we kinda got to pick where we wanted to live. We are from the south and I guess staying in the south was a comfortable move for us. We both love the charm of Charleston, SC and wanted to live near an ocean. After all she is a mermaid, and mermaids need the salty sea. BBB: How would you compare and contrast the two cities both artistically and culturally? PW: This is a tough question for me. I love the Mountains and the Sea. Artistically and culturally both places have helped create the artist I am today. WV has a lot of old

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folklore and mysterious hollows and caves to get lost in. And Charleston SC has the Deep dark Ocean where Fairy Tales from the Sea originate.WV has the Moth Man and SC has the Lizard man. As an artist I am very attracted to these types of elements. Have monsters been sighted in WV? Yes. Have Monsters been sighted in SC? Absolutely. There are reasons why I paint monsters exclusively, and it lies within the places that I call home. BBB: You’ve painted in many cities throughout the US, which are your favourite and why? PW: I get attached to every city I paint in. But I guess my favourite spots would be NYC - It’s just like being in all those movies I grew up watching. I love the art scene up there. You can really make some power moves up in NYC. I love Detroit - the people there are genuine. It is a street artist’s wonderland and the food in the D is on point. My brother Ghostbeard lives there and that always keeps me coming back. Miami is like its own country. I love the colours and the architecture that come with Miami. I have established a lot of relationships in all these

towns and it is always great to unite with everyone. BBB: You graduated from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, do you feel this was beneficial to your development as an artist? PW: Moving to Pittsburgh from a small town in WV was definitely a game changer for me. That is where I got introduced to graffiti and the people doing it. I started paying attention to it in the streets and under the bridges. The styles that I saw on those streets and on the walls got into my brain and directly influenced the way I created as an artist. Then, being in an Art School where there are nothing but artists trying to hone their talents was very inspiring as well. There were cats from all over the world at my school. We had graffiti guys from NYC, Philly, Detroit, San Fran, Brazil, and Germany learning computer animation, industrial and graphic design. They were also teaching me the world of graffiti and what we now know as Street Art. I met my best friends at that school and now we travel the country together painting. Graduating school taught me to finish what I started. To see something through till the end.Thats important in life.As simple as it sounds a lot

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of people fail at reaching their true potential for that simple reason. BBB: Do you feel that the community of artistic institutions has changed since you attended school? PW: Ya know, I really couldn’t tell you. I graduated when I did and I never looked back. I never stepped back into that world after being tossed in the ocean of sharks. I grew teeth, claws, and the skin of an alligator and cut my own path. And I never looked back. I assume it’s basically the same racquet to take a kids money and tell them they can teach them to be an artist. I’m guessing if I went back today the art kids would all still be hanging out on the smoke deck talking about sex, drugs, and rock and roll... and art. They will be the ones that change the way we see things and interact with the world.They hold the key to

the future of design and technology. They just don’t know it yet. Right now they are on the smoke deck doing what we in the industry refer to as “networking”. BBB: We know art hangs in galleries and museums, but what was is like exhibiting at the Museum of Sex in NYC and how did this come about? PW: I was in Miami for Art Basel probably 4 years ago. I was inside a compound with a couple friends at Wynwood. We all had U-Haul trucks turned into art galleries set up where the Montana Team had their artists spraying walls. On one of the nights the Director of the Museum of Sex in NYC rolls through and sees my Mannequins and these Playboy magazines I have altered. I do not exactly remember meeting him that night but he remembered me. A few months go by and I get an email

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from the museum to be a part of this street art show up there. They thought my stuff would be a good fit. So I bought a plane ticket and flew to NYC for my first time to be a part of this show. This show had a lot of great artists from all over the world in it such as Miss Van, Lady Aiko, and Lush to name a few. It was cool man. Thousands of people were there lined up forming a line a city block long around the building waiting to get in. My first NY experience. BBB: Some of your clients include Absolut Vodka and Warner Brothers, how would you describe the collaborative process with big corporations? PW: For Warner Brothers they wanted a particular thing and they didn’t care what I actually painted for a living. They did not want Rainbow Monsters Spewing liquid Sunshine out of every pour in their body. So It was more of coming up with the design of exactly what they wanted and executing it on a large scale. Other companies want my style and let me do my thing for the most part with it and I just have to drop their logo in there somewhere. At this point in the game, I pick and choose which companies I want to do business with. The less control I have over a project, the less likely I will be working with them. I have learned about myself from working on projects with larger

corporations and that is to stay true to myself. BBB: With 2016 underway, what can you tell our readers to expect from Patch Whisky in the coming months? PW: I started 2016 with pneumonia, asthma, and a collapsed lung. It was not exactly how I envisioned kickstarting this year. At the same time I fell short one piece to selling out my solo show in Savannah. I feel like a crispy 50 right now though. My lungs are good, I have my health back and I am about to fly to Hawaii to paint for a few weeks. Next month I will have some stuff in an auction in Miami with some artists including Keith Haring, Ron English, Shepard Fairey, Crash, Seen, Barry Mcgee, Mr.BrainWash, Lady Aiko and a lot of other great artists. These artists have paved the way for all of us in this line of work and it really is an honour to be included with them. I have some stuff lined up with my dudes at 1XRun up in Detroit this year so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for that. I am working on getting some 3D sculptural pieces available this year along with a whole new body of evolving characters throughout the year. I will be dropping Monsters up and down the East Coast, Mid West and hopefully West Coast this year. So if you don’t believe in monsters now - you will.

www.patchwhisky.com @Patchwhisky

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Stephen Ormandy describes his work as being ”born of the subconscious mind. I’m looking for vibration and rhythm, the play of line creating positive and negative space, searching for tonal balance through contrast or harmony, while developing chroma relationships that hug or repel.” With an extensive list of galleries exhibiting his work over the span of the last two decades, Ormandy is in some of the most impressive museums in Australia such as the National Gallery of Victoria and the Art Gallery of Western Australia. We got a chance to choose a selection of images for this issue, which was almost impossible to choose only a handful considering all of his works are extraordinary. Take a look and admire the work of one of new favourite artists. B

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SIGHTONE Sight One is a staple of the Canadian graffiti scene and more particularly for us, Toronto. We have been a part of the community for a number of years and Sight has always been one of the frontrunners in the game. As a man who’s never afraid to try new styles or techniques and is constantly elevating the work of people in the scene around him, Sight is a man who’s work without a doubt speaks for itself. If you haven’t seen his work in the streets or online, we can assure you that he will easily be one of your new favourite writers and you’ll be tracking his every move from here on out.

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Bizarre Beyond Belief: We’ve read that your origins as a graffiti writer came from comic books and skateboarding, which series or companies were your primary influences? Sight1: I collected the Todd McFarlane Spider-Man comics as well as DC, Darkhorse, Cerebus and Lone Wolf and Cub. I was into anything by Frank Miller and

Heavy Metal artists like Jean Giraud aka Möbius. The skate companies were all the early ones like SMA, Santa Cruz, New Deal, Think, H-street etc. I think Jim Philipps is a god. All his skate graphics were so bad ass, and Andy Howell’s work too. Pushead also of course. BBB: Would you say that these influences are often the case of many graffiti writers beginnings?

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your city as the time of your origin? Sight1: I’d say it was virtually non-existent in terms of ‘culture’ and was very undeveloped. At best Victoria, BC had maybe 10 graffiti writers, maybe 4 of which actually used spray paint. The rest were just taggers getting up a bit. Hip Hop was not too prevalent in my circle. There was a crew called Paid In Crime and they were also a rap group called Sound Advice, the crew was made up of Dub Nut One, T double and Degree one. They were the only dudes in Victoria bringing hip hop to the scene. I was friends with Dub Nut’s younger brother who was some hardcore punk kid who did magic tricks. He loved the band S.O.D. and grew to become a skinhead racist type of dude. Weird motherfucker. We stopped talking in junior high. I later heard he moved to Kentucky and joined the KKK. That kind of gives you the idea of what Victoria was like. BBB: You didn’t move to Toronto until you were about 18 or 19, how would you compare the scene between TO and Victoria?

Sight1: Perhaps for writers from my era who also skated. A fairly common thing, I suppose, for those that got their start around ‘92-’94. Nerdy, outcast type punk kids and skate kids. When it was still a punk rock thing to be a skateboarder. I used to listened to a lot of Dead Kennedys, DRI and Corrosion of Conformity. BBB: How would you describe the graffiti culture of

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Sight1: Toronto blew my mind. Victoria didn’t really have a scene per se. After grade 12, 3 friends of mine and I drove from Victoria to Montreal and back. While in Toronto visiting a good friend Alex Morrison (who wrote Deast), I met some accomplished writers like Spydr, Taos, Kane and Dumb Muk and we painted a bit. I saw the Keele “Midas Wall” and a ton of early Ren, Hope and Cyber stuff and was blown away. I went to a Tribe Called Quest show at the spectrum theatre in Scarborough, it was the Low End Theory Album Tour and Craig Mack opened. That sealed the deal. I fell in love with Toronto and decided I would move there someday. A very inspiring road trip to say the least. BBB: Graffiti and “street art” has made drastic strides in public perception, how would you describe the general publics feeling about the culture now? Sight1: These days there are huge festivals and events

dedicated to graffiti like Pow Wow Hawaii, Art Basel and Roskilde festival to name a few, which have big corporate sponsors. Nowadays, everybody’s mom knows who Banksy is. Retna MSK did the album art for Justin Bieber’s latest. Toronto now has guided graffiti tours of the Queen St. lane ways by people who have very little knowledge on the history of graffiti and its culture and they’re charging money for these tours. It ebbs and flows in waves of being cool and marketable in the public’s perception. I worked on several of the city of Toronto’s StART Program murals for the Pan Am path this past year, and the money offered was not bad. In the past the money offered was usually pretty insulting. I, like most other real writers, absolutely abhor the term ‘street art’. BBB: How would you describe the culture’s current landscape? Sight1: I love it. It has branched out in so many

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directions. I think writers with my experience are focusing on quality. It’s a lot of large scale permission murals and intricate pieces and productions. We continue to do some illegal work too like freights and stuff, but if you’ve been going hard for over 20 years like me you might not have as much to prove and will have found your particular niche by now. I think what I mean to say is that my peers and I seem to have less and less of that teenage angst “fuck shit up” bomb hard mind state. We want to paint pretty things without risk of incarceration. So that’s mostly what I do these days. Almost every Saturday I find myself a nice wall and paint all day worry free. That’s where I fit in nowadays. Yet, I see a true resurgence among the younger cats and their lust for illegal destruction. New practitioners of “real graffiti” here in Toronto are not even trying to paint some soft legal wall or mural. Bombing hard is an insane thing to embark on. You run for your life, fight, steal and stay out all night walking miles and miles, it’s all consuming. I have huge admiration for the more athletic end of graffiti. I’ll drop

some names here. These are the new wave of Toronto writers really crushing in my opinion: Manr, Forte, Glare, Paces, Mokyt, Fario, Scar, Mosher etc just to name a few. Love them or hate them you can’t deny they’re putting in work. Lots of it. BBB: Often times writers have their own opinion of their city’s “Golden Age” of graffiti, what years would you say Toronto’s would be and why? Sight1: Toronto has had a few really good eras. I came here to stay around ‘96-’97 and I think the first big golden age was from ‘92-’95 but I’m not a total expert on this. Ren TCM sure is though, he could really drop some knowledge on that particular time. Just the same, the late nineties were a great time for graffiti when I moved here. TCM crew was rocking. Duro3 had the RT line in Scarborough locked with big productions. Kwota crew was getting established, Scam was painting tons of nice clean stuff. There were the events like 416 and

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Flexpo. Flexpo was created by the multi-millionaire ad genius Mike Chesney and he had the budget to bring big name writers to Toronto such as Tyke, Twist, Sub, Espo, Loomit, Krush. All world class dudes and heavy hitters. It was a pretty inspirational time. I really enjoyed meeting and painting with all those artist. It made it seem that a career as a graffiti writer was a very possible thing. Around 2002-2004 was another favourite time of mine. Not exactly sure why but I will attribute it to Trik, Causr, Bacon and the DP CREW, which I was a part of. Although I didn’t go quite as hard as those guys. Trik came here and absolutely destroyed, Toronto had never seen bombing of that caliber. He was a maniac and fearless as all hell. These younger cats owe a lot to Trik and the hardcore mentality he introduced. Trik brought to the scene Etch Bath, Roll Downs, whole car Go Trains and TTC pieces. He was one of this town’s best and most dedicated for sure. BBB: How would you compare and contrast the

writers of then versus those of today? Sight1: In my opinion writers today perhaps are a bit spoiled. With so much readily available source materials and pre fabricated styles just a click away instantly. I, myself, used to copy straight out of the books Subway Art and Spraycan Art until I realized I needed to come up with an original style of my own. I had a mentor named Hanz Fear, I used to mimic and imitate his work in pen and ink until I decided to try to stand out on my own. Things are so watered down these days it’s a sea of cookie cutter internet styles. Those who really focus on being original are far and few between it seems. At risk of sounding like the old man complaining about the new generation I think yesterday’s writers just had to try a bit harder, in every respect. BBB: Being that you’re in both nationwide and international crews, BSM, KWOTA and BA, how do you feel they have helped your development as a

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graffiti writer? Sight1: BSM was the first real crew I was put down with and these are super solid good friends of mine. Take Five, Senser, Cmor and I really formed a bond many years ago. We became family and that goes for everybody in BSM. I have the BSM pyramid tattooed on my forearm. We are friends and partners to the end. BSM is a freight train centred crew. The rails, monikers and freight hopping, that life is truly at the heart of it for us.  BA is a little different, much larger and perhaps a bit disconnected to some degree. I have so much respect for everyone in BA, I mean guys like Jase, Cycle, Joker, Felon, Giant and High. I grew up on their work and they were like gods to me. Meeting them was incredible, I was totally star struck. They showed me so much respect and this is the crew that really pushes me super hard to this day. When I

met Jase he was into my work and simply said “just write a BA next to everything you do” and I always have ever since. To me BA is the super crew, the best of the best and I represent it with the utmost pride. It’s a really big crew but we’re all pretty close and the communication is getting better between us. Last year and this one so far more than ever. We’re becoming more and more connected. A big crew meeting and reunion is in the works for later this year. KWOTA was a huge honour to be inducted into way back in ‘97. Case, Alone, Duro3, Chrome, and Other, writers at the top of their game for that era. When I first arrived in Toronto these guys also treated me like family. I was welcomed in like a brother and we went straight to painting, bombing, piecing, just tons of it. All the KWOTA guys pushed me super hard too. Around 2000 KWOTA started to fizzle out a bit. A lot of the original core members were painting less

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and easing into sort of a retirement. Like a fair weather friend I slowly stopped writing it assuming it was dying out. Around 2003 Fatso kind of took over and started to breathe new life back into KWOTA, new members like Cameo, Hype and Kaput stated to push it pretty hard on the west coast. BBB: Graffiti prior to the internet used to be based on regional style but the internet sort of killed that, what are your thoughts on the Internet’s involvement with the scene? Sight1: Over the course of this interview I’ve touched on some of the more negative impacts of graffiti online, so to shift gears a bit I’ll try to focus on the positive for a minute. It’s pretty awesome to be so aware of what’s happening on a worldwide scale. I love being able to check in on what’s happening in China and Russia or say, Venezuela. I’m no biter. But I do draw inspiration sometimes from looking at work from across the globe online. I used to leaf through the same old tattered graffiti magazines where as now I can get a daily dose of fresh styles from around the world. BBB: Graffiti culture is often rooted as one of the “5 Elements” of hip-hop, what are your thoughts on that? Sight1: That’s all fine and good for those who really believe in hip hop as a culture, I don’t. To me, it’s just music and to chalk it up to a full on culture seems like a real stretch and a bit pretentious. Jazz music is a culture, classical music has a culture, even Rock n’ Roll, but rap/ hip hop hasn’t even been around all that long and there’s

so much stupid in fighting. Hip hop doesn’t even really know what it is or where it stands because it’s styles changes so frequently and so fast. I enjoy rap music but not really the current stuff being made and I’m quite out of touch with this genre of music. There was a time when I felt very connected to rap/hip hop and I read The Source Magazine and lived with DJ’s and knew which records were coming out. I don’t think I’ve ever painted a b-boy character or considered what I do an “element”. BBB: Some people feel that graffiti has become stagnant and some people feel it’s always evolving, how do you feel on that subject and where do you see yourself taking your practice in the future? Sight1: I truly believing it is evolving and has never stopped evolving. I’ll admit there are some artists out there whose work has become boring to me, but for every one of those there is another artist I discover who is innovating the art form and pushing the envelope. I’m getting better at calligraphy and typography type stuff, but still have much to learn as far as that whole discipline goes. I’m a huge fan of tattoo art and I’ve drawn a bit of flash here and there, I have tons of admiration and respect for the traditional and Japanese art forms of tattooing. I’m not currently planning on becoming a tattoo artist but I do enjoy drawing the stuff. I really want to travel more and paint internationally. I’m off to Puerto Rico in a few days and stoked to paint there. If you want to see my newest works and what I’m up to I update my Instragram (@ scieter) and website (www.sight1.com) frequently. Thanks BBB I’ve really enjoyed this interview.  Sight1 out.

website: www.sight1.com instagram: @scieter

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hannah stouffer We had the absolute pleasure of meeting Hannah Stouffer last fall in Detroit for the Murals in the Market Festival and it was as inspiring as we thought it would be. Her beautiful and vibrant work jumps of the walls she paints and canvases she exhibits. She has also curated and published 3 contemporary art books and currently contributes to VICE’s “Creators Project.” Thanks to Hannah, this issue just got a lot more vibrant and psychedelic and we are unbelievably thankful for it. Thanks, Hannah!

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Bizarre Beyond Belief: Coming from a creative family must have been inspiring, how did your family help push your artistic creativity? Hannah Stouffer: I was encouraged from a very young age to engage in whatever satisfied me most. My father engrained in me that I could do anything I wanted to, and it was possible to make a career out of what you love doing because he had. As an independent film maker, entrepreneurially my father is and was a huge inspiration to me and made it all feel accessible. He had an insane work ethic but was so in love with our natural surroundings that it was really admirable to listen to his teachings. I did a lot of listening and still do. BBB: What outside of your immediate family helped influence and shape your artistic practice?

HS: I would spend a lot of time in the library, and the art museum, doing endless research to fulfill my infinite curiosity. I had to feed that part of me that was so enamored by visual arts and the traditional greats you hear about as a kid. I was borderline obsessed with Andy Warhol and would read endless artist biographies that I would check out and often steal from the local library. I also got into trouble a lot being from such a small town. I felt really supported by the art teachers I had as a kid though and was in those ’special’ art classes, not because I was slow but because I would just be drawing in class anyway, so I might as well get graded for it. BBB: You moved from Aspen to Los Angeles in 1999, how would you compare the cities both culturally and artistically?

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HS: Ha! On opposite ends of the spectrum. Aspen is a very small, not very culturally diverse resort town and Los Angeles is a massive expanse of international delights. While Aspen does have a handful of great galleries and foundations, like Baldwin Gallery and Anderson Ranch, and the newly renovated Aspen Art Museum as curated by Heidi Zuckerman Jackson, there is not much going on outside of that. Growing up in a town with a population just over 5,000 I definitely had to search it out, while Los Angeles is often times completely overwhelming.

BBB: Your work is vibrant and extremely intricate, can you describe your creative process from concept to completion? HS: It varies a lot. I vary a lot. I’m infinitely curious and my process fluctuates based on my mood, because it can. Sometimes it is vibrant and intricate, sometimes it’s loose and all in black ink. I don’t really have a set process and rarely work from a planned concept. I’ll obsess over a general theme or idea, like Ancient Egyptians, Benigness or Metaphysics but I like to go off of feeling, everything is more fluid that way. Like some mornings when you’re hungover you just want to wear something oversized and not think too hard, or some days your brain is really firing on the details… I let that all carry over to what I produce. My work very much reflects my current states and tendencies, it always has.

BBB: We often read on the Internet that your work is “psychedelic”, how do you feel about this label and how you describe your work yourself? HS: I’ve worked a lot within the parameters of psychedelia and its certainly no stranger to me. During my time at Juxtapoz Magazine (201114) I curated and edited the hardbound ‘Juxtapoz Psychedelic’ book, as well as produced the monumental book release exhibition at The Well here in LA. By definition psychedelic art is of or relating to the altered states or experiences that are often experienced through a substance influence, though not necessarily. A work can appear psychedelic without having any direct connections or connotations to drugs. I would never consider myself to be a visionary or to produce strictly psychedelic art, but it does get pretty weird sometimes. I’m open to psychs and think mental expansion and exploration is important but that in no way defines me. I’d never sit down and tell you endless drug stories. Unless of course you wanted to hear them, ha! Which I’m pretty sure no one ever does.

BBB: You identify as both a commercial and fine art illustrator, how do you balance the difference in working between practices? HS: I’ve done both for a long time, and recently in the past couple years have gotten more into art direction and production. I do what I love, and there is always an authentic undercurrent to my work, whether it is personal or commercial. They feed into each other rather then live on two separate platforms that need to be balanced. Personal work flows into commercial, and the evolution of one consistently fits into the other. In the end, they’re essentially the same thing because its coming from the same place. I’ve been fortunate enough to be approached for commercial work because of the work I produce for exhibitions. Thats where it all begins.

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BBB: You’ve also worked for clients such as Dell, Microsoft and Nike, how does collaborating with large corporations help or hinder your own creative process? HS: Usually, when I get approached by a large client its because they appreciate my creative process. If I’m lucky they are just looking to license something that is pre-existing in my archives. I love it, its the Art Buyers or Creative Directors that make it difficult ha. BBB: Have you ever had to jeopardize your artistic integrity to satisfy a client? HS: I’m not sure what that means, being fortunate enough to make a career based on my artistic integrity. BBB: You have exhibited your work all over the globe, has there been a particular showing that has stuck out in your mind as a favourite? HS: The ones where I have felt most satisfied by are often the most difficult to execute, when I am given full creative control and am able to push myself into new mediums. Ghost Room Gallery 2014 in Miami and Paradigm Gallery in Philadelphia with Hilary White were two exceptionally important exhibitions for me. Also a solo show at Slow Culture Gallery back in 2014 entitled ‘Internal Energy’, that was a big push and the end of an era in a lot of ways for me. BBB: You recently completed a beautiful new mural for the Murals in the Market Festival in Detroit, how would you compare your approach on a large scale piece versus indoor works? HS: Well thank you. The process is always different, the wall is always different, the obstacles and capabilities vary from project to project, so I try to take things as they come. No matter how much, or in my case how little,

planning you do there is always going to be surprises. BBB: You recently attended Art Basel Miami, can you tell us a little bit about the experience and what the atmosphere is like at the festival? HS: Ah yes, the chaos that is Art Basel. The insanity escalates each year while I feel like my tolerance for it is on the decline ha. I curated and produced an exhibition this year with 15 ‘New Futurism’ artists for an event series called IRIDESCENCE. We hosted a show and some parties at The Shore Club in South Beach, and also had some artists painting in Wynwood as extension of the project called IRIDESCENCE Walls. I launched a small creative agency this past year called H+ Creative, so the event was under the agency name, I focused on that instead of producing any of my own work this time around. It was amazingly received, we got some great press and it was it’s own experience for sure. Paired with the 10 days of rain that the fair encountered and about a zillion other art events, artists and galleries, it was just as crazy as usual, if not more so. BBB: With lots of things always on the go, what can our readers expect from Hannah Stouffer in the years to come? HS: You know I’m just anxiously swimming in new projects and ideas. I’m currently working on putting together a book with Gingko Press on The Age of New Ceramics, and I’ll continue writing and curating as much as I can. I’ve been a contributor to VICE’s Creators Project for the past couple month and of course I am in love with it. They are an amazing platform to be a part of. I’m planning to continue to push H+ and start some new visual direction an experiential elements under it. The porcelain line I create with Jesse Figueroa, THEONE Ceramics, is still working itself out in the most lavishly gothic way. What else? I’ve been drinking hot water with lemon in the morning and meditating more regularly while listening rap music just the same.

website: www.hannahstouffer.com | instagram: @hannah_stouffer

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FUCCI We recently connected with Fucci through the wonders of social media and have gotten to know one another quite well since. We’re huge fans of what Fucci has been doing and in the time since we began following his work, we can see it has been developing at an alarming rate. That being said, we know that this is just the tip of the iceberg for Fucci and what he has in store for the upcoming years. Enjoy the sinful and sexually charged illustration work of one of our favourite Toronto illustrators.

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Bizarre Beyond Belief: You’ve recently exploded on the arts and culture scene here in the 6, have you always been based in Toronto or have we imported you from somewhere else?

to move to the city to study graphic design.

Fucci: I grew up in a small town in middle of nowhere Northern Ontario. I moved to Toronto 4 years ago.

Fucci: I think success is a lifelong achievement and a constant work in progress. I spend 10-13 hours of my day illustrating and painting until I’m completely drained. In my eyes, today’s work will always be better than yesterday’s work.

BBB: It’s evident that you’re extremely skilled in illustration and graphic design, did you receive formal training for either?

BBB: Can you describe any particular moment or work that was pivotal in your success as an artist?

BBB: What is it about about mid­ 20th century European design and furniture that influenced your work

Fucci: I studied graphic design at Algonquin College and Savannah College of Art & Design. BBB: Did you feel that attending an arts institution was integral in your development as a designer? Fucci: Yes and no. I went to an arts secondary school. That was cool because I had photography, graphic design, piano class’s etc. And they were big on self expression. I actually got my start illustrating posters for my own band. I used to draw stuff out on A4 and use the school’s photocopier to xerox out a couple hundred flyers. People started noticing my work and were paying me like $10-$20 to design their bands posters, stickers, album covers and t-shirts. It kind of took off from there I guess. In 2006, I did freelance work for a couple of record labels without any formal training in graphic design. I remember the older kids in my hometown were really involved in the arts and music scene and it was very inspiring to be around. Even though it was a very small town, a thriving arts community existed and that’s really cool to look back at. I had 4-5 years of DIY experience before I decided

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and how do you feel the craft has developed since then? Fucci: My family is from Finland and I grew up with Northern European values. We had Nordic and Scandinavian furniture around the house but I never

took interest until I started studying design. Clean lines, bold colours and a less is more approach will always be appealing to me. When I moved to Toronto one of my close friends introduced me to some amazing furniture and I’ve been slowly growing my collection. My characters are inspired by pin up drawings and I like to

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encapsulate that era of romance and design throughout my works. However, I feel like North America has redeveloped their love of Mid Century furniture since Mad Men premiered some years ago and it’s since spread like the plague. IKEA has even re-developed a line of products from the 60’s and 70’s pushing mid century design to the masses while local stores like 507 Antiques are keeping an authentic romance alive.

bright and in your face but I felt it lacked identity. Most recently I’m finding my passion in making works in negative space with a minimal and mostly primary colour palette.

In recent months, your aesthetic has gone through a development process, can you describe the evolution of your work?

I feel like I’m pretty well versed in colour theory. It’s just about finding something and sticking with it. As a creative that can be hard to do because there’s inspiration all around me. Sometimes I feel A.D.D.

I’m constantly striving to evolve as an artist and find what works best for me. My older work was really

Artists often struggle with colour in their illustrations, how would you describe your search or battle for a colour palette?

How do you feel the vibe of your work shifts between

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black and white to vibrant colours?

only save 3 things, what would the be and why?

Fucci: The colours I’m working with are a bit nightmarish at the moment. I’m using a red that’s straight out of a Hitchcock movie and a cobalt blue that’s reminiscent of Twilight Zone. Saul Bass was a huge inspiration of mine throughout art school and I felt I needed to get back to my roots. My black and white work definitely has a more sophisticated feel to it but we need colour in our lives.

Well I live in my studio, so myself (because no art without me), my computer (all my work backed up on there), some clothes (clothes are pretty good).

What are 5 things (non art related) that could absolutely not live without and why? Fucci: Water, air, good food, friends, family. You get the point. As humans, it’s amazing what we can adapt to live without. I don’t really have an attachment to material things. I try to live pretty minimally to keep my mind clear. BBB: If your studio was burning down and you could

BBB: Where does Fucci see himself in 25 years from now? Hopefully still alive, healthy and relevant. I’d also like to be able to earn a comfortable and honest living off of my work and do something that has some impact before I leave this world. Life is so short. I believe almost anything is obtainable if you have that fire inside of you. You need to be willing to organize yourself so that your goals become priorities. I believe that all that time you put in will bring those goals to fruition. Just spend your time wisely and don’t stop fucking working at it. Sometimes we’re our own worst enemy. The only thing stopping us is ourselves. I’ll let you know how it worked out for me in 25 years.

WEBsite: www.fucci.cA instagram: @fucci

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GREVE We’ve been chatting with Chicago based GREVE for a number of weeks now and we knew right off the bat we needed him in this issue. Not only one of the most innovative writers in North America who’s ready for anything that comes his way, but an all around stand up guy. With letter structure that is second to none and extremely clever mural concepts, GREVE has without a doubt become one of our favourite active writers. We’re honoured to have a feature with the Windy City assassin and get to showcase some of his recent murals and paintings that are sure to please both graffiti artists and art enthusiasts alike.

*Photo: DrewinChicago*

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Bizarre Beyond Belief: You started painting graffiti in the early nineties, what was your first interaction with the culture and what led you to pick up a can? Greve: When I was a kid in the late eighties and early nineties I enjoyed a lot of freedom. I’d walk home, or to a local pizza parlor from school for lunch. On days off from school, I’d leave the house in the late morning and I would maybe have to check in once midday, but for the most part, I didn’t have to be home until like 8 at night. Obviously, there were no cellphones yet. By the time I eventually walked through the door, my mom would be legitimately glad to see me alive, and I’d be equally happy to be home and eager to get some Nintendo in my life. Everyday was an adventure, and lasted approximately as long as three adult days.

The kids from my neighborhood and I tried a little bit of everything during those long days in the streets. We BMX biked on dirt trails by the railroad tracks. We would breakdance and roller skate, play sandlot baseball, and street hockey. All the while graffiti was all around us, but we were mostly innocent, and we associated graffiti with gangs, so it was just one of the things that you ignored to stay out of trouble. I never saw anyone actually ever paint graffiti back then, it just popped up and I barely noticed. Of course there were also real gangsters – my friends’ crazy older brothers and family members – and we weren’t completely oblivious to that lifestyle by any means. We would hear the stories of their exploits, and often have run-ins with gangs, getting the shit kicked out of ourselves for things as simple as jean jackets or our roller skates (lol, both true stories). That said, a lot of self love was necessary for self preservation, and we didn’t

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really didn’t give a fuck about gangs anymore than we did about perverts, drunks, or any of the other obstacles in our way. One day in seventh grade, this kid broke down the entire graffiti subculture to me, step by step in fascinating detail, and it was the absolute coolest thing that I had ever heard of. I started to draw roller coaster blueprints that looped to spell my name and other hilarious kid shit, but I still never envisioned myself actually going out and making graffiti. In short, school was boring for me. I had “gifted” classes, and yet my son is now learning things in kindergarten and first grade that they didn’t teach us back then until the seventh or eighth grade. One day, my eighth grade science teacher caught me drawing on my desk, and set up a meeting with my parents to investigate the matter. They all asked me why I did it, to which I repeatedly replied “I don’t know”. As a result, the school mandated that I had to go see a counselor for weeks to figure out wtf was wrong with me. I’m not sure if they ever came up with a

formal conclusion. Anyway, around that time, my parents were going through a nasty divorce while I was going through puberty; I was angry and felt abandoned as the family crumbled. One summer day in 1992, I just took paint from the garage and went out and tagged my name throughout the neighborhood. I had previously played with a few names on paper, but the name that I used to go on my first escapade was GREIF. It was purposely misspelled so that I could do “IF” bubble letters for short. I’m laughing at myself with you now, but it somehow made a lot of sense to me as a kid. BBB: We’ve read that you said the scene was unaccepted at the time, how have you seen that mentality shift in the 20+ years since you began? Greve: Of course anytime you generalize, there’s going to be exceptions. With that being said, I learned a long time ago that no matter how artistic or photo realistic of a painting I was making, more often than not, as soon

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as onlookers and passersby saw that I was using spray paint to make it, the art became graffiti in their minds. In short, spray paint equals graffiti to the average person, even without letters. Historically the general public and art critics alike have been unable to detach the spray paint medium from the graffiti. However, I think that’s changed a lot in the past 5 - 10 years. This is a pretty complex matter, but a lot of that evolution likely has to do with the major influx of young people migrating back into cities, coupled with corporations and municipalities using art as a way to make their brand (in many cases their brand being a neighborhood) more dynamic and edgy, in order to appeal to the young generations. More sanctioned public art and murals started popping up while a significantly safer term for it – “street art” – which is often sort of misused as a euphemism for “graffiti” became a household word, and visual-reliant social media networks like Instagram showing the general public who and what all of this art is, as they hungrily gobble it up. BBB: Over the years your style developed from strictly graffiti lettering, can you tell us about your evolution as an artist? Greve: Art for me has always been a way to save myself. Hearing “You are a great artist,” is one of the most satisfying sounds that I’ve ever known, and my Mom and Grandma started telling me that from the first crayon coloring I ever made. All of our parents told us that shit, it’s probably a literal step of parenting in some antiquated child-rearing manual. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been drawing, coloring and painting, trying to do better every time I did. I painted illegally for a majority of my first 15 years doing graffiti. I really looked up to and was inspired by the great bombers and train painters in Chicago and New York. Almost all of them were (still are?) purists, and adamantly against using air brushing techniques in graffiti, brushes, fancy paint, or “cheater caps”; the list of no-no’s goes on and on in a writer’s quest to be real. Some of those ideals I, for better or worse, still can’t shake. For example, I’ve still only used spray paint for public art, and I feel almost contrite just using tape. Those “rules of graffiti” were ingrained in my head at such an early age that it took years of battling myself to break away. I think that

also helps to explain why many graffiti writers do not evolve beyond traditional lettering and graffiti. To a lot of writers, painting graffiti is how they vent, with streets and trains as their proverbial punching bag. I respect that a lot as someone who was all heart and no art for a majority of my years writing graffiti. Nowadays, I just have a different calling to push the movement while challenging my own self and limits. I have to mention; Pose was a great mentor to me, and for many years I was able to support my family while painting trains and walls in cities all over the country directly because of him, and I’ll always be appreciative of those opportunities and experiences. He’s always been ahead of the curve, and 10 years ago he was showing and proving to me first hand that there are no rules. His influence helped me shed negative parts of my old dog graffiti mentality, while staying true and righteous, and holding onto the really important things. BBB: Can you describe the creative process of a piece from concept to completion? Greve: I love the initial design process. I’m super meticulous and bounce ideas and concepts off of good friends constantly. And I love the finished picture of my art. Everything in between is just absolutely grueling, a penance of sorts. I like to tell people that while I’m painting in the street anyway, perhaps to make the conversation awkward enough that it’s not too weird when I put on my headphones and get back to painting. The truth is, I just love to paint. I do not like to draw nearly as much, but it is completely necessary. Something that I think about from time to time is how Monet described his daily painting process as “murderous.” That’s very revealing to me. I put a lot of work into my finished products, be it outdoors or paintings in the studio; I pour my whole emotional self into it. After years of trial and error, finding myself and my own purpose, what I’m currently painting is a combination of all of my influences and experiences, and more often then not, my own innocence lost. I approach all of my paintings in the same manner that most people typically approach graffiti. I’ve never really thought about that too much, but I didn’t get a formal art education. As such, graffiti taught me to sketch / fill-in / outline / add final touches, and embellishments as a solid process to make

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art when I was a kid. To this day it’s how I generally approach almost everything that I make. BBB: Many graffiti artists don’t like to be labeled as “street artists”, how do you feel about the title and how would you draw distinctions between the two if any? Greve: Street art or graffiti, it’s all temporary, I know that. I think that it’s much more interesting that some of these marks we’re making on walls and trains will outlast us, at least in the digital form or as a photograph, which is some of the context and conversation of my recent work. I don’t want to go too crazy on this one... Some people do get very offended, but it’s all just semantics to me. Diego Rivera invented street art by bringing back fresco mural painting into modern architecture, and I’m technically

not kidding. Street art is a modern blanket term for art developed in a public space, and that includes graffiti. Graffiti is truly only graffiti if it is executed illegally, but a lot of people solely paint graffiti art legally, with permission and possibly even commission, which is really just street art. There’s graffiti writers and graffiti artists, and many who are practitioners of both. That’s where a lot of it becomes confusing, especially to the masses who do not know all of the nuanced differences and distinctions. Graffiti writing is a fraternity of sorts. To be a graffiti writer typically requires a lengthy vetting process while committing criminal activities just to be accepted by one’s own peers. I can understand how some writers take offense to being lumped into a blanket term like street artist, along with other public art forms that were made after or during a very expensive education, and then

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pasted or slapped on after being made from the comfort of one’s own home. It really depends how serious you take it all, or yourself. If you want to take the time to compare and contrast, compared to other criminal activities, graffiti is pretty nerdy in general, regardless if it’s on trains or billboards or whatever canvas is perceived to be the most diehard. On the other side of the token, jail is hardcore, and it’s a shame that people are having to put their freedom on the line to express themselves. Damage to property and trespassing are felonies in a lot of American cities, and that’s extremely serious and completely ridiculous. My whole thing is: don’t become a legend in your own mind and don’t manipulate the labels to make yourself seem like something that you are not. BBB: You’ve painted over hundreds of murals and

works with massive companies in the process, how would you describe the creative process in doing so? Greve: Earlier, you asked me if I’ve ever had to jeopardize my artistic integrity to satisfy clients and I opted to skip the question, but it fits right in here for me. I would not be where I am or who I’ve become without first learning the importance of integrity and creative freedom. I think a main part of the process working with companies is determining how much you’re willing to jeopardize your integrity to get funding for the creative things that you really want to do. Dealing with corporate clients, all of the meetings about meetings, bureaucracy, revisions, and walking on eggshells without having complete creative control totally disrupts my creative process. I don’t mean to sound resentful in any way;

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PHOTO: JEFF MANCILLA painting advertisements was a fantastic gauge for what people react to, and what good taste in art really is. Commercial work is a tough racket though, and for the most part, I have stepped away from at least the creative side of advertising... I’ve always been more of a Nikola Tesla fan, but his nemesis Thomas Edison once said, “Being busy does not always mean real work,” and that’s so true, a lot of us are out here just dying to live. Art success follows a repetitive process of rejection, until you find the right people who want to champion your purpose, and determining who the right people are is the hardest part of it all. BBB: Chicago is known to be a pretty tough city in more aspects than one, how would you describe the current (graffiti or political) landscape of the city? Greve: I’m always drawn to Chicago. But the city that is second to none can be heaven or hell. The tough landscape aspect is completely embarrassing and the

violence here has to stop. As of this interview, at the end of 2015, there have been more than 2,973 people shot this year in Chicago, up over 15% from 2,533 shot last year. Over 80% are Male, and over 80% are African American. I don’t watch the news anymore. If I click on the wrong local news link and it’s well written enough that I read it through, I might just start crying. It happens and it fucks up your whole day. I try to keep positive, and in doing so manifest positivity around myself. Admittedly, I don’t always think about real, generally good people who, despite their best efforts, cannot live free in 2016 because extensive violence is holding them hostage in their own neighborhoods. Between 2007 and 2012 the murder rate in the most dangerous of Chicago’s official community areas was as much as 80 times higher than the rates on Chicago’s north side. In so many ways to me, Chicago is more beautiful than it’s ever been, but I wouldn’t want to be the one to tell that to the mourning families who have lost a child or a loved one here.

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PHOTO: JEFF MANCILLA On a much brighter note, the graffiti scene in Chicago is always strong, centered around our subway with a huge list of selfless and largely underrated writers and crews who avoid the limelight to continue to be able to preserve the movement. In the past few years there have been a lot of new names and street artists pop up putting in so much work – there are far too many people doing amazing things to list here. Chicago also has the luxury of fantastic photographers like @Senor_Codo and @Jeff_Mancilla_ and so many more putting in hard work documenting, plus some great galleries like Chicago Truborn and Vertical Gallery working with artists to tell their stories to a broader audience. If you haven’t been to Chicago or it’s been awhile, it should definitely be towards the top of your list in 2016. BBB: Being that you’ve travelled all over United States, what would be your top 3 cities to visit to and why?

Greve: I’ve had some amazing trips in the great outdoors, but I really love big urban cities. New York, California and Texas are in my frequent rotation and it’s probably no coincidence that those states boost the #1,2, 4, 7, 8 ,9 10, 11, and 14th largest cities in the United States. I’ll name 4 states in America that I want to go to: Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alaska, because those are the only four that I haven’t been to yet. BBB: You have also traveled to Canada, how would you compare and contrast Canada to the USA? Greve: I wouldn’t dare compare the two, as I haven’t spent nearly enough time in Canada to do so. Instead, I have a Canadian story that changed my life. On the night before New Year’s Eve in 2007, I was painting with my wife @GloeOne and some old friends in Toronto. The temperature in conjunction with the wind chill was hovering around zero degrees. Gloe hadn’t been feeling too well earlier in the day, and frankly it could have been

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that we ate nothing but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches so far the entire trip. We were grinding on a super tight budget, trying to paint as many subway trains while in Canada as our bodies would let us. We were painting in the Greenwood yard for about 15 minutes, and had only planned to spend a maximum of 20 minutes, so we were just starting to wrap it up. Suddenly two TTC workers jumped out of a train right in front of us yelling, “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?,” followed by “We’ve got you now!” Our hearts dropped, and we raced to our previously designated exit. The ice that covered the ground was making our shoes feel like banana peels, and we were slipping and gliding the entire way. After a half mile of sliding towards the car with sirens wailing somewhere in the distance, we came to a downhill embankment. I slid down first, Gloe close behind me, and by the time she reached the bottom where I was anxiously waiting for her, she was kind of whimpering in pain and her foot was completely facing the wrong way, just dangling from her leg. Her shoe sunk into the snow and planted as the rest of her body plowed forward, snapping every single connection between her foot and ankle. The Toronto East General emergency room is only a couple of minutes away, and as we were rolling up Gloe was just in complete shock. I carried her into a wheelchair by the door ran in rolling her and started yelling “We are American, we need help!” The doctors immediately took her in, sedated her and reset her ankle, which was horrific, and I can still see it vividly in my head today. I remember she was all worried about the paint on her hands, and we came up with a quick story or whatever, and this doctor

came up and said “I need to speak to your wife alone.” I argued for a bit like, “I’m her husband, whatever you have to tell her, you can say with me here,” but they eventually saw me out of the room, and I went outside and chain smoked a couple of really nervous cigarettes. When I stepped back in, she was crying, and said that she had good news and bad news. The bad news was that her ankle was completely shattered, and she needed immediate reconstructive surgery. They weren’t sure if she would ever walk again. The good news was that she was pregnant with our son, who coincidentally was born on my birthday. Gloe walks just fine now, and our son’s name is Toronto. BBB: Are there any other creative types outside of the visual arts that inspire you? Greve: It’s been inspirational watching people like @ Amuse.126 and @AsendOne transcend from the humble beginnings when I first I met them as kids, while I thought I was the shit, to just blowing right past me and becoming national icons in graffiti and style. That’s just a couple examples of close friends locally in graffiti world. However, their success alone is immensely inspiring. Rapidly changing technology and communication structures have leveled the playing field worldwide. At this point I draw inspiration from outside of visual art almost as often as from within. Music, athletes, people, technology, all things around me constantly are all sources, but there is no lack of visual art inspiration. I find new-to-me artists, and forgotten yesteryear idols on social media from all over the world creating beautiful pieces every day. Whether consciously or subconsciously I draw from all of them throughout my creative process.

Intsagram: @Knowtrespassing email: Knowtrespassing@gmail.com

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VILX VILX (aka Bad Vilx) is a French illustrator and graffiti artist who has been definitely pushing the envelope of street art with his intensely detailed murals. Using a very graphic approach, but with his own intricate and delicate aesthetic twist on the art form, his work has become some of the most interesting stuff we have seen in recent years. Hailing from France, but did a lengthy stay in Montreal, Vilx took the street art and graffiti scene by storm in the Belle Province with super fresh stuff that we doubt anyone has seen before. *Interview translated by: Justin Guenet* B

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Bizarre Beyond Belief: You introduce yourself as Bad Vilx, what significance does your “nomme de plume” have in your artistry? Vilx: Yeah, I paint under the name VILX but since I spend most of my time ranting and complaining, I figured my name was missing an adjective. Also, since I consider myself a critical person and we are in a scene where people would prefer to receive compliments, I’ve been somewhat

catalogued as a black sheep, a black duck or an old, bitter man of sorts. Which I’m sort of proud of! BBB: We’ve read that you do not sell your art, is this by choice or is because you feel the subject matter is less marketable than the average artist Vilx: I don’t really sell my work. When I can, I screen print, but often my illustrations are slightly too

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complicated to print. I don’t sell very much based on the fact that I can invest at least 25 hours on a piece but most of the people that find themselves interested in such a piece are not necessarily the most “financially blessed.” In general, the public doesn’t grasp the value of the work and the time put in. I get the impression that since these are usually small A3 format pieces, it’s not worth more than a pair of Nike shoes to them. I’m also kind of possessive and like keeping my stuff under my bed. BBB: You often include topics such as poverty, exclusion and violence, what leads you to creating subject matter based on such issues? Vilx: In 2010, after a good 10 years of painting graffiti murals with “basic themes’’, a sort of rut that graffiti is well entrenched in, I thought that this approach was becoming for me a waste of time, a sort of incomplete way of expressing myself. You either go all in to a subject or not at all. I think there are more interesting things than painting Back to the Future productions or Darth Vader portraits. I want to express myself on a more personal level without necessarily arriving to an autobiographical result. So I’ve always wanted to paint what I saw outside.

I’ve always perceived graffiti as a provocative movement (I think many have forgotten that) and have wanted to paint walls that discuss poverty, police brutality, the ugly bourgeoisie. I find it amusing to observe people’s reactions as they take in my walls. At first, the visual and technical aspects seem to capitvate them but then, there’s a moment of realization like a gunshot when they understand the message behind the mural and it makes them jump. I think I prefer displeasing people with my subject matter than pleasing people with technical ability. We live in this world where we constantly forget the misery of others so that we can comfort ourselves in our privilege. Not noticing the homeless person on the street corner or ignoring one social injustice or another…I don’t think it’s by painting fluffy pink murals depicting children blowing soap bubbles and hiding rainbows in their pockets that we’re doing anything helpful. I don’t pretend to have the Answer but I prefer to denounce bad things instead of embellishing what is already beautiful. BBB: You often use derelict areas and trains as your canvas, what makes these more appropriate material than a commissioned or legal wall? Vilx: It’s well known that in Europe particularly, painting a virgin wall in much more interesting that say, painting a ‘’classic’’ legal wall with a nice and properly framed background. But it’s mainly the consequences to painting that captivate me: the exploration, the urban expeditions and discovering the little alley corners. Graffiti is the best way to discover a city! It pushes you dig deep and go on a mission of historical discovery and open doors that previously were closed to you. And to think that people pay to take tours… Freight trains are another thing entirely. When you enter their world you escape from your own and explore themes not possible before. I’ve always had respect for this type of surface in particular, as though I could not afford to screw up when painting on it. I mean, it’s happened that I’ve painted trains so drunk that I’ve reversed my letters. One day I’d like to catch those boxcars and either fix or repaint them! The freight train, especially in Canada, is magic. I’ve always been fascinated and motivated by the fact that people

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Vilx: I am pretty pessimistic about that and not really satisfied with the way things have turned out. That said, I don’t consider myself an altogether old school “purist’’ but I do maintain certain base elements of the graffiti spirit, especially those of gratuitous and dirty provocation. I find it amusing to see that as I complain about the loss of these base elements in graffiti, they just keep on disappearing more and more. The arrival of social media and the internet, the arrival of opportunist buyers and sellers of ‘’urban art’’- this alongside the label of ‘’street’’ art, has caught within it’s net all those who have integrity issues and those who have not enough passion and pleasure to do it strictly for themselves. By the score, these people jump on the mediocre, the ‘’kitsch’’ and what sells. Ironically, the graffiti vanadal is always the most hated by society (all the better) while the rest of them of praised. I am also witness to the loss of another fundamental element: drawing. I think we’ve crossed the last line because nowadays we can see artists producing art based solely on pictures taken from the internet, reproduced from technology, without personal touch or ‘’freehand aspect’’. We dig ourselves deeper into the fast and easy, like some sort of advertisement. This has become an enormous issue within which I don’t personally find myself. I consider myself akin to that singer who prefers local stages in neighborhood bars rather entertaining a stadium crowd.

all over the country take photos of the painted pieces. I often speak with a CP train conductor and he will take pictures of freight graff every time he sees some! And if we go back, the freight train also is reminiscent of other cultures such as the Hobo, old time music, comics…there has always been several elements gravitating around this central element: the train. It’s because of painting freights that I got into listening to Charlie Feathers in the West of France, imagining myself in an intermodal, speeding along between cities, playing the harmonica. BBB: Considering graffiti and street art cultures have evolved a lot over the years, what would you say the good things are?

BBB: You have lived in Montreal for 6 years, do you plan on staying in Canada for longer or are there other cities on your schedule? Vilx: I’m considering to go back on vacation. What I really liked about Montreal is its bombing scene, especially the throw ups. The little European in me really thinks that each of those bombed walls deserved to be photographed. When I initially got there, it really hit me: the spots, the rooftops and towards the end, the beautiful throw ups. There really is a great street scene there. Paradoxically, I really found it’s ‘’legal’’ scene boring. But I mean, I won’t complain about it too much, it’s already way better that most cities in France and that’s a good thing. Though I must say I will never again set foot in that city in the months of June, during the festivals.

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BBB: If you had to choose work outside of the art world, what would it be and why? Vilx: Good question. I’ve already thought of being a shoemaker due to my love for working on old things, to restore them and keep a certain ethic and value system about my work. Though this fascination may have been caused by consistently drawing shoes haha…I am fascinated by little things, the art of finesse and to see that the human being is capable of creating little things with his big fingers. If it wasn’t for this, I’d probably be in Mexico picking strawberries for 12 hours a day, grilling in the hot sun, enjoying my freedom and being a free spirit. Of course, I’d have to check if there even ARE any strawberry fields in Mexico to begin with…

to get away from this shit world’’. This book will speak of this type of escapism. In this book, I will combine my Canadian and European travel experiences, whether failed or successful. I’ve also accumulated paintings and drawings in my studio that I look forward to exposing, in France and in Germany. It’s about time. And continue to paint trains and walls as I do every year.

website: www.badvilx.bigcartel.com instagram: @badvilx

BBB: What other places in the world do you find are great artistic and cultural scenes to travel or live in? Vilx: I haven’t travelled enough yet. But I’ve always had great fun in latin countries where it’s easy to pain in the street, with a big interest in exchanging and discussing with the locals. When you paint in Spain, people take a seat on the sidewalk behind you and stop what they were doing to observe. A little impromptu break! This was one thing I didn’t enjoy in Montreal. If there is no music or posters all around, people just go on with their lives, not even looking. I’ve already spent 8 hours at a wall without having any type of interaction with neighboring inhabitants. Nothing. Since my goal is to obtain a return of something, either positive or negative, this was occasionally discouraging. BBB: Can you tell our readers a little bit about what you’ve got going on in 2016? Vilx: This year I’d like to dedicate myself a little more to my illustration work. In particular, I’m working on a book about travelling and hobos. Travel as in the larger sense of the word be it the walking, the the train, the drugs, the alcohol or any other types of escapist paths by which man may choose to leave his own world. People often say: ‘’I want

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KWEST KWEST is a man who literally needs no introduction. Easily one of Canada’s biggest exports in the graffiti world, he’s probably painted more trains, walls and bridges than the majority of the whole country’s scene combined. Beyond one of the most incredibly extensive careers in the streets, he has worked making installations and sculptures for some of the biggest and brightest names in various industries in both Toronto and beyond. This interview has been a couple of years in the making but we can’t even express what a privilege it is to have him lend his words of wisdom and let us present to you some of the most brilliant photos we have ever published.

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Bizarre Beyond Belief: In the beginning stages of your career you managed to connect with Toronto legend Kane, how did that come about and how did it help your development?

we clicked.

Kwest: I can’t exactly remember when I met Kane, but it all came about through my older sister. At the time she was in high school and I was in public school. Having an older sister gave me a foot in the door to go and party with the older, cool people (Kane being one of them). I was also best friends with the younger brother of one of his good friends. We’d hang out and drink beer, roast pigs and somewhere in there, my eyes were opened up to graffiti. I started hanging around, and frequently visiting the keel wall, which is a legendary west end Toronto spot. As my addiction to aerosol kicked in, naturally Kane became a good friend. From then on we’ve been tight, and he and I have produced a lot of significant work in this city. I wouldn’t say that his style is a very evident influence in mine, but we share a common respect and dedication to the game. He has always had a full arsenal from throw-ups to wild styles, so that taught me to be diverse and be able to work with any situation. Also, being that we’re from the same neighbourhood -

Kwest: I was a handful back then. Moved out when I was 14 and dipped back and forth, in and out of my folks house. I struggled through high school and focused on graffiti (mainly freight trains). I guess I wanted to see where these trains were going. So I rode a train out west and ended up in the mountains for a while. Hopped a few freights around BC. Pretty much went where life was taking me. Met a guy in Jasper, Alberta that wanted to head south to Mexico in his beat up Chevette. We convinced this Aussie gal to ride along and we headed south. We stopped at all kinds of spots along the way, my eyes were set on the rails throughout the trip. It was a pretty epic experience for me. Rollin’ through SF and LA in ’98 was an eye opener. My most vivid memory was walking around Market Street in SF, took a dip down an alley and found a giant Saber burner that stopped me in my tracks and my jaw dropped. The pits in that area were amazing too. Just crazy ass burners, with such hard styles. I had some cheap ass panoramic camera and still have the

BBB: In 98 you moved it west and settled in San Diego, what led you to leave your native Toronto?

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flicks, which are my most favourite to reminisce upon. We ended up in San Diego, out of cash and found OB - Ocean Beach. Held up there for a good while. Surfed a lot, but didn’t paint much. Just lived on that beach and did what we could to keep fed and entertained. BBB: The move out west led you into getting dropped in to the BSM crew, can you describe the crew’s origins and how it has kept at the forefront of Canadian graffiti for so long? Kwest: My first intro to the crew was through Insight, back in Toronto probably around ’96. Once I made my way to Jasper, which is a small town in a national park, that path continued. Word travels fast there, and just before I arrived one of the BSM members had been caught riding a train and was booted off. As a result, he had hooked up with a girl that I became friends with. Legendary stories were exchanged about this individual which I had heard some prior from my buddy Sight back

in Toronto. So when I ventured to Vancouver on my way to Cali, I had to meet this dude. I’d like to say that we clicked right off, but circumstances of our intro were a bit awkward. Back then we all had a harder approach to other writers, so being an outsider from the east was a bit of a hurdle. But I quickly charmed ‘em all, hah! After coming back from Cali, we reunited and from there it was a perfect fit. We’ve always been a tight crew and haven’t put any new heads in for many years keeping it a close-knit circle. It was a moment in time where we all came together bringing our own individuality through style and character. We crushed and regulated in respect for the rails. It’s a crew built on a strong bond between a brotherhood of like minded individuals with comparable drive and motivation. When I was put down in BSM it was easily the most significant milestone in my graffiti career. I think the longevity, diversity and dedication of the crew has kept us up in front. The crew started in ’93 with Cmor and Take5, in a small interior BC town. Their main addiction to trains, walls and bombing as well,

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but trains were the real poison. I think BSM has always upheld a respect for what we do. Everyone in the crew brings their own unique style to the table and can throw down serious burners along side being solid individuals. I think those qualities have held up over the years, keeping the crew at a highly respected level in the Canadian and north American game.

was always a time consumer, but a necessary component to the whole game. After years of living this way quantity became the product of this grind. I’ve always focused on maintaining quality and quantity.

BBB: You have painted thousands of trains, how did you delegate time to freight painting in order to reach that number?

Kwest: I’ve had my bout with the streets and highways. Being focused on the steel mainly. But I’d say that they both demand a backbone in quantity and dedication. Anyone can run through the city and catch a ton of wreck. But to really stand out you have to keep it up and be smart about it. Otherwise, you’ll catch a case or get lost in the mess of half assed shit. Most will get their foot wet and then dry up in the sun. The real heads that put in the work year after year are the ones that have real focus on what they’re pushing. A lot of street level bombing in this city is walk around after the bar type shit. There are few that can claim status on a consistent level. The same goes for freight writing. In contrast, trains are tough in that they are gone once you’re done. You have no control of what happens to the burner you just laid down. In the city it’s

Kwest: Time wasn’t delegated to trains, I had to make time to work, make money, eat. Even those things involved trains. I’d eat at a spot where I could watch the mainline. Work a job that I could drive around and scope shit. All of my time was spent benching, tracking down new spots and trying to catch day shots of what was produced throughout the previous night. Pretty much every apartment I rented was within a ten block radius of the mainline yard. Inevitably, the numbers stacked up. I used to keep logs of what was done, reporting marks, type of train etc. Regulating spots and keeping toys out

BBB: How would you compare or contrast between the street bombing and freight painting scene?

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pretty simple to keep up on a spot and maintain them, it gets buffed you go back and get it again, someone side busts and you go over ‘em. But both require a dedicated and driven character to gain respect. With trains you have to understand that your apart of a legacy of artwork that has been touring north America for decades. There is a higher level of respect required which I learned early on in my development. Knowledge is power and understanding the system will benefit the longevity in your pursuit of steel, and I have always shown great interest in learning and upholding the history of the rails.

mediums. The difference is in the tangible result. I can walk away from a train and relinquish all control of its fate, where as my artwork is somewhat controlled in its environment. The work produced has an existence which I determine and allows further manipulation with light, location and audience etc. That would be the significant difference between the two mediums, other than the obvious physicality of each.

BBB: In recent years, you’ve been focusing more on sculptural work than freight trains, how does your mental and creative process change between the two fields?

Kwest: It has been seamless and fluent. I wouldn’t call it a transition; both have grown alongside one another. As my skill set evolves in both worlds they naturally communicate between each other and influence accordingly. The only obstacle I’ve come across happened about a year and a half ago. I slew footed myself on a ladder in my studio and ended up with a piece of raw steel right through my left bicep. Impaled clean through the artery and half severed the medial nerve which is responsible for most of your feeling in your lower arm and motor functions. Luckily I was able to plug the wound with my thumb, apply a tourniquet and get to a

Kwest: It’s actually very similar in creating the two art forms. All of my sculptural work and train pieces are produced along the same mental creative. I work best in the moment, not to much planning. Choosing colours for painting a freight and selecting material to construct sculpture are comparable in the process of executing the work. The shape and form are shared throughout both

BBB: With your background as a carpenter was it an easy transition or were there many obstacles?

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hospital. Could have died right there in 8 minutes. This accident put a bit of a dent in producing work, I’m not one to sit and wait and dwell on negative thoughts. So two weeks later I was back out on scaffold crushing a massive wall with good friends El Mac and Stare. Up and down climbing the scaffold with one arm was interesting. It’s been a slow healing process. Nerves regenerate at a rate of 1” per month - it’s like watching your hair grow. BBB: On that note, you went out to the Roskilde festival this year and created the world’s largest graffiti lettering, what can you tell us about this experience? Kwest: It was an amazing opportunity put forth by big Tiws - the Roskilde Fest Graffiti Coordinator. He asked me to come up with a dream piece and as a result, I went as big as I could in 14 days. Creating a piece on this scale felt right to me, I’ve always preferred size and having the

space and freedom to flex. All of the people that I met on that trip were really genuine, and I couldn’t have executed it without them. A project always comes together when the ingredients are on point, and the few that helped me in all the stages of the production were key in its success. In the end as it stood there when the gates opened and a crowd of a hundred thousand deep flowed past it, I was really proud of what I had produced and the gratification will last a lifetime. It was a notch on the post for me, showing what I could accomplish in a short amount of time. Bringing these forms to reality in such a setting in a different continent was truly motivating to create more of these colossal structures. BBB: You’ve recently done work with people such as OVO and Susur Lee, what is it like collaborating with these individuals? Kwest: I haven’t done work directly with OVO, but have

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had the honour to work with 40 of OVO. I produced a massive installation in his recently built recording facility called SOTA (State of the Art) studios. 40 is such an inspiring person to work with. He really let me run with the creative and produce an epic install for the space. From the initial stages of planning I set out to map a sound wave in sculptural form. We have known each other for many years so his trust in my work was evident from the beginning of the project and that trust allowed the creation of an installation that felt natural to the space. The effortless collaboration was such an amazing experience. I worked on that piece for about a year, being in the studio environment and meeting countless talented people while listening to music being created really added to the creation of my work in a unique and positive way. Working with Susur Lee and his family was a great experience as well. I really appreciate hard work and dedication. These are qualities that they live by. For me it really aided in my production and desire to create and put out the best work I could in order to maintain that level of professionalism. Collaborating with people like them really pushes me to elevate my work and I’ve been fortunate to have commissions like these.

when collaborating with individuals or companies versus creating for yourself?

BBB: How do you find the creative process is affected

BBB: Is there a time, person or piece of work that

Kwest: In all situations I focus on creating my work. It has to come from my core of what I’m producing. When I’ve collaborated with individuals or corporations, I keep my creative at the forefront of the design. I’ll take in information which will influence the final product, such as colour palette, material, location etc. Using any suggested criteria from a commissioner is usually a good experience as it allows for a new perspective into my work. I stay away from creating what a designer or individual wants. I’ve come across that quite a lot where a client presents the complete creative and expect that I will construct it. I leave that work for design and fabrication outfits. That’s not what I’m about. I’m purely focused on work and opportunities that will elevate my artwork in positive ways which will allow for progression. Working with certain like minded creative people will motivate me to really bring my best resulting in unique pieces. When I produce works to experiment or bring an idea to life, that’s where I really explore the medium, creating work solely from my design.

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you find to be the most pivotal piece in your artistic career?

are running to this day. At that time in my life it was a moment that definitely pushed me in the right direction.

Kwest: I went to Pittsburgh in the mid 2000’s to be part of a group show organized by my buddy Prism. I had the pleasure to meet the master, Delta, who had been there for some time producing a giant sculptural piece, a robot that was composed of his name, vertically. It stood about 16’ tall and was produced along with the help of his assistant that traveled to Pittsburgh with him. The execution and workmanship of this sculpture was inspiring, and showed me the possibilities of the medium. Witnessing work on that scale solidified my direction of where I was going with my work. To be able to travel and produce on a large scale was something I had been striving for. I sent him shots of the Roskilde piece as I felt he was partially responsible for my ambitions in creating such a largescale sculpture. The whole trip was one for the books, we painted some burnin’ trackside pieces that I’m pretty sure

BBB: Are there any projects, shows or events that our readers should be on the lookout for in the new year? Kwest: I have a few things on my plate for 2016. This will be 20 years of writing Kwest and I aim to make it a memorable one by producing some unique collaborations and solo works both in studio and public. I’m currently working on the initial creative for my first US solo show. I’m also planning something big for 2016 Basel, and hopefully bring something unique to the audience in Miami. Recently, I’ve produced a few sculptural site specific installations which will be coming to light in the next few weeks which I’m really amped on. I was challenged to use materials and techniques outside of my normal arsenal.

website: www.kwest.TV instagram: @kwest8825

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Profile for Bizarre Beyond-Belief

Bizarre Beyond Belief Issue #20  

We are back with our glorious 20th issue consisting of an image feature from Stephen Ormandy and interview features from Patch Whisky, Sight...

Bizarre Beyond Belief Issue #20  

We are back with our glorious 20th issue consisting of an image feature from Stephen Ormandy and interview features from Patch Whisky, Sight...