XX Roma put an interesting article wirter by Naps, graffiti pionneer from Rome. On this text, Naps tell us about different period and different experiences of his graffiti career.
I’ve always been a pretty atypical writer. I think my life experieces have helped create what I am today: I believe each one of us is the result of his experiences and decisions. All that I have created with a spray can over all these years is the outcome of this. I think each writer has the key moments of his path stuck in his mind, such as the experiences that helped him grow, stylistically or mentally, key stages marked by a particular piece, or an encounter with another writer that influenced him simply by exchanging views.
I’ll try to remember some of the experiences I had over the years that I feel were important to me and helped me become the writer I am today.
The first years of activity of any writer are the most formative, during which you create a mentality that for better or for worse you’ll end up bringing with you for ever. After all, I started painting when I was really young and during a period when there was not even the slightest trace of a Graffiti Writing movement with which to confront myself with. In the end I developed a very personal approach to graffiti writing that was different from New York standards. The rules and attitude that worked for them could absolutely never work for me living in Rome within a context where there were at most 3 or 4 people other than me. Painting for fame in Rome in 1987 or 1988 made absolutely no sense at all. Nobody gave a damn about this culture back then, so the motivations that pushed you to go out and paint had too be necessarily different.
Surely, what I’ve always loved about Graffiti Writing is that I’ve always considered it an artform with a unique powerfulness and visual impact, obviously when well-executed. It is this relationship that has always been a part of me over the years, and has pushed me to keep painting for a length of time that has surpassed even my own expectations. To listen to stories of escapes from cops, arrests, fame, who’s king, or who’s wack, is something that sincerely I’ve never really cared about: I’ve always been interested in what was being painted, both yesterday as well as today. For heaven’s sake, I don’t mean boring conversations about style, loops, and arrows that make you feel like you’re in middle school, but chatting about what you’ve painted with excitement and zest, and an irony that is characteristic of Rome. The contexts I’ve found myself painting in over the years, and the crews I’ve created out of thin air, have had as a common denominator the fact that one had to paint well and it was important to have fun, otherwise it made absolutely no sense to me to even do such things.
I’ve always seen trains as part of what I do, a way of breathing Graffiti Writing, and moreover not even the only way to do so. You can change and evolve as much as you want, but in my case for example, I will always be a product of the 1980s, it is something I can’t escape from! I started painting in 1986 thanks to a friend whose name was Defski, who practically tought me the basics, such as doing an outline, how to structure a piece and whatnot. Graffiti Writing back then was not the product it is today. The attitude of those doing such things was different, maybe more naive, surely more innocent, but for an old romantic dude like me it was just irresistible.
The substantial difference with respect to Graffiti Writing today is that before you simply couldn’t open a ‘zine or connect to internet in order to get inspired or try to understand how to paint a particular style for example. The only way to learn the basics was to do your homework on the streets and learn from other writers. Thus, you were inevitably the product of your own experiences, and were influenced by the people you met. I’m of Roman descent and have been for generations, but having spent my childhood in Australia brought me to view things differently with respect to, say, a kid that spent his whole life in the San Lorenzo neghborhood. When I came back to Italy to live in 1987 I had already seen a reality that had not even been contemplated here yet. The most important encounter during those years was definitely that with Crash Kid. I remember seeing him dance at Galleria Colonna and we started chatting. I showed him my blackbook with sketches and photos, and he asked me to go paint something together. Shortly thereafter, we formed a crew called LTA (Licensed To Art) which was the beginning of a partnership in which we exchanged ideas and searched for ways to carry them out.
Read the full interview on XX Roma XX Roma