Interview with DEAM

Interview with DEAM

By Arden de Raaij

DEAM is a good spirited graffiti artist hailing from Italy but nowadays a world citizen. Being a true graffiti geek (his own words) he picked up the aerosol ar himself and got good at it. Really good! At the moment of this interview DEAM usually writes ‘RENDER’, and he knows how to make these letters come to live like no other.

A picture of a graffiti mural by artist Deam
Graffiti by Deam

Where are you from, and where are you going?
I’m from a town called Marigliano, 25 km away from Napoli…don’t you know where it’s at? Well you should! :D. Seriously talking: South of Italy. I’m going anywhere graffiti (and my girlfriend :D) will lead me to. I lived in Spain for a year and I think that would be a good choice! Even if I’d like to travel a bit before I choose a place to live. The only thing I’m sure of is going away from here, looking at how bad politics and worse, people’s tv-based mentality is going to sink Italy.

A colourful graffiti mural by graffiti artist Deam
Graffiti by Deam

What got you into to street art and what makes you keep on doing it?
I got into graffiti in 2000, looking at the burners that I found in my town. Even though it’s not a proper city we’ve got heavy old school stylers, so I kept dreaming along the years to do graffiti like them. Finally, at the age of
15, I made my first piece. I wrote “host” (from H.O.S.T.Y.L.E., a song from Screwball), after doing several ugly tags with ugly names (“Krusty”, and others I forgot). The first years were really hard to me cuz I discovered that most of the people I was painting with were doing it just for the trend, so I got to continue alone with Zool, Spider (R.I.P. my brother) and few more writers. After that I got to know the heaviest stylers in my zone in person (the CTA crew, now I’m proud part of them :D) and they were good in painting and good people at the same time so… that kept me doing it! Graffiti got me to places that I never expected to go, and got me in touch with some of the best people I’ve ever known so why stop this? Also I think graffiti’s a great challenge for me, like bringing letters and styles to another level like others did before me. Something like a contest with myself so I never stop evolving!

Graffiti letters by Graffiti artist Deam
by Deam

What is your favorite item to take on the road with you?
When it all began, 9 years ago, I listened to those guys painting and saying that the only things that you could use to do graffiti were sprays so I kept my mentality as traditional; what you can’t do with sprays is not graffiti to me. That would be art or street art. I think sprays’ are a part of the challenge, even though I like things made with roll and paint too, or magic markers and so on. My favorite item is definitively the spray, the crap ones as well. Spray’s got the “power” to change the strokes, the way you fill the gaps, it’s all part of the story you’re telling.

Graffiti mural by Deam
Graffiti mural by Deam

Best street art spot we should check out:
Well the first thing that flashed in my mind when I read this question was a hall of fame I’ve seen in Granada, Spain where I lived for a year. That surely is the best street art spot ever!! I think is the one of the shady perpendiculars to Calle San Juan de Dios, a great factory made in bricks painted with thousand different styles with the good old flavor. I also remember plenty of halls of fame in abandoned factories in Granada, I love those spots with original industrial flavors. Those were days I thought to know Granada better than people who lived there through years, cus I was living in the invisible city instead. I’ve Got to thank the INK massives, love and miss them. They’ve shown me the best original 80’s burners I’ve ever seen, still standing!!

Graffiti mural by Deam
Graffiti mural by Deam

Do you prefer doing your work legal or illegal?
I come from a place where the difference between legal and illegal is very thin. In Napoli you can see the most creative ways to break the law, from a family (5 people) riding a motorbike, to the worst drug deal. So illegality is seen in a very relative way. I do my pieces in places where I’ve got no permission at all but people know that this is my deal, and they know I do no wrong so no one calls the police. Also, because mostly I do it on no-one’s-places walls, so they see me as the lightest way to do illegal things in town. I used to paint a lot of illegal bombings around here but there’s no real “style wars” in my town so after a while that just lost his true meaning, and I turned to a more expensive way to work in matter of time  so I do it in places I know I’ve got time to complete my pieces. I’ve once painted a train too, but I think there’s real good train bombing in Napoli so I best keep doing my never ending walls. =)

Graffiti mural by Deam
Graffiti mural by Deam

How much does art influence your everyday life?
My art is my deal; I study architecture and sometimes I realize I’ve got serious difficulties to concentrate myself on things that steals time from graffiti or sketching/drawing but I’ve learned it’s realy difficult earing myself a living with graffiti so I use it to give a meaning to the time I travel: Going with the train to my university, or the times I spend 3 days drawing on a CAD. I try to keep myself influenced from my everyday life, my routine. I also made an exposition on how objects I find in the streets of my city inspires my 3d graffiti. It was called “CITY TRASH ARCHITECTURE – graffiti meets city trash“. I made sketches of graffiti from doing a collage of photos of city trash such as metal, car parts and so on.

Graffiti mural by Deam under an overpass
Graffiti mural by Deam

What was the first thing you put up on a wall?
The first thing I ever put up on a wall was a tag I guess. I started writing a lot with my magic marker, then came the time to start with a spray and I admit it was upsetting me a lot because of the precision it needed. The very first thing I can call a piece was a tiny piece in silver and black. Oh good old times. 😀 (I’m 24, I use to watch my television in color since I’ve born!!!)

Is there any work you consider your best?
That’s a cruel question you know… :D. Well I guess any artist at all has a “best” work he made, based on how that work expressed his aims. My best works are several, cus I passed several “periods” of my graffiti. So I remember a great silver piece I made years ago, or the best 3d I made in matter of techniques or letters, but naturally the works I prefer are the latest I’ve made cuz I’m following my last white rabbit you know? I think the latest graffiti I’ve made (from those sketches of the expo) are more original than others I’ve made in the past years; letters are better (I’m writing RENDER at the moment) and I evolved my technique, but I hope to realize a bunch of more “best works” :D.

Graffiti mural by Deam
Graffiti mural by Deam

Which artist would you like to work with in the future?
I’ve got to say I’m really lucky cus I’m used to doing graffiti with people I’ve never expected to: The CTA crew, Total Kaos, BN, WildBoys and so on. They’re all one of those crews you used to watch for hours in a fanzines, so I hope to keep on painting with them. Then I’ll love to collaborate with a lot of graffiti writers like Delta, Toast, Darco, Mode 2. I’ve grown up as a graffiti nerd so what do you expect from me?  I think I’d definitively would love to paint with the European masters, the greatest influence I’ve ever had.

What is your favorite movie/gaming/cartoon character?
Uhm…my favorite character movies are the ones from Peter Sellers…loved that “birdie nam-nam”!! Also I loved Frankenstein Junior’s Igor!! The toughest character I like is Wesley Snipes’ Blade, love his mad kicks. My favorite character game is the mighty Duke Nukem 3d…love spraying my gun on those weird aliens =) My favorite cartoon character is Spongebob.

What is your favorite music/genre/artist/album?
I grown up as a Nirvana fan…don’t you dare laugh! :D. Basically I loved rock, I learned listening to Pink Floyd on Sundays from my dad, the Deftones, a lot of reggae, rap, jungle, electronic, trip hop…but I think my favourite music genre is Bristol based trip-hop. My favorite artist are the Deftones and Malcom Catto too, love those dusty stuff from Mo’Wax…I love Definitive Jux stuff too, especially Aesop Rock and El-p. My favourite albums are Amon Tobin’s Supermodified and White Pony from the Deftones.

If you could fill a swimming pool with something, what would it be?
A huge mojito. Sorry bartender, could you put me weed instead of mint? 😀

Favorite city, and coolest thing about it?
I truly love Rome; its lights, its sunny days…Rome is one of those cities you use to ask yourself why you’re still living here because of the stress, and the cars, and the things you see during a day; then you pass a sunset chilling in one of his most hidden places and simply forget what you was thinking about. I also like Sevilla and all Andalucia, stunning cities living a crazy lifestyle, each person respecting the other. I like Amsterdam too, it gave me the idea of a city where anyone could be accepted.

Bill (PC) or Steve (MAC)?
Too rich to be kind. I hate them!! I Especially  hate Bill when my pc does unexpected things in unexpected moments, like fake Antivirus-shaped viruses. But I’m stuck using a PC cus I use CAD software that only exist for Windows and I’m not going to buy a mac to smash it installing Windows!:D

What can we expect from you in the future?
Surely I’ll be doing graffiti, and I’ll like to make expositions from prints, canvases, objects, projects, sketches…perhaps I’ll be working as architect or something like this.