DEBE – Graffiti from Taiwan

DEBE – Graffiti from Taiwan

By Arden de Raaij

Our Asian graffiti connections have been limited so far! But we will bring a change in that, starting with Taiwanese graffiti artist DEBE. In fact we already featured DEBE together with his partner Kenny from the Two Much Crew in Crack-Mag #002. In search of portraits for the MJ tribute section we came across a great Michael Jackson dedicated mural by the two Taiwanese graffiti artists. We have kept an eye on one of them – DEBE - ever since and decided it was about to tell you a bit more on this intriguing Taiwanese graffiti artist and the scene he resides in.

“I know I do not quite understand myself yet, but by the process of drawing I can continue my own dialog"

Graffiti piece in Taiwan by Debe
Graffiti piece in Taiwan by Debe

DEBE started writing in 2005, going around the city with a spray-can. Inspired by the American Wild Style, he decided to use the English name DEBE. He began exploring different approaches in graffiti with brightness and colours. By emphasizing the degree of contrast, combined with the structure of letters, DEBE found his perfect balance between font, contrast and colour.

Graffiti piece in Taiwan by Debe
Graffiti piece in Taiwan by Debe

Mixed Media

After his introduction to graffiti DEBE began using other media to express his style in. “My exposure to art began with painting graffiti. From there I started using watercolours, acrylics, oil-based paint and other media.” DEBE explains.

In 2008 DEBE founded the Two Much artwork studio which is stationed near a tattoo studio called Needle Power. The exposure to tattooing gradually integrated into the graffiti works and vice versa, creating more types of expression.

Graffiti piece in Taiwan by Debe
Graffiti piece in Taiwan by Debe

Self-expression

DEBE likes to transform the experiences in his own life (like observation, the feeling given by music and other elements) into new life through colour and lines. Because he has not had any art education, he feels he can do so freely. DEBE: “Because I have not received any formal art education I let my thoughts go free to enjoy unrestricted performance. The way I prefer to use the image of graffiti is to clear my head and start from scratch. This way every painting represents my current feelings and mood.”

Graffiti sketch by Debe, Taiwan
Graffiti sketch by Debe, Taiwan

A universal quest

There is nothing more universal than the ‘quest for self’ of an artist. In that sense the Taiwanese DEBE is not any different from every other soul-searching artist in the world. Debe: “I know I do not quite understand myself yet, but by the process of drawing I can continue my own dialog. This is how I do my self-contemplation and look into my subconscious. The atmosphere is also of importance. All this makes that every one of my works reflects my current mood or the moment of creating. When all of my unfinished works are done, I might even know myself.” If you look at our interview with Brazilian graffiti artist Nick Alive you can read how these artists are a world apart, but on the same page nonetheless!

Graffiti sketch by Debe, Taiwan
Graffiti sketch by Debe, Taiwan

DEBE values all aspects of graffiti, from the tags to the throw-ups and pieces. “When I am working in the city filled with my tags and throw-ups, I calm down after a while to think about what they are good for. I return to my initial starting point to reflect, only to find out that these actions are essentially just to draw, in order to create more beautiful images! The idea of it is so simple that I will put the focus on completion of a mural above a fine art degree anytime.” DEBE says.

Graffiti sketch by DEBE - Taiwan
Graffiti sketch by DEBE - Taiwan

Taiwanese graffiti scene

Of course we also need to know about Taiwan! As we do not know anything about the Taiwanese graffiti scene we had DEBE Explain it to us:

 "Usually this is the type of graffiti that gets you arrested, but the feeling of accomplishment after completing a piece is unmatched. "

“The Taiwanese graffiti scene is divided into two categories. The first honors the traditional spirit of graffiti, which is the illegal kind. It is about spreading your name like crazy, no matter what the cost. It is about getting up as much and as high as you can, feeling the thrill and the adventure. Going ‘all city’ as you would say in graffiti terminology. Usually this is the type of graffiti that gets you arrested, but the feeling of accomplishment after completing a piece is unmatched. That is why I believe no-one should be afraid to get caught.

Graffiti piece in Taiwan by Debe
Graffiti piece in Taiwan by Debe

The second category of graffiti is the one focussing on lines and colour, slowly filling a blank wall. This is the more legal type of graffiti which is relatively more sophisticated and emphasizing on the visual contrast. There is creative tension between the two scenes though, although in the end there is ‘graffiti’ in all these types of writers and in fact, it is all about the nature of the artist.”

Graffiti piece in Taiwan by Debe
Graffiti piece in Taiwan by Debe

And there you have it! Graffiti is as international as you thought it was. Make sure to check out DEBE's work through the links under 'related information' and also check out the website of Two Much and the Needle Power Tattoo studio.

Graffiti piecae in Taiwan by Debe
Graffiti piece in Taiwan by Debe

About DEBE Graffiti

Graffiti / Tattoo artist from Taipei, Taiwan