Behind the characters with graffiti writer Spaz
At just 23 years old SPAZ grew a reputation within the Lebanese graffiti scene as the man behind the characters. “I see charcters in everything around me” and with that his passion for graffiti grew, since it was the main medium to help him express himself.
We at Kingdome had the pleasure to sit with the man behind the characters, SPAZ.
When did it all begin? And how did you first become interested in street art/graffiti?
Well it all started when I was still at school, I used to doodle like all the time and never knew it was named graffiti, till the internet invaded the globe and I did my research since I couldn’t afford traveling to explore other cultures and see some street art. During that time I used to listen to hip hop music and thought since rappers use words to express themselves, and bboys use dance to interpret their feelings I would get into the graffiti scene for it was the easiest way for me to project my thoughts and feelings. Having graffiti as a medium of expression I felt like I was about to speak through painting the streets, especially since I felt part of this community which makes me easily inspired. I do not see myself living any other lifestyle.
Which artist/s influenced you?
By time after knowing about it’s history and the variation of styles, I got influenced by the old school Bronx legends such as Cope2, Seen, Phase2 and Futura. From the new school there are many artists as well such as Sofles, Hombre, Mr. Wany ,Clogtwo, Katun to name a few. My artwork usually focuses on creating characters more than letters, that’s why most of the artists that draw character influence me.
What style is your work?
I like to create characters because I think it is more like a global language that everyone can easily understand just by seeing it without putting any effort and that’s the main point of it.
What is the source of your inspiration these days?
The people I hang out with, the nature that surrounds me or random people socializing in the streets usually inspire me. It helps me come up with a character by looking at any shape I come across.
What do your pieces usually focus on?
When I do a piece it naturally varies from older ones I did or the next pieces that I will do. Every outcome depends on my state of mind, on the places I am in or the people I’m painting with. It’s all about the energy so it depends on the thing we are focusing on. From time to time when we paint it may be affected by something happening in the country since we’re living in a place full of surprises.
What is the riskiest thing you have ever done?
By being a street artist you’re always at risk. We take risks painting in the streets. The riskiest thing I’ve done was trespassing a yard to tag at late at night and ended up running out while being chased by 20 security dogs, I never thought I could run that fast hahaha.
Are you generally satisfied with your finished piece?
Most of the time I’m satisfied with the outcome, but every time I learn something new I apply it to the next piece I do.
Do you listen to music while working? Or you need a quite environment?
When we paint on the streets we can’t have a quiet environment, so we drain the street noise with music.
Where is your work usually located?
I’ve been spreading my pieces around Lebanon specifically Beirut, but my aim is to go further and have my pieces abroad.
Do you find it difficult to work in the streets?
In Lebanon it is way easier to paint than other countries but it happens that we have problems while painting in the streets since Lebanon is a diverse country. Some people in the beginning believe that we are painting religious or political related artworks but their thoughts change when they see the final piece. Others believe graffiti and street art are destroying the streets and it is a form of vandalism.
Have you ever had any problems with authority cause of your work?
The same this happens with authority, they tend to stop us while knowing that there is no law that bans doing graffiti on public properties, but I believe it is way easier in Lebanon than other countries.
Do you have a formal art education?
I graduated 2 years ago as a graphic designer from the Lebanese University and I took a masters degree in multimedia. Currently I am a freelance illustrator and graphic designer which has definitely helped with my artwork.
Would you rather paint alone? Or do you prefer collaborate with others?
Honestly I would rather paint with crews, having good vibes is better than painting alone. It’s more fun with my Rbk and Rek brothers and sister and other mates from ACK and BROS Crew. Of course we always collaborate and we do exchanges now. I have the chance to salute my brothers in paint: SUP-C, EXIST, FISH, KABRIT, EPS, MEUH, BAROK, RILE, WYTE, BOB, PHAT2, CHAD THE MAD, TAZ, ZED, MOE, BH and sister NUSH.
What do you see as the future of street art / graffiti?
As we see in Lebanon the scene is evolving and getting bigger and bigger new people are getting involved into this community and it is better for the scene since many people’s perceptions of graffiti has changed.
How do you feel about photographers / bloggers in the scene?
Photographers and bloggers nowadays have a big role representing the real graffiti and street art scene, especially in the Middle East and Lebanon since people are being open to this form of art day after day in hope of understanding it better. It is important however to have the right message sent across that would not harm the scene, therefor your only hope is that the right people are documenting this scene.
For more artwork