__My street-related-visual-intervention-name is Erosie, started doing graffiti in 1993 in Eindhoven, still live there nowadays. And I don’t have all the answers correct.
Contrary to younger people active in that street scene, you come from the “classic” graffiti scene. Do you still have the feeling to do graffiti, or did you wake up a morning thinking: “Now I stop graffiti to make that so called street-art thing”.
__Errr…no. From graffiti to other expressions was a step-by-step transformation…from spraypaint to rollers and latex to logos, stickers wheat-paste, the whole candystore. My first spraypainted target-symbol was done in 1998, that was a start. From there I opened a wider horizon more and more, finding this a nice variety on the conservative graffiti-tunnel I was in for some time. But I never really let go of my graffiti-roots. It’s simply too much fun and energetic as well…Once it’s in your blood…But of course I enjoy it by playing with the ”codes”, not for wanting to be the baddest bomber on the block .
Also I have mixed feelings on both the likes and dislikes of graffiti on one side, and so-called “streetart” on the other. Graffiti basically has been there for ages. Some survival-technique must be responsible for that…This is nice, it’s a steady platform, but in the same time a sometimes boring, conservative, almost fascist movement. 80% of graffiti doesn’t bother me anyway. But the same thing goes for “streetart”. There is a lot of creativity and freedom but also a lot of pointlessness that doesn’t do it for me. So mixing between the fields seems to be my interest.
It’s a good thing to mention the “younger people” in your question. I guess the advantage of a lot of young people seems to be an open-mind, instead of all that critical “when I was doing pieces back in the days...”-type talk. That seems to be an advantage. The problem on the other hand with not having roots or background seems to be the “I came, I saw, and I put up this sticker”-mentality of a lot of young kids… Not understanding that this “streetart” thing is not only some internet-hype falling from the sky, but took years to grow. Just like graffiti did. Time will tell I guess, where things will go. It’s also good that there are kids nowadays interested in more than MTV, trucker caps, ringtones and Nike dunks, so give ‘em some space ; ).
You made that funny sticker: "I went to art-school and all I made is this lousy sticker¦". But honestly what did that school change in your street work? Is there a different Erosie before and after those years?
_The sticker actually says: “I went to art-school, and all I make NOW is this lousy sticker.” It’s more sad that way
; ) No really, it is quite serious. Of course it plays with the “streetart”-hype. As if putting up stickers makes you an artist? Apparently…But also the fact that I officially graduated at art-school, so professionally I am supposed to be an artist…making money haha. And than all I do is putting up stickers, doing graffiti, playing in the street, getting arrested. Pretty pathetic!
But hey…it’s a choice. It’s so much more fun approaching freedom than doing 9 to 5 behind a screen working on a dumb job getting a blob in your shoulder, I did that as well. Of course that mentality is changing more and more…after some years getting dirty fingernails it is nice to have some cash to spend helping me getting those chicks in bubble baths and 22 inch-rims. Nowadays I like to find a good mix between doing jobs and doing other stuff. Art school didn’t really help me with that. I got in at a pretty young age. After graduating it took me years to unlearn a lot of things…getting back to where I was before art school even. Simply having fun in doing what you do for instance. On the other hand sure I learned a lot. It made me appreciate so much more around me. But I always kept a big wall between artsy stuff and graffiti-stuff while being at art school. This allowed me to grow in both fields, I guess.
Where does this bike obsession come from?
__I don’t think it’s an obsession really…It’s art! Haha no it’s pretty serious really …Since childhood I‘ve been drifting pointlessly on my bike through our fascinating Dutch urban wasteland, soaking up little bits and pieces here and there. To help me get my mind off things. It’s not that I’m working out 24/7 on my home trainer getting ready for the Tour…It’s a city-related thing.
Some time ago the city council of Eindhoven came up with this brilliant plan to redo our city-center with crap architecture. Getting rid of anything in the street to attach your bike to was one of the first outcomes. Now it’s just a big funshopper-friendly shopping mall…and no bikes. This “total-control” mentality gave me the idea to make the framesticker, and “promote” the pirate parking of bikes in the center-city. I love seeing the clusters of bikes clogging the funshopper-flow of people. After that came the bike-throwups, as a blend between writing and drawing. It’s just a fascination. Riding a bike in a city is the best way to get around.
You made that pirate series. What would be the name of your pirate ship?
_I always liked the name Chuck Norris.
Which of your work are you the most proud of?
_Can’t really say that…it’s all momentum anyways. Make something nice, dislike it the next day. Make something crap, like it a year later. I don’t know. It’s more that if being proud is the case I want to be proud of how I feel towards my work, where it takes me on a satisfactory level. Staying close to myself, my background and my surroundings is very important. Not going for the first thing that pops up…
It’s hard enough staying clear in today’s media-overflowed world. Especially as an “artist” I think you should be aware of that. I sometimes have a hard time with the “collective short-attention-span” of people. The easier the message, the better it is swallowed. But if it’s just a bit too complex people don’t get it…It’s everywhere…in politics, media, internet, as well as in the “street-art-world”. Look at how many people have fame, but if you think about what is so special about it, you just don’t know. It seems to come down to the fact that having talent is just 50%, and marketing the other 50%. Some people have a bit more of the one, and less of the other. My position in this is double: on one hand I don’t feel like thinking like this, on the other hand you want people to see your stuff, to get paid for what you do. It’s interesting juggling between “selling out”, doing honourable work, being poor or not caring at all…
If I can I would like to avoid mixing up “getting street-fame” with “getting paid”. If I get an offer for a big company to do this or that as Erosie, I of course have to look if it suits me, but more importantly I would like to see an honourable payment. Just like any other graphic designer or illustrator would. There seems to be a strange thing with creative people from the street-field…As if they do anything for free, for fame. Like cheap heroine-prostitutes doing anything for nothing. Is it low self-esteem? Lack of criticism? But I’m sorry to say, it’s not just the big companies who are to blame for this…for a change. It’s also the strange twist streetart-people seem to make when there is commercialism involved. If there is any chance to do some ugly marker-image on a pair of sneakers or a trendy bag or something, there is thousands of young streetartists lining up to do it…for free even! It’s a double bonus for these companies! They not only get saved on their marketing-job, they get a lot of trendy visuals to choose from…for free! Thanks fools! The cynical thing about this is, that it “erodes” the professional options. Why should people pay you for something they get for free at the neighbours? I heard a comment some time ago of some streetart-dude saying “ I see a lot of streetartist in this snowboard-thing…WE’RE TAKING OVER THE INDUSTRY!” Err…really? Probably not. It’s just that it is a hype…if clowns are a hype within 2 years they want to see everybody jumping around in clown-suits.
For me the answer is not simple…it’s not so much about wanting to get paid in this field, I’d rather do kids’s illustrations, or editorial stuff…keeps it clear. It’s a different language. Not so hyped up. But still…It’s strange to go against the big machine as a start, and after some time being swallowed by the big machine itself. Voluntary. The big machine has a posse…
As for you why the sticker scene has always been so active in Holland? Can you tell us who were the true originators of that scene? Has a website like Stickernation.net been a big influence on it?
__Well…not all that glitters is gold. Is there a big active sticker-scene in Holland? On the internet probably ; )
It’s not so relevant to me at the moment. It’s way overdue anyway. Stickering seems to be so much about just being part of the big group. The best time I remember with this streetart-hobby of ours was around 1998-2001. It was pretty fresh, experimental. Especially in Eindhoven and Rotterdam, as I remember it. Also Utrecht was pushing it. There just were so much surprises everywhere. Definitely SOL-crew and people like Influenza (to me one of the most underrated, but important “street-artists”) and space3 (who were actually doing that street-silkscreen thing around ’95!) were important to me. Not to forget Phetone, doing awesome things way before anyone else (and still does). As did Betamaxxx. But of course the Dutch thing was an extension of what was happening in the rest of Europe, and the world. Think about the Paris-scene…sooo important for both graffiti as streetart. If I get into this chapter, things get out of hand…so many people doing so much stuff. Too many names…It shows how important internet, magazines and books have been for the huge scene of today. So of course Stickernation played it’s part. As well as ekosystem or Wooster do… Or personal websites. Don’t underestimate the powers of the internet ; ) It’s a way to reach people. To see more than just an image in the street. It’s big.
If you were forced to wear a tattoo in your neck what kind of visual, words, etc...Would you choose?
In ideal what would the world look like, if everybody would be like you and your crew?
__Hahaha well…a big mess as much as it is now I guess… We’re all individuals anyway. But when I think about it; it would be interesting to see a mentality-change…It’s like the fairy-tale with the emperor’s clothes. The emperor walking around naked, and everybody admiring his beautiful new clothes. When everybody goes like: oooohh and aaaaahh, my crew probably goes; “Huh? This guy is walking around bare-naked! What’s the deal, who is this fool?” That would be a nice addition to everyday life…I like that down-to-earth mentality. Not getting your system polluted with pointless crap.
Same thing would work quite well in this “streetart-graffiti-world”. There are quite a lot naked emperors walking around there as well, like everywhere.
When you were a child were you into Lego or Playmobil?
__ I was more into dressing up Ken, really…
Give us a typical Holland food recipe unless check it in a cooking book or website.
ekosystem - erosie - march 2005
Special thanks to Influenza, G, Soak, Amanite.