D E Z I O
My main Parisian man Dezio! Now I met this dude over a decade ago and was at once amazed at his volatile style, dedication, and imagination. I will readily admit that my all too conventional aproach to graffiti made me sometimes doubt the quality or strength of some of his works, but I was quickly to realize that he was actually just a very original and in advance on his time writer! Always coming with some crazy strangeness that makes him one to be reckoned with.
Paris, 2005, Setup welcomes Dezio to the KCW family.
And welcome he is indeed as he keeps pushing the crew further all the way to China, with original powerful and motivated styles and works.
It is with great joy that I present a new updated and english version of Dezio’s original french interview from the archive. Enjoy!
- Who are you?
I go by the name of Dezio, MCT AJT XIT TDP KCW. I am a French graffiti writer from Paris but currently living and working in Shanghai, China. I’ve been into graffiti ever since I turned 15, seeing it on the trackside while going to school. At the time I had no knowledge of the movement and nobody to help me out, graffiti was slowing down in France and nobody was really painting anymore… But as a kid I was always drawing so the idea of seeing and showing my drawings to as many people as I could really got me hooked.
It wasn’t till I met up with Extrem MCT SCC TRC, three years later, that I got to understand more about the culture and discover that this was happening in many other countries, that people had been documenting and writing about it for over 30 years; there were movies, documentaries, books… From then on I’ve been obsessed like an obese kid, ingurgitating as much as I can. I have met and painted with many writers from around the world; I’ve seen and read as many books, documentaries as I could, and my goal is to keep doing so for as long as I can.
- How would you describe yourself and your journey as a graffiti writer in ten words or less?
On the look-out for letters.
- What are your biggest influences when it comes to your art? Music, media, people?
Everything I see or hear. My influences are taken from my daily life as my mind is constantly assembling and disassembling my environment no matter where I am or what I do.
I see a piece as someone would see a building: there is a general aspect that ties everything together but every floor is unique. A 7 eleven or a Chinese fast food could be next to a bank or jewelry store on the ground floor, then the first floor would have office buildings, and as you go up you reach the penthouse. Each floor can be unique and very different from the others according to what happens and who is living in it. That is why in my graffiti sometimes I have letters or elements that differ totally from the others both in color, shape and style. I can start with block letters, then have one letter as an illustration to finish with a throw-up style “O”.
I guess that being in china now influences me a lot as well, both by the lack of good quality materials to paint, the absence of graffiti in the streets and the general beauty of the Chinese culture; how everything is just a beautiful mess.
- In a former interview you mentioned that your writing has lead you to be arrested many times, can you tell me about any arrests that were particularly memorable?
I’ll tell you one of my more recent ones where luckily I didn’t get arrested.
Sytoze TDP MCT PCK, my homeboy from France came to visit me in Guangzhou china where I was last year.
One thing to know about Guangzhou is that there are very few places where you can do graffiti. Most rundown places have people living or working in them, and this on a 24h/7 day per week basis. So my interest was mostly bombing.
At the time I was kind of keen on painting Chinese public buses; the yards are guarded but a quick stake out can enable you to paint, as I thought at the time, quite easily.
When Sytoze came for a visit, he saw some of the flix and really wanted to hit one up. We wanted to try and do a end-to-end color piece. I brought him to a lay-up that I had been hitting often with my friends from FBL (a local Guangzhou crew). It’s situated in the center of Guangzhou right on the street. There are no fences; the busses are just parked, one behind another, on both sides of a small avenue. It’s guarded on both ends by security guards but all you have to do is place yourself where they don’t see you.
A quick walk around to choose our bus and we were on. We split up; Sytose and I on one bus, and Sice and Yys on another. They were only doing throw ups so they acted more as stakeouts in case of oncoming guards.
More then halfway in, they warned us that a guard was approaching so we quickly stopped and hid in a neighbouring road. The guy was just doing a usual check up. Unfortunately he noticed the pieces, had a quick look and went to warn the others. With Sytoze we decided to finish what we could of our pieces as quickly as we could and then split; one goes with the paint, the other stays, acts as a wandering tourist and tries to take a flick. Sure enough we did our outline and highlights then split, I with the paint and Sytoze with the camera. But they were just a little faster then we thought and as I left the bus an oncoming guard saw me from a distance and yelled. As I turned I saw that many of them were rushing towards me, so in a second I split, made a run for it and threw all the paint on the road so as to have nothing on me.
I was darting in the road trying to find a place to hide but that was evidently going to be a problem as they were right behind me. Luckily when I approached a big crossroad, I saw a free taxi cab on the other side that had stopped at a red light. Immediately I ran toward it, opened the side door jumped in and yelled at the top of my lungs and repeatedly one of the only words I really knew in Chinese at the time “Idzodzo”, not spelled correctly but meaning go straight. He looked at me, saw behind the guards running and … thank God … stepped on the accelerator and we were out. Just in time too, as one guard had almost reached the side door handle. I counted them as we sped out, at least 8 were right behind me.
Later I found out by the others who had ducked in a neighboring road that 6 had run passed them trying to corner me by a side road. Unfortunately we didn’t get any clear pics of the piece; all we have is a dark blurry image taken from the other side of the road between two busses. A little too bad but we were lucky to have escaped, as I don’t really feel like exploring the insides of the Chinese justice department.
- I read in one of your past interviews that you began to be first interested in writing when you were 11 years old. Tunbridge Wells, a town in England, has recently claimed that they are beginning to educate young children in theory schools about the consequences of graffiti. What is your opinion about this? Do you think that a speech on anti-graffiti would have steered you away from writing when you were younger?
I think it is totally pointless but very cool as it will probably have the exact opposite effect on youngsters. I’m sure many kids after attending class will go out and bomb. I started smoking when I was in school so I guess that a speech on graffiti showing old angry women, government representatives in suits and cleaning workers washing up graffiti would have had VERY little effect on me…
- A graffiti artist based in Canada said that she absolutely could not stand it when she saw “practice pieces” on public walls/trains. She said that she wished that writers would practice their illustrations in their notebooks, and then make their visions public once it was perfected, rather than look at doodles on the side of buildings. Do you have any graffiti pet peeves?
Graffiti is meant to be out there, good or bad I really don’t care. I guess what I hate the most would have to be the whole ego trip that drives some graffiti writers. No matter what was hit, how many trains, subways, tracksides, rooftops, murals, Boeings, etc. if you put it all together the only people that we are annoying are the old ladies and the stuck up bourgeois. There is nothing real gangster or bad ass about graffiti; it’s just being a kid and getting your name up without paying society, and that’s what I love about it.
- What do you think are the biggest misconceptions about graffiti and graffiti artists?
That graffiti is just mindless vandalism. I guess you can argue that it is pointless vandalism but it’s not mindless as everything is often thought out.
Another thing is more between writers; some arguing what’s most important in graffiti, the tag or the finished piece; the fact that it’s an act of vandalism or not. I consider every aspect of graffiti as important as the other; working on your piece or tag is as important as working on your throw-up and your simple letters, as each one helps you understand and evolve. Working on a lazy permission spot or a very risky and unauthorized spot is very different but just as interesting as you get very different things out of each.
- What are you up to these days? Any big plans for you in the near future?
I’m living and working in China. I have no set plans for now.
Graffiti-wise, I’m focusing now on Chinese characters; trying to understand how they work and getting them into a graffiti vibe. I’ve had my tag translated phonetically so I’m working on that. It gives me new ways of approaching my letters as some things work and some don’t when doing characters.
- A little shout out before we finish?
To my crews MCT, KCW, TDP, AJT, XIT; my friends and my love.