Words – Brielle Schiavone

 

Popularly known for his stunning black & white documentaries and his rapidly growing feed (Instagram.com/TagsAndThrows) of “bombing and bombing only,” TagsAndThrows is a documentary filmmaker who exposes the secret world of dedicated bombers internationally. Engaging artists and enthusiasts alike, TagsAndThrows shares his great taste of throw-ups from popular artists as well as newcomers of the subculture. His most notable work, Bombing Alone, illustrates TagsAndThrow’s successful method of humanizing the artist from behind their signatures.

 

Fresh from filming in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the former graffiti artist fills us in on what he’s anxious to show the world from behind his lens, what he wants viewers to take away from his documentaries and why it’s always good for creative people to have an enemy.

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You just got back from shooting in Sao Paulo, Brazil. How was shooting there and when can we expect to see the documentary? 

 

I love to travel, so visiting any city or country I’ve never been to is always amazing. Getting to Sao Paulo was something different though. I was picked up at the airport by local graffiti writers Larpus, Rebel and Skola and had a good first chat with them during the 2 hour ride to Rebels place, where I crashed the first few nights. It was interesting to hear their stories and their view on graffiti, but most of all, it was amazing to just look out the windows of the car and experience pixação – the local version of graffiti bombing, not derived from american graffiti. It was overwhelming. This type of graffiti bombing is everywhere i SP and it’s aesthetics is way different from anything else I’ve ever seen.

 

Since I was in a lot of stress before leaving for Brazil – finishing the movie about Alone and putting together an exhibition about tags at the Affordable Art Fair in Stockholm – I did almost not know anything about the graffiti scene in Brazil. I knew that there was pixação, which to me, at that point, was just a local version of graffiti bombing that I couldn’t read. And that I was about to meet a few different graffiti writers whom I’ve only been in contact with through my Instagram feed. I was up for adventure and I love adventure as much as I love to travel.

 

Shooting in Sao Paulo was very different, especially from shooting in Stockholm. The view on graffiti and painting on walls is a lot different in Sao Paulo then in Sweden. Here the only ones to really dare to write on the walls are the most crazy ones – graffiti bombers who don’t really care about getting caught or who plan their missions in detail. In Sao Paulo, graffiti is just a small piece of all the art getting painted on public walls. There’s a lot more of what the rest of the world call “street art”. That means that you can paint more during the day and in front of people. You can talk to the police when getting caught and be released. You can drive around in a car, stop, bomb and just jump in the car again without being followed by police or vandal squad. But in general, wherever I film, I’m kinda relaxed. I can’t worry about getting caught when out there filming. Documenting graffiti bombers – I know that I will end up in trouble sooner or later. I focus more on capturing the actual bombing in front of me, in an as beautiful way as possible and to not attract more attention than needed. The least I want is the bomber to get caught because of me. I got some amazing material on cam that I’m really looking forward to show to the world.

 

How was creating a documentary in Brazil different than shooting in past cities?

 

First of all, it was the first time I’ve had the chance to film for 3 weeks straight. When filming the movie about Guns, HNR and Alone I’ve just been out a few nights filming. When filming in Copenhagen I was just out for one night. This time I was out every single night and day for three weeks. Other than that, it was mostly different because of where we were filming and at what time of the day. I got some crazy material from highway bombing with Larpus and Mudo, where there’s like literally 300 cars passing by while they are putting up throw-ups. That would never happen in Sweden.

 

Tell me about the overall aesthetic of your documentaries. Your latest documentary featuring bombing artist Alone continues your black & white shooting style, showcases one artist at a time and provides us with stunning nightscapes. For me, it adds to the anonymousness of the bombing culture and that you’re letting us peek into something that is not normally exposed. What do you want viewers to take away from your documentaries?

 

I want to make movies about bombing that bombers love to watch. I want to feed the bombing world with the best bombing movies there is. But in the long run, I also want to educate people outside of this subculture about why people manically are out on the streets of our cities to put up their names. I want the viewer to get to know about the people behind these signatures. I want the viewer to look at my movies and open up their eyes to tags and throw-ups. I want the viewer to walk the streets of Greenpoint New York, see a Guns tag and be happy about it. When it comes to the black and white, it’s just me – I love black and white. Almost everything I create, drawings, photography, designs etc – all is in black and white.

 

You’ve mentioned you’d like to do an “Around the World” documentary edition. Tell us a little about your ideas for that. Ideally what cities would you love to document?

 

I would love to travel anywhere in the world. Not only to document graffiti, but just because I love to walk a new street, jungle or desert wherever it’s at. But for TagsAndThrows I would love to go to any city that got bombers. A few of the places I really want to go in the near future is Russia, Detroit and San Francisco, Toronto and Chile, but also cites I’ve visited a lot of times before – like Copenhagen, Berlin and Barcelona. I’ve visited Copenhagen at least 30 times and I still love it as much as the first time I visited.

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If you could collaborate with anyone, who is the one bomber you’d love to follow and document?

 

I would love to do a doc about Tomcat, Adek, Kuma, Kegr, MOAS, Easy, Malvo, Amuse and like a few hundred other bombers.

 

Your instagram @tagsandthrows has 40k followers and is continuing to grow rapidly. You’ve also connected with notable bombers (including GUNS) through Instagram. What do you believe is the reason for your success? What draws followers to Tags And Throws and keeps them coming back? 

 

45k! =)

 

I’m giving people one thing – it’s a very clear message. Visit my feed and get black and white pics of tags and throw-ups. There’s not a pic of what I’ve had for lunch or some cute street art. It’s bombing and bombing only. I also think that I got a pretty good taste when it comes to tags and throw-ups and I also showcase both known names and newcomers that go hard, and styles from all over the world and not only from one city.

 

Did you intend for this enormous reaction from social media when starting out? 

 

I did not start out to get attention at all. I started out because I love tags and throw-ups.

 

When was the moment you realized your work was truly resonating with others?

 

Way before I started the feed I went to New York as a music manager. While there with my artists I started taking pictures of the amazing tags of Gusto, Adek. Guess etc and when I got home and showed these pictures to my friends it was all “oohs and aahs”. That’s when I realised that there must be other people out there interested in looking at pictures of this particular part of graffiti.

 

What do you personally think encapsulates the spirit of graffiti culture?

 

Graffiti is a very broad phenomenon now. There’s people within the culture who hate tags and throw-ups and want it to stop because it “fucks up the situation for real graffiti writers trying to do real art”. For others, legal graffiti is not “real graffiti”. To me personally, graffiti is about getting your name up on the street. I love a beautiful tag, but I love the quantity of tags even more. Dedicated bombers, out there several times every week for 30 years getting their name up are my favourites.

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How does one decide where to bomb (whether it be a side of a building, a vehicle, a telephone booth, etc.)? Is there a conscious process on choosing a particular spot or does it depend on the style of the artist and the given rules of the bombing culture within each city?

 

I think every graffiti bomber got their own rules. Some of them would never bomb a truck or a van for example, while Alone answered to the question – “why do you bomb on vans and trucks” – with the words – “ehh, because it’s the trains of the streets of course”. Most graffiti writers respect really old buildings, private property and religious buildings though.

 

What is it like to go from being a graffiti artist to being the one behind the scenes, exposing the works of notable bombers?

 

It’s funny as hell! I wish I could travel the world all the time documenting graffiti, meeting new people and visiting new places. TagsAndThrows is far from the only artistic expression for me though. I do a lot of other stuff and I enjoy a lot of other stuff. Graffiti is and has always been a big part of my life, but it’s far from the only thing in my life.

 

Where do you see the future of bombing headed?

 

I think were heading towards a time with more painting on walls in general. Not only graffiti related stuff, but paintings on public walls. I think it’s good for democracy to have the people expressing themselves publicly, so hopefully more people will do it. Almost anyone trying out writing his or her name on a wall love it.

 

Recently in NYC, the world-renowned Long Island City 5 Pointz warehouses have been painted over and are to be demolished to eventually turn into luxury high-rise apartments. Considering it was the largest aerosol art center in the world, this move has received a lot of backlash from artists and the public alike. What do you think the answer is to this war between graffiti artists and the feds? Is there an answer?

 

I really don’t care about 5 Pointz. To me it was just one out of a billion buildings you could paint. Time moves on, building get replaced by other buildings. Neighbourhoods change. That’s how a city develop and how cities been developing forever. Nothing will be here till the end of time – especially not a particular tag, throw up or graffiti piece. I also kinda like the war between graffiti and the feds. It’s always good to have an enemy for creative people. Especially when it comes to bombing and the cleaning of tags and throw ups. Since bombing is about dedication and being out there all the time to get your name up, cleaning does only showcase who’s bombing right now, not who bombed last summer or 5 years ago.

 

For More on TagsAndThrows – Check out his documentaries!

 

Bombing Alone.

 

 

Bombing in Copenhagen. 

 

 

Bombing with Guns.

 

 

 

Daytime Bombing with HNR. 

 

 

 

All image via Tags and Throws

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