Interview with LES Crew from Prague
Who are in the LES Crew and what up?
–Uruk: the LES Crew is my close friends who I often meet and we understand each other even outside the graffiti-world. We are connected through a lot of things, not just painting. There are architects, urbanists, visual artist, music producers, photographers amongst us… people in Arts and Culture in general. The crew is 10 people, there are 45 core members.
When did you start the crew?
–Uruk: LES was founded in 2007 together with Mia my girlfriend, because I was tired of fulfilling the classical graffiti rules that existed with the other crews around. My interest was something more than bombing silvers all around and hitting the legal zones on weekends.
What’s graffiti for you?
–Uruk: Nowadays my interest in graffiti is in wider context to the place I am painting at. Graffiti is not just the piece and the photo, but also the trail to the place, the whole process. All together these are unique experiences which I will keep in my mind forever. I live with the city, I live the city. The majority of people who inhabit this living organism will never understand it. There is nothing strictly planned for my future and that’s how I like it.
–Empty: Friends, joy, adventure, self-realization, communication, photos, history.
–Uruk: I am influenced mainly by the city itself. I love track-sides, architecture, canals, bridges… My pieces are sometimes influenced by stuff from my own studio works. There is a lot of influences which I probably am not even aware of.
–Empty: Weather influences or architecture. Graffiti is here for ages. But in the early days there was only the need to sign, not to bee widely seen. When you find a signature in a church tower or a weapon imprint in a cave, thats also graffiti. The influence of technology and the city, that’s graffiti.
What keeps you still writing?
–Uruk: I paint so I can stay myself. In this very moment I cannot imagine stop painting. My life would lost something very important, it’s flavor.
–Empty: Adrenalin, fun, those canals it’s cheap traveling of it’s kind, you don’t know what is ahead of you, certain intimacy of the places. Than there is the piece, and maybe some fun with beers and pictures.
How would you describe your style?
–Uruk: I don’t know how to describe my own style… it’s… difficult. I am interested in lettering and the deformation of letters, simplification. The filling is rather secondary and this is the reason why almost all of my pieces are filled with only one color. Let’s call it actual/contemporary style :). We are strictly against “hardcorewildstylehiphop” techniques, millions of colors and such shit. Only thing which matters is the shape of the letters.
–Empty: I like things that are changing constantly, an organism ideal. My style is something between a beginner and slightly advanced.
What do you do when you’re not painting?
–Uruk: Saying I am a visual artist I work on my paintings and installations most of the time. I also ride my bike a lot and I spend a lot of time finding spots to paint. And of course we meet with the wider crew of friends in pubs, drinking lemonade.
–Empty: Studio work, public space interventions, cyclotourism on the way to bars, space knowledge, being lazy and sharing time, I should travel more.
How would you describe the graffiti scene and the climate in your country/City?
–Uruk: That’s a hard one. You can say our crew is far away from the rest of the scene and there has been several moments when graffiti zombies attacked us (verbally) just because they did not yet realized it’s the year 2015. There are some skilled people who do t-ups and silvers in the city, which I appreciate, but for various reasons this is not my path. Also there is a lot of toyfishes painting for years and it’s heading nowhere. I honor younger guys who are humble enough and take advices from older writers. I need to elevate crews KGS and IIG, top shit pieces in long term. I must mention Bior, the legend of Prague’s graffiti, who was never stuck in the past and his pieces are still progressive even after more than 20 years in the game. Also Enjoi, Most and Bleze need to be mentioned. Outside of Prague I like NOD, BKP and NET crews. There is some potential in Prague graff scene, but not much of it as well as there is lack of people who have their minds set up.
–Empty: Same old story, a mag is out every year and a video with nothing new but the number in the title. Nothing to write home about. It’s almost like the best has been already painted. It’s like eating the same rolls every day but only changing the salami for butter. I wish kids hated the pieces, spill paint over them and painted over them.
What first made you interested in graffiti and how did you end up on that track?
–Uruk: If I remember it correctly my first encounter with graffiti was in 1998 on a train depot wall. My father was keen on trains so I spent a lot of time near track-sides with him. But the first real interest came in 2001, I was skating and it all just happen very spontaneously. My first name was Air, cause I was flying like a bird :D. And falling on my cheek as well. In this time me and my mate founded a crew, I bought my first cans in Bauhaus and I did my first piece. It was 2002 and I was 13 years old.
–Empty: First thing I noticed was tags. I wanted to see how these are done but was just a kid so i could not be out in the night.
What do you look for when going out painting?
–Uruk: Adventure, exploring, joy.
–Empty: It’s good to know where you are going to paint, usually I have a sketch.
Is it important that people see your stuff and you get recognition?
–Uruk: The pieces itself is important, that it physically exists. The photo is just a documentation, which of course I am glad to show to my people and if they give me props, I am not offended :). As I mentioned our pieces are hard to be seen, but I see some kind of magic in this. If someone suddenly walks into our pieces he will wonder who, why and how did these. So the place and the chance is what I like the most. I am doing this report as a document, just for the other people to see that there is other stuff going on in our city, because the possibility to see the piece for yourselves is lesser with every kilometer. Props in comments are much welcome!
–Empty: Somebody told me lately he saw a piece on a canoe which was fun to hear…
What are the best and worst aspects of graffiti?
–Uruk: It is crucial to see the fact that life is not predestined by the laws and rules of the ones above. You have to work hard and go for your goals. The best thing graffiti gave me is my freedom. All the bad things are forgotten, of course it is not a happy remembrance of cops beating you repeatedly for 48 hours in the cell.
–Empty: It’s what it is it’s not art a therefore there is little interest from the public. You have to do it right in order to get back what you are giving into the game.
Who do you paint for?
–Uruk: For myself mainly, as I said I can’t imagine my life without painting. In the second plan for people who are interested and can understand it, at least a little.
What writers have inspired you?
–Uruk: Berlin at the time. I like DIAMONDS, Spair, Hesht, Peps, Zauer. There are Tomek, Saeio, Gues and others from Paris. Enjoy the pieces of Sawe from Spain and the people near him. FMK, PNG, ALTGR, FUPS and PUBB from Scandinavia. There is an interesting scene in eastern Europe but I am not really familiar with all of it.
–Empty: Ancient NYC, Blade, Tracy, Dondi, Berlin,DIAMONDS,Saeio,Tomek, CAP, Masker, KGS, Enjoi, Crap, TOP, BE, beginners…
What trends are you seeing now in the graffiti world?
–Uruk: I follow people in whom I have long term interest so I can’t name trends. I see a lot of people who don ́t even try to shape a straight letter and hop into something which is called dirty style (silly in my opinion). This is simple to see through anyway. Mini-breweries and IPA beers are trendy…
–Empty: I don’t really keep track, so I don ́t know much about it.
What do you think of internet?
–Uruk: Internet is a great thing to confront your stuff with the rest of the world. I like to see what’s going on in other cities without the necessity to travel there. Without internet this interview would have not happen most probably. The other thing is huge insight in ones privacy, which sucks. But globally speaking internet is good for graffITI. RIP Streetfiles!
–Empty: A media for everything, good vibes mostly.
Follow the LES Crew on their tumblr: Lestylers.tumblr.com