It’s been more than a year since my last post blog. Is now time to be back and to tell you something about my last “graffiti writing” year
About a year has passed since the last article of my blog. In fact, it was in April 2019 when, after a period of inactivity, I started writing blog posts again, talking with writers, taking part to graffiti jams and group meetings and exploring abandoned places, and at the same time travelling, studying, collecting fanzines and feedbacks. Although I soon stopped writing for the blog, my graffiti related activities became more frequent and intense in recent months, continuously documenting meetings and travels on my Urban Lives Instagram account. Behind the photos, however, there are stories, events and misadventures that I now feel the need to share with you. The truth, in fact, is that it was a decisive year for Urban Lives, in which, for the first time, my research intertwined with my new life as a writer, experiencing more and more exciting, fun and at times adrenaline filled situations. During this period, many things have occurred: firstly I had the opportunity to explore the graffiti writing scene in Greece like never before. I traveled to Berlin again and shortly after to London where I spent time with some internationally known writers. Finally I had the pleasure of “immersing” myself in the Naples scene, joining some graffiti jams, events and backjumps actions. During this recent quarantine I decided to take advantage of the time given to retrace some of the most significant events of these twelve unforgettable months, starting from Athens (the city where I’ve been living in up until two months ago) and ending in Naples, the city where I currently live. Each memory will correspond to a blog post, and to each article I will associate a song that had a special meaning at that specific moment.
I’d like to start with something personal, and share my experience as a blogger-writer with you, including some anecdotes and considerations.
From “outsider” to “insider” of the graffiti writing movement
When I stopped blogging a year ago, it wasn’t because of my lack of will but rather because my daily life has been more and more messed-up. Although continuing to have a job, other hobbies and different (healthy) friendships outside of the world of graffiti, most of my free time, then and now, has to do with writing. Anyone who has entered this “tunnel” knows it very well; sketches, spray cans to buy, spots to find, fanzines to browse, videos to watch and, of course, friends to hang out with and paint. Graffiti becomes a way of life. From the Urban Lives standpoint, at the beginning it was not easy to manage this big change in my life. Especially in Greece where, although I tried to hide my “identity” as a writer, it ended up popping up in one way or another. An example of this was people noticing my tags and pieces around the city or on pics shared on social networks by other writers.
Strange, funny and sometimes surreal situations as a writer-blogger
Soon, and quite naturally, the meetings with writers intensified, as did the bizarre situations; within a few months, both in Greece and abroad, I was fortunate and had the pleasure of meeting a lot of people and painting alongside some of my favorite writers and even some relevant names of the international writing scene. Whether I painted or not, I always had my spray cans, my sketchbook, my camera with me as my “blogger spirit” which ended up mixing, and sometimes colliding more and more with the adrenaline of leaving a mark every time I had the time and chance. In fact, I also had some amazing opportunities in crazy places and visible spots, including the Berlin metro tunnel (with Ikarus, Berlin Kidz) or the wall of a roof clearly visible from Termini Station in Rome (with Geco), where I ended up keeping the spray cans in my backpack in order for me not to miss even a second of photographic documentation.
I must also admit that some of my best shots of the last year have been the result of these circumstances so, at least as a blogger, for now I have no regrets about it. Over the months and, I think, with the improvement of my style (which is still, just to be clear, is still light years behind that of most writers) a series of incredible things occurred. I saw my pieces shared on several graffiti accounts on Instagram (amongst some Street art Thessaloniki, but also graffiti photographers and lovers) and discovered that I had a small circle of fans in Athens (the girlfriend of a rather famous local writer, one day told me that, after him, I was her favorite graffiti writer). I received sincere compliments from a couple of my favorite Greek writers and in general lots of positive feedback like people considering my style “unique and recognizable”. I am also very grateful to my “mentors”, some Italian and foreign writers/friends who have followed my “journey” in graffiti with great interest and who have given me some very useful advice on techniques. Being a woman, being a blogger and starting to do graffiti this late in my life is already quite surreal on it’s own but being able to show my stuff and my sketches to friends and acquaintances who have been doing graffiti since the 90’s and who are part of the history of this movement, makes it even more incredible.
The “420 clan” case
Finally, I would like to share with you a couple of stories about one of my favorite Greek crews, the 420 clan. When I first visited Athens and in particular walked around the anarchist district in Exarchia, the first graffiti I fell in love with (and still have the photo of) was an old piece made by this crew. I could never have imagined that after 3 years, not only would I be friends with one of them, but that my “Greek adventure” would end with me spending a couple of days with them, painting together but also chatting, smoking and having a lot of fun. During the last months, I had the pleasure of painting several times with Viktor from Amigos and 420 clan (I’ll talk more about it in another article), and during one of these occasions (a very fast daytime bombing action) for the first time I didn’t have time to take any photos of the action except the one of the finished piece. To my big surprise, having finished a couple of minutes before me, this time it was he who had taken pictures of me while I was painting… obviously, right after I thanked him and we laughed about it! He even shared these pics on his Instagram account!
Finally, as if to close the circle of my Athenian experience, just before moving back to Italy, I asked Vomè (420) to tattoo my tag on my leg, but with his style, and I am still very happy about it!
In short, once again, I am grateful to Urban Lives for opening a new wonderful chapter of my life. Maybe as a graffiti writer I won’t go very far and perhaps some day I will grow tired of it, but for sure I will have many incredible memories and very many stories to share.
Fi Vita Sigma ΦΙ ΒΗΤΑ ΣΙΓΜΑ – ΜΙΑ ΝΥΧΤΑ ΠΟΥ ΠΟΝΑΣ ΚΑΙ ΕΓΚΑΤΑΛΕΙΠΕΙΣ