Pro176, member of the infamous Grim Team Crew and creator of the galactic style answers the FatCap Team questions. Let's meet Pro!
FatCap : Where does "Pro176" come from ?
Pro176 : I changed my tag in 1995 into "Pro". I needed a short name with few letters, at that time a three letters name was original, many had one with four or five or more. For my part, I appreciated the "P" and I had the reputation of being very professional in what I was doing. "Pro" was obvious. I declined to "Profecy" thereafter for music, "176" is related to my birth year 1976. I removed the "9" in reference to New York's graffiti in the 70's. In fact, they all had a tag with a three-digit number behind.
FC : How were your beginnings and your discovery of comics ?
P : I always knew how to draw, it's a real gift. At five, I reproduced dinosaurs and stuffs, then my mother started to buy American comics for me. At the time, the magazines Strange or Nova were in bookstores at low price. I began to immerse myself in this style and these stories I was discovering and started copying the characters. I must have been eight years, and from then, never gave up. My work is based on that, it's roots come from there. It became through time these abstract comics you could see at my last solo exhibition in Paris "Astromorphing" in April 2012 at Celal Gallery...
FC : Why graffiti ?
P : I didn't choose it, it hit me. In 1989, in my hometown of Choisy-le-Roi, I saw Mode2 and Colt. They were there to paint a mural. The impact on me was immediate. I knew where to go, despite my 12 years old! Simultaneously, I discovered another world : hip hop, but this encounter with Colt and Mode2 was THE true start!... I never gave up since then. In fact, graffiti became a natural act, my daily life for 25 years !!! This is my "lifestyle" from morning until bedtime..! I stopped school at 16 years old, graffiti became my main training, it's the engine of my life.
FC : For you today's society rhymes with... ?
P : Degeneration, madness, matrix, oil, lying, selfishness, speed, television, drugs... !!!
FC : How do you see the evolution of graffiti within 10 years ?
Pro : I've seen so much changes since I started! But what is certain is that this movement continues with strengh and power, with new rookies who always bring a new breath... I'm never bored of it, I'm always surprised over the years. On one hand, compared to other disciplines, I think graffiti is doing well. New people in this environment don't come for the same reasons. We don't do graffiti to make money, we do it really by passion. We must realize that in this circle some had trouble... You can be sentenced to community work. All people living this urban culture know that. In fact, some rappers can take a fine for freestyle on radios like Skyrock ! On the other hand, for the next ten years I hope that young people will try hard to read about those who have made this movement. It's important to know that this culture must change on healthy basis. It's currently lacking so much.
But I don't despair because I meet a lot of young people, highly motivated with crazy styles... the story goes on !
FC : Does graffiti make you free ?
P : For me painting is freedom, graffiti helped me to open doors that I never would have opened otherwise. At one time I was really out of everything. Post 2001, I stole, tagged blinds in the street, painted trains, subways... I really felt this sense of freedom. We didn't care about tomorrow, which is something that "normal" people can't achieve. We didn't pay a thing and lived foolish experiences. Today, I am much more structured, my time is precious, but still free because graffiti allowed me to live my passion... painting is my job. I chose what I wanted to do with my life.
After all, it's a matter of perspective, I met friends in illegal graffiti that might say otherwise! However, I never pretended to be a master, I practiced with guys like Ey, Trane, Babs, Frez... I am not a newcomer, but I always knew where my place was in the graffiti game. I'm there for something... do large futuristic styles on walls !
FC : Your visual universe revolves around diffrent influences. How would you define your style ?
P : My style is the "Cosmonometry" !!! I mastered this style since 1996. For sixteen years, the public sees my paintings and I don't feel annoyance in their eyes. In fact, year after year, I managed to renew myself and stay in the same direction without losing my audience. I also always keep the same basic letters. Let me explain!... Obviously I work hard my typography, find original phases... but if you look closely, it's always three letters in a certain method with bars connecting the "P", "R" and the"O", it's my trademark... but I don't limit myself only to the lettering, I work my background as a scientist in his lab. This is very important, I learned to focus on the wall thanks to guys like Poet, Jack, Nomad, Drik, the Berlin school was beneficial...
FC : What reaction would you like when people watch your art ?
P : I want them to ask themselves the right questions and analyze the complexity and fluidity of my paintings, and not only the overall view but decompose each element, learn the logic of my lettering and my background. Also, there's the details! I paint for myself first. It's mainly a personal work, then if the public agrees with my work I'm the happiest !
FC : In which direction do you want to change your style ?
P : I want to give it more strength and develop techniques... an even more personal world, make new items, more hidden messages... I have so many ideas that I have no time to do... but recently I feel that I really control my subject, in 2012 you can expect to see change. I'm motivated like never before !
FC : Does your vision of graffiti has changed over time ?
P : My vision is always the same since I opened Spraycan-art, and I saw the BBC and CTK in action in Paris... this is what trained and educated me. I'm a descendant of their styles ! I always graff original roots... and I represent the classic style of Paris... Stalingrad forever... hehe! Then again I always managed to live with my time.
For me, I continue to perpetrate this period, I continued where guys have left it... One of my references is Jay1. He influenced a big part of my style, he was so far at the time, in certain ways for me he exceeded the american, but this is personal.
The "Paris" part of Spraycan-art was magic, it made it possible to install the city's style globally so I had to be a child from that specific school...
FC : If you were a superhero, you'd be... ?
P : I think Norrin Radd aka the Silver Surfer, for his aesthetics and his history and for the fact that he wants to gai, freedom by detaching from his master Galactus. I'm a fan of his cosmic powers too. He is one of the most powerful, he is able to withstand a direct hit from the hammer of Thor and fight against Hulk with bare hands. His silvery skin protects him from the vacuum and heat stars. He can move at speeds superluminal in space and travel great distances, he doesn't know tiredness, hunger or thirst.
FC : A sci-fi ?
P : First on my list, I would put "2001 A Space Odyssey" from Kubrick, "The King", but also from the same genius "The Shining" which isn't at first sight a sci-fi. But, in bringing a shifted vision you can understand his metaphors and double meaning of the mission "Apollo"... The visual world of "TRON" influenced me a lot, since i was a child, it's the first film I saw in front of a big screen !
FC : Your best memory since the beginning of your artistic adventure ?
P: I have plenty in my hard drive, to mention one only is going to be complicated !!! May be when I painted with Mode2 ten years after I started. This is the first I've seen in action when I was 12 years old and he had given me the taste of this discipline. I completed my loop... In music I have a lot of good memories, as the day when Rockin Squat called me one winter night to get back into the studio to record a track with RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan... It was a magical night... but the song was never released, I'm a privileged listener, hehe..!
FC : What make you go further in life ?
P : A lot of things made me move forward, I come from suburbs, which is not easy, so you must have a warrior's mind to escape. Unfortunately the death of my father was a trigger to see life otherwise... Don't waste your time and move on, realize their dreams... I soon realized that I had to believe in me or nobody was going to do so for me. I also realized that the normal curriculum, research and all that... wasn't for me. I knew that I would become a professional painter. That was my goal... always throw positivity in the air because it always comes back to you, and of course work hard is the key... Working with Seen, I understand one of its doctrines "having talent is good, but knowing how to work it is much better and it requires more sacrifices and sweat"... I don't want to usurp the name "Artist", I think after all these years I became one and I proved it in many areas !
FC : What questions would you have liked someone to ask you ?
P : If I believe in God would have been a good question !
FC : What would you liked God to say to you ?
P : What happened during the missing link, where does the human race exactly comes from?... A question that I won't stop asking myself till the grave...
FC : Finally, do you have an exclusive for FatCap ?
P : I'll start sculpture, I want to create my universe in three dimensions! I'll probably make a personal book, it's been running in my head for many years and I feel that the time is coming soon !!!
FC : Thanks Pro176 !