By Vincent Morgan |  Published on Wednesday, July 22, 2009.

Interview with Escif, graffiti artist from Valencia, Spain. Deep skills, surreal world and amazing characters.

FC: Where are you from? What’s your background?
I was born in Valencia (Spain) and this is where I still live, even if I try to travel as much as possible. Valencia is a pleasant city located next to the beach with a constantly changing climate, but easy to adjust to. Actually, it’s one of the big cities in Spain where you can paint quietly in the street. The police can come and make you leave, but it’s not common that it denounces you the way it happens in Madrid or Barcelona. However, you can sometimes get arrested.


FC: What was your interest in art and what led you to create all those things?
My interest in art was born when I understood that art is a way of exploring and researching. I try to work from a personal investigation, and from that, I build a speech I, then, try to transfer to the street.


FC: How would you define your work?
I think of my work in the street as a sort of contemporary mural painting, inspired by the Graffiti movement, but that doesn’t necessary shut itself in this movement’s “clichés”. It’s been almost 12 years since I started painting in the street and every time I try to get rid of my biases and be free.



Escif graffiti pandas


FC: What inspires you? Tell me if I’m wrong but I feel like you’ve been inspired by Spanish painters.
I’ve been inspired by a lot of things, not only paintings, also comic books, movies and most of all, by my daily life. I was lucky enough to bind friendships with some of the artists that I admire the most on the Graffiti scene. I learned a lot from painting with Logan, Dibo, Hanem, San or Blu… Among others.


FC: What kind of reaction do you want your art to evoke in people? When I see your work it’s like I’m in a different world, in a surrealist cartoon world. Sometimes funny, sometimes scary…
I like to raise concerns in people that observe my paintings. I’m not interested in being told that what I do is pretty, not even that I do it well. I’d rather provoke some kind of thinking in the spectator. It’s true that I try to create a parallel world, a bit surrealistic, but I try to insert symbols and connections so that everyone can put up his own dialogue and stories.

FC: How did you create your own characters?

To create my own characters, I usually start with a tangible idea. For example, a character with an eye instead of the head is someone who observes, but who cannot speak or give an opinion… It’s a passive person, just like most people.
Sometimes, I start with a renowned character to benefit from what it represents and then contextualize it in another situation. For instance, think of a Mickey born in Africa and not in the US. The result would a black Mickey who arrives to Europe and has to make a living by cleaning car windows.


FC: How do you choose your images and where are they placed in the street? Do you do illegal stuff?
In town, I try to pay attention to walls and other abandoned spaces. These are the places that I prefer; especially if I can benefit from the walls’ texture. About 90% of the walls I painted were done without authorization.
I draw a lot on my sketchbook. I have so many ideas and notes there. I try to combine the ideas of my sketchbook and improvisation when I’m facing the wall. It’s this way that everything goes well.


escif street art from Valencia spain


FC: You got many styles. Sometimes your lines are really accurate and aesthetic. The shadow effects are so clean, and when it looks dirty, it’s on purpose. Sometimes you create simple and straight paintings without all these aesthetic effect, it’s just a different style. Did you find your style or do you want to explore again and again?
I like to explore all the time and I gradually try to get away from the technique if it’s not really necessary. I don’t like to shut myself in a defined style. Technique is just a tool, not the purpose of my work. I guess that my style is the consequence of this research, so it’s going to change constantly.


FC: What’s the next step?
The next step is to continue on the same path, to keep on painting on the street and travel each time I get the opportunity.


FC: Tell us more about the people you do art with? Are you in a crew?
I am in the XLF crew with Deih, End, Cesp, Julieta, Xelon, On_Ly and Sr.Marmota. XLF is not a conventional Graffiti crew, it’s more of a group of friends who paint on the street and who like to party together. We formed the crew 7 years ago, and we laughed more than we painted… So cool!! Usually, I paint alone. I love being alone with a wall. But I also like painting with friends. With On_Ly, we make a good team. We have a similar concept on painting and intervention on the street. I also like to paint with the Graffilia collective. Their style is completely different from mine and we do some interesting combinations together.



streetart by escif


FC: If your style was a music band or a song, which one would it be?
It’s hard to answer. Something between “Nuevos Ricos”(Mexico) and “Ninja Tune”(UK) (2 labels in which I identify a lot, 100% recommendable).


FC: Name an artist (or many) whose work you respect and admire.
There are a lot of artists that I admire: Mauritzio Cattelan, Santiago Sierra, Teresa Margolles Blu, Herbert Baglione, among many others.


FC: What kinds of books do your read? What’s you favorite music?
The last books I read were: “Estétique Relationelle” (Nicolas Bourriaud), “Moi, Pierre Riviere…” (Michel Foucault) et “Narrations extraordinaires” (Edgar Allan Poe). Very recommendable, all three of them.
I love all sorts of music: Justice, the Ethiopians, Silverio, Amon Tobin, Os Mutantes….to only name some of them.


FC:Do you do drugs? Do you need something particular to find all these characters and subconscious world? Do you do hypnos lol?
I think drugs can be interesting as a personal experience to get to know ourselves better. Also, to party from time to time.
Now, to find my characters and create, I don’t use them. I’d rather find this state of concentration through daily meditation.


Escif graffiti characters in spain


FC: Do you feel the work you are doing is something that should be preserved or stay transient?
I can’t really know and this is not something I’m worried about. My point is to go through the whole process, not be just into the result.


FC: What’s your relation with graffiti? With Street art?
I started to paint on the street in 1997 with some friends who had been painting for some time (Albe, Brut, Nade…). With time, I changed the letterings by characters, and then by more elaborated aesthetic composition. I always try to find something to do that motivates me. Some think that I used to do Graffiti and that I do Street Art now. I don’t agree at all. I think that, from the beginning, I painted on the street and I still do. What changes is the perception, the maturity and the experience I got from my work. Still, I have a lot of good friends in the Graffiti movement and also in the Street Art movement. Establishing if what I’m doing is Graffiti or not would take us into a much more complex debate.


FC: Describe a typical day of Escif…
I wake up/ Internet/ draw/ computer/ eat/ nap/ computer/ draw/ tea or beer with friends/ eat/ Internet/ draw/ I go to sleep.  Also paint on the street one or two days per week.

click on the picture



FC: How do you feel about the restrictive street art laws in Barcelona?
Barcelona is a way too “modern and cosmopolitan” city. Culturally, it is very strong and 5 years ago, it was probably the European capital of Graffiti. This big city’s identity was marked by Graffiti and a lot of tourists used to go there for this reason. But Graffiti wasn’t only the beautiful wall next to MACBA. Graffiti is also the outburst of flops and tags that proliferated during all these years. Barcelona couldn’t find a balance and tried to stop the Graffiti in all its forms. The huge fines’ amounts have pushed away the more elaborate productions into the suburbs, but Graffiti artists still keep doing flops and tags downtown.


FC: Any favorite stories to tell us about your art adventures?
One day, I set up for the police to catch me by surprise while I was painting the door of a friend’s place, like I was doing it illegally. I put a camcorder on the first floor of the facing building and I recorded everything… I really laughed with this video.


FC: What’s coming up in the next few months? Show, travels… etc…
I don’t really like to talk about projects to come that haven’t been confirmed yet. I’m a bit superstitious, because it often happened to me that I talked about some projects and then they were never achieved. But I’ll show the pictures… I promise!


FC:What’s your real goal?
My real goal in life is to live. The most interesting part of the path is the path in itself. Realizing this allowed me to be happy with what I have. I try to find my own freedom without affecting the others’.


FC: Any words of wisdom?
Peace is pis!!!
Thanks to you… And long life to FatCap!!!!


Thank you Escif!!!


Escif's FatCap profile


escif art on train

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