Taylor interview

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Hi, please introduce yourself to our readers.
Hi, nice to meet you; my name is Sir Bobby Taylor, as you know, I’m the last husband of Elisabeth Taylor. She married me because I was rich, intelligent, good-looking and, of course, cause I was the best graffiti artist in the world!!
We’re living between Paris, Bordeaux and Beverly Hills, California. I’m 69 old (the best age!), but I look like 29…

How and when did you start interesting to Graffiti?
Well, when I was very young, I was drawing some cartoon characters, different stuff and I liked a lot any letters and typographies. But I started to be interested in Graffiti in the end of the 80’s, by skating, watching some tags in the streets; I remember notably some tags from Bando at the beach, close to Bordeaux… I didn’t imagine who he could be but I liked to see some free writing in the streets. Then I went often to Paris, where I saw more tags and pieces, in the streets and on/in the subway. I didn’t know exactly what it was but I was interested by drawing and I’ve been touched by this expression. I found it was interesting and funny! Nobody was doing it, the marginal and lonely aspect also seduced me.
In my school in Bordeaux, I knew just 1 or 2 guys who were tagging a little, mostly on paper so I talked with them about different aspects. In 1990, one of them, a mate who stopped very early (“Safir”), had (I don’t remember how!?) the famous book “Spraycan Art”. I loved some pieces and characters inside, that was a kind of starter and I did my first tags and pieces in 1991: “Tornad”, “Tyme”,… then after “Snek”. I think at this time I painted more than 1 year alone, without telling anybody that I was writing, even when I met other ones! My secret life…
I didn’t take flicks of my pieces, I didn’t even have a camera! It’s a pity… I do regret that.
I know some writers which were looking for me, just to know who was this guy behind these signatures! At this time, everybody knew each other. Finally I met more writers, talked with them, and my 100% underground side was over! But on the other hand, I got the possibility to hear more about Graffiti; I started to change the caps of my cans, see photos, discover new spots, get better cans, mix my inks,… I saw some books like “Paris Tonkar”, “Subway Art”, some fanzines like “1Tox”, “33 C Fresh”…
In 1993, just some weeks before NTM did this famous album “Paris sous les bombes”, I went to live in Paris, where I met rapidly some active writers. Then, tagging, piecing, bombing, streets, subway tracks, highways walls, roofs,…meeting, crews, etc. But at this period, no steel! It’s probably one of the things I regret the most in my life! I don’t know why I didn’t try; I probably and stupidly thought it was very hard, too hard and risky, reserved to special, crazy or very clever persons. And unfortunately, I didn’t meet any writer painting trains or subways at this time.
I remember a story: In the end of 1993, I came by night to a subway track to do a silver piece along, just at the entrance of the tunnel. I found a way to get in, by jumping some high fences, at an hidden corner. Then I did my piece and the day after, took the day time picture through the window of the subway car running. Good. But I did the hardest part and I could get more if knew! In effect, I knew some years later, that at 200 meters after my piece, just after the entrance of the tunnel, after a curve, there was a lay up, with some subway trains parked. And at this time, there were some old and new models at this place, without any security, any cameras or sensors!…***! It’s one of the worst story and I have other ones like this…
I could risk a lot in order to paint in a street or a roof, but I didn’t imagine that it was the same, or sometimes even less, to paint a train. That’s life…

What did your family think about your “graffiti career” and what do they think now?
They’re very proud of it! Most of parents dream of a son lawyer, doctor, policeman,… Me, they expected a graffiti writer, and they’re happy! Leaving my mark on and in society!… Nobody else knows today, even some girlfriends sometimes; just some friends.

Do you feel to have been influenced by anyone when you started?
Yes definitely! I think I’ve been influenced first by music: NTM, Public Enemy, the Doors, Eagles, Guns N Roses, Direstraits, I AM, the Clash, Scorpions,… And in Graffiti, mmh… it could be easy to answer no but I think it’s partly wrong. At the beginning, I’ve been probably influenced by the earliest activity in Bordeaux, where I lived, the first writers: “Gysmo, Sey, Aspik, Bart, Tone, Tsar, Runer, Discré, Amer”,…the first crews: “TDC” (crew I joined later), then “IBM, MTM”… At this time, I also really liked some older writers from Paris like “Boxer, Bando, Shoe, Deen, Mode2, Colt, TCK, Colorz, Oeno, Eraz, Orel, Azyle, Nasty, Slice, Pseye and the AEC, TNI, Jayone, Skki, and the BBC, Steph, Mist, Lokkis, Gor and the FBI” then “Hoctes, Shun, Honet, RCF, Natio, Psy, and all the P2B, VAD, TW, PCP, MCS…, Vision, Sezam, Venise, Vesho …” To tell the truth, my first influences were mainly french; New York, Germany, Holland or Scandinavia, only later.

And now who are your favourite writers?
Now, I don’t have favourites writers really. All I know is that I like when it’s quite simple, powerful, creative and above all with an original style. I don’t like anymore the big classical paintings with many colours and characters. For me it’s nice but it’s not Graffiti anymore, it’s a decorative art, as beautiful as it could be. It misses something. More, my judgement about Graffiti is also influenced by the place where it’s done: streets, trains, tunnels, metros, halls of fame,…
But I always like to see old stuff from “Tracy168, Cliff159, Blade, Lee, Min, Phase2, Ghost, Seen, Iz the Wiz…”, and many writers from NYC today, but also old pieces from Paris, London, and, today, in France, just to give some names, from different writers and different styles like, for example, “Honet, Pum, Dize, Faro and also Sexy, Diks, Rap, Trane,…”, or also some pieces from less known Parisian hardcore bombers, also “Orne, Riot and the MX, PME…” from Bordeaux, in Germany, some Berlin writers like “MrIx, Anis, Aikido, Kobolt, Roger, EMU, RCB, KHC, DSF, U.T., CBS, MRN crews…”, “Paw from the FYA”, “Otis, and the LF crew”, the clean pieces of “Rio” from Dortmund, the “TMA, ERS and TOY gangs” from Belgium, “Tox, the LDS, TPG and DDS crews” from London, “, some writers from Praha like the “DSK, ZCF, TOP…”, or Poland, Slovakia, “Maes and the CP, Egs and the CDC, Nug, Sabe, VIM, MOA, and WUFC crews” from the north , “Ogro & Mods, Vino, Pie, MB’S, TSK, VOL” from Barcelona, and in Italy, I like the styles of Chob, Smart, the Oks from Roma, DIAs from Napoli…and more…, but above all, from all my friends!…

How was born your style and how it has been developed during the years? Did your style have been influenced by anyone or by anything?
Back in the years, I used to have a typical southern surfer teenager style, with ***ing surfwear, skate shoes, long hair, talking about waves, beers and chix… But now I have a punk post-redskin sportive writer style, with ***ing fashion clothes, sneakers, short hair, talking about trains, beers and chix… Anyway, I’ve got the style man!
Well, my style has evolved a lot with the years. And I don’t think and hope it’s finished! I changed a lot of times my name and I think I developed many styles: simple, wildstyle, abstract, 3D, NYC, characters, oldskool, graphic,… From 1995 to 1999, I wrote “Nexone” and my style changed in 4 years but I was closer to NYC classical clean style. Finally in 1999, I started to write “Taylor”, and other names, one for each style I have, and to do mainly steel…
But actually I never think about my style when I paint, or sketch! I just try to do something original, to use good colours, to play with the contrast, to give power and movement to my piece, to try to combine a little aesthetic effect and vandalism act and to do Graffiti, and not decorative bull***…

Do you think that the French scene has changed during the years and how? Do you think you have changed too?
Of course it changed. There are many many writers in France, more and more, not only in Paris. And many young writers today…
In France, I think there were different periods. The first one, typical, my favourite, from the beginning to around 1992, directly influenced by writers like “Dondi” from NYC then “Shoe, Bando, Mode2, Deen and the CTK crew,…” After we can see a change influenced by some writers, like the “ P2B, SDK, IT, PCP,…” who travelled, developed original styles and also brought back some northern flows from trains bombing scene, softer letters. You could also find (and still today) active writers with good and simple styles, directly inspired by NYC 80’s, destroying the streets, trains, subways, tunnels, highways,…
And after that, I think it was an explosion of styles. New York “FX & TNB” styles and also the graphic developments from Germany for the walls painters and many different foreign or national influences for the steel bombers, like Germany, Sweden, NYC old school,…
These last years, specially since 2001, the justice problems have made stop or slow down some old and good hardcore bombers. And new kids started, without any knowledge about the Graffiti history, culture and meaning. Most of them bomb just because it’s a fashion, like rap music, and don’t give a *** about anything, don’t respect nobody. It’s a pity for the real scene. But I guess it’s an international phenomena…

We know that in France there are a lot of problems with public issues.
Is there been a particular moment when you realized that something in France was really changing?

Yes, definitely: 2001! Some close friends have been arrested after the big police investigations. For many months, there was at least 50% graffiti damage less on steel. Just a few had the courage to go on. After a while, some of them started again, some not. A lot of things changed totally, more post-graffiti artists, more exhibitions in shops and galleries.
The authorities started to buff all the tags and the pieces in the cities. Many famous old school tags disappeared, giving way sometimes to ***ing ugly new stuff. I think it was the beginning of a new chapter of the French Graffiti history. Personally, I felt alone again at this time because most of my friends didn’t paint anymore. So I had to move alone again. I also travelled more and more…

Why has the government decided not to tolerate graffiti at all?
Before, the graffiti wasn’t tolerated but nobody gave a ***. Actually, at the beginning, the french trains company SNCF decided seriously to stop this mesh, too costly. And also the Paris subway company RATP. I guess they were fed up about all the damages growing up and all the magazines (“Xplicit Grafx, Graff it!, Hainemy, Cekoadon, Getting fame, MixGrill, Graffbomb,…”) and videos (“Dirty hands, Ultimate Video, Dégradation volontaire, Sous Surveillance, Pirates…”), showing proudly (maybe too much!?) how the writers could paint quite easily on their stuff. And for some political opportunities, at this time, the government helped them, in order to reduce the French delinquency and criminality!!! Of course, for the blind statistics, it’s easier to catch a young writer than a serial killer, a corrupted politician or a big drug dealer…But look what’s happening in the French suburbs now!…

Do common people agree with this decision?
Probably yes! With some political manipulations, they hear that the taxes were higher because of that, the transport tickets are expensive because they have to pay millions to clean and secure the trains, etc. Of course it’s wrong but they believe it.
Now in Paris, and also in the other big cities, they buff the tags for free, you just have to call or even sometimes not, they check every week. But then they say that you have to pay more taxes because of this!! The people hate the writers like that. It’s tricky, but ***ing awful.

Do you think this intolerance had a negative effect for you and all the other writers? Or do you feel you have the same need and desire of painting as before?
I don’t know exactly. Of course it’s harder now but it doesn’t mean that we do some much less. I just regret the spirit of war and the high level of violence and agressivity that THEY introduced into this domain. Of course it’s the rules, but it’s too much now; totally disproportional! People had to relativise. Are we so harmful for the society, compared to very bad common events? Kicked, jail, killed,… for painting!!… If the painters from the prehistoric caves lived today, the government would probably put them in jail!…
But to tell the truth, my marriage with Liz has changed a lot in my motivation of going out by night with my mates to steal or burn cars, fight and rape girls. Now I prefer to stay home with her and our 2 sweet chiwawas, watching Dallas on my plasma screen, enjoying my Havana in our new Japanese Jacuzzi, playing to make bubbles with my farts… It’s more funny!

Where do you find the strength of keep doing graffiti even if you know you can be considered a “ real criminal”?
I always find the strength in Jesus Christ our Saver! And maybe cause I hate to lose or specially to give up!! They won’t win, they won’t make me stop! If I stop, it’s because I decide to do it, a personal choice, to do something else. I like that, that’s all! And after all these years, I take this like a duty! I must go on, just to show to me and to the other ones that it wasn’t just a periodic game! And also for all the people who had to stop…
But first, I still find it funny, alive and interesting!!;)

How has painting affected your everyday life?
Well, I think it affected me mainly in a good way! But sometimes, it’s hard to enjoy the normal life. It’s not a question of adrenalin, it’s just that I find it boring and too close-minded now…

Describe your typical day…
I don’t have any typical day, I hate that!! I want everyday nice but different…

Apart from painting, what else do you enjoy doing in your free time?
The real pleasure is doing nothing!!
But I also like love & sex, eating and drinking, having good time with my friends and aslo being alone, going to the beach and play like a teen in the waves, going for a walk everywhere with my dog, and having more freetime!…

What are your future projects in general?
No fate, no future! Anyway with Liz, we’re planning of going to Las Vegas, as usual, for the new year and Acapulco for our marriage birthday. And I’d like to keep on painting, and enjoying painting, everywhere, travel more, staying free and safe, and trying to live from my painting… But before, I’m thinking about buying the McDonald’s company. Just to custom my own burger…

Love and respect to the RTH, VAD, RNB, MB’S, MX, U.T., FYA,
people and writers I know in Italy, specially Simona, e Patata, hope to see you again soon!…
E ciao a tutte le belle ragazze di Italia!!;)
Grazie Sara.

Taylor intervistato da Sara, Novembre 2005
Posted in Art Interviews Tagged with: , ,