A mix between electro tunes, industrial steel, cranes, electricity masts and urban landscapes. That’s what I’d say if someone would ask me to explain what the works of Graphic Surgery look like.This two-man collective has an abstract style which is undeniably unique. In 1999 they’ve started working together under the name EHGZ which now grew out to their own design studio. For their free work they use the name Graphic Surgery, which also says a lot about how they work. They’re masters of different media, and in every one they work with the same surgical precision. Even though they’ve been going strong for a while, I just recently encountered their works and was instantly intrigued.
You guys have been working together seriously since 1999, can you tell us a bit about what kind of collaboration/synergy this brings forth?
The dialogue in the process of creating is interesting. There’s always direct feedback, and one can tell the other to stop or add something.
We’ve heard multiple artists saying that working together is (like in any relation) all about concessions. How do you guys feel about that?
For us it’s not really the case, except financially haha. We both have mouths to feed. Work-wise we are really used to react to each other’s visual input. For instance one of us starts work on a painting or design project and the other person works from that setup and continues.
If we’d want to trade something for one of your art works, what should the CFYE delivery man bring to your doorstep?
Cash in hand! …Or some really good art to make a trade.
Can you tell us a bit about your creative process, is it like a ritual or do you have a different approach every time?
Depends off course on what type of thing we’re working on. Screen-printing or painting a wall is different from making a collage. Usually we ‘freestyle’ but with a certain amount of rules and restrictions, like limited colors or certain angles to work in. In a sense we randomly generate shapes that create a certain visual tension. We hardly make a perfect sketch beforehand; we like to surprise ourselves and keep it alive. Trial and error basically. Risk being that sometimes it could become horribly wrong.
We’ve been browsing through your photographic section (http://www.fotolog.com/fotographic) What is it that makes cranes and electricity masts so intriguing?
In art academy we noticed that we both made similar photos/ pictures, and shared many of the same interests. One of those was cranes/ construction(s). Cranes are a symbol of constant change within the city environment. Big cities are never finished, and you can tell by the many building/ construction sites. If you drive past an electricity pylon or crane the shape is constantly changing, the lines cross and rest forms change along with it. This keeps fascinating us, just the fact that it’s solely a construction with a certain purpose, namely lifting and moving something. So they are a symbol of strength and power that goes way beyond the power of us humans.
What is the most exciting thing you have done with Graphic Surgery ‘till so far?
Painting walls with many fellow artists (like for example with ZEDZ and Erosie).
We’ve been browsing through your work and couldn’t find a single curved line in it. Will you be working with curves in the future or are they just evil in the Graphic Surgery book?
If you take an extremely close look at some work/ graphics, you’ll notice the dots from the grids. Maybe one day we’ll blow them up and you’ll have curved lines. Or maybe we’d start painting with more organic wild brushstrokes, again.
Now in another interview we’ve read that you’re not too fond of the current media scape, with all the advertising they throw at people in the public space. If you could re-map the media scape, what would it look like?
Strict design rules and no more billboards perhaps.
In Bristol they currently started up a new project where the public can decide if something is art or vandalism (background story here: http://blog.vandalog.com/2009/08/bristol-buffing-policy/) do you think this is a step in the right direction?
It’s a step in an awkward direction. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but it’s not up to anyone to make a decision on that.
Is there any music you associate your own work with? (tunes you have in your head during the creative process, songs that feel like a soundtrack of a piece, etc.)
Music is the secret ingredient of our work…
Mr. Cooper, Glen Porter, Doctor Flake, Dday one, Clutchy Hopkins, Malcolm Kipe, Joe Beats, Jon Kennedy, Dj Shadow, Reanimator, Controller 7, Dj Cam, Dj Krush, Radiohead, Thom Yorke, Flying Lotus, Digital Mystikz, Take, Maker, Nosaj Thing, Gaslamp Killer, Fulgeance, 40 Winks, Rjd2, Burial, Dimlite, Wax Tailor, Blockhead, Calrk, Kettel, Apparrat, Diplo, Cut Chemist, Dj Signify, Portishead, Massive Attack, Yppah, Four Tet, Bonobo, Clubroot, The Herbaliser, Metaform, Sixtoo, Boom Bip, Nathan Fake, Ulrich Schnauss, 9th cloud, A Forest Mighty Black, Fingathing, Bullion, Afta-1, Animals On Wheels, Xploding Plastix, MF Doom, UNKLE, Tortoise, Surgeon, Skalpel, Cinematic Orchestra, Shawn Lee, Purple Penguin, Pelican City, Paul White, Danny Breaks, Hudson Mohawke, P-Love, Onra, Quantic, Madlib, Lukid, Lone, Loefah, Skream, Benga, Kryptic Minds, Kid Loco, Lamplighter, Jon Hopkins, Bibio, Jaga Jazzist, Boards Of Canada, Hermitude, Various, Headhunter, Harmonic 313, Free the Robots, Ras G, Flevans, Belleruche, Fat Jon, Cuts, Epstein, Emancipator, 2562, Unkle Ho, Martyn, Chinese Man, Pablie, Dr. Who Dat?, Dorian Concept, Dj Yas, Dj Day, Deceptikon, Amon Tobin, Caural, Backini and believe it or not… many many more!
If you could only pick ONE source of inspiration (i.e. media, man-made structures, etc) what would it be?
The city including industrial zones and docklands.
Now you guys have mastered working with a lot of different techniques; vinyl, paste ups, photography, spray paint, performance art, etc. Are there any techniques you do not yet master but are dying to learn?
Computer-generated-interactive-3D-audiovisual-VJ stuff. Though we have a couple of interesting projects in progress with other artists.
Are there any upcoming artists whose work you’d advice to us?
Upcoming artists would be CT, KVRZ, Moneyless, Arial, Xpome, 0331C, Scheme, Lignes Rouge (RIP!), Gekido, Reval, Funest en Perongeluk.
If you could fill a swimming pool with anything, what would it be?
Is there anything in particular you want to have done with Graphic Surgery?
Paint a battleship or Apache helicopter for the royal navy!
What can we expect from you in the future?
Wait and see…