One of the perks of CFYE is getting in contact with all this raw talent from across the globe. The talent we feature today has been doing his things since the 80’s and became a household name in the UK graff scene: Trans1. Trans1 is known for his amazing photo-realistic skills in black and white. He definitely is amongst my favorite artists and it was about time we showcased some of his works here!
When did you start out with graffiti?
I started out on the graf scene in 1983, but didn’t really find my feet until about 1985. By this time I was totally hooked, and have remained that way ever since.
Remember the first thing you put up a wall and why?
The first thing I ever put up was a ‘zulu’ piece in yellow auto paint. It had a black stripe fill with red 3d. It was pretty moody and dripped like hell, but the buzz I got from painting in that dark old tunnel just set the stage for me and I knew I had found my calling.
How did the development of characters and photo realism start?
I was always drawn to the characters in graff. I initially started out doing mostly letters, but my head was always full of comic book hero’s and such like. Over the years I became known for my characters. They were pretty much b-boy orientated and animated in appearance. But as I looked around the global scene I started to notice more and more photo-real imagery being worked on. I couldn’t believe that these skills were being mastered through can control and felt that as a progression, this was the route I wanted to take myself. It had a new challenge to it and inspired a new energy and passion into graff for me.
You can do amazingly funky letters as well, but we rarely see them anymore, why?
I still try to keep my hand in on a black-book level with letter styles, but I just really feel my direction and drive keeps me focused on the character element. When I look around at the major skills and letter flows out there now, I see some serious technicians doing their thing. In all honesty I’d be pretty honoured dropping a character beside those dudes.
Looking from an outsiders view, it’s obvious that the UK scene is booming right now. How do you feel about that,being an insider who has been there for a while?
The UK scene is really all I’ve ever known. Obviously I’ve studied my history as far as graffs NYC routes and origins go, but I can’t claim to be well traveled through the art. UK graff has had it’s ups and downs over the 26 years I’ve been around it, there’s been some ugly times. But eventually all things balance out & everyone finds their feet and place where they fit in with it. The UK has a lot of energy around graff at present, some of this seems to be part fueled by the Banksy street art explosion too. In general though I think globally, graff’s in pretty good shape right now. There’s still a massive proportion of old-school painters spreading the history and doing their thing, as well as some incredible up and coming talents too.
Do you think there is a line between street art and graffiti?
Yeah, definitely. The two things are worlds apart, yet strangely linked. Once upon a time in the graf world the thought of stencils was seriously frowned on. Even now it’s not uncommon to hear writers displeasure at the street art scene. I’ve worked on some nice collaborations with some great street art based dudes and for the most part have found a mutual respect in each others works and skills. I thought that on those particular pieces, the styles complimented one and other and the results really worked. I think there’s room for progression in this game, and people shouldn’t be worried about trying different hook ups. Stencil work is not for me, because it’s not where my original passion grew from. But I’d never knock someone for following a route that works for them. People get into things for various reasons. Some I guess choose a monetary direction, but most purist graffiti writers never had any thought that they’d start painting to make money. For the most part we start out as kids, and graf is something that gave us an identity amongst a group of our peers. I guess what I’m trying to say is that anything goes. What we choose to do is as individual as the person. The skills and craft needed for graffiti writing are totally different to those generally learned by the street artist, but the two forms can definitely co-exist.
When we look at your work, it seems flawless to us. Do you still feel like you’ve got things to learn?
I’ve still got masses to learn. I’m a perfectionist when it comes to graf, so I always want what I’m painting to be ultra clean, but I’m still learning all the time. There’s always room to improve and I hope that I can continue to do so for a long time to come!
Do you have any big inspirations, and did those inspirations change over the years?
My initial inspirations were based around what I had seen from the founders. The true pioneers of graff in NYC. This still holds true today, as without the architects none of this would be possible. In my early years the Dreme Skemez crew, Destiny, Aviator (r.i.p) & Impact were a major influence on me. Those guys were well ahead of their time and to me never got the full recognition they deserved. I’ve always loved the London scene, which to me was a center point for UK graffiti. Riding the tubes and just checking all the new names and pieces that drenched the city was very inspiring. I have a huge respect for those that help build the UK seen and really put us on the map. As I’ve got older, I think the one thing that’s remained a constant source of inspiration are the people that feel the same way I do about graffiti. The undying passion and drive to just keep on keeping on. That’s a constant source of motivation.
If you could name one upcoming talent we should interview, who would that be and why?
Man, that’s a tough one.There are so many worthy candidates. I think I’ll have to pass.
What is your favourite gaming/movie/comic character?
I don’t get too much time to play games, unless I’m chilling with my son. But I did really enjoy Marc Eckos ‘Getting Up’ for obvious reasons! The ultimate movie has to be Style wars. Nothing has ever come close, and I can’t think of another movie that I could watch over and over without tiring of. But I’m a massive movie watcher. I like all sorts. As for comic characters, again the list would be pretty long. If I had to shortlist, I’d probably go with the Hulk, the Crow and maybe the Punisher.
Do you have a specific goal with your artwork, anything you want to have done with it?
I don’t really have any specific goals to speak of. I just want to keep improving and enjoying painting. I want to paint with as many like minded people as possible and create some really memorable pieces. The sort of thing that people in this game will remember in years to come.
What can we expect from you in the future?
Progression. I hope! And if I’m lucky a whole lot of pieces that catch peoples eye and brighten up somebody’s day. Finally I’d just like to shout huge props to all the people that I’ve painted with and those I’ll paint with. Thanks for making my part in this game such a pleasure. To my son Brandon and all those who have supported me throughout…. You know who you are.