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The Writing's On The Wall
The Irish graffiti scene is part of a vast international subculture with its own brotherhood and traditions. Monica Heck meets a couple of Irish practitioners, RASK and A.K.A.CRAP...
Monica Heck, 12 Sep 2012
So why do writers take to the street in the first place? “The basis of it is to get your name everywhere. I know it sounds weird, but that’s the difference between us and the street artists. Our name is what we’re pushing. ‘Brandalism’, somebody once called it. My brand is RASK, it’s a nom-de-plume, it’s a persona. I’m not always RASK, I’m a married man with two kids and I don’t live my life as RASK every day. I’m a son, father and husband, I mow lawns and empty bins and I take on this persona when I paint.”
He warns against the attempts of the media to generalise: every artist has a different background. That much, you can see immediately from the group of people balancing on ladders or crouched around the wall. RASK himself has a warm, open face.
“I work in a completely different field by day,” he notes. “The guys I work with range from graphic designers and tattoo artists through a magazine editor, to the sons and daughters of judges and Gardaí. People forget that for the vast majority of us, the only crime we commit is putting paint on a surface. We’re not running wild doing all sorts. We just want to paint. There is that element amongst us of course, but the majority are just people who want to express themselves, and the street’s the canvas, unfortunately or fortunately.”
He was a strong supporter of the introduction of ‘permission walls’ like Windmill Lane. “As I matured as an artist and as an adult, I had to weigh up if it was worth it,” he reflects. “I have responsibilities now and having the police showing up at the front door because I spray-painted somewhere is kinda, you know... at my age it’s not really cool.”
While A.K.A.CRAP echoes the sentiment, he respects those who still go ‘bombing’. “The older I get the less of an interest it is to me,” he says. “For me, it’s always been more about painting quality pieces. But I’ve seen many crazy things done by people just to get their names in a great spot. It takes a certain type of mindset to push yourself to do that. I’ve a lot of respect for people who do that. It’s crazy to watch... ”