12 Questions: Bates – Copenhagen Style KingWe recently caught up with BATES and he let us know a bit about the current state of graff in Copenhagen, what he has been up to in 2014 and his latest exhibit “Signs and Labels” which is opening soon over seas. 1. What do you write and what crews if any you would like to mention?
I write Bates. I had a few names before until I started with Bates in 1986 My main crew is my Scandinavian crew ALL IN ONE, but I keep tradition alive with: TNB (the nasty boys), COD (children of destruction), WCA (what comes around)Roc and 156, PCP,WR2 and FTP.
2. You’re from Copenhagen, Denmark correct? Painting trains is a very big part of the graffiti culture there, has this always been the case or is that a relatively new thing?
Yes, born and raised in Copenhagen. I believe Copenhagen has the longest running train scene in the world, since 1984; there have always been pieces on the red S-trains here!
3. Has graffiti in Copenhagen progressed much like it has elsewhere with the flow of ideas, styles and people pushing to do more?
We have a well known scene, because of the die-hards like Rens, Sabe, Cres, Cave, Moas etc. but also guys like Toys crew and recently Furious Styles doing productions. Newer guys to mention would be Kegr, Soten, Sport, Easer, Kerz and Deto. There are a handful of new guys doing trains: HM, Fers, UYS, NTDC, FK, AOD, DIA, BSQ and THE.
On walls: DUA, NM, PT, FYS, TRock, and TPN. Streets are killed with tags, throw ups and rooftops by Spyo, Hall of Fames are painted weekly, but also abandon areas, factories and skater places get burned. We have a long tradition of good styles, foundation laid down by Freez, Kyle, Cres, Sketzh, Ice, Great, Sek24, Smurf, Fuse, Reakes, Soe, Basik and many more… A few with great technique would be Debs, Reks, More, Letter benders, Bomr, Kets, Fbiz, Weas, Crima and so on…
4. Wow, that’s quite a list! Your personal style, it seems that no two outlines are the same. Can you talk about what goes into your pieces as far as a formula or is it simply having confidence in your lettering ability?
Almost never the same outline twice, I always try to bring a sketch with me, depending on the mood for that day. Sometimes simple, semi or wild, lately I’ve been thinking more about what colors I put into my pieces, but I can work with scraps too…formula…the Scandinavian fade always works ha ha…
5. Who are some of your favorite artists you have worked with or people you recognize for continually pushing style limits?
Rime msk, Smash137, Kane and Scotty TPM, Poet, Kacao77 and Phos4 from Berlin, TC5 guys from Nyc, Wane, Dmote, Serve FBA, Shame 125, Dash167, Kid Kash, Puzler, Skil, Erse Jayone BBC, Delta, Shoe, Serch, Risky, Revok, Ewok, SPone, Yes2, Cesone, Kwest, Stray, Edk, Sneke, Virus, Druid81, Goal aio, Great, Side, Sabe…..and the list goes on!
6. A few weeks back you premiered a show titled “Still Going Strong 1984-2014”. Did that show consist of work throughout your career or was it primarily new stuff?
Mostly new stuff…but some older outlines done recently… about 20 canvasses, signs and hand painted photographs and 72 pieces of artwork on display!
7. After 30 years is there anything you are especially proud of or something you regret not doing?
I’m proud to have been active throughout all those years, and I regret I still haven’t put out a book about my work…
8. You have stated before that you do not make a living from your art; if that is still true can you tell us why you do continue to paint?
Still struggling, everyday is a hustle…but I believe good things come to those who work their asses off, and never give up!! I still love that feeling of being creative!
9. Just last week you were part of an exhibition at a ski resort in Sweden where you painted on snow. Can you talk about snow as a medium and if it brought any difficulties?
Never painted on snow before, since this was the last of the winter season, the snow walls were kinda icy, made it hard to paint on, but we made the best of it and it was definitely possible. Tip is to use light colors first and darker on top to try make the background last because colors are hard to cover on snow! Maybe we’re creating a new trend? So now everyone is bringing cans to the ski resorts around the world…time will tell!!?
10. Up next you have the “Signs and Labels” exhibition at the Konstant gallery in Stockholm on April 25th. The concept is hand-painted Swedish street signs, along with some canvas and illustrations. What brought that about?
I have wanted for a long time to just paint on metal signs and finally I have managed to get enough signs to make a concept for this upcoming exhibition in Stockholm. I take them as they are, no cleaning or shining them up, just raw, gritty and dirty; strictly taken from the streets and worked on, put in a frame and up on the wall. I look forward to hearing what people think!!
11. Any plans to return to the U.S. this year to exhibit your work?
Still waiting for an invitation to do a show over there! I would love to come back, my last visit was April 2013!
12. Do you have sponsors or anyone else you’d like to mention or thank?
Yes, thanks to my Ironlak sponsor for all the free spray paint, my Family and those who know me! Peace and respect Bates
All photos courtesy of BATES