12ozProphet Exclusive Interview: Bendito Rage
A Few Weeks ago we posted 50 Fresh Flicks by the Spanish artist Bendito Rage. With his space age letter forms, unusual color ways and science fiction themed productions he quenched our thirst for something new, and opened our eyes to what was happening across the Atlantic that didn’t involve rarely watched sports and precious medals. But still we were left wanting more, so we hit him up for an interview, to which he happily obliged, and set about getting to know our new found friend from Basque country. Turns out he is a pretty cool guy with an abundance of skill and knowledge of spanish graffiti, and we are proud to give him the shine he deserves here on 12oz.
First things first, An Introduction:
What do you write, how long have you been at it, and where are you from?
I write Bendito Rage and I represent my groups Take This/ M1P/MR. I started getting into graffiti in 98, but have taken it more seriously since 2001.
I’m from Vitoria, a small city with a long graffiti history. It’s in the north of Spain, near the border with France.
Alright, Now For the Good Stuff:
The word “Bendito” translates in English to “blessed.” “Blessed Rage,” is there any special significance behind that name? How did you come up with it?
I chose Bendito (Blessed) as a surname based on some moments in my life when I felt that I was kind of “protected” or blessed by something or someone up there. When I was a child I was always doing dangerous things such as jumping from high places like a monkey, or other craziness, and my mom always said that I had a guardian angel beside me that took care of me. Also three years ago I had a big scare while driving and I emerged uninjured from that, so I decided to start writing Bendito before my name Rage.
Another reason for the Bendito is it is like a sign of difference between the other many Rages that will be all over the world. Also, since 8 or 9 years ago I have always written the R of Rage reversed as a little sign of difference. If you see a Rage with the R looking forward that’s not me.
You mentioned that Vitoria has a long history of graffiti, can you expand on that a little bit? what sets Vitoria apart from other cities in Spain or around the world?
Luckily, in Vitoria the first tags and graffiti productions appeared in the middle to late 80’s, which was really early for such a small town. In those years you could only find the first graffiti popping up in Madrid, Barcelona, Alicante or Sevilla.
Even nowadays in many small cities in Spain graffiti writing remains unknown. This early development of graffiti may be due to the B-Boy scene of Vitoria which also appeared very very early in comparison to other places.
What first got you interested in graffiti? Was it because you are from a city with such a rich history?
Yes, that’s for sure the main reason, ‘cause my home was one of the most important cities in Spain for graffiti during the 90’s. Some of my first memories are being with my mom when I was 6 or 7 years old and looking at graffiti writers painting colorful burners or big silver chromes, with all their friends around and the ghetto blasters playing… jajaja. The early 90’s were nice period for graffiti in Spain ‘cause in those years graffiti culture was taking its first steps here.
Your pieces seem to have a very mechanical or space age feel to them, and you also use a lot of characters along that theme. Where do you find your inspiration for these productions, and what draws you to these subjects?
I love the retro-futuristic aesthetic. I try to create a mix in my letters of futuristic or mechanical shapes and others more traditional of classic graffiti. I have much respect and admiration for the classic graffiti forms.
I find my inspiration for the characters or backgrounds in cartoons I looked at as a child like, “Space Cowboys”, “Thundercats”, “Masters of the Universe” and all that retro stuff jajaja. Also, I cannot forget the real godfathers of science fiction comics like Jack Kirby and the recently passed Jean Giraud, a.k.a. Moebius, who inspire me.
Click to page 2 for the rest of the interview…
Have you ever traveled to the United States or any other countries? What is your favorite place you visited?
I have been in the states twice and visited Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York. In Europe I have traveled many times in France, Switzerland, Germany, Portugal…
I love San Francisco, New York and Berlin. I don’t know, maybe because they are huge cities and you always have something to do or see, big contrasts, many different people… but I think every place has its own magic… It’s not the place, but the company you are with, isn’t it?
A lot of writers from the U.S. have been traveling overseas to paint clean trains, and I noticed you have painted at least a few as well. are you into that movement, or do you prefer painting walls?
I have painted very few panels in my life; you can count them with both hands. I prefer to paint walls ‘cause I can dedicate more time to my productions. I also paint road stuff that remains there for many months or even years that many people could see. The trains only last one day or sometimes they don’t even circulate. I admire and respect very much the train writers ‘cause they risk a lot each time they go out on a mission. They have big bollocks.
When I traveled to Spain a few years ago I was surprised to see really amazing graffiti pop up in the small country side towns I was visiting. Here in the U.S. graffiti is found almost exclusively in big cities and high traffic areas. Why do you think there is a difference, and where do you prefer to paint?
It is more comfortable to paint in a small city ‘cause you don’t have to ride for a long time to arrive at the spot. In my case, my city is quite small (250.000 inhabitants) and many of the spots I paint are just 5 minutes walking distance from my home.
That’s also why you saw so much graffiti in small towns, ’cause big cities like Madrid or Barcelona are really burnt from thousands of writers that paint everywhere, and the new politics are really fighting against vandalism with big fines. In other smaller places in Spain, the graffiti culture is not so massive, which is better for us ‘cause we can paint more calmly and without such big punishments in case we get caught.
Anyway I prefer to paint in both places ‘cause there is also a satisfaction when you write your name on “important” cities like Madrid, Paris, Berlin, New York, etc.
Here in the U.S. most people outside of the graffiti culture treat graffiti with annoyance, and writers with hostility. How do people in Spain feel about graffiti? Are you likely to be hassled when you are out painting, or will people just ignore you and go on their way?
Well… it depends, but usually most of the people ignore us. At least in my city, I think people are used to seeing writers painting in daylight. Often, when I want to paint an illegal spot I do it in daylight and act relaxed, as if nothing wrong is going on, and people don’t tell me nothing cause they suppose I’m allowed to do that by the city hall or the owner of the wall/fence, etc. that’s crazy! Of course the troubles start if the owner appears… jajaja
What is the craziest thing that has happened to you while you have been painting?
Ufff, I guess the same crazy things that happen to all the writers, nothing special. To mention one: sometimes when we are painting people give us 5, 10 or even 20€ to, in their own words, take some beers in their name, or because they consider us to be “big artists.” but one day, a 55/60 years old man gave us 160€! jajaja of course that day when we finished we went to take many beers in that man’s name!
Describe your perfect day. where are you? who do you spend it with? what do you do? eat? drink?
Wake up at 7:30 a.m. and have a cool breakfast (natural orange juice, toasts…) at home with my girl. Go out for a run for an hour and a half. Do a cool wall with my crew and friends on a sunny day, with a barbecue on the wall, some beers, laughs… Later meet with the girlfriends and go all together to chill at the city centre… that’s a perfect day for me. Oh yes, I forgot, and find one thousand Euros on the floor by the way, that would be a fucking cooool day.
Any shout outs or final words?
I want to give a big thanks to you and the 12oz prophet team for giving me this opportunity and being interested on my work. And shouts to my people from M1P, MR and Take This, and my girlfriend who is always there.
A special thanks to Bendito Rage for the interview, it’s always a pleasure to get to know the artists whose work we love.
Text: Grassy Knowles
Photo: Bendito Rage & Spray Beast