Get Fun, Think Harder: GERMES GANG Interview.
Appropriation has long been commonplace in art, with movements such as Pop Art readily referencing and characterizing celebrities and popular elements under the guise of a new concept. Graffiti could be seen to be the ultimate in nefarious reappropriation, where objects and incidents become taken for the culture and writers own deeds, transgressing the given nature of the space in hopes of something new.
Germes Gang do what they want, at least artistically. Channeled through a distinct aesthetic their references emerge on the other side completely re-thought…I caught up with DAD161 to chat what it’s all about.
Who are you and how did you get started?
Germes Gang, Genius Gang, The faith of graffiti, lots of hyper realistic a.k.a´s. We are four members, all living in Portugal, where the crew was founded some years ago.
How would you describe your style and approach?
It´s really difficult to describe our own stuff. We knew from the beggining that we were not really interested in being part of the so called “movement”. The style, well, we believe that having flow or using lots of colors to improve the piece are not enough, ideas to create letters or combination of letters are endless.
It´s not toy, it´s not ignorant, it´s more like…intelligent nonsense.
MURDOK: Do you aim to do anything in particular with your graffiti?
Get fun, think harder.
Your stuff takes a lot of influence from pop-culture and childrens shows – is there any reason for this?
We are from the 80´s, during our childhood we saw lots of cartoons that nowdays we still find them brilliant and it´s the same with videogames. We also like to add value to objects or some characters, using them over and over, smoking, taking a bath, put them fat, interacting with other characters from another tv show.
We are not trying to avoid standard styles, actually we don´t think too much about the graffiti scene, we are free to do what we want, that is the good part of it.
With your drawings, there seems to be a lot of felt pen and MS Paint involved, why do you choose these over more professional mediums?
It´s interesting to use a devalued medium or low price materials, but we also do acrylic painting, spraycan paintings and there is no specific reason about it.
How has living in Portugal affected the way you paint / create?
Portugal is bordered only by Spain, nothing else and there was no graffiti on the internet so we saw the same magazines over and over for years. At that time from 2000 to 2004, there were lots of good graffiti writers in Lisbon, much more originals and authentics than today. There was a period where we did some standard graffiti and then it becomes boring and pointless and we started to develop our own stuff abstracting the visual garbage we were and are forced to see on the streets.
We hate the “game” itself, full of laws and hierarchies. It seems that you have something to prove to someone…that is just absurd and irrelevant for us.
What is interesting about these devalued mediums? What do you find it gives the pieces you create?
We feel comfortable with them, some of them are easy to use, others we don´t need to go to the studio to produce. But that’s nothing premeditated, we work with the Microsoft Paint and with felt pens for years, aesthetically they are perfect but it doesn’t mean we don´t work with expensive materials.
So what you’re saying is you like to change the context that these characters come from, and put them into a new world?
Yes, we like to do our interpretation of them, a Germes Gang version, more sophisticated.
Do you have any favorite cartoons and video games?
Sure, lots of them are from the 80´s or the 90´s, cartoons like Ren & Stimpy, The Simpsons, Dragon Ball Z, Sesame Street or video games as Sonic, GTA, FIFA, Crash Bandicoot among others.
What do you think is more sophisticated about your interpretation of those characters over where they come from?
It’s like an upgrade, we use famous characters and we transform them. Imagine Homer Simpson, in Matt Groening’s version, the original one he is fat, lazy, bad husban, delinquent father….but he can’t fly, he can’t be a super sayan, he can’t paint a Mondrian….
What are your influences at this moment in time? Whether from inside of graffiti or outside.
Honestly everything, from contemporary art to a gipsy music, it have to deserve our attention. It’s impossible to be influenced by other graffiti writers, we are influenced by ourselves, that’s how we do it.
Could you sum up graffiti in 3 words?
12 steps forward