Artist to Artist: Keep6 talks street art with Syhis79 [Interview]
Vancouver, BC – We recently developed an interview series titled Artist to Artist where we have an established artist chop it up with one of their peers giving our readers a bit of a different perspective on said peer. We like to open up the series to not only rappers but DJs, break-dancers and anyone else who fits into the definition of artist. This round we have one of our previous subjects, graffiti artist Keep6, taking on the role as interviewer to fellow street artist Syhis79. Peep their convo below.
Interview conducted by Keep6 for HipHopCanada
Watching someone a lot younger than me take their letter style and execution so far, along with hitting great spots and staying consistent, is the definition of inspiration. Over the last six years or so I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and painting with Syhis79 – someone who stays committed to progress while remaining humble, even though his progression seems to jump leaps and bounds over most.
It’s always exciting to see what kind of twist Syhis puts on his letters whether it be a crazy organic look or a geometric cluster of colour. Syhis79 always comes correct and I had the opportunity to get a small glance inside his mind to try to understand how he looks at his craft. I’m always interested in other established writer’s views on certain aspects of graffiti so this interview was as much for my own personal understanding as it was to shed light on my friend.
HipHopCanada: Alright my brother, let’s kick things off by stating your name for those people who may not be in the know.
Syhis79: Salute Keep6! I write Syhis79 – RTS crew. Currently living in Vancouver, Canada.
HipHopCanada: Cool, well you and I go back a few years now. When did you start writing graffiti and initially what caught your attention? I mean, you weren’t in Canada yet when you started, were you?
Syhis79: I started writing in 2006 in a small city in located in North of Romania which had no graffiti history at all. I was already listening to hip-hop since a young age so when I first got in touch with some pictures of graff pieces done by some writers in Bucharest, I was fascinated how precise you can get using a spray-paint can. Graffiti was the most accessible element at that moment and I kinda liked to draw anyway.
HipHopCanada: Over the years I’ve noticed you keep a pretty consistent style, in my opinion anyways, what has influenced you along the way?
Syhis79: I’ve always looked back at my older pieces to get the information (inspiration) I need. Everything I painted since the beginning has some elements that I still use in my pieces today; you keep doing the same elements over time and you learn where and how to place them in your word in order to give a smooth look or a nice balance between shapes and colours. The letter structure, it’s thickness and placement in space are all changing every time I paint; perhaps that’s why one would assume that the style has remained consistent over time. Also my biggest influence was moving to Canada and being able to be a part of an actual graffiti culture which I’ve only seen in movies before – the American graffiti dream.
HipHopCanada: You never stop progressing and always step outside of your comfort zone trying to push the boundaries on your style. What inspires you or keeps you motivated to not just find something comfortable and roll with it?
Syhis79: I can say that I have experimented a lot since I’ve started and I’ve always put my energy into creating something on paper or canvas when the wall was not available or the cans were missing. Every sketch was looked at as an actual wall; so when I had to opportunity to paint I had many sketches to choose from and I had to pay more attention how I painted because spray-paint was not necessarily available all the time. (Spray-paint cans were really expensive in Romania at the time and there were no actual stores in my city that would sell them). The moment you start to step outside your comfort zone it’s the moment you start to progress in any field. Graffiti is what motivates me and every time I see a piece that blows my mind I rediscover that feeling that makes me wanna do a sketch, go paint a wall or a train. The feeling that there is so much more to learn and explore.
HipHopCanada: You do it all when it comes to graffiti. Pieces, tags, throws. You hit walls, freights, commuters abroad. What do you find the funnest? And what areas do you hope to focus on to maybe improve or build numbers on in the future?
Syhis79: In the future I hope I build numbers on some freights, walls and commuters. I enjoy doing everything when the right moment comes. I don’t really like planning but I definitely want to improve my simple lettering and to do some more block letters and rollers.
HipHopCanada: When it comes to the more artistic side of graffiti, you do some crazy canvas work. I can think off the top of my head 4-5 absolutely incredible canvases you’ve done that would be a favourite in my household. I know you like to fuck with the airbrush to give them that extra special detail. Is this something you see happening more in the future? And how do you find working with an airbrush compared to a can?
Syhis79: With time I’ve started to explore other mediums more or less different than spray-paint( acrylic, oil, charcoal, graphite, pastels and so on.) Lately I’ve rediscover the air brush and I start to look at it as a miniature can. In my opinion the airbrush is overused when writers are using it. You tend to over do it and it can make everything look too “smooth” and kitchy. Though, I believe that if you use it in the right amount, it can be a great medium especially if you look to get some nice transparent layers or you just put some simple highlights on a graff canvas.
HipHopCanada: You travel around a bit and have painted in a few spots outside of Canada. Where did you have the best time painting? And where there any places you went through hell while painting? Raids or weather or maybe beef with anyone?
Syhis79: I am trying to focus as much as I can on travelling inside and outside of Canada but I haven’t been to that many places, yet. The best time painting was in San Francisco last spring. The ghetto aspect reminded me of Romania and people I’ve met were really friendly and curious if we really do graffiti on igloos and not walls back in Canada. One of the weirdest experiences was back in 2009 in Romania when a pack of stray dogs attacked us right after we got into the tram yard. The cheapest security you can get!
HipHopCanada: Bringin’ it back to Canadian soil, being local to the West Coast, how do you feel about the scene up here? Spots, number of writers these days? Does the weather get in the way of painting much or have you adapted to it by now?
Syhis79: The Vancouver graff scene is good considering the styles and the writers but when it comes to walls it really sucks. Legal walls are almost non-existent, the city buffs pretty hard so freights are the best option if you got the energy and the time to spend on them. I’ve gotten used to the weather and eight months a year you are in a constant race with the rain. I’ve adapted to it and sometimes I have a towel with me just in case. I’m like that guy from “The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy”.
HipHopCanada: Personally I can’t say I have a favourite colour scheme. That being said there are definitely colours I favour when rockin’ a piece. What would be a colour scheme that you prefer?
Syhis79: Of course I don’t have a favourite colour scheme but I will always go with yellow outline, dark purples for fill, white 3d and burgundy red for background.
HipHopCanada: What are you listening to these days?
Syhis79: When I sketch I really enjoy listening to 90’s hip-hop instrumentals. I’ve been listening to Sage Francis lately. ( Non Prophets -“Damage”)
HipHopCanada: Is there anything you haven’t done within graffiti that you would like to in the future? Recently I’ve taken on more characters and realism stuff because it’s something new and challenging. You have any plans on exploring any other avenues?
Syhis79: Since I’ve seen Soyer’s characters I’ve always wanted to get into characters but it seems that when I paint a piece I never have time to rock one. I’ve helped him finish a few characters in the past years and I definitely want to focus on them in the future and maybe some realism. I’ve always wanted to do realistic portraits on a wall and I’m pretty sure one day I will explore realism a little bit more.
HipHopCanada: It’s been a pleasure Syhis. Always inspiring work coming from you and definitely pushes me to improve as well as many many others I’m sure. Do you have anything you’d like to say before we wrap this interview up?
Syhis79: Thanks a lot for this interview Keep! Peace to RTS crew and Daffy (you know who you are). It has been really interesting to answer to your questions and for anyone interested in my work you can find me on Instagram: syhis179. Peace!
HipHopCanada: Cool , I’ll end it with this. You gotta fuck one marry one kill one: Kate Upton, Jessica Biel, Megan Fox.
Syhis79: Haha! Fuck Kate Upton, marry Jessica Biel, and kill Megan Fox