Graffiti has known many different periods and styles from an early start and will continue to change in shape and form. However, its roots and core will always remain the same: painting on a surface as many times as your creativity and courage will allow you to. This well-assumed ego-trip forms part of the HipHop culture and we are proud to not make a single penny just like huge marketing corporates invoicing 20k per meter squared. Pref offers us a very different perspective which graffiti has never seen before. He overlays and juxtaposes different words in a single piece ensuring a unique level of originality and a distinguished reading complexity. Colours mingle with each other for you to guess the letters while still exposing an insane manoeuvre in his technique. We invite you to decrypt the following images...
Jacker / Hey Pref, can you present yourself and tell us where you from ?
Pref / My Name is Pref and I am from London, UK
J / When did you make your first graffitis and why did you start painting on walls ?
P / I started getting into graffiti in 1994. I think I painted my first ‘proper’ piece in 96 but I never photographed any of my work in the beginning, it was more about the fun of doing it.
I used to take public transport to school every day, by tube and bus, and I think it was seeing all the graffiti out of the window along the way that first got me interested. Then I found a copy of Spraycan Art at a second hand market and that was what really opened my eyes to not only other graffiti around the world, but also to the culture behind it.
J / Where did the idea of mix different words in one piece come from ?
P / I started years ago by painting just the negative space between the letters, so that the word ‘Pref ’ would become see-through, I would then do a kind of cloud in the background behind it all which would become the ‘fill’. Then one day I thought it could be cool if the negative space between the letters were also letters themselves, that was the first ‘two words in one’ piece. I thought I could also make the cloud that was currently the fill, another word, and that was the first three words in one. My way of painting is very much like this, like a step by step progression. Each time I paint I try something new. It’s not always a ground breaking idea, sometimes just a way to use colour or space
J / It’s totally a new way to read and see a graffiti, a kind of game, do you think it makes pieces more accessible for people who aren’t into graffiti.
P / Yes definitely. I like the idea that anyone can enjoy looking at my pieces. Having a wider appeal outside of the graffiti world is interesting to me. It’s important that my pieces in some way still retain the feeling, energy and attitude of traditional graffiti, I don’t paint characters or anything and I’m not interested in being a ‘street artist’ in that way, so painting’ readable letters in the way that I do is my own way of bridging that gap to engage the public with Graffiti. But also, layering letters in the way that I do, creates intricate shapes and interesting compositions where they overlap and interact with each other. For me this is where the complexity lies, creating that complexity from simplicity is less obvious and much more appealing to me.
J / You are also a graphic designer like a lot of graffiti artists, what are your different clients and projects ?
P / I run my own creative agency and we provide graphic design and art direction mostly for fashion brands. I work on everything from logos, branding and magazine/book design to producing and art directing photo shoots. So the day-to-day work can be really varied which his good.
J / Tell me more about the ID crew, who are the members and how did you all meet.
P / Ivory Dukes, Ink Devils, IDiots, Intoxicated Demons, etc, etc. Consists of me, Tizer, Shucks, Relay, Gent48, Stika, Jobe, Mace, Imerse and Ike.
It was started in the late nineties by brothers Shucks and Tizer and was a play on The Ebony Dukes from New York. Although most of us met through graffiti, ID crew is a crew that is about friendship first and foremost, it’s not a crew that we bring people into based on their painting skills alone. Which is probably why we all have quite different styles and I think that is a good thing.
J / Thanks for interview, what are you next events and exhibitions.
P / I’m going to a few different events this Summer in Catch Fire in Germany, Step in the Arena in Holland, Roskilde in Denmark and MOS in Belgium. I have a few plans for product and prints, but no planned yet. Stay tuned !