Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Meeting of Styles Mexico: SWER Interview

SWER started writing in 1998, and has lived in both California and Mexico. He was my translator in addition to letting me do an interview, and getting to hang out with him and his crew, 1810 helped me learn a lot about how graffiti is a way of creating informal families across borders, and share national memories. 1810 crew stands for "revolution and destruction" and Swer, and his crew mates, argue that it is a way to remember the Mexican revolution in the United States and to continue revolution. It suggests that contemporary Mexican graffititeros/as are the present-day heirs of Revolutionary muralism, maybe not in form or content, but in spirit. Thanks to Swer for all of his help, and his insight.

C: When did you start writing?

S: I started writing back in 1998, I was around 14 years old and I was in high school—I mean middle school.

C: What made you get started?

S: It was because at the time a lot of my friends were doing graffiti and I really liked the style they had. I wanted to put my name up, I started doing my name first, in notebooks, and everywhere I could.

C: What name do you write?

S: Swer- 1810.

C: What does Swer mean?

S: Swer – means a lot for me, its like the other part of my self that does graffiti and it has a lot of meaning. Its just my second face.

C: What does 1810 mean?

S: 1810 means freedom and destruction and we started 1810 because it is a Mexican year of independence so we really want to represent something Mexican in the US so we started doing 1810.

C: Where did you get your style from?

S: Basically its from California. I started in California. I had to go to Califonia because my parents lived there at the time and I started looking at Saber, Twister, Revoke, all of these big people. I got influenced by all o them. King 157. Jyan, Jace, a lot of cool writers at the time in 1999 when I went to California so that got me crazy.

C: how did you find out about MOS?

S; The first MOS I knew of was in Europe, and from Europe they went to the US and from the US they went to Mexico. I’ve only been here in Mexico for two years and so this is my first time at the Meeting of the Styles.

C: What’s been the best part of it for you?

S: The best part is all the people you get to know, that really like your work, that come and ask for your signature or tag on their books, and how they try to talk to you and be like ‘you are a good writer.’ I like to be with all my friends, because this is where I get to know everybody.

C: and what is the most frustrating part?

S: Getting a spot. And getting paint.

C: How would you feel if MOS ended?

S: It would be sad because it’s the one time a year we get to stay together with all of our friends that we don’t really paint anymore together we try to be here together just that one day. So it is a point of reunion for everybody the meeting of the styles. Its just like kicking it with everybody.

C: how do you document your work?

S: Pictures. I go to flikr sometimes. I just am always hoping that someone will take a photo of my work because sometimes I do not always get all of the pictures when its illegal/legal.

C: How do you feel when your work gets gone over?

S: It makes me go up there and make another one, not in the same spot, but it makes me paint harder, bigger and better.

C: Who do you think the audience is for MOS?

S: I think everybody. Like kids, family, all the families that come here and appreciate your work. I see kids today and they are talking to me and the dad and the mom, even a mom asked me for my signature today so its crazy.

C: do you think its important to see international artists and if so why?

S: Yes, it is important because it is like we are all getting together. Its not about who is the best, its about all of us painting together. It doesn’t matter who you are, if you come from Europe, if you come from the US, it doesn’t matter. Because if we paint together you are going to learn from me and I am going to learn from you.

C: How do you define graffiti?

S: Graffiti is life, its sacrifice, its everything. You have to be ready to leave many many things to do graffiti.

C: For example?

S: Your family, relationships, sometimes its even work. Sometimes you don’t work because you want to do graffiti.

C: What do you think graffiti can do to help communities, to help Mexico?

S: I think graffiti can help communities by supporting the artists, not just by giving them the spot, but by supporting them and keeping them going, and there are a lot of good artists here. But the government doesn’t care about them they just want to make money, and it’s a waste of talent.

C: If the government supported graffiti artists more would it change things in Mexico?

S: A lot. How—it wouldn’t be just here in Mexico, we could go all over the world, we could do many different things. Because graffiti is just one dart that you [use] to open up your mind, and from there you go crazy, you do all kinds of different things.

C: What is the role of the artist in Mexico today?

S: Its hard. I’ve been here for two years and it is really hard to find a spot, to find a sponsor, to find someone to have your back. So its really hard.

C: Do you have any relationship to the Trés Grandes?

S: Yes. Rivera is my inspiration. My graffiti has nothing to do with him but the way he thinks and does his artwork inspires me to keep on doing my artwork, to be who I am today.

C: Is there anything else you want to say about graffiti?

S: I just want to say, be ready for everything. If you want to do graffiti do it because you love it, don’t look for the fame because fame is not at all here. Just do it because you love it and everything will come.

C: Awesome, thank you.