I came across Chips recently while browsing through Instagram and was immediately struck by how beautiful his writing design is and how prolific he is even though he holds down a fulltime day job. Flipping through his Instagram posts you’ll find over 300 beautifully rendered writings sprayed all across Europe as he travels as a caterer across the country. I reached out to him to get an idea about what its like being a writer in the UK, how he balances his personal life with his passion, and where he wants to be in the next 5 years.
First off thank you for agreeing to do this interview with us. There doesn’t seem like a lot of information online about yourself can you start by telling us a little bit about your history as a graffiti artist in the UK? When did you get started and have you always painted in a crew?
I come from Sardinia, one of the most magical places in Italy. I started painting very young 94-95 over the years and travelling to Europe at the end,I settled in London 8 years ago,here I managed to find my space between job and graffiti. I have a couple of crew, CDSK it is the old one, while the others are the result of a path made of friendship, fun, passion that has united and tied in a unique way! SMO-A51
You have great color in your work, how did you get your sense of color? Who were the writers you studied when you were first starting out?
All I do in freestyle, I never followed a sketch in my whole life, even at the beginning. I can’t do it. I have always been fascinated by the great Wildstylers, by the masters of the weaving of letters and details. One out of all that fascinated me was Phase 2. I was just watching those letters full of details. And the Germans, with waves of freshness and originality in style and color scheme. I always painted with what I have to under my hands, all decided at the time, I don’t follow precise rules, I use the colors according to my state of mind at that precise moment, distorting the things, my friends laugh for this haha…for me it’s important to be still original nowadays.
Do you do this full-time for a living or is this a side occupation for you only?
I have always had a main job that allowed me to shoot long and wide across Europe, sometimes I was penalized to find space for what I really love. I still get to paint the whole night, then sleep a couple d hours and go fresh at work.Last year was decisive, to turn my passion into a full time job!
From the little information I was able to get from your Facebook page it looks like you travel a fair bit. How is the graffiti culture in the UK compared to other places? Are they more accepting of writers/street artists?
Wow London is a mixture of influences, here are thousands of artists, I find new ones every day.. From my point of view here the scene is very peculiar, different from any other city, there to say it is a very controlled city, the CCTV are practically everywhere, and the penalties and measures to curb the phenomenon are quite drastic. After the boom of street art, people have begun to digest the phenomenon better, mixing the two things. Unfortunately it is short of spaces to satisfy everyone,the walls go fast, sometimes only for a few hours. Here it is hard, it is a bit a war, where everyone tries to carve out his space…. Here if you are not really active , no one notices you! With regard to street art, no more than years ago,now the portraits and the great big walls come forward on what was once a simple stencil! Now it’s easier to see the two things in the same spaces! We also have to say that a large part of the artists who paint here come from abroad,so all this meltin pot is transforming the way to see the two things. The positive thing is that the phenomenon is alive and that more and more people are changing their opinion.
You mentioned that this last year was decisive in potentially making your career a fulltime job so I’m curious what your method is for getting work? I’m assuming you are doing a lot of mural work for local businesses in your area correct?
OK, I have a job that was so important and that allowed me to travel so much. luckily,last year I had so much free time, that allowed me to do what I really want: to paint!! But painting on commission is my goal for the future. Although I’m quite happy so I have friends who do it for work. It could be very interesting.
From the way you make it sound it sounds like you have been a really busy guy working a regular 9 to 5 and then working on your craft all night. How did you balance your life or do you think in order to accomplish something extraordinary that you have to just accept that your life will be out of balance? What is your personal life like in this time?
I have been working in catering for 20 years, I don’t have regular hours. Sometimes i work till late,and It happens very often to go to paint all night, sleep a few hours and go to work.Slowly I’m trying to change things in my favor, we will see what happens.
For people that are just starting out in trying to make this a business, is there anything you can recommend? Did you approach businesses with your work and volunteer to do free or cheap pieces for them or did the work come to you?
What I can say is,whether you do it for hobby, for work or for passion, try to always give the maximum, rest assured that the results arrive always. You will always be paid in one way or in another, although many times it is not easy! It is always an expenditure of energy, concentration, fun, and passion, which allows us to detach from the real life that surrounds us and escape from what is around your everyday life. Never give up guys!
I painted so much for free because when I started I did create to make money, at the time I thought maybe it wasn’t a good thing, luckily for us times have changed. I was doing it for the sprays, Hahahah… which later I took away, but were good times.
Did you ever have any interest in expanding your career into fine arts or illustration? Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
It is so interesting, in the past I spent much more time drawing,or experimenting and in the future I would like to go back to this,I feel that I could give more. In five years I want to continue to travel and paint as much as possible, because it is one of the things that makes me feel happy, that pulse is still strong inside of me.
Can you tell us about any adventures or memorable moments when you are out bombing with the CDSK crew, are some of the same people in your new crew? Any run ins with the police?
The last tour that we did was a few months ago,with dopes starting from Malmoe, we travelled in Copenhagen, Hamburg till Amsterdam by train,it was winter time,we had fun as kids, especially because we are not accustomed to that climate!! I still feel my fingers are frozen. I dont really spray illegially, London has changed me. We escaped many times in the past, I remember once I could not get away because I was with my girlfriend between the trains, with sprays and fingers covered in paint, caught!!!! And I couldn’t get away, and she was unprepared for it….me as well!! Guys don’t do it ;P
What kind of movies, books or music have inspired you lately? Who do you listen to when you paint?
I like books where I read the adventures of writers, species of other times, myths and legends, I like to read the interviews. I have a beautiful massive book, called All City
Writers, it focuses and describes well all the scene from the past, in particular the Italian golden era, from city to city, it tells lot of the stories, describes the trains, the maps, the yards, and the historical crews with loads of pics.
A new release is the book of Kayone called Old School, and, which tells the story of the writing in Milan. I love the work these guys put into their books. Respect guys..
Thanks for your time man I enjoyed talking with you. Where can people follow your work and any shout outs you would like to give?
The pleasure is mine, keep it up. For those who want to follow me can see all my works on flickr, Instagram, and Facebook. See you on the street guys! 0A big hug to all my mates, and another to my haters 😝PEACE.
Interview by Wesley Edwards