Interview by Cian Walker
Bombing Science– Hey Gomer! What's up?
First off, does the name Gomer mean anything in particular?
Gomer – Oi ! Life is following its path here in France. Winter is coming and I can’t wait for it. I don’t like summer, just too many people outside. I like winter, when the streets are empty and every window in closed. So Gomer doesn't mean anything particular. Just a name. I used to write ' Omer ' but it was too short and another guy was writing it before I was even born, so I just added a letter and there it was.
BS-What was your introduction to the world of Graffiti- was it a slow burner or something that immediately caught and captured your imagination?
G – Someone older from my family gave me a sketch of my name when I was 10…that was when graffiti caught my attention for the first time. Then I started to notice that the city was covered with drawing, writings. But I was just dreaming of this world without understanding it. In high school, I met people into Hip Hop for the first time, and they were more or less writing and drawing. I did my first two or three pieces with them but it didn't go any further. They weren't really into it. They were more into partying, smoking and getting girls. I kept on drawing and sketching all those years and I actually really started in summer 2004 when I met Revolte, an older writer from my town. Then it was over, I would never leave my spray can anymore, for best and worst of it. I now consider I really started in the end of 2004/beginning of 2005
BS– French graff seems to be in a pretty healthy state from what I can gather, would you agree and what is the local scene like in Lyon?
G – I would tend to agree with you. I think France is fortunate to be located in the middle of Europe, like in the middle of influential streams…Spain, Italy, UK and Germany can be reached in half a day. It means there is always something going on somewhere, going on a new path or trend thanks to that close connection to so many countries.
When it comes to Lyon, my hometown, I would say we're lucky to be a big city without the disadvantage of an European capital. This is the second biggest French city, and the scene is big enough to be inspiring and moving, but small enough to make everyone almost connected to everyone. I also think a great new wave has appeared the last couple of years, that’s really motivating. Come see for yourself, you won’t be disappointed, good food, good weather, good spots…
BS-What is your opinion on the current state of graffiti, both locally and internationally?
G – I think writing has never felt so alive as today. We've never had so many different brands in competition fighting to provide us the best tool possible for the cheapest price. Check how incredibly good the Spanish 94 is! Imagine what Dondi would have done with that in his hands. It has never been so easy to access to so much information about writing thanks to the internet, magazines and books. You could now reach in a year a knowledge that was demanding decades before. Who could argue against that? We've never seen so many writers as today, so it forces us to make our art go further if we want to shine in that ocean of writers. That's just 100% positive for the whole scene. I can hear from here, people talking about the lack of respect of new generations and the loss of traditions and all that crap. I am part of the new generation. I've met older writers who told me to fuck off when i asked them to teach me, so i blame those very same people. Thanks to the education my parents gave me, I have some basic rules about respect towards people, and people's work… I believe the youth is what the older are making them be. And this is a situation that concerns the world, not just graffiti. The world is only what we make it to be, so work hard to make it better or shut the fuck up. You don’t have the right to complain if you do nothing.
BS-Do you have an ideal painting experience? A chill spot with some friends? Night missions? Trains?Do you prefer to rock a spot alone or collaborate on a production?
G – I think every experience teaches you something different. You get something different from it. I like illegal for the rush, the adrenaline kick, the pleasure of exploring places you'd never normally go to, to prove to myself I could do it. I also like to spend 2 days on a wall, and then be able to push my art, my style as far as possible, which couldn’t be really done on illegal. But I don’t do illegal to forward my art…I do it for the action and nothing else. That's why I can’t like one more than the other, everything is good, for different reasons. Still, I recall some experiences where the best of everything was gathered, to my opinion. I've painted illegal tracksides, with 15 of my friends, for more than 5 hours…you got action, lots of time, lots of friends, time to make something really worked out and an audience everyday in the trains.
BS-Tough question I know but who are some of your favourite artists- graffiti and otherwise?
G- Yeah tough. Many different writers, for many different reasons. When it comes to pure aesthetics pictures and graphic design, people like Gris, Roid comes first. When it comes to wild style, here comes guys like Ogre, Persu OCT, Reso, Oniks, Aroe, Rage, MSK's… when it comes to action, the work of Moses, Banos, Bambus or Banksy are really inspiring for what they are able to achieve under such conditions. And thanks to this life, I'm friends with some of those people, and they are also inspiring as human beings, not being arrogant assholes. That’s just a very short list, everyone I met, everything I do or experience is inspiring, of course.
BS -Are there any particular goals you'd like to achieve in your graffiti career?
G- Not really. It would be to be relevant in my work and my feature to the scene if I had to name one.
BS – Judging from the Greetings Crew installation video you appear to be very open to different working methods… What tools are your favorite to use?
G- I think that your idea, your style, your message is what is important. Not how you manage to do it. To me spray cans are just a tool amongst others to achieve the picture I have in mind. It so happens its one of the most efficient and useful of them of course, but i dont mind painting, stencils, drawing with pens, markers…my only goal is to do something great, and i won’t limit myself in my ability to do so by rejecting some tools. You can do graffiti without spraycans. And you can do not-graffiti-art with a spraycan.
BS – Do you have any artistic outlets outside of graffiti?
G- I try to do a lot of photography, I love to shoot and edit short videos and I'm the lead singer/screamer in a Metal/HardCore band. So the answer is yes. I'm reading a lot of books, comics… I'm a movie junky, i see at least one movie every day, and I have countless amount of records, from punk, rock, metal, hardcore, hip hop, electro… ' Lust for Life ' said Iggy Pop …I'll sleep when I'm dead then.
BS -Any particular favourite colour schemes/combos?
G- I'm a big fan of warm colors, something living and bright.
BS – Your characters are great, both welcoming and menacing at the same time. What influences these and do you prefer to paint letters or characters?
G- I drew characters on paper for a very long time. I've spent a lot of my writing years surrounded with people doing crazy characters, thus I didn’t feel the need to try it, this is just something really new. Plus, I do pieces as a weekend hobby, as I am also drawing and painting for a living, so when it comes to do a wall with my friends, I just wanted to do letters, letters and letters. But now I’m starting to get confident enough with my pieces to start adding to them characters of my own. We'll see where that goes. I don’t have any specific influence, I like classic and square characters…but that's just for now.
BS -In reference to your friend who got his name tattooed from a sketch of yours (http://www.flickr.com/photos/renegadeofpunk/4313916388/) how do you feel about this? Were you happy with how it turned out?
G- I'm very proud he loved my work enough to get it tattooed. He's one of my best friends and that's one of the most pure and true shows of love towards my work anyone's ever made.
It's one of my other best friends who did the inking, someone I entirely trust, a really talented writer too, and I'm really happy with the result. And there is something very typical to tattoo…once it’s here, it’s just here, existing. You don’t see the faults or anything, it's just part of you, you don't question whether it’s good to have it or not, how it was before…it’s just here and that's it. That’s something I've learn from my own tattoo experience.
BS -Am I right in saying that you're familiar with the world of Punk and the lifestyle that goes with it?
I see many similarities between the DIY ethic of Punk and the Graffiti World- I have met some amazingly open and influential people in both worlds, but have also seen incredible small-mindedness and exclusivity in both worlds too. Is this something you care to comment on? And if so would you say that lifestyle affects graf-style?
G – Yea h I come from the Punk rock world. D.I.Y. and lifestyles around are then familiar to me. And yes the similarities are occurring to me too. I think that nowadays, in 2010, those worlds, speaking of punk and writing, are no longer underground. There are millions of people involved in it, from different social horizons and for different reasons. Therefore, it becomes just another social group of society, and just like in society you meet fucking assholes and amazing people, but I don’t think it is related to punk or writing itself. You could see the same pattern in Hip Hop, Skate or Techno music, just to say. But I do think that the fact those universes left the underground is really beneficial to it. It brings new blood and prevents one scene to degenerate by feeding on itself. But that just my opinion.
BS-Is it true that you're Straightedge? If so, what importance does this have in your life, and concurrently, how do you find the graff worlds reaction to it? From my experience, writers sure do like a beer or 12!!!
G- I'm straightedge, yes. If you guys reading don’t know what it is just google it. This is of course very important in my life, because it defines a lot of things in my behavior or my way of seeing things. But I was acting straight edge even before knowing this movement. I loved the energy and rage coming from punk rock, I loved the political statement and efforts of this scene, but I couldn't cope with the drug thing. That's why I went deep into HardCore then..When i say drugs, I mean cigarettes, alcohol and drugs. I didn’t see the point of getting wasted, and the fact that government is earning fortunes in taxes out of those drugs made me really uncomfortable. I saw and see cigarettes and alcohol as a very modern way of slaving someone, and a people: it destroys them, prevents them from thinking too much, it steals them of a lot of money, and when you miss money you get busy on working, not thinking or questioning what's going on around. Governments don’t like people questioning. They like people that work hard all day, get back home tired and watch TV. Once again, don’t misunderstand me, I'm not judging anyone. This is the way I see things, and I'm the first one finding it hard to maintain in an everyday life, trying to make a living. Life is not black or white, it’s an every day fight, doing compromise and concessions. Everyone's got to deal with his own life, choices and events.
BS-This is pretty nerdy but I noticed George Orwell's '1984' next to a sketch in one of your flicks. That book has informed my attitudes towards authority and questioning the motives and statements of officials and government. The fact that it was written about the 80's, in the 40's, and the idea of strict control and policing is stronger now than ever is incredibly potent to me.
Graffiti is a form of expression unlike many others, in that it can hurt and offend people without actually hurting anyone at all. Do you think that Graffiti serves a purpose in this sense, to open people's eyes in a way? Also, is there any literary influence in your work?
G- Ha ha, yeah I like this book. My parents gave it to me when I was a teenager. It took me a few years and several readings to understand the depth of it. I grew up reading Orwell, Philip K. Dick, Lovecraft and Tolkien. So I do have a thing for fantastic and political subjects of course. I don’t know what effect graffiti could have on people. I know it changed my way of seeing things, by being able to do things society claim to be bad and impossible. I quickly found a difference between law and morality. In a way I think graffiti could help people to start asking themselves questions, even though that's not the first aim of graffiti, and also because 90% of it is not politically related. And I can’t blame anyone; everyone is dealing with his life and priorities… I'm trying to be relevant and questioning in my everyday work, but when I come to do a piece, I just want to disconnect my mind, have fun with my friends. So one could easily think I dont care about a message, just by seeing my pieces. I think this is because we are all made of different things.
BS-You seem to have travelled quite a bit- is there anywhere in particular that you've enjoyed more than others?
Any crazy stories from your travels that you'd be willing to share?
G- Every journey is worth it. Painting in a T-Shirt on the sea front in Barcelona in February, fighting with gypsies paid by the security-guards to watch the yard in Milano while they watch the soccer game, 3 hours wholetrain in France with scaffolding, meeting so many good people in Brighton and London, colorful tracksides in Germany, trigger happy guards in Switzerland, seeing the cops hiding for an ambush in the very same bushes I was hiding in from them and spent 8 hours waiting for them to leave, meeting people my age and older knowing who I am in every of those cities… and fuck, experiencing the crazy short Danish nights in my different stays in Copenhagen. Night at 11pm, day at 3am…wtf ?!
Shout out to my friends and my family, you know who you are. To everyone I met around Europe in my trips, whether you let me surf your couch or took me out in your country day or night, thanks to you guys. My crew mates from the Greetings Crew: Ogre & Gris, love you brothers, Oniks, Tchad, SupaDope, Peak, Bom K…also Sukube, Khota, Revolte, Audel & Stil2, Olaf, Revert, Milka, Brusk, Izzy, Sunk, Reso, Rusl, Blits, Nalide and every single one in the Heavy Artillery Crew. Special shout to Storm and Aroe. Aniki-Maler&Asuka, Cam&Daf, Lez&ChloÃ©. And last but not least, one big shout out to my State Of Entropy boys.
(for more pictures by Gomer, click here)