A dutch born artist, Zedz, creates art for the sake of art. His inspiration comes from modern art and artists that might typically be considered gallery artists and this has separated his work from a lot of other graffiti artists with a unique style that has a digital vibe that fits right at home in our modern world. We had a chance to speak to Zedz about his inspirations and approach to graffiti below.
How did you get started in graffiti and how did you get your name?
I did get interested in graffiti at an early age when I was about 13 or 14, at the time I didn’t comprehend much of how writing originated and where it came from.
At first I just enjoyed the plain ‘print writings’ on the wall and soon after I got to see some hand styles and the first pieces, it was an exciting period, at the time I was fascinated by the secrecy and raw energy of huge tags on basically clean walls and this is what I wanted to do and be part of. Graffiti was not yet a phenomenon and the city were I grew up was taken bit by bit, new tags and pieces popping up everywhere were the best thing happening.
Your style has a very modern art look to it, how did you develop your style and what inspired you to take your writing in this direction?
From the early 90’s on I made simplistic and readable voluminous pieces using long straight lines and in the years after I made a lot of blockbusters.
Readability have been the core of my lettering, also I made quite some side moves into more typographic experiments and so if it wasn’t readable at least the motivation came from readable lettering. Over time I got more interested in the design aspects of typography and finally linked this to the existence of architecture in letters and it is this
architectural approach that gave the final push towards working using a grid of strictly horizontals and verticals, creating works that are more about spatial experience, mental physical spaces and have a plan-matic approach.
In this time I tend to mix my work with architecture and create installations rather then paintings, all I do is headed in that direction, though I should mention graffiti is more laced on an old tradition and I regard it as a different thing from my art, it is more a pass time hobby keeping me focused on making a difference.
3) What kind of research did you do in your blackbooks when creating this art style?
Lots of drawings, basically re writing my name over and over again, while letting myself be influenced by drifting of in thoughts contemplating over things that I would like to integrate in my lettering. It is my wish to create some kind of work going against the grain and I am trying to do so by taking interest in- and inspiration from the things directly surrounding me that in general are a bit disconnected from the the subject of graffiti and lettering.
4) Your website zedz.org is almost a interactive art piece in itself and I noticed a link to a website called visualdata.org which seems to take me to your portfolio of web design and graphic design. Did you go to school for web and graphic design? Is this something you still do or do you make a living off of your mural and installation work entirely?
Visualdata is a friend of mine, a very skilled and talented web designer. We did collaborate on some projects in the past in which I would do the direction and Visualdata worked on the
execution and direction. I don’t make a living as a designer, though i will still take on directing or graphic jobs or challenges when they are in sync with my artistic direction. Right
now I basically survive on making art but that is including doing a few sponsored jobs and working for clients.
5) Can you tell us about the process you went through on your Mr. serious backpack collaboration?
When Mr. Serious challenged me to deliver an AOP (all over print) for his goods I was glad to except it.
It is something I wanted to do for a long time anyhow and I really like mr. Serious attitude as he is an independent producer of graffiti essentials operating in the margine between commercial graffiti supplies and hardcore underground. The AOP I created for mr Serious is a kind of matrix camouflage and it is used for a collection of bag-packs and pouches. The bags are well received and right now we are producing a more mainstream tote-bag (using the same AOP in a different color set) of which I am really happy as I myself always go around with this type of heavy duty -good for everything- bag.
6) Are there any artists that you enjoy collaborating with? Who are you a fan of today?
A few years ago I used to collaborate a lot with different artist but in the more recent years I naturally quit doing so as my focus shifted more towards my personal development.
Right now I am not really a fan of any artist except for some iconic artists and architects, I realised that I am grew more fond of spatial experiences rather then being blown away by art, though I really appreciate and respect works of other artist, and there are actually too many to mention and quite a lot of which I don’t remember the names. I realise there is a certain
group of artist of which I don’t enjoy the work at all as there is not a genuine research done and artist that are repeating themselves and I would label “gallery-artists” which seem to be
rather focused on selling art than developing and experimenting with art.
At the same time I really enjoy seeing close friends develop there works and I am definitely a fan of progress, the works I like best are the works that seem to develop, the works that are progressive, I like artists that keep on surprising and pushing forward.
7) What inspired you to create these outside abstract installation pieces? And how do you go about creating them?
It started building myself because nobody else was building my sketches. I had a vision for a long time of incorporating humans into the work and for doing so the work have to
get actually physical, it is nice to see people interact with the more abstract entity which both becomes un-abstract as well as perhaps more abstract regarded from another point of view.
I like to create ad hoc and bring a couple of essential tools for making sturdy work. To me it is a pleasure to work in different places under different circumstances with different people.
8) Outside of graffiti, what else inspires you? Is there any movies, books or music that have inspired you to create the work you are now?
There is a lot of things that are inspiring to me outside of graffiti and then again within graffiti mostly I try to get inspired to do it different. Actually there is too much to mention but to
name a few topics without getting to specific: modern art from the beginning of the 20th century, dimensional typography, Rem Koolhaas and MVRDV architects, metropoles and their infrastructures, graphic reproduction techniques, Japanese anime and everything of Jim Jarmush (a.o) and when it comes down to music I like to listen to hip hop and think Kool keith is the bomb but jazz and techno is more what inspires me to create. in the end of the 90ies I have been experimenting with painting music and since that time I really enjoy visualising music, which most of the times works much better with music without vocals.
9) You have not updated your archive on your site since 2012 where can people follow up with what you are doing right now?
It is really time for a new website and I am searching for a simplistic format in which i can show what I am actually doing and what are the goals I set to achieve also I would like to show
what have been the process to get to this point. Until the day I will find the new format I will keep using Facebook artist page and a bit of instagram to share my work with the public, so that is where you can catch up with my activity.
Interview by Wesley Edwards