The Message is dropping a new gem — SAFOE! Forget the hype, Barcelona’s SAFOE is the real deal. The quality of a writer is not measured in followers, likes, fame, or collaborations. A writer is his style, his attitude and his dedication and SAFOE has all of it, at the highest level.

Here, we’re constantly blown away by the talent of our guests, but SAFOE’s work is truly next level. Tags, throw-ups, side tracks, trains, crazy characters, colors, and action! It’s a full-on assault on your love for this discipline, raw and underground as we like it. We hope you will be able to understand the magnitude of SAFOE’s work because we are not so sure we deserve all this.

Do yourself a favor, go ahead and write down the name of SAFOE in your list of your favorite writers.

Hey SAFOE, thanks for joining us! We’d love to hear something about your early steps in the graff world. Growing up on a beautiful Mediterranean island, what sparked your initial interest in graffiti?

First of all, thank you very much for inviting me and giving me the opportunity to talk about myself. I’m not used to these situations, but it’s a pleasure to do it with you!

I lived in a small town, with a population of 1000 at most. One day, while I was going to school, I saw a piece on a wall from the bus window. Incredible! I was fascinated and I kept thinking about it almost obsessively for days. A little later I took some spray cans from my father’s tool room and went to write on the bins in the town. I remember doing my first piece in 2000, at the municipal sewage plant that was in the nearby countryside. This first approach was not the definitive one. I had no idea what I was doing (sometimes I still have that same feeling!).

The years passed and around 2009 I realized that no one was painting anymore in the area where I was now working. Some had moved to bigger cities, others had simply stopped. After about a year I was, how to say… traumatized? I found myself confronted with a city that, for most of the aspects that were important to me, did not reflect me at all. I couldn’t accept it, so I started writing myself. Every night after work, I would walk all over the city to tag. I don’t know how to explain this feeling, but I haven’t stopped painting since that year.

Several years back, you made the jump to Barcelona, a major city with a very rich graffiti scene. It must have been both exciting and challenging. How did this move impact your journey as a writer, and how has your style evolved since then?

Definitely yes, Barcelona is a very impactful city. I think it’s one of the most active cities I’ve ever visited… constantly changing and really, really active. It’s definitely a city that constantly challenges you, not only under the aspect of graffiti but also your life in general. I feel like I’ve grown a lot in recent years.

I started doing things that I didn’t use to devote much time to, like sketching or painting legal walls where I can take more time to be creative and try out colors and letters with some peace of mind. It’s a fun experience and a great excuse to have a couple of beers with friends. Sometimes I think there’s even too much stimulation. So many different styles that catch your eye and become almost like a disease that I’ve felt myself affected by.

To be honest, I’ve always felt very lucky to have been born and raised on an island with few resources (as far as I’m concerned), like being able to browse through fanzines or watch graffiti videos. This lack of resources led me to look for inspiration in what I had around me, but to be honest, I’ve never liked the idea of “being inspired” by someone else, in terms of letters, colors, style, etc. I’m more fascinated by a person’s attitude than what they paint.

Here I feel like I’ve evolved mentally, being able to feel more and more free, focusing more on the fun than the result. This is a STATE OF MIND that I fortunately created for myself over time and experience, and it’s very important in everyday life, not just in graffiti.

However, I believe that a fundamental factor that changed my style a lot was when IRWIN, in 2011, gave me a great talk about simplicity over a beer or two! I often think back to it when I get lost, and I’ll thank him forever for it!

Your work has a distinct rawness and honesty that feels perfectly at home on the streets. It’s clear you’re not interested in being a “hall-of-fame Sunday writer,” and that’s exactly what makes your voice so unique. Can you tell us more about your approach to graffiti and how you connect with the city landscape?

I’ve always been fascinated by urban exploration in general: streets, railways, tunnels, fields, cliffs, bars. I really like track-sides, but I’m not just talking about writing, but also the smell of grease, iron, and dirt, the sounds, the workers.

I like to walk there with a tangerine or beer in my hand (depending on my mood, ahah!). Taking pictures, observing what surrounds me, what happens and how everything changes so quickly. For me, it’s one of the most romantic places there is.

The street and the shutters are always what I prefer and where I consider to have “searched” and then found my habitat. I really like trains, and I do them every now and then. Unfortunately, I don’t have much time for checks. However, in those moments I think I enjoy the atmosphere around me more than the fact of painting trains. Then, of course, seeing that piece of metal the next day is priceless, as you well know or as non-professionals can imagine. In any case, I like to write, in general, on any surface.

Barcelona has a long tradition of street bombers. Do you think in the last 5 years there has been any “game-changer” in the city? Which were the most representative names and crews in those recent years?

The Barcelona scene has completely changed in the last 5 years, from my point of view. For the worse, especially if we talk about the streets.

Very little respect, in my opinion. Between tourism and that damn street art… you can imagine. But I think this happens in many cities. Then there are the UDK (a local crew) who put some order in things, in the most efficient and ignorant way possible.

AZEN and LOAK are relentless on all fronts, the tireless GFM, 031 and BCNKILLS, VAGINA, SLATO, RICER and all the other wild ones from the underground. But I could name others, Barcelona as I already said, is a very active city.

We know you’re part of ADR: can you tell us something about your crew? What’s their story and how did you become part of it?

ADR was born in a small German town with RAIS, who later moved to Tuscany, Italy and joined forces with JADO and DEKS, forming this beautiful crew in 2005. Then in 2016-17 we all found ourselves reunited for a friend’s wedding, where I met the fantastic RAIS.

After an evening of sketching and drinking beers, he “recruited” me. It was truly something very important for me, because when I arrived in Florence in 2011, I was welcomed by this band of strays who took me in, despite my very few technical skills.

Do you prefer to paint alone or do you have any partner-in-crime?

Once again, as soon as I arrived in this new city, I was lucky! I met VAGINA, who at the time was writing EXPE, and DEROK. After about a year, I met GYPSIO. And when I go back to the island, if I’m lucky, I find FAKIR, also ADR, and SECCO. All true friendships, not just adventure companions! I AM RICH!!!

As for the company, I usually prefer to paint alone. That’s how I started, and it’s always unique even if I miss painting with the whole crew!

As someone who started in a small town and found your artistic voice through exploration and perseverance, what advice would you give to young writers who are embarking on their own graffiti journey?

Advice? I don’t think I’m the best person to give one. I believe that it is very important to know your own limits and those of a city, so that you can understand how to overcome them. You must always seek new stimuli, respect others, but above all yourself and your ideals.

I think that only by feeling free, living and doing what we like we can discover ourselves and transmit something to those who come into contact with us, regardless of whether this happens physically or simply by seeing a piece of ours on a wall. And to be able to transmit something almost unconsciously, with naturalness, simplicity but above all having fun, I think is one of the most important and fascinating things that exist.

Any shoutouts?

I would like to thank all of you, The Message and Bombing Science, for making me a part of this project, which I am very fascinated by and for which I have a lot of respect. I would also like to thank my entire crew, my parents for all the constant support they have never failed to give me, and I thank graffiti for everything they have taught me and given me: unique people and experiences. And thanks to you who read.

If you happen to be in these parts, write me for a beer together!


FOLLOW SAFOE @born_grezzo

The Message @the_message_zine

You can read the interview in Chinese here