Germany has a rich history of graffiti and has been responsible for creating many legends in the graffiti world and Speed and his Delta Crew are apart of a generation of German graffiti artists that have taken the inspiration they found not only in Germany, but all over the world, to create graffiti pieces that share what they have learned about art with the world. Below he was nice enough to discuss some of his work and the creative process of his crew in creating their amazing mural work.
For those of us who are not familiar with you or your work can you please tell us a little bit about yourself? How did you get started in graffiti and is this something you do full time?
Hi, my name is Speed and I am from Germany. At the moment I do simple 3D lettering and characters. In 2005 friends introduced me to graffiti, because they saw me sketching at school. Graffiti has been a part of my life ever since. I am not doing graffiti full time and I am not planning to do that. Life as a full-time-artist can be pretty unstable in my mind.
Do you have any kind of educational background in art? Your art makes me think that you have some background in graphic design.
Yes, I actually do. I went to a school with an art focus for 2 years.
What is it like being a graffiti artist in Germany? Do the authorities come down hard on artists or do you feel secure that you are free to do your work without being harassed?
Like everywhere else there is an ambivalent attitude to graffiti. There are people who love it and others who call the police while you are painting at a clearly recognizable Hall of Fame. I can only speak for myself here, because the appreciation for graffiti really depends on the city you are in. In my area we have some Hall of Fames, which some more experienced guys were able to open up years ago. This gives me enough space to express myself or do bigger concept walls without huge problems or stress.
Can you tell us a little bit about the creative process with the other artists you have collaborated with for the Panorama Mad Max piece you have posted on Instagram? How did you guys come together and how long did it take you?
Years ago I did a lot of name-exchanges with other writers (and I still try to do so as often as I can). This and also spending a lot of time in Frankfurt at the “Naxos -Atelier” (a big art studio, which is open for everybody interested once a week) has increased my number of friends, who are artists. They always come up with great concept ideas like “Mad Max”, “Underwater World” or “winter”. Once an idea is set we start planning. I love to plan things. Some people call me a “planoholic” (lol). We start texting each other; do little drawings to find a matching background; discuss dates, color schemes and who can bring which sort of equipment. This whole process can take all the way from a day to a month depending on the size and the details. When everything is planned we meet up and normally we finish even big projects (like the Mad Max for example) in one day. This is not only because of our long planning, but also because we usually only have one day on which everybody is available (haha).
On your Instagram you have a lot of shoots of different cities from London to New York. Has travelling outside of Germany changed your perspective on graffiti or art at all? Do you paint in all of these cities?
I think it is important to have a certain understanding of graffiti. So I try to learn as much as I can on my trips, but I usually don’t paint there. I want to see how graffiti developed there and how the cities have affected it. The style difference a country or even a city can make is unbelievable.
A lot of your work features an octopus or underwater scenes. What is it about the ocean that inspires you?
I focused on the Octo from 2009 to 2015. I think what attracted me to it was the fun and sometimes the challenge to organize all the arms. Seeing the Octopus doing stuff you wouldn’t expect it to do, like riding a bike or driving a car was great, too. The ocean just gives you such a huge variety of ideas and things to draw. You can go from lost cities, sunken ships and dumped trains to all kind of mysterious, angry, wild, funny or even cute creature.
Outside of art what else do you enjoy in life? Do you see yourself still doing graffiti art in the future or do you plan on doing more illustrations?
I enjoy travelling a lot and hanging out with my friends is very important to me, too. I can’t and don’t want to imagine that graffiti would be no longer part of my life! At the moment I think I will stick to graffiti, but I’m always open for new challenges!
Any shout outs you would like to give? Are there any artists that you admire today in Germany that you think deserve more attention?
I actually do like to give a shout out to my crew, the “Delta Crew”, and to “Naxos atelier” (@naxos_atelier). They do an amazing job and really helped me to evolve as an artist. A special thanks also goes to Venom (@venom_aka_robeasy). He is a very talented artist and deserves all my respect. He taught me a lot in the last years and is a great source of inspiration!