A Talk and Studio Visit with Eine, part 1Juxtapoz // Sunday, 08 Aug 2010
Helen Soteriou: Why Eine?
Eine: I started writing when I was a little kid, and after going through a few different names my tag evolved… and it was more of a shape or a throw-up than an actual name.
I spent years just tagging that all over the streets of London. It was ideal for that. It was quick to do. It wasn’t a word and it wasn’t a name, so it stood out from all the other tags that were on the wall. It was quick. It looked good and efficient. Perfect for just tagging streets.
I don’t know what year it was but we started painting trains, and there was a stage where for about two years we tagged the insides of the trains really heavily and that tag wasn’t particularly good for tagging the insides of the trains because lots of people were doing it, and there was never that much room, and we were using these different pens with inks that you could not buff. So there were lots of tags on the insides of the trains and lots of stains from other people’s old tags that people had tried to clean. So there was never any room for something like THAT big.
There was this one bit on the door on the train, and it had a little panel above the window and not that many people tagged that for some reason or another, and it just seemed like an ideal place to tag – it was at eye level. So I wanted to tag that but my tag would not fit so I started experimenting with ‘one’ and ‘uno’ and ‘eine’ – different versions of the number one, and Eine fitted and looked nice and I was happy with the tag, so yeah, I basically picked the name Eine because it fitted on the stupid little panel on the doors of the tube trains.
Do you have any photos of your tags?
I used to paint a lot with this guy called Elk and one evening we went to have a look at this train yard at Farringdon station, and for some reason we drove along to the next station which was Barbican and we had a look over the wall into Barbican station and all the lights were out which never ever happens. They always leave the lights on all night and none of us had ever seen this before and it was like ‘f**k’, so we f**ked off the train yard, went back and got tons of paint -black and chrome and went back, jumped over, got into Barbican station and just f**ked it, like EVERYTHING.
It is all mad old Victoria brickwork and just everything was covered in our tags. So I stayed at my friends house that night – I had a job at the time, and on my way to work in the morning I was on the train and as we were coming up to Barbican station the driver announces that Barbican station is closed due to security or something, and as the train pulled into the station there were police in white suits photographing and picking up all our empty cans. So someone has photographs of that and that will show my old Eine tag!
Why letters and why certain words?
When I did graffiti I was always interested in the letter form and graffiti is about words. It is about your name and writing your name in different ways and making your name look cool…look f**king mad, wild style, or throw-up. It is about adding style in the way that you write your name, so when I stopped doing graffiti and started doing street art I had that background. I spent years writing my name in different ways and in different styles, and writing just really simple, big block individual letters, and at the time seemed like quite an interesting thing to do. So yeah, I did that.
How do you decide on the words that you use?
It has a lot to do with the wall that you are painting and where it is. Depending on the size and the shape of the wall you are dictated to by how many letters will fit on that and then what is buzzing around your head at the time.
The first big thing that I wrote was ‘vandalism’ on this wall in Shoreditch. It was this massive great big wall and it has been painted loads of times since, and you look at it now and can’t imagine what it looked like before it was painted, but I was the first one to paint it and it was just this massive big dirty old Victorian wall…and at the time street art was beginning to appear in auction houses, and people were beginning to pay silly money for canvases and street signs and things that people had nicked off the streets were appearing in auction houses and were selling for £50,000 - £60,000.
There was a debate going on in the press: is it art or is it vandalism? It is the same debate that happens ever year with the Turner prize – what is it? It is quite an interesting debate and they were having this thing about street art – is it art or is it vandalism? and I had this wall that I wanted to paint and this debate was going on, so I thought I would write the word ‘vandalism’ and throw that into the mix – is it art or is it vandalism?, well, it is what it says and I didn’t have permission to paint it, so it WAS vandalism. It said vandalism. BUT it is neat. It is tidy. It looks good. Lots of people liked it …so, could it be art? So that was the reason I chose the word ‘vandalism’ and because I got away with that without any problems….there was another wall a little bit further up the road and I covered that with the word ‘scary’.
The reason why I chose scary was because it followed-on from ‘is it art or is it vandalism?’ the way that people are scared of graffiti. It is the debate about if there is graffiti then what other crimes are there? So, graffiti isn’t necessarily ‘scary’ but because people can do graffiti in that area without getting caught does that mean they can break into my car without getting caught? Attack my wife? Snatch my handbag? Is it a lawless area because there is graffiti? People are scared of graffiti for no real reason. So I wrote the word scary in big, nice, smart, blockbuster style letters and obviously not ‘scary’ but graffiti without permission. Vandalism. So that is why I wrote ‘scary’.
I like powerful and positive words but I also like playing with negative anti-powerful words.
Part 2 of this interview and more images from Eine's studio are online here.
More on Eine online at www.einesigns.co.uk