Coming up to a new issue means we get all you great fans out there some interviews you missed. Here’s an excerpt from the 3rd issue with the amazing guys at Visual Orgasm. An inspiration to BBB more than words can say.
BizarreBeyondBelief: How did Visual Orgasm start and what was its overall intention when it began?
BEAST: The website started in September of 1997 so we are going to be at fifteen years into this inter-web stuff and it’s a long time for a website to be kicking around for. I got into graffiti in 1996 and start photographing any graffiti I saw. I had gathered a small collection and wondered how this new hobby of mine could be put to use. A friend mentioned the internet and suggested the idea of creating a website to share photos. Since I was a pubescent kid I came up with the name Visual Orgasm, found another buddy to create a website and got Art Crimes (http://www.graffiti.org) to host it. Back then I had to scan all the hard copy photos since digital cameras were just coming out. Since the inception the intention of the website has always been to document and share Canadian graffiti from across the country.
BBB: Did you believe that VO was going to become one of the premier sites for Canadian content when it began?
BEAST: No, I didn’t think it would become what it is today or last this long either. I still have a hard time believing it and compared to other graffiti websites these days it isn’t a huge contender. That is why we got a new design done to push it to the next level. I really want it to be the hub for Canadian graffiti. I hope over the summer we can spend the time to create more profiles and really work on the vault, which we want to use as an educational tool or resource with articles, documents and information to keep showing how graffiti has developed in Canada. The blog style and easier navigation of photos has been real nice and being able to feature particular artists or crews in one update is fun to put into action.
BBB: how would you describe the evolution of the scene Canadian graffiti scene since the site started in 1997?
BEAST: That is a difficult question, as for Canada as a whole I think each city is going through ups and downs in terms of losing legal spots, having crackdowns/raids but there is certainly an increase in interest in graffiti and it is not slowing down. It is fun seeing how each city in Canada is different. Certainly it is great seeing some very impressive murals coming out of cities like Montreal and Toronto that are on some next level compared to ten to even five years ago. I think more Canadians have connected with American writers and that always helps the profile of graffiti happening in the cold north. Sure we see more kids going retro in their styles and just splashing paint on a wall but that is just another stage in scene. As for the internet it has certainly has changed and that is why we knew we had to adapt. Sites like flickr have changed the dynamics of photo sharing, which is great but we have to put up a fight.
BBB: On that note, has there been any province or more particularly city in Canada that you feel has just elevated their game above all others? If so, where and why?
BEAST: I always love visiting Montreal. I haven’t for a while but it just makes people who love graffiti skip around like school girls twisting their necks to see what is around the next corner. I would love to see some of the impressive murals they are pulling off in person. Toronto is always fun too. Compared to other cities these two just have so much more going on in terms of graffiti.
BBB: Considering how explosive this sub-culture has become, how do you feel that Canadian Graffiti scene compares to the world-wide scene?
BEAST: Canadian writers are continuing to travel and leave their mark world-wide. Having the crew connections with world-wide crews like 156 is impressive. As I mentioned before even the connection to American based crews like FC, TFO and IBD to Canadian crews expanding by putting down American writers like VTS. Canada will always be on the small scale of things in terms of graffiti but we can certainly put out some talented writers and continue to put in work.
BBB: Graffiti as an art-form is relatively young, do you feel as if what we’ve seen over the years is the tip of the iceberg or has it already become stagnant?
BEAST: I think there is always room to improve and we’ll continue to push boundaries wherever we can. The Europeans rock it, Asia is exploding and graffiti almost touches every part of the world, you can’t beat that.
Sadly I have never written a lot and nothing too crazy has happened. Just the usual urban grimy stuff all writers experience. Writing certainly opened my eyes to the other side of life where people face homelessness, addiction and whatever else they can do to survive.
BBB: What has been your favourite spot to paint in Canada?
BEAST: My favourite experience was taking VIA rail across Canada and stopping in Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax. The trip ended in Halifax and Sectr took me to a great spot underneath a bridge with a line of train tracks and a huge lake behind us. It was nice mix of natural surrounding with the lake we could jump in to cool off and then the urban feel of the concrete and chance that a train could roll by at any minute.
BBB: Considering you guys have been one of the go-to Canadian sites for approximately 15 years, what else can we expect from Visual Orgasm in the future?
BEAST: We just really want to be the hub for Canadian graffiti. If people are looking for information for a graffiti event in their city then we should have it on our calendar or if your looking for your favourite artist we at least have a few photos of their work. It will take us some time to build up the proper content for some of the sections but we hope people continue to support us like they have over the last fifteen years. I would like to think our new direction will entice people who have stopped checking us out or have given up on the internet as a way to promote the whole scene, come back and give it another shot. We still rely heavily on contributions so we are going to be harassing some of our contacts to share some of their gems so we have some new and possibly never before seen stuff to share, which is hard to do these days. Thank you to everyone who has stuck with us and been contributing over the years, we wouldn’t have been able to do it without you.