Graffiti writers live for one thing and one thing only: getting their name up. Streets, highways, subways, trucks, trains, abandoned buildings, playgrounds – you name it, and chances are they’ve probably painted it. We hunted down six legends, each with their own speciality, and got them talking about their nighttime obsessions.
For streets: Byz
First started painting in 1992. Got into graffiti through skateboarding and trips to New York.
Very early on put all his focus into street tagging. Met SozyOne of RAB at art school and quite quickly got into the crew (“I told him that if I was accepted into the crew I’d do the work.”). Had an infamous battle with Roel (CNN) that lasted several months: “Roel Vs Byz was a little like Anderlecht Vs Standard, or Madrid Vs Barcelona.” Once painted what was believed to be the tallest letter in the world in the inside of a now-demolished building in downtown Brussels, a ’B’ that measured 80 metres high.
For everything: Escro
Started painting at age 14. Estimates having painted over 400 trains and 15 subways in addition to innumerable burners, throw-ups and tags. Painted exclusively in Brussels train yards for 10 years, mostly on Sunday mornings.
“I like tagging the most, preferably with fat caps. I like the French way of painting, going for quantity over quality. Guys like Trane from France.”
For walls: Defo
First started painting in 1993. Prefers painting walls – he once spent 16 hours on a wall. Member of some of Brussels’ most infamous crews: DB, BCP and Bad News.
“I’m in several crews, although I like to paint with whomever I want.”
For highways: AT1
First started painting in 1996-1997. Prefer painting highways as they’re more visible, and also stay up for longer.
“When we’re out on an AT1 mission, no individual names get put up. And when our members are on an individual mission, AT1 doesn’t get put up.”
For trains: Hulk
First started painting in 1989. Estimates having painted over 1,200 trains and subways since then.
“Why trains? They’re simple, they’re beautiful, they’re clean and they run. There’s a certain atmosphere to painting trains, a certain tactical strategy to reach the train yard. You need to think of everything and, above all, you need to paint quickly and run even quicker if the police comes. Painting trains is a mission, so when you see your train pull up at the train station, that’s just the end of it.”
For subways: Cap
First started painting in 1993. Got into graffiti through a group of friends (the SCT crew) and then through another crew, DRC.
“I was introduced to subways through Pom and Chinez. I prefer painting subways to trains because I get more of a kick out of it. Trains have never really been my thing. Over the years, I must have painted over 150 subways in Brussels alone. The best memory I have is of painting the Delta subway yard with 12 other guys, several times during the same day.”
For art: Bue
First started painting in 1991. Mostly paints colourful walls. estimates having painted over 600 of them.
“Painting for me is like therapy! And I feel free as a bird.”