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One of the finest writers to come from ATHENS – An Interview with TONES GFR

Reigning from Athens, Greece, TONES of the GFR Crew started writing graffiti in 2006, and is now one of the finest writers to come from his home country. Hid letters are strong and dynamic with a nice flow, strong colors, tones and effects. Athens offers uncountable and untouched virgin walls. Raw brick or concrete, clean, untouched spots in nature that just beg for some colors. TONES is always exploring to create a stack of colorful burners within the past years. We visited INDIANA TONES recently for some paint and now decided to send some questions to present a portfolio of his works painted in 2015 to now.

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ILG: For those who don´t know, please introduce yourself.
Tones: Hello! I write TONES and I am a graffiti writer from Athens, Greece. I’ve been doing graffiti since 2006 and to start painting was the worst decision of my life.. ahahahaha

ILG: How did you start and where are you today?
Tones: I was introduced to graffiti by two friends back in 2001. We had a graffiti crew with some friends in school but I was only doing some silly sketches every now and then.. Most of us did the same thing I guess because we grew up at the suburbs of Athens which was great for us kids to play outside at our neighborhood, you know playing every kind of game you can imagine out in the fields around our houses with all our friends etc.. So that was our priority back then hehe..

But that graffiti ‚thing‘ was inside me I guess so it was around 2006 when I saw a friend from my neighborhood, that we were hanging out, painting and I decided to go grab some cans and paint a ‚complete‘ piece too. I liked the feeling so much, so I started doing sketches more actively and together with my friends we started painting more and more.. I guess that was the beginning of the story. Today 10 and a half years later I think I am more active and productive than
ever (even though I paint alone a lot). But I still see graffiti the same way as back then.. A way to go all around the place with some friends, or by myself, find new spots and do my thing. The only thing that changed is that now I see things in a different scale. From the scale of the pieces and the amount of effort i put into creating them to the places that I do graffiti. Instead of my neighborhood I see that I can travel to places around the world, see so
many interesting things and meet great people.. That’s one aspect of graffiti that I didn’t think of back then but know it means a lot to me as an artist and as a person.

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ILG: What crews are you in, and how important are they to you?
Tones: Since I started painting more actively I haven’t been a member of any crews. All of my friends quit painting and I was painting by myself for some years, So after some point I wasn’t thinking of being a member of a crew. In my mind, to be part of a crew means a lot more than just painting.. It means to spend your time with good friends with whom you can share things, people that you can inspire and get inspired by (and not only on an artistic level) and generally have a deeper connection than just painting a wall together. All that changed very recently though (last summer) when me, Poison and China (two of my friends that I paint a lot with) joined the GFR crew from New York.

Although the guys are from another continent we had such an amazing time here in Greece when they visited last summer that it felt like we’ve been knowing them forever. So I’m very happy to be part of a crew with really cool people and great artists, whose work inspires me a lot.

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ILG: Whats it like for you to be painting in Athens in general?
Tones: Athens is a really cool place to paint and I really enjoy it. You have a lot of nice spots in the center of the city or in the suburbs and good weather to paint most of the year. You can walk around freely bombing even during the day in some places and most of the people I think are tolerant towards graffiti (especially if it includes characters haha). On the other hand we have the financial crisis which has done a lot of damage to our country. So, graffiti wise, it’s difficult for someone nowadays to start painting at a constant rate and keep evolving and be active for many many years. That’s why you can see a lot writers start painting for a couple of years and then they quit. Also here in Greece there aren’t a lot of opportunities for graffiti writers to do things and also graffiti graffiti events are a few and they have limited resources. So it’s a bit difficult to promote graffiti and for people to come in contact with other artists which is something really useful for everyone I think. So I feel that the same environment that helps me go forward is also holding me (and other writers) back sometimes.

ILG: How do you work with your letters and with colors?
Tones: I don’t have a standard way of working with my letters. It changes from time to time. For the basis I like to have well balanced, good looking, dynamic letters that can also stand by themselves. Then I add various elements I like, to keep the balance of the piece and sometimes make it more ‚wild‘. For the colors I like to use more earthly colors and some duller shades of typical colors and then give the colorway that extra boost it needs using some ‚strong‘ vivid colors for fades and/or highlights.

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ILG: You paint a lot with Insane51, can you tell us about your connection?
Tones: Oh yeah, I’ve known Insane51 almost since the beginning.. We started painting at the same time but we met a couple of years later at a wall and after that we started talking more and more and started painting every now and then. The last couple of years we painted bigger and more detailed walls together and that was something that we both enjoyed so we started traveling together and last summer we travelled to a lot of places in Europe and in Greece to paint. Also last year at Roskilde festival we found out that we are really good at playing ping pong and now we are team mates.. So beware!

ILG: What does „malakes“ mean?
Tones: Ahahahahahaha.. everybody in the world knows what malakes means! And if you don’t, ask the person next to you..

ILG: Social media, how do you like them, and how do you use them?
Tones: I was born in 1990 so as a teenager (when I started painting) social media was already around us and everybody already had a pc or an early smartphone. So everything I wanted to see I was just googling it and boom, it was right in front of me.. from graffiti to whatever. So for me it’s something natural to use the social media and I like how people all around the world connects via some applications. Also it’s a great thing that we are just a few clicks away from other people’s works and we can see them and get inspired by, something that it was a bit harder back in the days without the internet and stuff. I also like the fact that many artists can show their works in the social media and get to be known to a lot of places around the world. What I don’t like is that everyone can use social media and that sometimes is not good in many ways regarding graffiti or not. I use social media a lot to connect with people around the world and to show my work (not all of it though) and also to see other people’s work and get inspired by it.

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ILG: Last year you travelled a lot, tell us where you went and what you experienced?
Tones: Yeah, last year it was really cool traveling to various places with friends painting and having a great time. I travelled to several cities in Greece and in Europe, like Thesaloniki, Berlin, Antwerp, Roskilde and others.. I really like to travel and that was something I really enjoyed. I met a lot of cool people that I painted with or we just hung out, I saw some amazing places, I took part in some really nice projects, I made strong friendships and I got inspired by a lot of artists. The best experience for me, I think, from last year was at the Roskilde festival in Denmark in which we had a blast, painting together with so many graffiti artists, partying and having a great time.. It was inspiring in every way and not only graffiti wise. Other stuff that I enjoyed was painting a train station in Berlin and making a really big piece in a mural festival in Naousa city in Greece..

ILG: Inspiration, what makes you paint, who inspires you?
Tones: Everything inspires me I guess in certain ways.. From graffiti and art in general to the shapes and the vibes of the urban environment or the colors and patterns out in the nature. What I really like to watch and I really get inspired by is the nature. I love how nature uses color. The colors and the shapes you see at certain landscapes is really amazing and nothing can beat that.. Also artists that I really like their work inspire me to keep on going and always try harder to push forward my art.

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ILG: Do you have goals you have already accomplished, and what goals do you have for the future?
Tones: I think that yeah I’ve accomplished some goals like being able to produce a decent graffiti piece that I, first of all, like and feel good about it. Also traveling to other cities and paint was something that I really wanted to do and the last couple of years I managed to do it. For the future I want to be able to do graffiti and evolve what I do in general, travel as much as possible around the world and take part in several projects.

ILG: Describe a regular good day for you?
Tones: Ok here we go. I wake up in the morning, I eat my breakfast and then workout a little bit. Then get to work on any projects I might have (graphic design or graffiti). If I don’t have to work then probably I will go out spot searching, or go out to paint a wall. If the weather is bad then stay inside and do sketches or I sit at my pc and search for information about several stuff that I find interesting.. Then at night I go out to find friends and drink some beers or I go out bombing hehe..

ILG: Any last words?
Tones: I’ll answer when my time has come..

ILG: Do you love graffiti?
Tones: Sometimes.. I guess..

List your online medias:

Instagram: @Dirtysprayer
Facebook: @Tonesgfr

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Posted: 15. Februar 2017