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Funk, Colors and the MK2

Jürgen Feuerstein from the Black Forest is one of the graff business pioneers. He invented the well known spraycans by the name of “Belton Molotow” and is the owner of the brand. We had a talk with him about his business, new products, writer teams, nitro alcyd, big markers, transformers, funk and a lot more background info of Molotow.

Let’s start with your background. How did Jürgen Feuerstein from Lahr in the Black Forest in South Germany start the leading spray paint brand on the graffiti market worldwide?

My family had a spray paint shop since 1959. In the 1980’s I was DJ’ing a lot and had a big passion for
American muscle cars from the late sixties and early seventies. In my spray paint shop you could hear old original funk artist like James Brown, Isaac Hayes, Bohannon and other legends of Groovemaster on my Technics SL 1200 MK2 turntable. It was actually the music that eventually put me in contact with the graffiti writers from the local scene in Offenburg. I guess it was in 1995 when I knowingly sold the first spray cans to graffiti writers. In those days it was still Sparvar which we had already sold to the Canadian military stationed in Germany since 1990, big quantities of Nato Olive RAL 6014. In our shop we offered the complete RAL range and the Sparvar colors. After talking to the graffiti writers, I started searching for producers of spray paint, first I talked to Motip Dupli, later I switched to Kwasny GmbH and Molotow was born.

Please describe to us how big Molotow is these days and how the company works?

How big it is? 5000 employees, hahaha… Actually we are a small company with a motivated crew of 16 people organising everything around Molotow. Creating new ideas and product developement is my area of work, supported by our great staff and artists. The company in Lahr is located at an old Canadian army base, here you find our distribution center, the customer center, a part of the wholesale department, the marketing department and our special presentation area. Ist also the location of the K31 Gallery, important for promoting aerosol art and started very early by us to offer a good platform for great artists.

A few days ago Molotow printed the latest wholesale catalogue. Compared to the 90’s and earlier years of graffiti related business, I noticed how much the product rage have expanded. I dont know any other brand that offers so many products. Together with the wide productline is the very detailed explanationof the technologies and innovations, why do you tell so much about your products in comparison to your competitors?

Yeah, the new catalogue is the bomb! I’m also quite shocked to see how many Molotow products we have and how many of them are new. Shows how much we have done. There is the new High-Pressure Molotow cans and the revolutionary developement of the One4All line of markers and inks. The One4All took us over two years to develope and we have succeded in creating a unique tool which combines many application requirements in one line. In order to show the possibilities of application we have to explain everything very clearly. You have to know we dont settle for pasting up any industrial products with a graffiti label. The challenge for us is to strike new paths and to provide a basis for implementing new techniques. Everything is based on high quality and the best price. This is the claim of Molotow products. In order to see it, we need give artist the oppertuneties to use and experiment. This very important. We provide the possibilities and ideas for development in techniques – This is our way, our credo and our future. “Innovate, don’t imitate” as we say, by the way – in this regard I know lots of examples that are very exciting. Take a look at our own Hall of Fame and you know how much we do and I’m always open for input like Antistatic from Strasbourg can give me for example.

How did you create the idea of One4All, the inks and the markers, what is it and how is it to be used?

I definitely wanted to launch a product line which can be compared to our number one product, the Belton Molotow Premium spray can, a product that becomes a reference in the field of colors and application.
For me it was evident, it had to be a lacquer that was weatherproof, UV resistant and very environmentally friendly. It’s a shame that most of the normal producers don’t care about these things, even though it is the right way. But I also wanted to develop a lacquer for various applications. Next to the simple Refill which can be produced by everyone, it should be compatible for airbrush, paint brushes and applicable as paint mixer. I imagined a new, exceptional product which could be seen in connection to our spray cans. The product, which have been the result of all these ideas, is a revolution, in my opinion. The One4All is a high pigmented lacquer based on new waterbased acrylic. The biggest difference, like I already said, is that its weatherproof, UV resistant and also highly covering. The real new thing, which has not hit the market yet, is that by adding just a little bit special acetone you can get a colour that is applicable on problematic grounds like leather or synthetic material. Especially interesting for customizing sneakers. Of course, One4All is a hit for airbrushing, acrylic colors for the airbrush pistol have always caused problems. Now cleaning is really easy. After usage you only need to clean it with acetone. Oh, and by the way, the color is also very hardly to buff.

Sorry, I have to interrupt your sales speech, so we can go on with the interview.

..Ok, just let me finish off by saying the One4All is applicable everywhere, indoor and outdoor – the number of surfaces is not countable. Thanks to the 18 colors in the line and the ability to mix them, almost all colors can be generated. Mix it up, let’s rock!

Tell me about how you made the One4All idea come to life, its made in Germany?

Sure, I have been to every color and pigment producers in the business, nobody could define and produce the specific Molotow colors I wanted. It was alot hard work. A lot of convincing had to be done in order to create an application that never existed before. You know, for me and all the companies I work with, it takes a lot of time to do so and as everybody know, time is money. We have to speak the same language, German with a Baden dialect like my mother, and if you don’t hang in there with me, nothing is possible. Even the most snobbish producers could not distract me from my plans. Never! We always hang in there, this is what is fun for us. Satisfied users and new techniques have always been the big aim for me! I’m only able to develop high tech products in cooperation with German speaking partners and distributors. Furthermore, only in Germany can I find the best and highest quality raw materials to work with.

With the Masterpiece and the Transformer, Molotow comes first with new novelties that have never been offered before. I often saw patent rights mentioned in the catalogue?

Well observed, I see you did good research, I like that. We work together with a German company, and had the prototype with 40 mm tips secured in our headquarter for many years. I knew that all marker producers have problems with a reliable color flow and there is nothing perfect on the market. But I was all for it and accepted the challenge of making the biggest marker in the market. After many samples and long test stages, finally, I can say that our producer invested all his knowledge in our idea and created a masterstroke of German mold construction. The patented eight color channels are unique worldwide, amazing! By the way, the demanded tips are grinded by hand, because nobody in the world owns a machine that is able to produce this size!

And the Transformer?

The line of Transformer should follow the D-I-Y, do it yourself, tradition. Everything about this marker system is exchangeable, a marker for you to create. You don’t need to buy the whole marker; maybe only want a new head and then you have a new tool for application. And the refill system for the Transformer marker is so easy. But this is only the beginning!

Do you develop the products on your own or are there artists or writer that gives you ideas and input

Yes, there are artists with ideas or they ask my advice or tell me their wishes. Cooperation with artists is absolutely necessary and a trademark for our company.

These days the spray can market is flooded with new graffiti related spray paint brands. How do you distinguish Molotow from all the other products?

Oh yes, I was waiting for that question. Actually it is a bit sad this topic! The things that come from Viva Italia or any other country, I call them free riders. Most of these products are mixed up with cheap regenerators and actual scrap stuff. A low price only makes the user happy for a short time, the product is unreliable and the joy is very short lived. Honestly, what is cheaper then? The smell of the product gives a hint as to what the ingredients are. The people who fill the cans are not certified according to ISO or DIN, nor do they have the know-how needed to produce a quality product. I have been to many of these companies and everywhere you find Molotow cans as reference. In the past, I got mad about the situation, today I’m more relaxed. Only the best stuff is copied. For the graffiti scene, it was us who developed what has now become the elementary basics: the Burner, the first product worldwide without mixing balls and still the best chrome product on the market. Also the first bitumen spray, the CoversAll line and the Molotow Premium artist line, all with the characteristics of the Molotow technology, like the anti-drip, all season, no-dust and covers all – in short the patented Molotow technology. I think, there is a big and clear difference compared to all our competitors.

Another fact is that some of these people do damage to the market. We promote and support together with other competitors, in a big way. The scene benefits from us. It is a circulation that can work, but at the same time can change into a viscous cycle. Why? We could stop all support and we would be able to sell at a lower price. But what would happen then? No payback to the scene, no innovative products, no activities regarding expositions and no event sponsoring anymore, like the Write4Gold. Great, who is it better for? By our big support, we differentiate ourselves from others, not only by the quality of our products, but also with the payback to the scene that has been important for us for 10 years.

Just recently Molotow launched the High Pressure cans, why make this new line?

Well, the High Pressure can is a “by popular demand“ product. The customers asked us to work on such a product and to make it reliable. Especially regarding overkill and UV resistance, in my opinion all products on the market leave a lot to be desired. Our mission was obvious! Fast, wide spraying, covering, quiet and reliable. As a welcomed side effect, in cooperation with the Kwasny company, the Molotow spray can producer, we developed a unique combination of new and environmentally friendly gas and lacquer, a new generation of unique and constant lacquer output. So I got to give much respect to the Kwasny company. Believe me, Kwasny knows what they do and, in my opinion, nothing will able to compete with this product for quite a long time.

How much new stuff can you keep making for the graffiti market?

We are pioneers on the spray can market, it has always been like that and will always stay like that. What all the others do, is just following us. The whole situation will end in a big death of brands. We always push the market permanently with new innovations. After innovation in the field of markers, new products for spray cans will be prepared in the Molotow laboratories. That means the competitors can get inspirations from the new ideas made by Molotow.

Where is the real difference between a Molotow Premium and a Montana Gold, a Clash, a Sabotaz and a Spanish Montana for example? I know about differences regarding quality, synthetic resin, nitro-alkyd, nitro and so on. What does that mean for a writer? Synthetic resin cans are cheaper and cover excellently! Where is the difference? Especially in your number one product, the Molotow Premium?

Yes, I’m asked for that very often! Many people think a spray can is a spray can, but this is wrong. As everybody knows, a car is not a car. The basis which we can call Kwasny-nitro- alcyd, is a combination of synthetic resin, which means high coverage and durability and nitro basis, which dries very fast and is filled with pigments. The Kwasny company is the only producer who offers this kind of lacquer production in the world. The pigments as well as the lacquer is produced by the Kwasny themselves, therefore, Kwasny takes the same pigments as they use in car spray production. Thank to additional processing of the pigments, the covering becomes better. This way the very good lacquer is produced. Other companies have to buy an existing lacquer or a bad acrylic from another lacquer producers like BASF. They are made of different scrap stuff in order to improve the covering power. Do you understand the difference?


For example, you can try to put a catalyzer into an old Volkswagon in order to level it to today’s models. Nevertheless, you will see then, other functions won’t work or will just be good for a very short time and new problems will occur. In the end, the old Wolkswagon will stay the same lame car. We take the challenge and develop a new high tech lacquer, no matter what it costs or if any other company produce cans with a cheaper price, For the long term, quality pays off. Always.

Ok, but where do we feel the difference, you know the touchable difference?

Molotow is long lasting! If you paint, you want the colors to stay at the same intensity for many years, no matter if we talk about an artwork on a canvas or a train (smiles). Would you as an artist feel good if you can’t be sure your colors don’t bleach out? Does that make sense? Sure and that’s why, its only a short term advantage to mix cheap lacquers up. At the same time there is the environmental impact again. I know, this is not the most interesting topic but here, we also see a responsibility and have to inform the user. What if we didn’t care? After a while there wouldn’t be any writers anymore as they would all suffer from blood problems and have their internal organs failing on them.

Couldn’t this be avoided by adjusting the lacquer just a bit

It’s very simple, first you take a Molotow Premium and try to paint a small line on styrofoam. Then you take a can of your choice in order to compare them and do the same. After that, you know what I‘m talking about! There are artists who have painted with Molotow Premium for 10 years with no problems. Damages caused by new brands will be realized very soon!

Does the Molotow customers have to expect increases in price in the next year?

As we all know there is big movements in the financial markets all over the world which reflects on prices too. This is true. We are talking about a product which becomes more and more expensive every day. There won’t be oil enough very soon and this fact will influence the whole economy. It concerns a company in the graffiti market as well and we have to react.

Some spray brands have writer teams. Molotow never had such a team. How important is marketing in the field of graffiti for you?

Well until now, everything has come step by step. In the beginning we named some of our colors after different artists. We created our own line of spray paint. We developed the first high pressure tools for artists. All this makes us proud. Writer team? Sure, it’s a nice thing. For me it makes more sense to support the general public. The Molotow writer team consists of all the writers in the world (smiles). For me, marketing means informing about our products. For the scene, marketing is important in order to take the next steps, as we like to say, discover new possibilities!

On Molotow Premium label is printed: Use cans for art, not for vandalism. Do you really mean this or is it an alibi? What do you think about the dispute between legal and illegal graffiti?

I can still remember how uncool the slogan was 10 years ago. In fact, our can and slogan made the public and graffiti critics start to think. It helped to succeed in difficult situations as for writers and animate the people to think. Finally, the slogan helped us succeed in the lawsuit against us from DB, Deutsche Bahn, the German railway company. That was very stressy, but more about that another time. However, the slogan is our attitude, we want to grow with graffiti on a legal level. For sure, illegality is a part of it, as our products are made for graffiti writer. As everybody knows, graffiti evolved from illegality. But in my opinion, the right way to reach more acceptances for this culture and to get the more free walls and areas to express ourselves, is by using this slogan. At the end, everybody has to decide on their own, I respect almost everybody, we are no moralizer.

What do you think about the development of the mainstream streetart hype?

What a word, mainstream streetart. I think, we at Molotow did a lot some years ago with our exposition area, the K31 Gallery, which I call a mainstream gallery as well. Graffiti goes art, and with our gallery campaigns we were already going the same direction as the development. That was history in making and the most important fact is we always encouraged it! Today, there are many galleries of streetart, graffiti and aerosol art in different locations, also graffiti stores with gallery concepts, that‘s great, that’s cool! The topic is brought closer and becomes more understandable to the genera public. Especially on a high level like Dare and Toast, who did very successful work for Gunther Sachs, the old playboy and art collector. Graffiti is just a streetart. Nobody wants to deny its origin but its development goes on. Art experts realize this more and more. We have to take the steps serious. Me, I love this face of graffiti. Look at its diversity, style, the different techniques, the amazing creative realization, no other creative field shows that much agility. Here it grows, you feel it and its fun!

one of them export hit comes from Offenburg, right?

Yes, Stefan Strumbl aka Deine Heimat. Somewhere I have a picture of him years ago. At that time, he was one of my first employees who took especially care about graffiti. That was in 1996, or was it earlier or later? Whatever, Stefan is always with the spirit of the times. He took up a great topic, an awesome realization with the help of different techniques. He is our shooting star, respect. Karl Lagerfeld says hello, its crazy.

You are not a writer, you come from DJ’ing, you said. Are you still DJ’ing today?

I still have a picture, of me together with Schumacher from Lahr. This is the dude who stands next to our blow-up can in our catalogues and and marketing papers. Together with him, I did some crazy stuff just for fun, but that was on another level (laughs). Tino, are you still there? Myself, I‘m able to do inspiring layouts. Painting or creating artwork, I‘m very bad at it. But if somebody is looking for the best man for fill-ins, here I am, nobody is faster (smiles). These days, I only play records for small groups of people. Honestly, I don’t even know my own records anymore. Every DJ knows if you can’t find the right tracks in stressful situations, you will fail. But still, people ask me again and again. In the past, everything was different, the people loved to be on the dance floor and smart girls smiled and grooved. I think I’m really going to play records again, so recently I tried to mix again. I took Tony Baxtor “Screaming 45″ and tried to mix the “One Way Mr. Groove 45”. Oh my god, usually it was so easy to make clear beats, with no scratches, no cuts, I’ve never been good in that. But it sounded like horses on a race-track, it was a bad mix, my hands were trembling. You see, without constant practice, you don’t stand a chance.

Can you tell me a bit more about what can we expect from Molotow in 2009?

Hmm, I’ve already told you quite a lot while during this interview. We will stay on the ball, that’s for sure. Molotow should stay as a brand the people like and that they want grow older with. This is my personal quest and Molotow will always stay this way. This is, what I, the whole Molotow crew and all the artists and people who have ever worked for us go for. Is this the part of the interview I should list my mother, my relatives and friends? Do I have to?

No, no thanks for the detailed answers! Good luck to you and all the people at Molotow!

One nation under a groove. Respect for graffiti. Thank you!

Photos: Molotow, Martin Andreasen, ilovegraffiti

Posted: 2. November 2008  Posted By: admin  Tags: , , , , , , , , ,