GRAFFITin Magazine | Interview
Launched at the beginning of 2013, GRAFFITin is the first Romanian online magazine dedicated to the local graffiti and street art scene (now also available on print).
GRAFFITin is the result of two graffiti lovers, Andreea Chiujdea and Alex Revnic, currently active in Cluj.
You’ve launched together an ambitious project – the first online magazine dedicated to graffiti and street art culture. How did you start collaborating and what determined you to go for this project?
Andreea: Our collaboration began sometime in March 2012, when I decided the theme of my Bachelor’s degree and, to my great joy, I discovered browsing the internet in search for bibliography, Alex’s photo album.
My first reaction was wooow, this is really cool! As many photos as I want, great. And well, I left him a message on his blog to get approval for using the photos. So, this was the first step towards a wonderful collaboration and… here we are!
I went and saw together with Alex great and interesting things, places such as Carbochim, a massive experience for me. After finishing my graduation thesis, “Graffiti between communication and vandalism”, we kept in touch and decided to start a useful project for graffiti lovers and those interested to find out every detail about this culture.
The need to promote graffiti culture in Romania and express in words what most express in drawings brought us to what we’ve achieved today and what we hope you enjoy, GRAFFITin. We fully support the need to promote graffiti culture and showcase this perspective to the community. We want to change opinions and overcome the lack of tolerance for what graffiti represents.
Alex: We started in the spring of 2012, when Andreea contacted me for some bibliography related to graffiti in general, but mainly in Romania… I had a photo album published in 2010 about graffiti and street art in Cluj.
After a visit to Carbochim, the idea “of doing something” emerged, especially since Andreea had this very interesting graduation project practically fixing the theoretical basis of graffiti methodology. We both felt the need to find out more about the movement, and not only in Cluj…
After 6 months of work, we launched GRAFFITin, the first online, (but) also printed (just a few copies) Romanian street art magazine. We wanted to know…
What do you think about the street art scene in Cluj? What about Romania?
Andreea: Now, there’s a rather sad situation in Cluj, crews have decayed or chosen to do something else. New works are few, especially in the central zone of the city. As long as graffiti is accused of vandalism and there is no support, street art cannot evolve. The activity of graffiti artists in Cluj is low, surely because of authorities and limited support of the graffiti scene. Compared to other cities such as Bucharest, Timișoara, Oradea, Iași, Cluj still needs its support for street art.
Mindset differences and government rules applied in the West, compared to countries in the East, generated an asymmetry in cultural and artistic views and opportunities. This explains why in Romania, and in Cluj also, the graffiti movement is just at its beginning artistically speaking. Graffiti is considered a phenomenon by the local police, a negative one that must be punished and limited.
However, 2012, since we’ve paid more attention to the phenomenon, we could say that is was a good year for graffiti artists in Cluj, as there were people who showed support for street art. We want to mention Timaf 2012, event about which you can read more in our first edition of the magazine.
Alex: After the very active 2007-2010 period, when I found and photographed many drawings, created in various techniques (throw, piece, stencils, paste-up, stickers) I noticed a standstill. This was also confirmed by Etic le Vandal, who in his interview for our first issue, also noticed a lack of graffiti activity in Cluj, generating the city’s exclusion from events related to street art. Moreover, this problem is amplified by the authorities’ lack of interest – if we compare it to Timişoara, Oradea, Bucharest, where this type of events gained success also due to administrations understanding the impact and exposure benefits of promoting graffiti culture.
Until Timaf’12, which produced a good awareness in the media, and many appreciated the works of the graffiti artists invited, there were two years when no extraordinary things happened… I’d also like to mention the May 2012 contest at ShtoBar, event which gathered graffiti artists from Cluj. Nationally speaking, things are a lot better, people start to be aware of the artistic value of street art, and gain knowledge…
Your first issue had a short introduction about graffiti culture, mentioned names of the international graffiti scene, reviews of local events, interviews with local artists. How did people react to the launch of the magazine?
Andreea: The magazine was warmly welcomed by all those who read it. We received many thanks for this initiative. Our readers also mentioned the need of such a project in Romania and we can only be proud and thank all those who support us.
Alex: Thinking of the first impressions, I sincerely did not expect such a success… after the launch we started gathering contacts and data from Romanian artists, we sent requests of collaborations, had promises of receiving interviews and materials… All this makes us happy and motivates us, as we feel there was a need for a project like ours… and people are asking for the printed magazine more and more often.
When will we be able to read the second issue? Can you tell us a bit about it?
Andreea: The second issue will be launched at the end of June, and we have interesting articles and spicy interviews for you. We won’t spoil the surprise so… you have to be patient. The new issue will have the same structure, we’ll continue talking about the history of graffiti culture and bring to front information about throw-up.
Alex: The second issue is scheduled to appear in the second part of June – we already have a voluminous summary where, as in the first issue, we’ll combine theory with interviews, reviews of books, film, stories about local and national street art events.
Who are your favorite graffiti artists (Romanian and/ or international)?
Andreea: As you can easily notice in our first issue, our international reference is Banksy. He is a graffiti landmark and that is why we decided to open GRAFFITin with Banksy. Another great artist is Christian Guémy aka C215, a real “Banksy of France”, about whom you can read in the second issue.
From Cluj, Etic le Vandal inspired us with his lovely work, the fascinating – at least for me – Waiting for the Sun, which became our magazine cover.
Alex: My favorites are the following, mentioned in a random order.
From Romania: Allan Dalla (character of Obie Platon), Kero, Nego, IRLO, Suflo, Pisica Pătrată, Creaturi Drăguţe, Ortaku… they are surely the most important Romanian street artists, each having his personal style and it’s great watching their works. I also want to include Etic le Vandal on the list, thanks to him and his drawing, Waiting for the Sun from Carbochim Cluj , GRAFFITin was born… It was the work that influenced both of us to do more in this area.
From abroad: C215, Zed, Banksy… and many, many more…
What are your plans until the end of 2013?
Andreea: Well… we firstly want to take GRAFFITin to a higher level. Our initiative is to change the perception of people in Cluj about graffiti and street art through a constant information and knowledge sharing. We’re considering to organize street art festivals to help rehabilitate some places in Cluj-Napoca. We intent to exceed the critical perspective on graffiti culture today. We also want to announce the start of a beautiful collaboration for street art promotion in Cluj between GRAFFITin and Shto Bar College Cluj.
Alex: The end of 2013 is dedicated to the third issue of GRAFFITin, which will include a retrospective photo album with the best works that we encountered in 2013 – tag, throw, piece, stencil, paste-up etc. We imagine this album to be printed and be a true collector’s item for those who show interest in Romanian graffiti. We also try to be present at as many events as possible, as partners.
Find out more about GRAFFITin on their Facebook page.
[Originally posted on April 27, 2013 on The re:art Facebook page; Revised for the current version].