The creative urban artist Алекс Джи or Alex G. has been a graffiti sprayer in the Russian capital Moscow for more than ten years now. Under his artist name GARICK, he is a member of the fabulous CREW TEAM and has also participated in a variety of festivals and jams such as the “Clean Energy”, the “Rhythm of my City” or the “Gamma Art Weekend”. In an interview he told us about his art and how it is to spray graffiti in Moscow.
GARICK sprays his letters and his name in a changing variety of different colourful ways. The basic style is fixed with the lettering, but the way how he puts it on the wall is always new. How graffiti is and how it should be. It’s about diversity and creativity, protest and critizism. And all that togehter with a little relaxation. Again and again you will see Rastafari colours, good vibes mixtures and a positive effect in his creations. Mostly you can find his works at inner city fascades and in urban space, but more and different projects are also in the planning stage. However some of GARICK’s greatest works are hidden in half-raveled ruins and forgotten places. The mix between dilapidated buildings and colorful paint on the wall is simply fascinating. We asked GARICK some questions about his interesting art and the creative work.
When did you start doing Graffiti? How did it begin?
In the late 90s I was carried away by Hip Hop culture. I listened to Rap, danced Break Dance and tried to draw the first sketches on paper. In 2001, me and my friend bought some car spray paint cans and painted our first graffiti. At that time there was very little information about graffiti, we got it from magazines and television, the internet was a rarity. But the lack of information fueled my interest in graffiti even more. Professional cans for graffiti were not really available and it costed a lot of money. So our first pieces had to be painted with vehicle spray paint. Since 2002 I began to paint more and more often, and I am still painting till nowadays.
Your artist spray name is GARICK. Why this name?
In the circle of friends I had the nickname GARICK, this nick I began to use as my pseudonym since I was drawing graffiti.
How is it to do Graffiti in Moscow? How is it to do urban art in Russia?
There is a lot of Graffiti in Moscow, although the authorities are actively fighting against it. There are also a lot of Graffiti artists and Streetart artists living in Moscow. In the city you can see all of it. Bombed walls and murals and vibrant colorful productions. Periodically, various festivals are held in Moscow to which Graffiti artists from all over the world are invited to draw.
Graffiti is mostly illegal everywhere, but the persecutions are different. How strict is it in Russia? And do you have any possibilities to do spray painting legally? Are there legal walls or areas where it is allowed?
As in many countries of the world, Graffiti is illegal in Russia. There are various penalties for painting on the walls. High pennies are provided for drawing on electric trains. With drawing in the subway, the situation is even more serious, only for penetration into the metro system can come criminal liability up to imprisonment. Of course, in Moscow there are Hall of Fames where you can draw half-legally for hours, but recently such places are becoming less and less. It is difficult to agree on legal Graffiti due to bureaucratic procedures. The authorities do not try to integrate Graffiti into the urban environment.
Your artworks are sometimes with letters, sometimes with characters. And sometimes a mix. Tell me more about your techniques and about your theme. So you do more bombing and lettering?
I prefer to paint font Graffiti, but sometimes I draw characters and other pictures. I really like to create productions in the company of other artists, when different styles are mixed by making it together with all the characters and the general background. While drawing high-quality bright fonts, I also do not forget about bombing and quite often draw in black and chrome.
Do you make art as well on other surfaces, like spray painting on canvas? Or only walls?
I paint exclusively on the walls. I’ve only drawn one canvas. I drew this canvas as a gift for my beloved wife. At the beginning of this year (2021), I had some ideas to implement spray paint on canvas, but so far these are just ideas and plans.
Are there in Moscow also exhibitions inside buildings and galleries about graffiti and streetart? And did you participate in something like that?
My works did not participate in exhibitions. But in Moscow there are quite a few galleries, art clusters and art spaces where exhibitions of contemporary artists and graffiti writers are periodically held. Separately, I would like to highlight the NOTFOUNDGALLERI. And also Maxim Kishkin, the founder of that gallery, who has turned his large appartment in one of the elite districts of Moscow into a gallery. Maxim Kishkin provides comprehensive assistance to graffiti artists and writers in organizing exhibitions in his gallery. The hallmark of the gallery is the “Project Name” and one statement is on canvases of a certain size, where the tags of various graffiti writers get collected.
Tell me about your graffiti festivals in Moscow. What events are existing and at which did you already take part as an artist? I heard about Dream Energy, Urban Morphogenesis, Sign Your Style and LGZ, they are quite famous.
I already drew at the festivals “Clean Energy”, “Rhythm of my City”, “Gamma Art Weekend”, “Free Hip-Hop”,” Victory Street Fest” and “Mass Crayon”. Many events were held in Moscow, from major festivals to local ones.
How is it to get cans and spray paint? Do you have Graffiti shops in the city and which one can you recommend?
Now in Moscow there are no problems with buying spray paint. All well-known European brands such as MOLOTOW, MONTANA and MTN are presented on the market. We have as well the very high quality ARTON spray paint which is also produced in Russia. But I can single out two networks of graffiti shops in Russia to recommend: Graffitimarket and United Styles. As well in each region of Russia there are local shops selling aerosol paint.
Let’s speak about your crew. Who are the other team members and what kind of art do they do? Tell me more about the work of the team.
I paint for the CREW TEAM. The team was created in Krasnodar in 2011. Now the team consists of more than 10 artists living in different cities of Russia. That would be Krasnodar, Moscow and Samara. Each of us draws in his own unique style and everybody works in his own way. The one artist draws commercial orders, the other one draws on trains, the next one does tattoos, another one promotes the logo. We also try to form a common team style.
Which other artists from Moscow and Russia can you recommend?
I don’t want to highlight someone specifically as there are a lot of cool artists living in Russia and most of their works I like.
Can you recommend a website or platform where other interested art fans can find graffiti and streetart content from Russia or especially Moscow?
Among the Internet resources, I would single out Viva City with www.vivacity.ru and Vltramarine with www.vltramarine.ru. There are also a lot of thematic groups in social networks, but there are too many of them, and I can’t identify any specific ones.
What do the people in the city think about the graffiti? There are cities where people completely don’t like it, and then there are other cities which are totally colorful and painted and most of the people love it. How is it in Moscow? Is there some acceptance and understanding?
Moscow is a very big city and people’s attitude to graffiti is completely different. I think over the past few years, the attitude has changed for the better. Much of this depends on the perception of the world, of the upbringing and the level of education of a particular person.
What would you tell other artists and especially Graffiti writers in these strange days?
I would like to wish everyone good luck, development and success in creativity, despite the obstacles that arise on the way. Draw more, no matter whether it is a wall or a canvas or a train carriage! The world around us should be getting brighter! Let’s color it together!
GARICK – Алекс Джи
Crew: CREW TEAM