Graffiti artist SNIP sprays great artworks on Chilean streets, his pieces can be found around Ovalle, Antofagaste, La Serena or Tocopilla and many other places. He is currently based in Angol and is active there in the urban scene. In an interview with photographer Salvador Seda the sprayer tells us about his creative world, his artistic development and the fabulous HMS aka HOMIES crew. Salvador accompanied the artist to a spray session, during which the fire action image in the title was taken.
Thank you for taking part in the interview. First, tell us a bit about yourself, where you grew up and how your art has developed.
My name is Snip, I was born in 1997 in Tocopilla. After that, I grew up in María Elena, a saltpeter office located in the interior of the Atacama Desert, the driest desert in the world. This landscape is approximately 2,100 km from Angol. In that landscape I studied primary and high school education and also began my life as a flop and tag writer, where in the absence of materials I painted with what was available, since to obtain something “more professional” stuff I had to travel to Antofagasta or another city. In those years I used water-based paints in bags or jars, which was what the local hardware store sold for construction. For me it’s essential to always remember where I come from and that my lands have always been linked to hip hop, the Pampas rap scene has always been promoted and represented, and that is what I try to identify in my graffiti, the Pampas colors.
Upon finishing high school, my family moved to another city almost 950 km south of Antofagasta, specifically to the city of Ovalle. At that time I was “stand by” with graffiti, since my parents did not like the idea of me painting in the street, and what they most wanted was for me to study and obtain a professional degree. I spent two and a half years studying auto mechanics in La Serena, but at the same time I was studying the graffiti that was in that city. It is known that both La Serena and Coquimbo are exponent cities of Chilean graffiti. I learned different techniques, textures and shapes, since the street was my true school. So after a while I abandoned my studies and started working in Ovalle to be able to buy my materials and cans to do graffiti. Since then I haven’t stopped and over time I have implemented and improved my skills. Also, meeting and painting with the graffiti legends that I admired as a child. Today I keep looking for myself every day I do graffiti, since I still haven’t been able to find my graphic identity, but always grateful, with optimism and the desire to move forward on each wall. Error and trial is the road… In recent times I have been working from graffiti, looking for projects and offering my art, trying to survive based on colors.
When did you start with graffiti? At what age and who influenced you or how did you come to do it?
Graffiti began in my life when I was 11 years old approximately; that’s when I painted for the first time. I remember it was yellow paint, because I used to take my father’s work materials without permission. In those years I remember that YouTube was coming out and I just had access to the internet, and to other media to watch videos or documentaries of American graffiti artists. That was awareness; this is how I nourished myself, since I traveled very little to the cities and in my town there were few new things. What I liked the most was the “Flop” or the “Throw ups” big and fast letters, from what I knew, the adrenaline was the motivation to do it, and with the passage of time I was making letters and perfecting my flops, the same I take a little longer so that the strokes are cleaner and it is excellent.
What are the themes or styles that you like to do? Also, why do you use the Snip flop or tag? How did you come up with or what influenced you to use Snip?
I usually like flops or throw ups, always making new lyrics and adding or removing something from the piece. Over time I have associated myself with nature, I always try to add something to it that is related to the environment, the color of the background, a respective figure, but keeping the flop, or sometimes I do freestyle and draw futuristic animals or people, but always maintaining the essence of Snip. Snip is born from the abbreviated “sniper”. In my first years with my sniper badge, I realized that I didn’t like singing, so I dedicated myself 100% to graffiti and that’s where SNIP was born, only 4 letters, easier to fit anywhere. I painted flops with WAN, KROS and DEMENTE, that was my COUS CREW we created in María Elena, the saltpeter office in the Atacama Desert. That’s how I continued until today. It’s been about 10 years and its 70-odd flops since that name was born.
Where do you paint, in what places, how do you choose to paint in a particular place? For example in Angol, how did you get here? How or who influences the next place where you are going to make a mural?
The spots I choose are spontaneous, as long as they are related to something green and have to do with the environment, so I paint. I associate myself a lot with that kind of environment, something like not interrupting and at the same time being part of it. However, lately my graffiti has been influenced by my girlfriend and partner, Dally or “Cath”, who fortunately for me, coincides with this style of taste and has accompanied me to different regions of Chile and now is part of life. I came to the city of Angol for Cath, because her father had a marathon and we traveled about 16 hours by bus to get to the race, so I tried to make time to be able to paint in a spot and leave part of my mark there. She is essential in what I have done in recent times. The rest is random, suddenly I can see a side like those documentaries I watched as a child and I have to be part of it. Over time it becomes part of the identity of the writers depending on their school.
Do you make paintings or any other type of art that you expose or sell? Have you ever exhibited in a gallery?
Yes, of course, I make paintings on request. I always combine mixed techniques, which is spray, acrylic, markers or others. I like surrealism, since one has a very versatile field. At the moment I haven’t had the opportunity to exhibit my pieces or to make a gallery. I try to take this calmly so that, if one day it turns out, it turns out well; at the moment I only do works on request, but I know that in the near future, I will open a gallery.
Tell me about your experience with graffiti: do you belong to a crew? Tell me more about that. What do other graffiti artists tell you about your work?
In those years I started scratching and we made a crew with my people, all friends, WAN, KROS and DEMENTE. We created the “COUS CREW”; some of us painted for a long time, others sang rap, after a few years we stopped painting, some projected themselves in other things and others continued in graffiti, but always maintaining friendship. After I arrived here in Ovalle, I spent several years painting alone everywhere I went, without representing any crew, or with my brother BOOM, until I met my actual group the “HOMIES” or HMS Crew; the pioneers are SKAN and TOREK and later more guys joined. Now there are all kinds of graffiti artists from characters to lettering, bombers or landscapers. For the same reason, we make good combinations, I try to do something that mixes, there are times when I change letters for drawings or the dudes ask me to do something to combine on the wall, that’s the good thing, that the dudes support me in what I do, I am self-critical and they always give me advice on what I can remove or add to the graffiti, always supporting me, we travel and so we are active in the city of Ovalle and in some regions of Chile.
I imagine that in your art there is some message or life experience. Tell me your perceptions and feelings regarding what you do on the walls.
I’ve always associated myself with the flop or throw ups; the moment I start painting, it is not about production but with something simpler, you can do a lot; time, the adrenaline, the place, everything has its influence and becomes a mission. It is not like a wildstyle or characters, more time is dedicated to that and as I said, the colors that I put on them are those of my land, creams, pastel pinks or purples, between sunsets and landscapes I found colors that always remind me of my lands or sometimes the drawings I make, I like to relate it to the future and as a new era or world and that is how feelings are also defined, the spots, above all, finding places that transmit tranquility to me when painting.
Who are the artists and graffiti artists who have influenced you? What graffiti artists do you admire or like?
As part of my influences when I started painting, it was SEEN ( @classicseen ) and COPE2 ( @cope2art ), once when I was about 11 years old, I saw a report on graffiti in New York and the ones that stood out the most for me were them and I don’t forget the scene for anything Chilean, I started to paint because in my town there was a crew of writers and there was ARCES, I always saw him paint until I was able to learn some essential things, such as caps, types of spray, brands and so on ONCPS ( @oncps ), although it was impossible for me to see his graphs in Santiago, especially because with luck I traveled once or twice a year to faraway places, although I was always on the lookout for a flop from him and obviously from a crew that I have liked since I was a boy. I traveled to Ovalle and passed by bus through La Serena and Coquimbo, I looked at their letters and designs the “ASUSTAO“, the DRM, NICKS ( @jhan.niks ), CER2 ( @cer2til ), among others. That’s where my influence comes from, from drawings to flop letters.
Nowadays, I think I am an admirer of more Chilean artists than foreigners, over time I have been able to coincide in meetings with top-level people and I have become a follower of their art, since they have left traces in what I do, I will not lie saying that everything what I do only comes out of my head because I have been replicating techniques and obviously giving them a twist, changing them and thus generating my own style.
What would you say to other graffiti artists or someone who was just starting to paint walls?
I would say the same thing to the new generations, that at first you don’t know if what you are doing is for a hobby or because you have piano fingers or if in the future you can take advantage of it or if it actually makes you feel something and that makes you paint again and again, also that no one is born an expert and less in this, you have to study the street, study letters and colors, you just have to dedicate yourself, perseverance and optimism and above all humility. For my part, anyone who wants to learn, I have the disposition to teach and that, color everything, from legal to illegal, graffiti or die. Graffiti until the worms eat me.
ARTWORKS FROM SNIP ON THE ANGOL MAP
Crew: HMS – HOMIES
Photographer & Interviewer: Salvador Seda
Instagram GraffitiPreBicentenario: https://www.instagram.com/graffitiprebicentenario
Profile Page: https://vagabundler.com/culturists/salvador-seda
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