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Part of the enduring appeal of graffiti is that more than the result, it’s the action that defines it. The simple act of marking a surface transcends cultural norms and briefly transforms an individual into an outlaw, whether they’re writing their name, a pseudonym, or just drawing a dick. Of all the graffiti writers that I’ve spoken with, Fuzi has the deepest appreciation of the power of action. Since his early days painting trains in Paris alongside the UV crew, he’s branched out into tattooing – a practice that’s seen him transition the wild freedom of his ‘ignorant style’ letterforms to the skin of people all over the world. In a picturesque street in Fitzroy, Fuzi filled me in on his history of ultra violence.

How was the response to the show?

It was a great show at China Heights. I brought some new stuff and some old stuff. I had a big exhibition in Paris in December. It was the seats of the trains from my train line, and I made illustrations on them with a roller-pen. So I brought some of them, and some big drawings of my tattoo flash. It was a big success, it was a great time.

You grew up next to a train yard, right?

Exactly, and I spent a lot of time on the trains and in the yards. It was really a kind of everyday life like that. This is what I explained in my last book Devoration. Really, we lived graffiti – for me and for my crew it was really an every day thing. Every day I robbed spray cans, I would stay in the streets, I would stay in the yards. Every day on the trains we’d tag the inside, the outside. It was in the ‘90s there was no internet, no phones to take a photo to share it worldwide directly. So for you to be famous, people must see your pieces – the goal was paint more, more, more, more on the trains to push people. To saturate the trains so they couldn’t clean everything off, this was really my goal.

This was in the early ‘90s?

Yeah, I started in the ‘80s and early ‘90s.

Where you just living in the streets? Spending all your time out and about in Paris? In sounds like it was a very urban existence.

That’s exactly it. Basically we would wake up a little bit earlier to steal spray cans in the store in the morning and steal a lot of things in the shops because, for me, my graffiti life was really linked with stealing things. We’d steal a lot of clothes in the afternoon to sell and have money to live. All graffiti guys were like that; you steal a lot, you search for new plant to paint, you wait at the rush hour, you wait for trains to take photos and you paint and you do it every day. It was like that, all for graffiti. Always in the streets.

A lot of the Parisian graffiti writers that I’ve spoken to talk about how life in the city is very public. You don’t sit at home, you’re always out in the city so I think that brings out a different edge to the graffiti.

For me, I couldn’t be at home because at home there was nothing. If you wanted to be in the gang you must be outside, and your name must be outside. Everyone was in the streets for sure.

So when did UV get started?

We were in France and we used to change our name a lot. UV really started in ‘97 but it was a kind of joke because every time we painted we changed the name. So one time, the story is that we had trouble with a guy and it was really violent – and we painted the yard just after this fight. One guy in the crew said “Oh, it ultra violent yesterday,” and I said “Oh yeah, so today we’ll write UV – Ultra Violent,” and it stayed. I think it’s just perfect for us.

When did the ignorant style start to come in?

I think it was really linked with my attitude because I was a little bit of a rebel. I wouldn’t follow the rules and I thought there was a lot of rules in graffiti at that period. “You must do the wildstyle, you must do the block letters, you must do throw ups. But you can’t do something free like that.” I would just write my name and be different, which was really my goal.

At the same time I had a really big reference, I loved the ‘70s style of New York. For me it was not just the style but the state of mind. To be wild and all this in relation to graffiti and I really felt it in the photos of something like Subway Art. I loved the style but more than this, it was the state of mind. We really would do the same thing, be free, be wild, paint everywhere and say “Fuck you” at everybody. Our crew was really like that, we were really free. So for sure people in the beginning really didn’t understand this attitude. For them we were just ignorant but it was the contrary. Since the beginning I’ve known all about this culture, I know how to do a wildstyle or a block letter – but I would do something different on purpose. So step-by-step I have found this title of ‘ignorant style’ because it was a kind of joke against the people. I was ignorant, but it was just to express myself, who I was.

When did you start tattooing?

Maybe 7 or 8 years ago. It was at a period when I slowed down the graffiti. I am 39 years old, I can’t do it all my life. I have continued, I have painted a lot of walls in Sydney and Melbourne, but it’s not the same kind of graffiti. I can’t lie, it’s not the same risk. If you paint trains everyday the risks are not the same. When I slowed down, I searched to express myself with something else – so I tested different mediums. I would keep this state of mind, to be free and don’t learn [from others]. Because I really think if someone teaches you paints or tattoos, you lose a big part of your own spirit or your own feelings or your own skills. I tested it and step-by-step it became big because I brought my style, my attitude to the tattoo world. It was like in graffiti, all the old-timers and the mainstream people were really shocked and really against me. Now people understand that it’s real. It’s something interesting. I think it’s the same now in the tattoo world. In the beginning people would say “What? He’s a toy. The lines are not good, you tattoo in subway tunnels, you tattoo in the church. What the fuck?” But now I have tattooed a lot of people – I’ve arrived in the city, I have a lot of appointments. Yeah, I’ve created something new.

Did you expect it to be as big as it has?

No, I really did not. I work every day, every day, every day. Every day I’m trying to create, to do something new. Every day I work a lot and my purpose is not to be famous and to satisfy people, it’s just to enjoy and to create. So for sure I’m super happy it’s big now but it was not my purpose, it was just a medium like any other.

What have you got coming up?

I have a lot of projects and I will continue to travel and do a lot of tattoos, everywhere in the world.


Photos courtesy of China Heights