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Graffiti styles, pieces and murals from the graffiti photo archive of Neck.CNS

May 2, 2006: is the online graffiti photo archive of Neck.CNS. All the pieces and murals that I've taken pictures of since i began painting in 1989 were starting to collect dust in the attic. So I got the idea to open up my graffiti archive and share all these amazing graffiti pieces with you.



Neck, in Blitzkrieg, Australia, #7 - 1999

interviews_blitz_cover.jpg Please let us start with some basic details, your name, your age, star sign, years painting and eye colour?
my name is oliver, i write neck/cns, i was born in 1974 as a leo, i started writing in 1989 and my eyes are green. satisfied?

Where were you born and where have you lived throughout your life?

i was born in d¬½sseldorf/germany. my father is in the army, so i moved around quite a lot. the first place i can remember is limburg a.d. lahn. from there i moved to bonn and got into school. in fourth grade, we moved to brussels/belgium and in ninth grade, we moved to munich. there i had my first contact with graffiti, and in early 1995 i moved to d¬½sseldorf to study.

Was your father authoritarian? What role did he have in the army? Was it the German Army? How did he figure in your life?

my father is a computer programmer and computer network technician in the german army. he influenced me a lot in what i do. when we first moved to brussels, he grew interested in the art of the fin de siecle, art nouveau and its architecture. he introduced me to the designs and the ideas of the bauhaus. i think i drew a lot of what i consider 'style' from what i saw in the books he brought home. the beautiful flowing organic forms of the art nouveau, then more and more the tight and geometric designs of art deco, and later on the very reduced and minimalistic art and architecture of the 'bauhaus' and 'de stijl'. (he will be pleased to hear this i guess :) maybe i even got my affinity to computers from him, who knows. my parents support me strongly in what i do, they have a big interest in my work, and they even have a few of my canvasses hanging in their living room; my father even in his office, i think. my mom just recently complained that i didn't give her any prints of my latest pieces.

Neck could you please give us a feel of how you started in graffiti, your influences and a little bit about the first piece you did?

i did not take the 'traditional' way of seeing the movies, then tagging etc... in spring of 1989 a friend from school took me to a wall that was on his way to school. i was really impressed and sat there day after day, just looking at the wall and sketching the pieces that were there (CHIP, CEMNOZ, NEON and some more which i forget). so i had tasted blood and then started to look around munich for other graffiti walls, and well, there's a lot to see in munich. so i spent my summer watching people paint at the halls of fame, among them LOOMIT, SCOUT, HARLEKIN, RETCH, SITE, FLIN, MOON, SONIC... i started sketching my own stuff, and then did my first piece end of 1989 for my girlfriend's birthday.

Munich isn't known for its train scene, were you ever involved in that side of graffiti?

when i first started writing, i didn't get in contact with any trainwriting at all. the people i knew were just out for walls, and if they were doing trains, hey, i was just a little toy and i wasn't let in on any of these things. as i grew older in this graff thing, i had a few opportunities, and i did a few things, but (i have to admit it) this was never my main focus in what i do. i admire trainwriters for what they do, and it is true that a piece truly comes to life on a train going through your city, but i concentrate on other aspects of graff.

I would, if pressed define your style as a tight minimalistic 3d tromp loiel with a conceptual underpinning, how do you describe your work?

you lost me there with 'tromp loiel'.... but the rest describes it pretty well, i feel. it is 3d, it stays simple, and my graphic design backgound comes into my graff work heavily.

Tromp Loiel, a french word to describe an illusionistic effect? Your work strives to deceive the eye. What graphic design work have you done?

trompe l'oeil, yes. i tried to pronounce it in english and it didn't make any sense at all :) small wonder. but it fits, in a sense. the pieces of art that come to my mind in connection with trompe l'oeil are wallpaintings that want to achieve the impression of there being another room behind this wall or things like that. some aspects of this art can be found in my work, i want the viewer to have the impression of my style really being *there*, floating in space, and the more realistic and 3dimensional it is, the better. i try to achieve as much depth in my walls as possible, while retaining a rather minimalistic/graphical approach, which means i'm not really into painting landscapes or rooms or anything in the background to achieve this depth, but i try to get the effect even though there are just 2 couloured fields in the background. do i succeed? well.... i feel i'm gradually getting better, but i don't think i'm there yet.

What is your connection to DAIM? and to DELTA?

stylewise, i would say none, except that we all do 3d stuff. maybe that is already a big connection, but apart from the attempted realism, i feel that we build our styles according to 3 very different basic principles. personally, i never had the chance of meeting delta. i know daim quite well, we are in constant contact, and we have a frequent exchange of impressions and opinions.

Do you feel connected to or a member of a new wave in graffiti, and if so what should this movement within aerosol art be called?

the only 'wave' i feel connected to is the second big wave of writers starting in germany around '89. but content-wise i don't feel i belong to any movement within writing. taking styles into the third dimension was a kind of obvious and i think inevitable development. maybe you could group these 3d-stylers into a 'movement', but i just find myself at home in the 'traditional' writing movement, containing all sorts of styles, whether 2d or 3d or whatever people come up with.

Allot of people had a negative reaction to this wave of writers that took DELTA's styles and reworked them. In fact when I went to Europe last year I had felt a hostility towards DAIM and other guys that were playing out DELTA's style. Even though DAIM and you did it extremely well it seemed to give a 1000 toys permission to thrash the style. Once his style was played out it has left DELTA working in a much more straight edge, black outline way. Just when does it stop being biting and move into running a style?

huh. as i said earlier, i see my style as quite different from DELTA's and DAIM's. i am convinced that i never consciously bit from either of the two, or anyone else, come to that. just because any piece is 3d, it doesn't mean that the *style* has to come so directly from any special inspiration that it is bitten. i hadn't seen anyone construct a 3d style on the principle that i did. biting turns into running a style from the moment that your own personal input, your new edge to the thing becomes recognisable. the more so, the better, of course, but this is where it has to start. i am torn between 2 schools of thought on this matter. what i learn from the graff scene is that as soon as a style looks a little similar to someone else's who has done it before, you'd better leave your hands off it, because probably you'd been a little bit *too* inspired by that someone, or at least everyone else was going to think so, so you'd better go and try something else. what people from the 'art' world tell me is completely different. their point is that you can try any idea you see, whoever else did it before. and no matter how close you stick to the original, there's always that little bit of yourself, of your own feelings about style or whatever that you bring into it, and that little bit, however tiny, will make the difference and make it something new. all the movements in the 'classic' artworld weren't introduced by just one painter. impressionism, cubism, whatever. there were always several people attempting this new thing, some succeeded better than others, but i don't know if they had discussions going on about who bit what from who. 'hey man, i did this first, you stay off of my beat...' i dunno. hard to imagine, isn't it? i was accused of biting DAIM a few times in the beginning, because people just tripped on this '3d styles are all bitten from DAIM' hype, but i always felt that these accusations had no substance.

I know that PISTOL and BLADE were guys that first put 3d styles on trains in the early 70's and therefore possess a sense of ownership of the style, in fact nearly all writers use basic tromp lomp effects in all their pieces (shadow, drop shadow). How do you position yourself within all this?

well, like i said: you have to differentiate between wether a style is 2d or 3d, and the *style* of the piece itself. the people who do things first obviously earn their place in history, but they won't ever have an outright 'copyright' on anything. there's an idea, somehow you get in contact with it, and then you turn it around in your head a few times, and something will result. something different, it should be hoped. but here's the dispute between the graff-world-approach and the art-world-approach again. some effects are just useful to enhance the depth or whatever aspect of your style. but that doesn't mean that they are a concrete part of that style, they are just a technique. shadows and drop shadows were not invented by any one graff writer, but they emerged when people found out about perspective, and how to get perspective into a 2dimensional painting. at that point someone found out about how shadows improve the overall realistic and depth effect of the painting. so if any of these effects were bitten, they were bitten from some renaissance (or whenever perspective was really introduced, forgive my ignorance) painter, but not from any writer, be they from the 70s or 90s. these oldschool writers surely possess an 'ownership' of their style, but not of any of the means they used to convey it. no one can claim shadows to be 'theirs', as much as no one can claim krylon to be 'their' paint, and everyone else should please find some other paint to use.

I feel that you are one of the best emerging graphic designers working in text. Do you share my excitement for your work?

well, it's my work, so of course i should :) but one of the first things they told us in university was never to 'fall in love' with your own work. always try and keep a distance that helps you to keep your objectivity. and that is right. so, if pressed, i consider myself to be good at what i do, but i find it difficult to state myself to be outstanding or anything. if others do, i feel very pleased indeed, but i wouldn't be saying these things about myself.

I imagine a huge future for you in coporate logo design, what work have you done in that field, and what are your favourite logos and designers? I also foresee a number of large metal public sculptures following naturally from your 3d design work, are you interested in this direction?

well yes, i think it would be the natural next step to take my paintings of a 3dimensional object and just *make* that object. but you have to find the right material, and along with it, the right techniques and the hardware to produce it. that's just about the point i'm stuck at. at this point, i don't have the possibilities to really sculpt my styles. i was very impressed with the workshop DAIM had at his school in switzerland, which enabled him to sculpt his styles in concrete and wood. but there are also difficulties that arise stylewise, when you get down to it and really try to do a sculpture, like how does your style look from the back? and stuff like that, and i haven't really spent any time thinking about these things. one day, when i have the hardware and possibilities i need, i probably will sit down and think it through.

Do you ever feel like graff is played out?

i think there's no end to be expected in the development of styles. i guess that the meda hype for this 'fashion' graffiti will ebb off some day, and then the number of active writers will be reduced to those who really have something to express through their work. when you substract all the writers that are just going along with it because hiphop is big right now, and their friends are doing it, and they can maybe impress girls with being this tough guy, then the mass will be strongly reduced, but the substance of writing will be purified. since the only guys who will be left doing it will be those that are doing graff because of itself, and their urge to express themselves and their ideas of style. i think it will never really dissappear, only from the media. but then there will probably be a big revival someday, just as you can witness with bboying right now. also, a lot of writers go into the (loosely) related fields of design, layout, fashion, whatever. there they can introduce their concepts into the more conservative designworld, and maybe make their way there, and give new influences to this world. i have the biggest respect for DAIM, who i feel sees this graphics stuff as yielding to outside forces, that only take the aspects of graff usable elsewhere and just drop the rest. so as a consequence he sticks to what graffiti is to him, and works in free art, yielding to no one.

How do you paint so cleanly? Any tips for the people at home?

:) do i? i don't even paint as cleanly as i used to, i keep staying rougher and rougher, the way i see it. i can't even explain. with the caps we have over here, drawing a clean, sharp line should not be a problem. and cleaning up your piece by cutting away unwanted stuff with the background or so seems just obvious to me. basically, it boils down to how good you are at handling the cans. and how do you get good at it? just like everywhere else: keep on doing it. i just use regular skinny caps, no fancy thin special caps or anything. i feel that masking areas is cheating. the only thing i use is a stencil cap for tagging, but in the piece itself, it's just me, a can, and skinny/fat caps.

Switzerland just had a referudum on drug policy, what do feel and think about the subject of complete drug legalisation?

difficult. i can see that through the legalisation of 'soft' drugs, people won't get into contact with the dealer who wants to sell them tough stuff. if drugs are heavily restricted, then they should include cigarettes and alcohol, if they are free to obtain, then they all should be. it would at least de-criminalise that scene. but if all drugs were freely available, then maybe all the 8 year olds would be on crack or whatever, which is not a good prospect either. i don't know. i don't think about this much. i'm not really into drugs, so i'm not often confronted with the problems the different drug policies produce.

Do you have an interest in Politics and if so what is your line of thought?

my interest is diffuse, to say it politely. i'm not radical in any of my views, i guess i'm sort of middle-left with a greenish tint. but i'm not active in any political thing. i more or less follow what is happening in politics, and most of the time, i'm not surprised by what happens. that is to say, nothing ever changes even when you expected it. so it's maybe better not to expect anything.

In Europe it is common, yet to most of our readers an alien concept can you give us some thoughts on compulsory service in the Army?

i didn't do my service in the army, i dodged out and did 15 months of social service instead. going home to elderly people, helping them out in their household, going shopping with them or for them, and stuff like that. to me, it was good fun, it was the most money i had earned per month till then (even though the pay is lousy, no doubt), and i didn't know what i wanted to do with my life anyway, so it was some extra time to think about it.

The European scene seems to play better together, and in general the citizens relate well, is this just surface?

i don't really know how any other scenes play together, about how the relations are there. i imagine that things are all the same everywhere. people get to know each other based on hiphop, so there's always the good start, always a basic element that people can relate to. and the writers i got to know were mostly cool and friendly people and easy to get along with. but there's always the guys who think they're something better and try to dis you. or maybe you went over someone's piece a few years ago, and now the whole crew or city thinks you're an asshole due to the propaganda spread by this guy. there's the envy just like everywhere else. when you have an interview in a mag, there's always someone who won't like seeing you there. all in all i have gotten to know the european scene as basically friendly, but some dischords always come up from somewhere. that's just human nature i guess.

Anything you want to get off your chest?

nothing graff- or hiphop-related, no.

What is your view of the future of graffiti?

i imagine the hype will wear off someday, and only those to whom graff really means something will stay at it. that has its good and its bad side... in the meantime, more and more graffiti people will evolve into one or the other creative job, showing their skillz in another field. because writers keep getting older (doesn't everyone?) and new kids coming up, the acceptance for graff, legal and illegal, will grow, since there will be more and more people out there who did it in their youth. stylewise i'm still waiting for the next big thing to arrive, and who knows what that will be? 3d seems to be getting normal around here, so maybe it's time for something new. whatever happens, i can't imagine people will ever stop writing their names.

Could you please elaborate on what do you think about when drawing your outlines?

nothing much... when i walk around during my regular day, i maybe have an idea, an image in my head of something i'd like to sketch or try. so i have to make a note of it, and when i finally get to do a sketch of it, i just try to get as close to my mind's image as possible. most of the time i lose my notes and the sketch never gets made though. what a loss to the world, ha ha ;) then i can get really pissed off at myself because i just can't remember what it was i wanted to try. tough luck.

Can you name other different artists and designers interest you and why?

check out the list of 'your favourite writers'... i admire each one's personal style. i like the work of david carson and what marok does with lodown magazine, deconstructing typography and using lots of layers, making typography and layout into something sometimes completely illegible but giving it a new aspect. neville brody, for the (sometimes very complex) simplicity of his designs. anton corbijn, for the depth and beauty. ansel adams' landscapes, for depth and detail. pininfarina, for sleek and very *fast* lines. edward hopper, for light and shadow, and the detail you can find in the paintings, even though the details were just insinuated. peter lindbergh and richard avedon, for the beauty.

Was your highschool art teacher supportive of your graffiti practices?

when i started writing, i didn't tell anyone. when i felt i was good enough to tell people, i didn't have art classes anymore. but one of the art teachers supported me later on, when i got the job of painting the whole basement of the school, where the bikes were parked. that was a big thing for me back then.

What frustrates you about this scene?

people trying to be cool through the look on their face, through their stance or the clothing, and not through being good at what they do in hiphop (if they do anything at all). people playing the mack, bigging themselves up beyond any connection to reality. envy.

What do you do for employment?

i work freelance as photographer and designer (web and print), but mainly i study graphics design at university, so these jobs i do are far from paying my bills. so don't anyone think i'm rich, you hear?

What are your hopes for the future?

*getting* rich. haha, no. earning good money by doing something i like. i don't care if it's in the graff game, or in photography or design, whatever: just being able to earn a living and express myself, if possible at the same time. having the woman of my dreams fall in love with me. and if these two wishes come true, it's already more than anyone could ask for.

Your favourite writers?


Anything in closing?

best crew: CNSKILLZ / ATE1 EFAS MERIC MORITZ SCIEN CLORE SEAK visit them @ home:


thank you for your attention, my name is neck/cnskillz:

This article is © 1999 by Blitzkrieg Magazine, Australia and O.Gelbrich / NeckCNS. Please ask permission before using this in any way.