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"Graffiti is associated with travelling and exploring the world"

31 October 2011 / 15:10:21  GRReporter
4618 reads

Μanos Iliopoulos, known also as rtmone, a street artist and a member of the graffiti society, is putting aside the paints and sprays to show us a world filled with colours, emotions and spontaneity, where walls are turning into paintings and artists are young people with colourful dreams.

Negligent and careless walking in cement is not typical for megalopolis’ residents. Most of them are running from morning till night as though their obligations are chasing them. They are calculating the revenues and expenditures for the next week / month / year, and making plans for how they are going to manage to do everything without losing their dignity. They are walking bent, frowning, with abrupt steps.

Among them, however, there are some who seem to get away from the grey tones, some who try to attract the eyes of others and send them a message like "Smile" by adding a little colour on the grey background of the city.

No, they do not have magical powers. All they need is a spray and inspiration to create their graffiti and leave their stamp not only to make anyone turn around, but also to pull out the passion they have inside themselves and turn it into colours and shapes.

One of these young people is the 27-year-old Manos Iliopoulos, known also as rtmone, an architect and a street artist. He came to Athens from Nauplion 8 months ago with the idea to live in an urban environment of a megalopolis and create in this new environment.

Once upon a time ...

"I started in high school where I was a rather lonely boy – I was not interested in the traditional pursuits of my peers, I did not play football, I was a fan of no team. I was riding my bicycle and looking for a hobby. The truth is that I was always sketching and painting something" he says.

"I made my graffiti in school and it took me 3 weeks to finish it! I was stealing any time I could and trying to figure out what was the right time to do it - because then it was illegal. Usually, we went out to draw at lunch when people rested."
What could have been the first creation of a child drawing on the wall for the first time? "It was my signature with a head of a dead man, which I redrew from a comic book and it read "my old style to your face". I thought that suddenly I became wild and a personality. I had a personality in this way, I was different - and then I believed it." Ultimately, his first graffiti was erased after a year. Generally, graffiti are perishable – we all know it, and he himself confirms it.

The graffiti painter: an artist or just an emotional young man?

"In art, it is not important to have an amazing ability to portray a thing realistically," says Manos. The young artist himself admits, "Maybe I have some abilities, though it has never attracted me to draw realistically - I am not interested in realistic portrayal of reality. I am more influenced by comics, cartoons and all this culture."

Graffiti "policy" 

"Graffiti themselves are politicized, and art in general, whether it sends any direct messages or not. The fact that someone is putting an opinion in a public place or simply writing on the wall "smile" is making it a politicized action", he explains, adding that he himself is politicized more by mistake and spontaneously. "I am not consciously politicized. I am disgusted of everything that happens in politics and I see nothing pure in this whole story to support it."

"Watchful" eyes of law

There is no way a true graffiti painter not to mess with the police. "I was arrested 3 times with a spray in hand. But because the graffiti are in the public place, one learns to communicate with people and defend what he is doing, and convince the others in the cause of graffiti. I usually present them as an architectural project or something that is part of a job," says Manos.

"I do not paint illegal graffiti any longer (and this worries me). In the last two years, I did not paint spontaneous graffiti because of my many duties and I only participate in festivals. Or I paint professionally - interior design, children's rooms, and live show for promotional purposes."

The opinion of those around

"I can hear from people the best and worst words, from the most encouraging to the worst comments, and I find them all interesting. I enjoy both of them. I appreciate the very fact that those who disagree have started a dialogue. In this way I am able to convince them why I do it, or they can convince me of what they believe. I love communicating with people and sometimes it makes me paint less and talk more", explains with a smile the young man. "Overall, however, graffiti is associated with travelling and exploring the world. This is a big global community in which there is solidarity."

Is one spray sufficient or not?

Yet according to Manos, not only the spray is the means to draw your inspiration on the wall. "All materials are good. There has come the wave of street art that has influenced the creators of graffiti all over the world and suddenly we started to use brushes and paints. It also cleared graffiti - if you see someone painting on the wall with a brush and paint, people associate it with art."

Send a message

Does a person send a message through graffiti or make it more for fun? Naturally, Manos cannot answer on behalf of the whole community, so he answered only for himself. "Sometimes I do not send any message, my goal is to show my own experiences, come into contact with people and make them smile. However, often my topics are melancholic."

Tags: GraffitiΜanos Iliopoulosrtmone Street artistArt
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