Acton from Helsinki (Finland): “That’s the way I wanna rock’n roll”

In this series we will present selected artists from all over the world who may be met at this or that Meeting Of Styles. This time we shot some questions to Acton from Helsinki (Finland) who is writing since the late 80ies and will attend Meeting Of Styles Germany.

Where does your Name come from?
At first it was “Action” and it was actually invented by a crew member of mine back in 1989. After few days of writing it I decided to ditch the letter “I”. At that time five letters felt better and the word was easier to bomb without it.

What Graffiti and painting mean to you?
Everything. At first it was friends, brotherhood, loyalty, looking after each other, fucking shit up together. Later on it transformed into competing with yourself and evolving as an artist. After a while I noticed that it was what I thought of when I woke up and it was the last thing on my mind when I went to sleep. I painted and drew before I got into graffiti and there was a time in my life when I didn’t do much graffiti but kept on painting and illustrating by other means. So you could say creating and creativity come by nature.

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Graffiti for you is fun or is it a profession?
Both but it’s also an obsession.

What do you think about social media in terms of Graffiti and how does it affect Graffiti writers?
I don’t know, it’s made us all lazier and it unfortunately gives voice to people who would be better not heard, hahah. Seriously though, one sad factor about internet in general is that when everything is just one click away, nobody likes to go out and experience and chase pieces anymore. But on the other hand, internet and especially social media are good tools to keep contact and unite with people all around the world. And it’s made sure that graffiti is more or less everywhere. Some writers embrace the possibilities, some want to stay as far away it as possible. To artists like myself who can operate openly it’s an important tool. As with any other profession, I suppose.

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How do you see the rising of street art and new tendencies like big scale muralismo?
I like well executed street art but I don’t feel like it has anything to do with graffiti. Sure, under good conditions both can benefit each other, but so far it looks like street art is more on the table. The history, styles and usually even techniques tend to be different from graffiti. In Finland public has a hard on for street art and either hates graffiti or just refuse to treat it like a serious artform which it is. I found it sad that most of the graffiti artists here have mastered their craft for 20, nearly 30 years and street art has been “in” or “cool” only for five or so years and is done by people with different backgrounds compared to graffiti artists, yet the real pro’s are constantly kicked in the shadow of street art.

How does street art, design and graphics affect classic Graffiti lettering and writing?
Everything affects everything. You could also put that vice versa: how does or how did classic graffiti affect street art, design and graphics? If you ask me, I’d say that graffiti paved way for the current form of street art. Graffiti writers fought for their position and took the first steps in invading public spaces, street art got into the game when stage and rules were already set. But graffiti, like street art, has always drawn influences from surrounding cultures, comics, graphic desing, pop art, music, movies, you name it.

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How do you imagine the Graffiti scene ten years from now, with all the technology invading us?
I come from Finland where we had zero tolerance policy from 1998 to 2008 and that ten years made serious damage for development of finnish graffiti. So now were trying like hell to catch up everything we missed. In ten years I hope we’re finally at par with rest of the world – and quite frankly there’s quite catching to do. I am not so worried about invasion of technology, unless you refer to surveillance technology which has become quite worrying – we’re under monitoring 24/7, part of it voluntarily, but most of it not.

Name the aspects you dislike about Graffiti
I’m not sure about the rest of the world, but in Finland illegal graffiti writing is still considered comparable to capital crime. You can go to jail for graffiti which is a goddamn joke. Rapists do get smaller sentences here than vandals. Public property is held sacred. Go figure. Security guards are still very eager to batter graffiti writers when caught red handed. And the scene is like a magnet for assholes and large egos with minimum skills.

Name the aspects you love about Graffiti
It has given me so much. First of all, when I was kid, it really kept me out of trouble – if you didn’t consider writing graffiti trouble, haha. But in addition to it being very rewarding artform, there are bunch of cool people doing it and I’m lucky enough to know quite a few of ‘em. My best friends were originally graffiti writers, some are still. But I’ve recently found it extremely invigorating just to visit outside Finland and meet other graffiti artist of my age around the world and see that they have the same goals, same agenda, same vision and determination that I have. And I love the aspect that even if I begun my journey with graffiti almost thirty years ago, I still find it easy to enjoy, even adore, styles and skills of other graffiti artists. Even if most of ‘em are the same old school geezers I followed in the early 90’s like Bates or VIM crew. But what’s even more cooler is that there are gazillion of talented younger artists around the globe who keep pushing the limits of graffiti forward. For example works of Does, Bray, Soten, Sofles, Storm and Slider are beyond amazing, just to name a few.

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If you could compare your style with music, what would it sound like? Band or song?
Oh, how I would like to say “technical death metal” because I love death metal more than any other genre. I’ve listened to all sorts of metal since I was nine years old and music always had more impact on me and my art than any other thing. But knowing my technical skills and style, I assume I’d be “That’s the way I wanna rock’n roll” by AC/DC. Or any other song by them would do. I’ve done my stuff for so long, being always true to my roots, performing quite basic lettering with color schemes that have always been easy to approach. I’ve never been into complex wildstyle but have focused on the technical side of my paintings instead. Just like AC/DC. You can put any song or album from them and you most likely can immediatelly tell it’s AC/DC – they’re flawless, they’ve done their shit for ages and there’s no other that sound quite like them. I assume that goes to my pieces as well.

Does your personal situation (children, age, work) affect your way of doing Graffiti?
Yes. I’m too old and too fat to chase trains or any other “hot” objects anymore, hahah. Well, seriously though, once I got kids and they grew old enough to understand what I did and what I wrote, I decided that if I wanna continue doing graffiti, I can’t focus on the illegal side of graffiti anymore and I’d need to find new motives and slightly different approach for the whole thing. Stakes became more higher, so to speak. So my approach for the game became more professional, more goal-oriented and more focused. Eventually it became a full time job for me. I suppose that’s the transition from graffiti writer to graffiti artist. And if my family wouldn’t support me with this 110%, I couldn’t be doing this. Since all my free time as well as parts of my family time revolve around graffiti, we’re more like a family graffiti unit than just one solo painter.

Any message you want to add?
Thanks for listening and hope to see you all at Wiesbaden MOS! I’m looking forward to meeting all you cool people out there and have my jaw dropped at least hundred times while looking at the awesome skills presented at the event. Respect!

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