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July 2008

The great thing about graffiti is that it reinvents itself somehow over and over again. Every time when it feels like something has been there already, someone from somewhere shows up and surprises. Our this-time interview partner SWEETUNO did not invent the wheel, but did anyone ever see some supposedly simple letters matched with some classic graffiti elements like he does before? Are the swings loose or just perfect? Or maybe both? Best is if everyone answers this questions for himself. But it blew our socks off when we saw his flicks for the very first time – SWEETUNO. If you don’t know, now you know!

Hi SWEET, first of all introduce yourself to our readers.
Hi, my name’s SWEETUNO. I was born and grew up in Basle, Switzerland, but have been living and working in Heidelberg, Germany, for almost five years now.

Since when have you been painting and have you always written the same name?

The first time I had a can in my hand that was back ’89 at MEASONE’s basement. At that time I had no name. I didn’t even have a clue of choosing names etc. My first names were Santana207 because of the records and Beo. But I really started styling when I wrote Rean, Snob and Riks. In 1994 I came to Sweet and still write it.

What do you hate most about your name and what do you like especially?
I don’t really hate something about it but the W is not easy. I’d prefer to have an M, I love Ms … But just for that I cannot write SMEET from now on. I really like the S and the two Es. The letter S is my favourite. It allows a lot of things and you can re-invent it x-times. And from the beginning on I can give all. The two Es always take a certain posture or tell a story, which opens up the whole thing to the viewer.

If your style had developed differently, would you write another name or other letters today?
Good question, but I don’t think so. I’m the one who masters the letters and who gives them a certain style. There are other things which influence my style.

Like what?
I have a visual disposition. Thus a lot of things get stuck – illustrations, paintings, advertisements and other pieces. I think it gets stuck in my brain and when I sketch I get back to it, unconsciously, and make it mine.

How much time do you spend with graffiti and what value does it have in your life?
Graffiti is a necessity for me and I invest a lot of time in it. There are times when I wake up and go to bed with it. But then, there also times, when I’m really occupied with my work. But graffiti is essential for me.

What does a normal day in your life look like?
I don’t really have normal days in my life. You have to know that I work at a theatre and there nothing is normal. I have the most different working hours. And when I don’t work I’m out painting somewhere or looking for some new spots. But I also like being at the Heidelberg market place with a cup of coffee.

Theatre? That’s rather uncommon. Theatre is not really ordinary. What do you do there? And how did you get there?
Already during my apprenticeship as a graphic designer I knew that I don’t want to spend eight hours a day, working on brochures at the computer. I took some time off after that, for partying and jobbing, but I thought that it wasn’t enough. A friend of mine introduced me to the theatre world and I was impressed by it. There are a lot of creative heads in it, so I wanted to join them. I went to an audition at a drama school and got accepted right away. Fours years later I got engaged by the Heidelberg Theatre.

What are your goals, regarding graffiti but also for your personal life? Where do you see yourself in let’s say 20 years?
I really love my life as it is now. I have a job which is a lot of fun even if sometimes it costs a lot of sweat and blood, but I have enough time for graffiti. I need both and both things inspire me. That’s why my goal is to continue my life and to develop. No one knows where it will end in 20 years, but I’m looking forward to know.

Do you have any favourite colours? Favourite letters?
At the moment, my favourite colour is nougat, besides the all-time classic baby blue. And my favourite letter is S.

How important is the surrounding in which you pose your style? Or don’t you mind?
The location is pretty important. It has to have some certain ambiance. I’m going to plant something in it so it has to communicate with the surrounding. I don’t like when there are thousands of people in the background either.

Do you prefer any locations, like railway lines or anything like that?
I often have my own spots, in some industry or railway areas. But it’s not that I prefer any of those. If the spot has a certain air there has to be a piece, too.

It seems as if you paint often alone. Why’s that?

I like the calm while painting and I like painting fast and piss off afterwards, too. I don’t want to paint throughout hours and hours. It’s like an egotrip, sure. But graffiti is some kind of meditation to me. But I also like to kick something cool with others, no doubt.

In general, what’s your motivation? And why graffiti?

As I mentioned before, the act itself has something extremely calming, like Yoga or Thai Chi.  And of course I want to burn, I want people to find my stuff interesting. And I love having created a good letter with a lot of groove and flow. That’s graffiti art.

Are you also interested or active in some other art forms?
Like I said, I work at a theatre, where almost all art forms unite. And I’m interested in everything that has to do with art, as long as it’s good and serious. Besides my job as an actor I write theatre pieces and screen plays. I already stage managed and did stage design.

Is there a fluent transition between graffiti and traditional art forms or do you think it’s two different things? With other words: Can you imagine being dealt in the art scene as SWEET the graffiti writer?
There is a fluent transition to traditional art forms and I can also imagine being dealt as SWEETUNO. It’s already been going on but needs some more time. Graffiti art is pretty young.

Do you draw a lot? If yes, how do you do it? Do you take place at your desk and draw some meticulous sketches or do you rather do several speedy sketches?
I do a lot of speedy sketches, and I don’t draw with a pencil and a rubber. For years I have been working with my black Stabilos and draw one outline after the other without any corrections. If I like a letter, crossing or an element I take it for the next sketch and work on it. Thus I’ll have some final sketch done out of several speedy works done prior. Work in progress.

What do you think, how will graffiti develop throughout the next years? What’s positive, what’s negative?
I find it hard to do some prospects. But if you take a look back, and that’s not so far away, and see how everything has developed until now, I have to say that I’m quite optimistic. Graffiti is pretty young, but old enough to stand on its own feet and its own ground. I don’t know but there are a lot of things to come up!

If the world went down tomorrow, what’s the last thing you’d love to do before?

SWEETUNO Whole Train, what else? … ;)

I want to say hi to all my guides and all those who inspired me, those whom I have to thank for what I am here and now and will be tomorrow … Thanks a lot!

This Interview has been published in

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