home > Interviews > GHETTO, HEART and KARAT


November 2006

GHETTO, KARAT and HEART. Three names and three styles which couldn’t be much more unusual. Unusually fresh! So fresh that they either put a smile on the viewer’s face or provoke criticism. Their pieces can be named anything between retro and madness – if anybody wants to name what they are doing.
When we asked the guys for an interview we were happy not to know how to pigeonhole them.
The result is an engagement full of interesting opinions, which even old-established graffiti heads really may think about …

Where are you from?
Ghetto: From a village, which probably nobody knows, because more important is where I’ll go.
Karat: Ruhr.
Heart: Dortmund.

Since when have you been panting?
Ghetto: I have been painting graffitis since summer 2001.
Karat: I started by doing sketches in 1996 and painted my first piece in 1997.
Heart: I have been occupying with it since about 1998, but finally really grabbed the spray can about two or three years later.

How did you start graffiti?
Ghetto: Somehow I’ve always liked those graffiti. Sometime I met some older writers at the local hall. Those guys were incredibly nice. Short time later I made my first graffiti with them. Man, this was a great feeling. Since then I couldn’t get my head off of it.
Karat: During train rides the pieces on the line attracted my attention and the more I got into it, the greater my enthusiasm got.
Heart: Very classically. Sometime I just remarked all those colours and shortly after it had caught me.

Your style has different elements/influences. That’s why it’s quite hard to pigeonhole it. If you had to define your style, how would you call it and how could you describe it best?
Ghetto: Car accident style … that’s it. A young and healthy style crashes into a wall at 200km/h … After that he’s mentally disabled and completely deformed. That’s why people from the scene rather avoid him. That happened in the 80s, which also explains the neon colours and trashy forms.
Karat: I think a lot about it. But I don’t really follow something constantly. I paint very affected by mood. When I’m in a good mood, it’s more wild and colourful. But at the moment that’s rare. Simple, slightly static letters without any knick-knack, reduced to a white or chrome fill-in. But it also happens that I paint quickly and dirty. It’s difficult to pigeonhole it.
Heart: I try not to worry about it and just do what’s in my head. Probably, you could name my style “ill-but-whatever”. Either because I’m too comfortable or because I’m not able to create something really own, or because I like the thoughts behind and that’s why I picked it. Back to naivety.

Why graffiti? Are you also interested in other arts?
Ghetto: Somehow, I don’t know what to do with all this art stuff. Maybe I’ll know when I’ll be a grown-up. Also, my interests besides graffiti are a little limited. Some things, which belong to it don’t really interest me.
Karat: I’m interested in everything regarding painting. But it wasn’t always like that. Just a few years ago I was completely out of all this and had my eyes on graffiti only. My impression is that a great part of the graffiti scene smiles at art. I can comprehend that, but I think that if you occupy yourself with other artistic forms of expressions, it can help you with your own creations.
Heart: Graffiti has this aspect of adventure, which video games just cannot offer. I’m not really interested in arts. But I think that as a graffiti writer you can though learn a lot from classical painting, but you should not overrate it. This whole trend towards arts in the graffiti scene is non-sense and something for people who find themselves more mature as they actually are. At the same time we all just smear on walls in kindergarten style.

For you, what is the nicest aspect in the graffiti movement?
Ghetto: The nicest thing is being together. To spray with good friends, on a sunny day, at a place where nobody disturbs you.
Karat: The whole package. Graffiti has so much nice things. That you meet nice people and that you can develop really good friendships stands in first place.
Heart: The above mentioned adventure and the social aspect. You get to know really nice people with who you are directly on the same wavelength and with who you spend a good time. Best if you can keep this even outside of graffiti activities. Of course there are a lot of fools, too, but it might be like that in a tennis club, too.

Science fiction: Compared to other youth cultures, graffiti has been surviving for so long now. What do you think, why is that and where will you smell spray paint in future?
Ghetto: Graffiti is getting more and more “high tech”, because of the industry, and it’s getting developed, until there are clothes which make you invisible. Unfortunately the anti-graffiti develops, too. There are more and more associations which work against. This will probably continue.
Karat: Graffiti works against the limitation of the individual freedom. You take it from yourself. Regarding the future, everything is possible. There’s one scene in “Demolition Man” where some weird machine shoots up from the ground and sprays a sign, I thought it was funny. Who knows…
Heart: Don’t have a clue …
There are a lot of fresh modern styles from the Ruhr lately. Why is that?

Ghetto: Maybe it’s because of the good beer from this region. Don’t know.
Karat: Don’t have a clue. Maybe because of the mentality, because people here are more relaxed and cool.
Heart: I cannot tell. There are many fresh styles from here? Kool!

Graffiti without HipHop has been unthinkable during quite some years. What do you think about it? Do you think that graffiti could stand alone? What, in your opinion, are the pros and cons of an independence without HipHop context?
Ghetto: Graffiti doesn’t need HipHop. HipHop bores more and more, while graffiti is getting more interesting. It’s not wrong to go different paths, because t-shirts which go just to the ground might be comfortable, but not really my thing.
Karat: If you take a look at how people understand and “live” HipHop nowadays, I can understand that many writers cannot identify with it. Same with me. If in a culture which was created to avoid violence, it’s getting common to practice violence and to glorify it, I only see advantages if graffiti dissociates from it.
Heart: For years I haven’t been seeing any relation between HipHop and graffiti. And the separation doesn’t hurt no more. But this discussion has never been interesting to me.

Do your families know that you spray? Although graffiti has been existing for a long time now, seldom have I seen families supporting their writers, let alone that it interests them. How is that for you?
Ghetto: Actually everyone knows. And you cannot avoid it because you don’t wanna lie to someone. Luckily, nobody has problems with it. I think they are even interested. But I don’t really want to give reasons for it or explain it.
Karat: Everyone knows, but nobody shows interest. But my mother supports me to a 100%. I’m glad to have such a great mother. She made it really easy to me. In the beginning of my graffiti career she even was my look-out once. That should tell everything.
Heart: Why secretiveness with people who are the most close to you?! I had support from my dad, but when he realised what shapes it assumed, he gave up.

Do you have idols? Regarding graffiti, but also socially …
Ghetto: Of course, there are writers to which you attach great attention, because what they create is great. But I don’t have a real idol. The people around me rather are idols to me. Because I cannot judge people from who I only know the pieces and therewith not call them idols.
Karat: Before, there was one or the other person to whom you looked up to. But I never had a real idol.
Heart: Nice people who don’t take themselves too serious and paint good pieces are my idols. Greets to you.

Who would you like to appeal to with your pieces? Do you only paint for the scene or would you be glad if also other people would be interested in?
Ghetto: First, I do all this for myself, to satisfy my thirst. To do pieces which appeal to other people would be too difficult to me, because my style offers less things which people who do not write understand. There were two kids who tried to judge a piece of me. But both couldn’t decide whether it was a scooter or a whale.
Karat: In first place you paint for yourself and not for the scene. To seriously appeal other people to what you do, you had to paint pictures which are easier to understand for “normal” people. But lately, I don’t want this. Maybe sometime; pieces which concentrate on a subject which I’m very concerned about.
Heart: I paint for myself and my friends. All the other writers who are interested are rather luxury. You cannot appeal to your neighbour with graffiti, as long as it’s not a sun flower or a car with a smiley face.
Thus I don’t really care about those people. But a little provocation is always quite nice.

Have you already painted in other cities/countries? If so, where was it?

Ghetto: Nothing worth mentioning. Actually I always travel to paint. But just because I don’t have the possibility to do what I want in my home town.
Karat: I have been here and there. But I haven’t really seen a lot. And my situation in life doesn’t allow me to travel a lot at the moment.
Heart: I have been here and there in Europe, but nothing I could show off with. Thus, I will not list it.

If graffiti died, what would be the reason?

Ghetto: It probably would be some graffiti gangsters who shoot the whole scene by mistake. Don’t hope so.
Karat: A new Ice Age. Unfortunately it’s not quite unrealistic. There will always be graffiti, provided our planet joins in.
Heart: I stop spraying.

Besides graffiti, do you have any other “hobbies”, if you could call it like that?
Ghetto: If there would just be graffiti in your head, you’d probably end up. I think there should be other things for your own balance. But graffiti takes a main part of my spare time and actually is 24/7 in the back of my head.
Karat: No, at least nothing which occupies and satisfies me as much as graffiti does. There are other things, sure, but I do those to clear up my head, but nothing unusual.
Heart: Yeah, my life is definitely not 24/7 graffiti.

What is it, the real graffiti? Illegal or legal?

Ghetto: No matter if illegal or legal. The most important is the fun and the result. But illegal pieces, which are mostly painted on untouched surfaces, are fresher.
Karat: Illegal. But there is no “wrong”. Everyone should do, what he thinks is right.
Heart: Illegal.

What should graffiti additionally offer and what should definitely be prohibited?

Ghetto: More people which just paint, without thinking that their penis enlarges enormously by that. That should be prohibited. Graffiti doesn’t make you being a better person. Take off your imaginary sun glasses, guys. Automn is coming.
Karat: I don’t know any thing which would make it better. I’m against prohibitions. But if I could prohibit something, then it would arrogance and intolerance.
Heart: Prohibitions and rules don’t fit in my perception of graffiti. Everyone should do what he wants. If it’s something that I dislike, he should let me alone.

Many writers dream of painting like the legends in New York. What do you dream of and what are your goals in graff?
Ghetto: Nowadays, New York is rather uninteresting to me. If I had lived and painted 20 years ago, it would definitely had been a goal. But what’s going on today in New York doesn’t really attract me. I’d rather do a journey to the Scandinavian countries. And as soon as possible I will make this dream come true. And not only to paint there.
Karat: I want to develop continuously and extend my abilities so that I can realise everything, every idea of mine. Otherwise, I don’t have any greater goals. Just having a good life and to paint a lot.
Heart: Having a good time, with nice people.

What else should the world know?
Ghetto: Young, sexy looks for… !
Karat: Meat is murder!
Heart: Me good guy!

Any greetings?
Ghetto: Yo BÜSCHI, FILE, FUM, SUBL, BEAT, AGOE, MOZAT, HAKS, NAR, POKUS, NUTS, PUSH... I love you. Don’t stop the body rock !   
Karat: HERZ, KURTIS, STURM, AGOE, KUX, SMIV, ZIX and everyone I forgot.
Heart: Because I already greeted all the nice people before, I would like to name just a few especially nice ones at this place: FUM and SUBL, CLIFF and WOLKE, KUIK, VAST and AGOE, MOTE, RYK, REAKT, SMIV and PETER. Yo!

This Interview has been published in

Stylefile #22: