MONOKROME is a new graffiti book with a difference. It's all blackbook work in black and white by world class artists and some unknown up-and-comings too. We spoke to Rob Whitelock at MONOKROME to find out more...
Tell us about the Monokrome book and why you decided to publish it...
The MONOKROME book is a collection of black, white and grey sketches and finished illustrations in ink, pencil or digital by some of the finest graffiti writers in the world today. We also showcase some serious up-and-coming talent and give them a platform for their amazing work. There are also interviews with most of our artists which give a great insight into their processes, outlook and their relationship to their medium.
We wanted to publish this book for a few different reasons. Both me and Aaron (Aaron Munday, MONOKROME's creative director) love really good design in all its forms and this plays a big part in how the work is displayed in the book. It's not just thrown together.
I've had a love of graffiti blackbook work for years ever since I first started scrawling my name onto walls back in the 1980s. To get some of the the world's best blackbook artists together like System, Remi/Rough, Kofie, etc into a single book is a dream come true for me.
And, finally, I get to meet some amazing young artists who no-one's ever heard of. It's a great privilege to be able to show the world their considerable talents.
Tell us more about the brief you gave each artist and why they could only use black, white and grey...
The artists were told that they had to present linework in black, white and, if they wanted to, grey as well. It could be anything they liked, characters, their tag, wildstyle design, their crew names, whatever. Some bent the rules a little and desaturated some of their work, but most stuck rigidly to the brief. All of them came through with fantastically diverse design.
As a young graffiti writer, one of my heroes was Bando, a French graffiti writer from one of the most famous graffiti crews of all time, The Chrome Angels. He used to say that if your style was really good enough, you should be able to design a piece using nothing but chrome and black, the style would carry the aesthetic without the use of colour. That's what I've always believed and it's confirmed in MONOKROME.
Was it important to feature a bit of background about each artist as well as their work?
I've always been a very inclusive kind of a person. Graffiti is a very elitist artform, if you're not involved then you're not invited. It's got more inclusive over the years, but because of the illegal nature of it, some people who are interested don't get a look in. I thought it was important to show an aspect of who these artists are as people, so that the general reader gets a feel for the graffiti writer as a human being, a creative who strives to fulfill an artistic ideal. On a more basic level it makes the whole thing much more personal to all involved, reader and artist.
Tell us about some of the artists featured in the book...
We have an amazing line-up and very deliberately diverse. Remi/Rough is a UK artist who has worked tirelessly for over 25 years shaping the direction of graffiti in the UK. It's thanks to him and a group of his contemporaries including System, Kofie, Inkie and others that graffiti is being more universally accepted in the world of fine art.
There are Nash and Does, who are European stars of the graffiti scene; Denz, the great Chicago freight train writer; Inkfetish, whose originality knows no bounds; Australian character supremo Itch; photorealism expert Asker from Italy; 3D wizard Hush; Beta of The Crazy Apes crew from Canada; Eyeone and Benone from Los Angeles, not to mention the new faces like Lik, Sektr, Wator... the list goes on.
How much does it cost and what do people get for their money?
It retails at £25 plus postage (UK buyers get postage included) and for that you get amazing blackbook work from 31 artists and interviews with all of them, 224 pages of black and white graffiti designs, beautiful graphic design by Aaron Munday at 12 Orchards, a casebound limited edition with cover design by Itch, a foreword by old school veteran Hush of Fed The Nonsense crew and a soundbites section featuring the talents of a mixture of worldwide artists with many different styles and quotes from a handful of writers.
What are your plans for the future?
We have plans for a further three books but we're keeping our cards close to our chest as to our themes for them. You can expect world class writers, amazing graffiti and, next time, it'll be in full colour, we've done the black and white thing now. Watch this space...
Anything else you'd like to tell us about?
We're thinking about putting together a small quarterly graffiti magazine. We'd like any graffiti writers to mail us at [email protected] with their blackbook designs, walls, canvasses, whatever. If we get enough interest, we'll go ahead and put something out there.
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