It was about time that we link up with Func88 aka Turs from the Grim Team and UB crews for an exclusive interview about him and his graffx.
His amount of work thru the years is pretty impressive and he is definitely one of the most underrated designers and graffiti artist from paris..
What’s up func? To get started Tell us a little bit about your background and history.
Well I started reproducing some Bob Haro drawings from BMX Action Magazine in the mid 80′s, and also some OTB in Bicross magazine a bit later. Then, as the second wave of skateboarding reaches Europe at the end of the decade, I was influenced by skateboards graphics, people like C.R Stecyk and his Venice graffitis (The rat bones) which I started to tag on the local spot.
In 87 I discovered Subway Art and fell in love with the letter pieces. One year later I did my first crappy piece with a bunch of buddies : a “funcrime”. From that point I really started my journey into graphism.
During the next 20 years I switched my pseudonym from “funcrime” to “satur2″,to “Turssa”, to “turs74″ and finally get back at “func’88″ a few years ago when I slowed down my graffiti activity and concentrate more into illustration and graphic design.
What were your first productions ?
As talking of products it was some handmade tees and some painted back-jackets and quickly after some printed series around 94.
At that time, I started using computer, did my first logos, created my own “street-wear” brand and then never stopped making products.
So, you have always melt graffiti and graphic design since the beginning?
In some sort, yes. As my graffiti was influenced by Bmx/Skateboard Graphics first, I have kept this as influences all along, even when I was making only graffiti during a few years. Graffiti has inspired my graphism a lot, mostly for the letter work, the color compositions, I guess I have learned how to make a logo just by practicing how to interlock letters in my pieces. I will never spit at graffiti cause it’s the reason why I’m working as a graphic designer now and I still got love for those wild letters and burners.
When did you realize, you could live of this art and passion for graffiti/graphism?
This took time in reality but things came naturally. It all started with my first t-shirt series, a simple white wildstyle on black tee, a hundred pieces production, which seemed enormous to sell, but everything was sold fast. I made another one, then another one and it happened I created a brand : “Wrung Division” in 1995 with my TW Mobb friends… I was thinking about making a living out of this, working for my own thing and doing some cool stuff.
(1 t-shirt edition, 1994 and first brand-logo “Wrung”, 1995)
And then what happened?
Everything was nice at start, designing products is really cool when it comes to make tees, but you can’t make a living for 5 people in a company just making tees…so the next step should have been the “clothing” development. I’m not into choosing fabrics and shit, and I quickly became bored of that. I quit Wrung, I still did a few graphics for them during the next 2 years then let everything go in the hands of my old friend Ryck. At last I guess having a “street-wear” brand in France wasn’t for me, obviously this market didn’t match to what I was looking for.
In the same time I have done my first jobs for the music industry, making covers. I jumped on the opportunity of working in a record company in 1999 for whom I still work till now as a freelance.
You stopped everything by the moment just to work for music? Is that for money or the love of music?
I can’t lie my 1st motivation was money…changing my lifestyle, meeting some new people and moreover Music industry was in a prosperous period, it was kinda exiting, there was full of money, people were crazy on the budgets doing crazy things…kinda real nice!
I have never been a big fan of french music, i have worked for very shitty things but i also had the chance to met passionated people and sometimes being satisfied of the final product.
Do you still find enjoyment into it?
Not anymore…it’s absolutely dead. The music business is dead, but as i tell you it was rare i had fun making artworks for majors, they mostly got shitty ideas, no knowledge and really bad taste. I must say I had way more fun making those “Astrobastard” tapes with my friends Shone & Soper or the JR Ewing Mixtapes than any other music project I have worked for… I still making those small projects and it’s exiting, like that “Wookie Gang” thing with my childhood friend Omar White & Prince85. Music industry is dead, independent has win at last!…
Having a regular job as a graphic designer in a Music Company could have been a brake for your graffiti activity. How did you conjugate those two activities?
I guess like a lot of other writers, it’s not because you’re working at day, you can’t go out at night…it’s not because you’re sticked to a computer you can’t draw some sketches….By the way I have never done so much things since I have started to work in Music industry. It was the time I started messing with the GrimTeam, we were hyper-active and I gave a lot for the crew, making tees, websites, any sort of graphics and a lot of paintings!!!
Tell me about the “Grim Team” & “UltraBoyz” crews you are part of.
Let’s start with GrimTeam. In 1999, most of the TW Mobb have dropped graffiti and I needed some new sidekicks as I was still 100% into graffiti ! I already knew the majority of the GT guys. I was there when they found the name itself, before that the meaning for GT was “Gangbang Tonight”. GT is a melting pot of people actively involved in Paris graffiti since the early days, a bunch of well-known names like Chaze, Sari, Creez, Pro, Kirs, Druide, Wek, Oeno…and a lot more! It ended up to match quickly.
We made that “super-group” making our marks in the city, creating the so called “Galactic-Style”, having a pretty bad reputation in Paris nights (!), being arrogant, sometimes hateful and at the end being sort of a influence on graffiti styles… the Good Times!!!! I guess we had our hours of glory during a few years and GT is engraved in Paris Graffiti history whatever our defectors could say.
During the same time, I created an international group called UltraBoyz with my good friend SozyOne in May 1999. At start it was just friendship between 2 parisians (Pro & Me) and some Belgium guys (Sozy, Recto, Fab, Jaba, Byz…). As I was totally into GT back then, I didn’t really work the name “Ultraboyz” for a few years, and it was maybe in 2004 or 2005 I’ve started to represent that group as my leading group, the perfect match up.
The primary reason is that group isn’t just about “graffiti”, it’s a concept as itself, a mind-spirit, a life-style. Now the group consist of 14 members from various countries in Europe and even Asia. Our last member is probably one of the best youngster in modern graffiti and surely a future major artist, Pantone from Valencia.
What is exiting you the most in graphism?
It’s strange how I still stuck into designing products, I love making graphics for garments, tees, skateboards… It’s not really art, it’s just visual candies. Maybe I’m a little bit fetishist about objects but I rather prefer a skateboard deck than a canvas. I love putting image on something “func”tional. One other thing that exited me is searching for concepts, names and visual-identities. It’s like creating a whole thing, your own frankenstein.
I found a good partner in the person of SozyOne, from whom I learned how to make what you want all by yourself, develop concepts and making some more elaborate plans…Very inspirational friend.
Meeting some dedicated people is a good part of the job too, talking about our passion, how we love to see well-manufactured things and all that “graphic geek” things…it’s all good.
I could find fun into designing a logo as well, a cover, a poster, a tattoo art……anything, as long as I have no constraints. I underwent too much constraints and frustrations in music industry.
What kind of projects have you worked on for the past few years?
Numerous type of things….I can’t remember, it’s a daily job. I had a lot of fun making graphics for Carhartt, that was pretty nice…
I’m drawing a lot, not necessary for someone or something in particular, i got a ton of graphics pilled up under my desk which didn’t make any purpose…As i’m working a lot on computer everyday, i love to brake that routine and get back at the real thing, paper & ink!
The Haze Wheels adventure is nice too (a skateboard brand I work with since two years now) it’s like a child dream…I met some cool guys right there.
(unreleased Bertrand Soubrier deck, rendition of Eazy-E’s cover, Guest Skateboard, 2011)
Lately I’m deep into my WeBringJustice collectibles, some products (T-shirts, screened posters…) manufactured in super limited quantity with close friends like Squeegees & Co. or Wildbarz. I’m trying to keep some printing traditions and perpetuate the art of hand-crafting. You could find them only through our blog, it’s exclusive and only for the fun of it!
Throw me the first names you got in mind as far as inspiration.
VCJ, John Lucero, Jim Phillips, Bando, Shoe, Futura2000, Phase2, Neal Adams, Jim Starlin, Virgil Finlay, Pen & Pixel Graphics, Matt French, Sean Cliver, Marc McKee….I don’t know there’s too many talented people I got inspired by.
Are you still doing graffiti these days?
I will not lie, I have no time for that anymore, I only paint as a tourist in vacations or occasionally. I’m still making letters on paper but it’s not “real” graffiti, it’s more like drawings. I still got it in my veins and mind and I continue to develop some complex futuristic lettering styles anyway.
You’re making letter-pieces on paper which could make it in galleries, why not showing them to people?
Strangely, I’ve exposed canvases early a few times between 1992 & 1998 with the TW Mobb with no particular reason but fame. I didn’t consider myself as an artist, i’m just into graphics…so an exhibition about graphics is ok to me, but showing some graffiti-canvas is definitely not for me, not my type of shit. I refused a few times and I think I will be unable to set up a solo “graffiti” show, I didn’t even thought about that….For a long, I was against showing anything to people, trying to keep my papers by myself. Now I’m more concentrate on illustrations and totally different things I started to be ok with the idea of showing my graffiti “art” works, but definitely not in galleries, Internet is good enough for that, and maybe I will filled a book one day.
You are the head behind the WeBringJustice Blog, what is it about? why that name instead of Ultraboyz?
When I started this blog it was basically putting online a platform for our group. As my point wasn’t to show only U.B work but also cool things and influences, I decided to name it “WeBringJustice” as it’s our U.B slogan since the beginning. I post daily news about graphics, music and cool stuff! Come over and see by yourself, it’s like a fun magazine for big kids without porn (sorry!).
What will you do right after this interview?
Drawing for the next Haze Wheels series, Posting something on WBJ or maybe grab the jig-saw and sanding tool to work a new skateboard shape (my new hobby!) But I guess a simple email could change my plans anyway….
ok sounds good brother,thx for your time and keep up the good work!