Interview: Stefano Viola
Translation: Federico Chiozzi

Kein is undoubtedly one of the individuals who has contributed the most to growing and consolidating the Florentine scene since the mid-1990s, bringing prestige to Italy's writing through his style.

What do you write, when did you start and why
Kein, Nerds. I started in 94/95, in that period I couldn't sleep at night so I started to go around tagging.
Later, with some luck, I met the right guys and I took it more seriously.

Who wrote in Florence in that period?
Among others in Florence there were Dork, Ens, Duke One and Dust from Milan. My crew, the NERDS, started later and in the same period Bees and Guim came back from abroad. Many more people used to write but some just for a really short time and others were so wack that I don't want to mention them. About regional trains between 1994/2000 the Florence scene was the strongest in Toscana and it was only after 2000 that we had to cross out other crews because there was no room anymore on the trains to be painted. Until that I just crossed my own pieces or my friends', but maybe other writers painted lines that run far away…

What's your opinion about graffiti medias? We don't see many of your works on magazines or internet...
Awful. I'd say that internet diffusion ruined some of the aspects I loved most about gaff, so rarely send my stuff.
It seems that original writers don't exist anymore: somebody creates something and the day after everybody does the same thing and the result is that cities don't have a peculiar style anymore. And that's a pity.
Some years ago, you had less inspiration but it was easier to develop something original while who's starting now has too many influences.
The saddest thing is the generation of "virtual writers" who don't have any tags around but put their panels on Stradanove as soon as they've done one!

Buffing and security are increasing: do you think that there are some boundaries that shouldn't be trespassed to get the panel done or leave a mark?
I don't think so, if you risk on your own. The only limits one should care about are historical buildings: there are places in Florence that I really love and they're destroyed by tags, mainly from out of owners. There should be more respect for those places...we already have the town council to do damage!

Did you notice any change in the relationship between writers and institutions lately? Is it better or worst?
Generally speaking, institutions try to take away your freedom offering more safety control and graff is negatively influenced by that.

Have you got any other interests besides graff?
Lately I have produced some t-shirts by Gold (a studio owned by some friends in Florence) and designed flyers but mainly I'm working on visuals. I don't spend on graffiti all the time I used to anymore but they're still present.

Do you regret that or are you happy that with the time passing by, other interests took over in spite of writing?
No regrets, it's just passed away the moment when I felt the competition with somebody who painted more than me. Now I paint only if I have a good sketch or if I really feel to do it and so, obviously, I focus more on other things

What's your opinion about "writing business", tons of spraypaint brands created exclusively for graffiti (3 in Italy only), about shows like "write for gold" etc?
I don't really care about new spraypaint brands and I felt good even when we had only Multona and Belton. I don't even know what " Write for gold" is but I usually like conventions even if I don't often go.

We're living in a complex historical period. Do you think that graffiti writers should try to spread some explicit political message?
If I could find an effective way to do it, I'd do it, but in my view graffiti aren't the best medium. Maybe street art is better but in this case also, only a few artists achieve good results.

Is there anybody you rate in the beloved/hatred "street art" scene?
First of all I have to say that an Italian comedy actor's stencil or painting always the same thing has nothing in common with art.. then, I like classics like Banksy, Akaysm or the billboard liberation front.

What do you think about the Italian scene in comparison with other European ones? Is there any new school Italian?
Every time I always heard about Swedish, French, American stuff and so on but never about Italian, maybe we want to do too much too soon without looking back (at the roots?)
Among young Italian writers that I know, the only one I like is Smoy.

Toscana's scene, and especially Florence's, is one of the oldest and most important in the Italian panorama and the styles straight from the years 94/2000 influenced whole generations of writers. Can you tell us about those years and about the connections with foreigners (to name a few Reas, Honet, Hence, Grey) and the strong link with the guys from Bologna (a city 100km in the north)? What is left today?
That's a pretty complex topic. I could say that the Florence's scene is mostly looked at from writers who started to paint a lot of time ago while it's not that important for new generations and that is probably because we don't like to promote ourselves a lot.
In the beginning people used to arrive here by chance, then the word spread and many foreigners came. My better memories are linked to Italian guys, the only ones whom I still have some relationship with: we still meet all together for painting once a year while the more famous guys that I met, left me a lot from the creative point of view and nothing from the human side.
Now only a few remains, 'cause just some of the young writers from Florence look at what we've done till now.

Do you prefer to plan missions or to go out with your friends carrying paint to do something if there's a chance?
Surely the second. If I go for a mission, something always happens and I don't paint!

If you missed the episode of #groglab with Mr. Kein, don't miss it again!

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