Eko: Can you present yourself ? (What was your previous book/how are you related to graffiti...)

Tristan Manco : I studied illustration at college so I am an image junky and collector. I work as a partner of Tijuana Design in Bristol. I have always been a graffiti fan but the only graffiti I have produced is with stencils my first were in 1986. Bristol has shaped my view of graffiti as have my travels where I always choose walls as one of my photography subjects.

My first book Stencil Graffiti came out of my obsession with stencils and being inspired by Banksy’s first works in Bristol. It also made it possible for me to visit and interview the originators from Paris such as Blek and Nemo who I admired greatly. It also gave me the chance to show the global scene which had not been complied together in a book before. The history to was interesting to research and my research and archive is still growing. The Street Logos book came from seeing a new graffiti scene grow up over the last 14 years. I spotted works like Xupet Negre in Barcelona back in 1989 and also Andre in Paris many years ago so I have watched this scene grow from small beginnings.

The first time you told me about your project might be nearly 2 years ago. What has been so long on the making of the book ?

It is the nature of working with a major publisher. I started the book in August 2002 and finished the writing and design in August 2003. Since then the time has been spent with production, selling and marketing at Thames and Hudson. It was the same with Stencil Graffiti. I started in 1999 and it came out in 2002! I have tried to choose images that will look good with time because two years is a long time in graffiti. The freshest stuff will always be on the internet or magazines but books last longer.

What was your original goal in making this book ? What were your selection criteria for the artists that you expose ?

I was originally inspired by the idea of logo tags. I loved the idea. I was blown away when I first started seeing people like La Mano making personal signs in painting, tags and stickers in so many audacious ways and they still make me smile now. They had so much impact. The more I studied these works and got to know the artists, I realised that there was more to it than repeating logos. The general spirit of graffiti was changing and I wanted to explore that through the work they were producing. Through the language of icons, logos, characters and signs.

A lot a street stuff did not fit or relate to those ideas and I hope to explore those works such as Street Sculpture, installations and other techniques and subjects in other book one day. There is a lot of work that I admire outside the work in the book but I did not want to dilute the idea but just putting everything I like in it!

You probably know that many people will compare your book & "The Art of Rebellion". Is the release of "The Art of Rebellion" makes you do some changes in "Street Logos" ? And what makes it different to "The Art of Rebellion" ?

Both books were finished at the same time, so I did not see TAOR till after I finished. Mine just took longer in production. I started my book 6 months before The Art of Rebellion but we were both aware of each others production. Christian was very supportive of Street Logos. We also tried where possible to make sure we were not repeating images.

I have Christian’s book and I think he did a great job. I think he is the only other person in the world right now who knows what goes into a production like this. It is possibly crass for me to comment on TAOR but I think the key difference is all the texts I have written and the thematic approach.

It seems that there are a different book-cover for Europe and the USA. Can you tell us why ?

I think is just different marketing styles. Plus a dollar price on the back in the USA. There is a Japanese translated version which will have the European cover.

The 1st sentence of "Street Logos" is "Graffiti art is constantly evolving". How do you see graffiti's future ?

It is the nature of Graffiti to evolve. That is why ekosystem is a good website name. Graffiti is an ecosystem that keep producing new hybrids and new species. I think that painting is coming back. With stickers and posters you can do some amazing and surprising things but they are only ever quick solutions. You can not beat painting and stencils to make a real impact on a wall or a train.

Graffiti can not stay nostalgic. We loved the way it was but we should also love the way it is going. Just when you thought it was getting boring some inspired person does something that rewrites the rule book. It just seems to get better. I think there are talented artists currently who will be the next Twist, Basquiat or Os Gemeos. The skills and ideas are out there now. In the end it is not just about being better but caring about your work and enjoying it.

What are your plans for the future (book release events, new book) ?

I am finishing editing a gigantic book of graffiti for Thames and Hudson - the book is called Graffiti World and it will be out in autumn. The author is Nicholas Ganz, a writer (in the graffiti sense) from Essen in Germany. More about that in the future.

Planned book events are in the form of a selection of Street Art/Graffiti films:
Bristol’s Cube cinema on the 31st March and 1st of April, London’s ICA, 15th April other dates are planned at Madrid’s expo on the 23rd of April and Barcelona’s Montana store on 17th of April.
For a full list of book release events check : http://www.streetlogos.com

ekosystem - tristan manco - march 2004