Interview via email
KL: You are a pioneer in the Chinese graffiti scene, how did you get into it in the first place?
李球球0528: I was really into drawing and skateboarding… I saw graffiti for the first time from skateboarding videos and magazines. I was taught as a child that vandalism is forbidden, but when I saw those vibrant and colorful walls on the streets outside of China I could feel the freedom – it was almost irresistible for the rebellious teenager that I was at the time. I felt a force grabbing towards graffiti, and after a few attempts I was hooked. Moreover I think graffiti is within our nature, the nature that society and institutions try to stifle and murder at every opportunity.
KL: Did you have any particular inspiration (did you spend your youth watching Beat Street over and over)?
李球球0528: A varied range of things has influenced my style. I have a lot of influences. When it comes to graffiti and street art, I like Banksy, Bonzai, Obey, Kobra, Chinaman, etc. I like Otomo Katsuhiro and Kim Jung Gi’s comics. I listen to 2pac, Nas, Wu-Tang, Bob Marley, Mozart and Paquito [D’Rivera]. I read Wang Shuo, Jin Yong, Gu long…. Etc. The people in my life, my friends, my family are have an impact on my style.
KL: 有什么东西或人特别影响你的涂鸦风格或内容？比如Beat Street电影或者Hip Hop音乐等等？
李球球0528: 要說有什麼東西影響了我的風格。。那就有太多了。。我喜歡banksy。bonzai。obey。kobra。chinaman等等的塗鴉作品 。。我喜歡大友克洋。kim jung。的漫畫。。喜歡2pc。nas。wu－tang 。bob Marley。莫札特。帕奎托的音樂。。王朔。金庸。古龍的小說。。等等等。。。生活裡的人。朋友。家人都在影響著我的風格。。。。
KL: How long did it take to find like-minded people and create a scene?
李球球0528: It took about five to six years for me to find like-minded people and friends who were also into it, probably due to the nature of communication back then… It has to be easier now.
KL: What difficulties did you encounter throwing stuff up back in the day? Was it more or less difficult when you were starting out? The police aren’t hugely strict about it now, was it better or worse when you started out?
李球球0528: The biggest problem I had was the quality of the paint. It’s much better now, there are lots of shops selling good paint.
KL: Why did you stop painting? Do you think every graffiti artist is destined for a relatively early retirement? Is it “a young man’s game?”
李球球0528: I haven’t completely retired from it, it’s just that I don’t have enough time as I used to – I’ve got a family and a kid now. My life is completely different. I think everyone ends up going through this process of which the things you like and pay attention to gradually change through time. You have all the time in the world when you’re young to condemn the world and dismiss everything around you as shit, just because you can. It’s different now; my attitude and insight toward life and nature and people and things have totally changed. I see it as a new beginning.
KL: Is any of your work still up? They heritage list some artworks in Melbourne and other places, do you think China will get to a stage of truly valuing what you guys do?
李球球0528: My stuff is barely visible on the streets of Beijing now, most of them are covered up. China is different from most countries in many ways. We have way too many people, generally uneducated. Most consider themselves lucky to even have a job. We treat authorities like God, how could anyone expect these people to allow anything that hasn’t been thoroughly inspected and censored to stay up for long? I’m not optimistic about it… there’s no freedom, no future.
KL: How developed do you think the scene is now? Are there particular artists who impress you?
李球球0528: This shit is going places in Beijing. There’re paint shops, different crews and some foreigners painting around the city. There are also commercial events focused on graffiti. There aren’t any artists that I like though.
KL: Events like the Graffiti Neighbourhood Meet up is a huge celebration of graffiti culture, was there anything even remotely like it when you were painting?
李球球0528: None of this stuff existed back then, there were small-scale events but nothing like this. It’s my first time going to something like this, I’m pretty excited.