This interview is another one from the archives.
Some time ago I saw a wall being painted by two graffiti artists, who I later found out, were married, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to talk to them about their contribution to the culture. The graffiti culture – especially in South Africa – is heavily overlooked from a historical and understanding standpoint. I got brief insights into why they do what they do.
So, when did you start doing graffiti?
Zesta: I got into graf about 2000/2001, in high school.
Elaine: I started about nine months ago or so. I started dating Zesta and we’re actually married now. Other people go have picnics and we go paint a wall. (laughs)
That’s really cool actually. So, is this your house that you’re currently painting?
Elaine: No no no. we just saw a really ugly wall in an area where quite a few people walk past, so this gives people a bit of a chance to see something beautiful, and its all animals and anybody can relate to animals – it’s a general subject.
Zesta, you said you started in high school, but how exactly did you get started?
Zesta: Messing around in class really. I’ve always been involved in or interested in art. As soon as I got involved in graffiti it really took over from that art that I was doing, so it was a natural progression.
Do you think people give graffiti enough attention or even just respect in Joburg?
Zesta:Well I think it is quite misunderstood. There’s a lot of new activity and involvement and interest in different ways, so I think its growing at the moment which is quite cool. There are a lot of new opportunities for artists to promote yourself if you’re professional about what you do as well. But I think it’s growing. It’s nice to have a bit of an underground thing and to be left alone as well and find an application for what you do, you know?
Elaine: Let me rather say the reason why I do it is because I like creating beautiful things. I still have to learn so much about the history of graffiti and the reason why different people do it. For me, we do a beautiful wall in every neighborhood, and if everybody just [does] a little bit on their part to make the neighborhood beautiful, [because] graffiti is such a bold thing because it really does do that – it creates beauty. Different people would say its vandalism. We asked this woman if we can paint her house, I don’t if she could do anything about her wall but it gave us the opportunity to come and also buy paint things.