Chazme 718 and Sepe are two Polish artists who have become frequent collaborators in recent years. Getting their start in the Polish graffiti scene of the mid-90s, the two also continued to pursue their education alongside their artistic careers.
Chazme 718 and Sepe are two Polish artists who have become frequent collaborators in recent years. Getting their start in the Polish graffiti scene of the mid-90s, the two also continued to pursue their education alongside their artistic careers. Chazme completed an architecture degree in 2007, while Sepe gained a graphic design degree in 2009. This division in educational interest mirrors the division of labor that exists between the two during their collaborations, with Chazme creating and bringing to life the worlds in which Sepe’s characters exhibit their unique personalities. During the Richmond Mural Project, the two brought a commentary on urban alienation to the streets of RVA with their mural, Crash Dummies. While they were in town this summer, we spoke to them about Poland’s vibrant street art scene and their extravagant lifestyle as world-traversing artists.
So Sepe, how did you get involved with the Richmond Mural Project?
Sepe: Basically, I don’t really remember the situation, but we got in touch through the internet just like that. Our friends Etam Cru were here last year. So I think it went that way somehow.
What do you think of Richmond so far?
Sepe: Nice, and… a very various place. Each neighborhood is different; each block is different from the other. We’ve seen a lot of different atmospheres [and] climates in one city all together.
You guys went rafting, right? Was that fun?
Sepe: Yeah, it was! We did it for the first time and it was really interesting. We met some people three days ago in front of our wall; they told us that they own rafting stuff, and [we] just connected with them.
Well, it’s good that you got to see the community instead of just your wall, you know?
Sepe: This is what we always try to do. So [we] not only have memories like [the] hotel and wall, but also have [the] opportunity, have time to meet the other culture, to see the place, to feel the atmosphere of it.
Everybody’s really nice to you guys?
Sepe: Yeah, people are helpful and it really surprised us somehow that everybody is really into it. Really interested in what we are doing, want to talk about it, ask questions, so on, so on…
Yeah, you’re right at the art schools, so when the school comes back in September, thousands of art kids are going to be taking pictures of it and seeing it. That’s the same thing with the Etam Cru, because it’s right there too.
Sepe: Yeah, In front of 7-11. Our lovely store with Big Gulp.
Yeah, it’s America, everything has to be super big all the time. You got a regular Big Gulp, you got a SUPER Big Gulp… it has to do that. It’s stupid. But anyway… what’s the name of the mural? What was the inspiration?
Sepe: The name is Crash Dummies. And it was a kind of impression about traffic in modern crowded streets of the city. I think all of [the] people in modern, crowded cities just feel like crash dummies. Being crash dummies in the street.
Chazme: Not only in US, but…
In the cities, yeah. Everybody’s just packed in all the time. It’s not like that here yet, but I feel like with more people coming in it’s going to start getting expensive. Sepe, you use a lot of characters in your work, and then Chazme you do the architecture, is that right?
So it seemed like a natural fit for you guys to work together?
Chazme: We tried to do it like this. Each of us has a different point of view on what we’re doing, a different style.
How did you guys meet?
Chazme: Um… [laughs]. [At] a club.
Sepe: We started painting graffiti, both of us, in the ‘90s. Like ’95, ’96. And then we met each other at some graffiti jam in 2003. So we’ve known each other since that time, and started collaborating in 2007 or something on walls and murals.
So right when the mural thing started getting bigger, huh?
Sepe: Yeah, because in the beginning it was just the graffiti jams, the regular graffiti based on the characters and styles, so on, and then it went bigger and bigger.
Were you nervous the first time you did a big wall? Because it’s so visual, everybody can see it.
Sepe: Actually, we did it [a] couple of years ago so we don’t really remember if we were nervous. But no, it doesn’t work like that.
Chazme: It was on the bigger scale.
Sepe: It’s the same like painting on a smaller wall, but it just takes more time. But technique, everything is the same. So it makes no difference.
Chazme: No difference.
So why are so many great muralists coming out of Poland? There are 6 or 7 of you that we’ve had here in the last couple years.
Chazme: Because all these guys drink too much, I think. [laughs]
[Laughs] Best answer ever!
Chazme: “Oohhhh give me some beer!” [laughs] “I’m not scared of fun!! Give me bigger!”
And you guys challenge each other, because you see each other work. I was talking to Etam Cru and they were like, “We want nine stories!” I was like, “You would go nine stories?” And they were like, “Yeah!” So I think you guys’ll probably be like, “We want ten stories!”
Sepe: We don’t want ten stories. No no no.
Chazme: Ten stories are a big… that’s pretty fucking tall.
“You guys can have those stories, we’re gonna take the six stories.”
Sepe: We’re gonna have five and then go drive for a few days. They can paint ten stories in a whole week.
If you could put a mural or go anywhere in the world, where would you wanna do a mural?
Sepe: Basically everywhere.
Chazme: New, different places.
Sepe: We paint to be able to travel, and we travel to be able to paint. So it’s always joint.
Chazme: Always looking for something new.
Sepe: We just go for every possibility to travel and paint.
Chazme: And drinking and fucking. [laughs]
I understand that. It’s the artist’s life.
Sepe: He’s fucking only his fist.
Chazme: But it’s still fucking! This is Richmond! It’s not the same as fucking in Warsaw!
[Lots of laughter]