Worldwide Locals is a series of interviews with personalities whose works paved the way to define who we are, presented to our community through their words.
Flight Mode is one of the most renowned magazines in the graffiti scene, taking distance from many of the publications around at the time. A high-end printed product curated in the package and sharp in the focus and specials.
Q: What could you see was missing in the market when you launched your first publication? What have you taken from the past to be a starting point to define your identity?y
A: First of all, thank you for the compliment! We just wanted to contribute something of our own to the scene when we started. We were not hyper-analytical initially; our approach refined with each new project. Doing the culture justice, and especially preserving the ephemeral parts of graff, was our main intention.
We never tried to incorporate influences from other publications consciously, but some milestones have significantly impacted us: Underground Productions, Xplicit Grafx, the Dirty Handz trilogy, 10 Minutes. In addition to staples within our culture, we always try to look further: towards art, fashion, and contemporary design to steer away from the established iconography within the scene to find our own way.
Q: Each of your issues has a title and a concept on which editorial contents are centered; you almost have the feeling every piece is viewed through a lens put by the magazine. How do you see your editorial vision drives your publications?
A: In a way, that question represents our chicken and egg dilemma. We are probably as gut driven as analytical when it comes to Flight Mode. Each Volume had a different story and emerged under other circumstances in our lives. Whenever we feel like doing another project, we start somewhere. With a rough vision, the concept grows along the process.
Each project has to make sense to us, and that's probably where the conceptual element comes into play. Just editing some nice pictures together did not feel enough to tell our side of the story.
Q: Among the biggest publishers, many identities have side jobs as creative consultants and agencies, which work in between different markets and audiences. Do you reckon it is crucial to relate to different market segments?
Can you see your background in graffiti influences how you operate in these segments?
A: You might be right. As far as inspiration goes, the door swings both ways. New experiences can always be helpful. Funny enough, you call other jobs "side jobs." Financially, our situation is the other way round. But emotionally, that is an adequate description because FM means 100% passion.
Q: In the last few years, the fashion industry gained much attention to the graffiti world from a wider public. Could you see any benefits to making a subculture more understandable to an audience who has never been exposed to it?
A: It is tempting to say "no," - but that's only an ignorant writer speaking. Graffiti, especially train writing, can be a closed and narrow-minded culture. Breaking these boundaries is good. If change comes from within the scene, there's an innate intuition for the proper execution. Yet, we are always worried about weird representations of graffiti because good examples have been scarce - at least when you think of high fashion.
So far, these collaborations usually meant a mere transfer of mediums with very little understanding of the culture itself. It feels like graff might be a token that substitutes urbanity. We dislike that because we love graff in all its forms. If collaborating parties manage to translate formats instead of transferring, there is potential. Let's see how the future plays out. Maybe this development will lead to a sustainable change in societies' perceptions. Or at least start a gradual process.
Coming back to your question: For sure, fashion can be a gateway for new clientele to have a positive outlook on our culture.
Q: Traveling is one of the key aspects related to graffiti actions, which leads to getting in touch with many different cultures and mindsets from all over the world. What is the most important lesson you learned from all these years touring and working closely with personalities from every corner of the planet?
A: Another tricky question that is hard to answer without bordering on commonplace postcard wisdom. Keep an open mind, be humble, be curious? Uncertainty can be exhilarating.
Observing something new enhances all aspects of life, whether personal growth, style, or taste buds. Also, be grateful and don't take anything for granted. Traveling sparks to reflect your behavior when you see how differently people approach problems in various places—trying to keep your eyes open helps.
Do not take everything so seriously; after all, try to have fun even when things do not go as planned.
Worldwide Locals is a monthly series curated by usual.