March 16, 2009

City In-BENZ-ion!

Boyagimat recently interviewed BENZ of PH crew about her activities on the streets...

Take note: She may look like Hannah Montana or one of the High School musical chicks- but beware of her invasion of girl power in this egoistic-male dominated street art scene...

Boyagimat: When & how did you start doing graffiti?

Benz: Well I started doing graffiti on walls around early last year (Jan 2008). but ever since I was a little kid, I spent most of my time in school, doodling letters on my notebook.

BA: What does “Benz” represent?

BNZ: “Benz” is actually my second name. Back in high school I used to tag “clipay” and then on my very first graffiti piece, I wrote “soul”. But it just didn’t sound right. Then I just decided to use my real name “Benz”.. And it eventually worked out for me. :)

BA: For you, what is graffiti? And why are you doing this practice?

BNZ: Well for me graffiti is “art for the public”. You discreetly exhibit your works in the streets for people to “see” and not know who did it. It’s mysterious, it’s controversial and it’s exciting. Truth be told, I don’t even know why I do graffiti. I just feel like it’s a big part of who I am. During the day I do my thing, I go to school and go to the gym. But at some nights, I go out with friends and paint illegally.

BA: Who are your influences?

BNZ: Hmm. In the early months of my graffiti experience, I used to hang
out with MGR a lot, a writer from San Francisco. We spent most of our time sketching and watching graffiti videos. After a while, I met his friends, Doom, Graver and Rest, which eventually became my crewmates and the people who I kick it with now.

BA: What can you say about “graffiti & street art” as a male dominated arena?

BNZ: Let’s not be sexist here. haha. it just so happened that males are more daring than females (sexist much?) lol. but yea, graffiti isn’t for males only! females have the right to do this too. so girls, if you wanna paint. just go ahead and do it.

BA: Any advantages and disadvantages of being a female in this kind of artistic line?

BNZ: Some disadvantages are, ladies can’t walk and bomb alone at midnight, it’s just not right. But what I like about being a female writer is, you can get away with things easily. Cops wouldn’t immediately suspect that you were writing on walls.

BA: Have you ever been caught?

BNZ: Yes.. Kind of. haha. Was out bombing with Egg and Mgr. Good thing we got to pay our asses off :)

BA: What is your memorable experience in doing this kind of stuff? Or memorable piece?

BNZ: Memorable? dayumm haha. I’ve had a lot. Well to cut the stories short. my graffiti life has basically made me go through a jungle around commonwealth qc, got in a car chase with the authorities around tomas morato, ridden in a police car, accidentally painted a cockroach silver while doing a piece, walked 5kg of my weight off in a week, talked about ghost stories with the authorities who caught us. Most of the time it’s memorable coz most of the time it’s been crazaayyy :)

BA: You seem to be the only active female graffiti artist in Manila, or even in the Philippines- what keeps you moving?

BNZ: Well... It’s not a matter of gender but what keeps me moving is really my passion for graffiti.

BA: Who do you usually tag with? Crew? Etc?

BNZ: I used to always tag and bomb with Mgr. before he left the phils, we decided to create a crew called PH. which included, Doom, Graver and Rest, in time, we chose to add 2 more members to our crew which were Fish and Worm. What we usually do is just hang out, play guitar hero and sometimes drink and skate :) recently, I’ve been bombing with Darko, a member of the Kst crew.

BA: What can you say about the street art / graffiti art scene in Manila and the Philippines in general?

BNZ: The scene is good. it’s growing; a lot of talented writers are emerging left and right. But some are even beefing each other and that’s what’s sad about it, losing respect with other fellow writers :(

BA: What are your future plans as a graffiti artist?

BNZ: My future plans as a graffiti writer? hmm.. maybe to be able to develop my skills and maybe, upgrade to doing eyecandy pieces rather than my eyesore bombings. lol. also, maybe to be able to spread love through art in the streets :)

BA: Can you give some advice to aspiring female graffiti artists out there? Looks like female artists are too shy to go out and do their thing…

BNZ: Do what makes you feel you’re alive. Not just because you exist. if you wanna go out and paint, do it. Pursue the things your passionate about. naks. haha.

BA: Any shout outs?

BNZ: Yeah. I wanna give a shout out to my MOM! haha. To my crewmates Rest, Doom, Graver, Fish, Worm and Mgr. and to all the other crews and writers out there! Darko, Kid Dragon, Drone, KST, SDFK, MSF, and all the others! Thanks Boy Agimat!! More power to the scene!!

you can check more of her works at