As the world gets smaller, graffiti and the art forms that spawn from it get bigger. So it is no surprise that Taiwan has a relatively untapped pool of artistic talent. Not just for Asia, but for the world. It is with this in mind that we discover REACH from Taiwan having his first solo show in Hong Kong presented by Over The Influence. The 37 year old Reach has taken a familiar long path from skateboarding to graffiti via the skatemags of the 90’s that featured graffiti in the background of those all too iconic skate photos that covered the walls of bedrooms all over the world. Take a look of how the artist has developed and grown in a country where graffiti is not a „growing pain“ as in some countries. REACH SOLO SHOW HONG KONG

the interview

Can you present yourself, (introduce yourself) Name, where you are from etc.

My name is REACH, and I am 37; born and raised in Kaohsiung City, Taiwan.

How and when did you get started with graffiti?

I started with graffiti in 1995. I used to skateboard and do Bboying. In the early days I used to read skateboard magazines, like TRASHER Magazine, and I always noticed the graffiti in the background. It always appealed to me. I wanted to know more, to understand the culture and I tried to mimic the pieces I saw in the magazines. At this point, I was around 15 years old. I started doodling, sketching, and playing around with bubble letters in my school note books.

What inspired you at the time?

I always found myself interested in street culture. Everyday after school, I either went out with friends to skateboard or B-boy. At that time it was my only passion. Eventually, I started to experiment with Graffiti, as I was already casually drawing comics and studying the Arts in school. In High School, we studied a lot of the Traditional Asian Arts, the use of the brush etc. That really influenced me as I was developing my Graffiti skills and honing my own style. It allowed me to be a little different than what I saw in the American Magazines, as my style was a blend of the two cultures.

What was the scene in Taiwan at that time?

In the mid 90’s Taiwan didn’t have a graffiti scene. The Skateboard scene was gaining in popularity, and the Hip Hop scene was just starting, but for graffiti there wasn’t much. Really only few people were doing true graffiti at the time. There wasn’t a lot information available locally here in Taiwan. The Internet wasnt as widespread as it it today, so we only had access to graffiti via imported magazines. When I finished High School, my friends and I started our own crew ‘SOUL SKOOL’ and a few years, later I met with RYAN, one of the original Taiwanese graffiti writers.

In Taiwan, we were really secluded from Graffiti culture. We didn’t have any resources or tools to work with. We didn’t have caps or good quality paint. We used really bad, cheap spray cans from the XIAO BEI. It was hard to learn proper techniques with these low quality materials. I didn’t understand how to spray the clean, thin lines I wanted with what I had to work with. Our cans were high pressure, with bad caps and overall created really messy pieces.

What / who influenced your original style?

My style has changed so many times, I have always liked to experiment and try new different things.
In my first few years, I would say my biggest influences were CAN2, DIME (Germany), Loomit (Germany), MAC crew (France) and LE CLUB (France) .They really inspired me a lot. Also 123 KLAN, because of their strong balance between graffiti and design. I was always asking friends to send me caps & graffiti magazines, or to buy some for me, if they could, when they traveled outside of Taiwan.

Who inspires you now?

This is a difficult question, they are so many. For a while I had to consciously disconnect myself from the work of others. I felt I was too influenced by them, and that my own style was beginning to look like just a copy of theirs. In choosing to visually seclude myself, to limit my exposure to the work of my peers, I was able to solidify my own style.
Today, I’m inspired by the work of so many writers; it’s impossible to name them all. I have many good friends who inspire me to keep pushing. If I had to name a few writers, I’d mention one of my close friends TILT & Sense (Japan) have been a constant inspiration, 123Klan, MIST, Kozyndan, Madsteez, James Jean and so many more…
But, if I could only choose one personal source of artistic inspiration, I would have to say VAN GOGH, for his story.

How’s graffiti scene in Taiwan now?

This is kind of a trick question, but I would have to say…sad, good, but sad.
The good part is, the Graffiti scene here is really supportive. We all know one another and look out for each other. We have all chosen to make Graffiti a part of our lives. We are good friends and together we keep the movement alive.
The sad part, is we don’t have many opportunities here in Taiwan, so we are always forced to look Overseas if we want to do what we love.

Keep going, keep learning and paint a lot; it’s the most important thing! Taiwan is a very friendly country, we need more writers to come to Taiwan and paint. REACH

Can you tell us more about your « REACH BOY » Character.

The Reach Boy character is your average graffiti writer, black shoes, black pants, hoodie, a ‘Ninja of the Night’. It’s also a representation of myself; he’s a way for me to express what I want to say to the public.

You are in the process of creation of a new show, can you tell us more about this new body of work?

I would like to deliver a message of awareness to the public, and maybe wake up people up, if I can; to open their eyes to the problems that surround us. It’s mostly subjects that are important to me in a global scheme.

You are in the process of creation of a new show, can you tell us more about this new body of work?

No, my first show outside of Taiwan was in 2007, in Shanghai.

After your solo show, what do you have comping up?

After this, I have few small projects, trips planned and things, but mostly to I’ll be painting big murals, in my city of Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

Who do you think in Taiwan is killing it in the graffiti/art scene lately?

I would say DEBE, MR.OGAY, CANDY BIRD, COLASA, ANO and BOUNCE. These guys are working hard everyday and haven’t stopped. They are worth checking out!

What music are you listing to most recently?

Depends on my mood, but mostly I switch between NIRVANA and MASSIVE ATTACK.

Any Last word or shout outs?

To up and coming Taiwanese artists and Foreigners:
To Taiwanese Artists: Keep going, keep learning and paint a lot; it’s the most important thing!
Taiwan is a very friendly country, we need more writers to come to Taiwan and paint.



REACH next solo show opens in Hong Kong July 2017 at Over the Influence

This interview was made by José Enrique Montes Hernandez, Director of Arcade Art Gallery in Taiwan.

Special thanks to Montana Cans Taiwan