GRAFF - Thailand’s Mauy MSV expresses inimitable love for animals with his art
“I was impressed by the uniqueness of graffiti. It is conventional and accessible to everyone."
To governments, graffiti artists are rebellious outlaws who do nothing but vandalize the streets. To Hip Hop fans, graffiti is an amalgamation of self-expression in a form of raw visual arts. What makes graffiti artists extraordinary is their capability to overhaul bland cement walls into unexpected visual treats.
In our second edition of GRAFF, we sit down with Mauy MSV, a Chiang Mai-based street artist who turns people’s heads with his pieces. The Thai artist, who has toured across Asia and Australia [before the pandemic], recently got recruited to be a part of a global graffiti collaboration called Secret Writer among some of the world’s biggest names like Rust and Slane. Want to know how the Thai artist started his career and his insight on street art? Let’s dive in.
Tell us your origin story! How did you start as a graffiti artist?
I was traveling in Europe back in 2010, and that was the first time I saw graffiti everywhere in bridges, bus stations, and bathrooms. At the time I was trying to create some artwork that could raise awareness for animals and environmental conservation. I was impressed by the uniqueness of graffiti. It is conventional and accessible to everyone. Graffiti is judgment-free.
You belong to a graffiti crew called MSV. What’s so special about this crew?
The advantage of being in a graffiti crew is that you can hang out with a group of people who enjoy spray painting walls as much as you do. In MSV, we have a similar attitude towards things and none of us are eager to be the star. We all just want to paint walls quietly.
Do you have a favorite brand of spray paint?
I don't have a favorite brand but I love to use high-pressure spray paint or semi-high like Montana Black Loop. But if I want to paint a clean piece I will use Molotow.
You love employing animals as the subject matter for your artworks. Is there a reason behind this?
I grew up in the countryside of Thailand. It was close to the mountain and they say ‘nature is the art of god.’ Whenever I was bored I would just go into the jungle or walk up to the dam to hang out with the wild animals living there, and proud to say I even befriended them. After graduating from high school, I had to move downtown for university and in the first two years, I still got to see different animals near my house like deer, peacocks, or snakes. Somehow they disappeared once I graduated, but I guess animals have always been a huge part of my life.
Is Hip Hop/Rap music a huge part of your life? What is your playlist when you are out painting walls?
Yes, I love to listen to Rap music when I paint. It hypes me up and boils my blood, especially because Rap and Graffiti are both elements of Hip Hop. But actually I listen to all kinds of music. Sometimes I listen to Country songs when I am painting a wall outdoors in the scorching hot weather of Thailand. It makes me feel calm and cooler.
Over the last couple of years, Thailand has been going through a lot of political turmoil, and we see protestors venting their anger and frustration towards the government with graffiti. What do you think of that and do you think graffiti can help with maintaining the momentum of the political movements?
To me, graffiti is a tool for the people who want to express their voices to the government or whoever they disagree with. One voice might not be ‘loud’ enough, but graffiti can help us make a statement. We can’t change all of a sudden, but they will see us and they can’t ignore us forever.
You were one of the two Asian artists invited to be a part of The Secret Writer, a global event including the world’s most prominent graffiti artists. How does it feel and can you tell us more about the project?
It was my absolute honor to be involved in this project. The Secret Writer is a global project where writers from all around the world are invited. We took turns writing each others’ tags in our own style. Recently, I am learning to paint with a new style, so I am just excited to show it to the artists and collaborate with them. It is so fun and I think events like this are what keeps the graffiti scene popping. We exchange our tags like a gift exchange with our friends, and we are all learning equally. There is no ego and it’s all pure joy.
Check out Mauy MSV’s Secret Writer video below and his work on Instagram here.