Interview with the Tuscan graffiti crew 400 Drops:
The role of urban art is fundamental to convey positive and proactive messages, of change and a sense of belonging to a society that needs the attention of each of us to improve. We are in a very critical moment for our planet and for life on it, and it is increasingly important to sensitize people and new generations to mutual collaboration, social equality, and respect for and protection of the planet.
4 artists, 400 drops. Can you tell us more about who you are, what you do, and how the project came about?
400 drops-crew was born in 2020 at the height of the pandemic. As the virus divided people around the world, it allowed four others to come together to create a new crew. The project was born out of a need to work as a team and to create more prominent urban art projects in different cities.
What different artistic and technical skills does each of you bring to the team?
Each element of the crew has its own main expressive characteristics. There are those who work in a realistic style and those who work in a more illustrative or graphic style. This allows us to range in all styles, although we are always looking for a stylistic key that can represent us fully.
How do you work together in your group? How do you approach new projects?
It’s not easy to work in a group and bring four different mindsets together. In general, the design varies depending on the purpose of the work. We always try to start with a study of the area we are working in and of its history.
In other cases, when we have a message to convey, we study how best to render it simply and directly and in a way that everyone can understand, without seeking direct criticism but camouflaging it with a tone of irony.
What are you influenced by? What are your sources of inspiration?
Each of us has their own influences and their own methods of research and study.
There is no universal line to find inspiration. Any input the world gives us can be something important that we can apply to a wall. We believe that everyday life, society, history, and personal dreams are always a source of inspiration for us.
What is your vision of graffiti and urban art?
The role of urban art is fundamental to convey positive and proactive messages, of change and a sense of belonging to a society that needs the attention of each of us to improve.
We are in a very critical moment for our planet and for life on it, and it is increasingly important to sensitize people and new generations to mutual collaboration, social equality, and respect for and protection of the planet.
In a world where everyone is absorbed for most of the time by commitments and daily stress, our role becomes essential to create a small parenthesis reflective in people of all ages.
How do you feel about the tension between graffiti and the institutional or conventional world?
We work with institutions on a daily basis, so we don’t feel like representing this type of conflict.
As we said before, collaboration and tolerance benefits everyone and can only lead to better results than conflict.
What is most important is that art never becomes a political tool.
Not only do you make art, you are also active in organizing events related to hip-hop culture and urban art. What do these events consist of?
Originally, 400 drops was born in 2014 as a collective active in the organization of hip-hop and urban jam events. The jam is a situation that conveys every discipline of hip-hop and is born in the street in the most spontaneous way, including artists who paint, freestyle battle, break dance, all surrounded by the scratches of the DJs.
The events organized by 400 drops consisted precisely of this.
Are hip-hop and graffiti/urban art culture inseparable?
Absolutely. Graffiti is one of the disciplines of hip-hop.
Street art is an evolution, an offshoot of graffiti, but still draws on an approach to society characteristic of hip-hop culture.
What impact do you think your projects can have on young people – in general and on an individual level?
We really believe in the possibility of transmitting certain messages and behaviors to young people, and would like to be spokespeople for a collective change that cannot be delayed any longer.
We see that young people, through urban art and painting, are able to be closer to and more present in the issues we deal with and therefore in the way of approaching the world and the problems we have to face on a global level.
It is very little, unfortunately, compared to what needs to be done, but it is still something. The goal is not to change the world, but to be able to change the way each individual sees the world. Each of us should become the change we want to see.
What have been your most challenging and rewarding projects so far?
Although we are still in our infancy as a crew, in just one and a half years we have completed many works throughout Italy, and this makes us proud. Every summer, we realize the Graffiti Summer Tour that includes our intervention in various events of urban art throughout Italy. This is definitely the project that allows us to express ourselves freely, and to travel while staying in contact.
But we can not say that one project is better than another because each has a great importance for us and so does every work we do, from the smallest to the largest.
What are the next projects?
Definitely continue and expand the horizons of the Graffiti Summer Tour, which will reach its third edition in 2022.
We are very focused on urban regeneration, so we are trying to bring our project to various Italian locations.
Pictures © Artists
by Laura Vetter