Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday ProFiles: Erwin/Crackrock

Erwin (formerly known as Crackrock) hasn’t tagged any ridiculous locations like “UFO's, midgets, jet-fighters, or something crazy like that,” but his style is all over the place. His pen and ink drawings bear resemblance to a variety of wild beasts (ManBearPig, anyone?). As part of the dynamic Dutch duo Betamaxx, he produced stickers of traditional tags as well as disemboweled pandas. Armed with a pen and a sketchbook, this Eindhoven native has taken his work from the streets of the Netherlands to galleries and urban spaces worldwide.
While he currently goes by his given name, Erwin originally hit the streets as Crackrock.. “Some of my friends went to NYC in the early ‘90s,” he recalls. “They got a little wild, smoked crack for three weeks, and came back all fucked up. Trying to do something positive with the stories they told me, I changed my name to Crackrock.” Spurred by the graffiti in tunnels close to home, he cites Josh, Freaky, York, Yaki, and Ace as some of his initial inspirations.

Back in the day, Erwin recalls, “I was more of a bomber than someone who could do great pieces. From there on out, I moved on to art school. When I returned, I combined the two backgrounds with the stuff Baschz, the co-founder of Betamaxx, and me were doing. The result was crazy and experimental and kind of wacky in a good way.” Graffiti was personal and creative but also social for Erwin. Teaming up with The Shoarma Crew led to collaborations and lifelong friendships. “My crew is my family. We’ve all been friends for over 20 years now and I see them as my brothers and sisters.”
Fear of arrest made Erwin slightly nervous as a young writer. “Getting caught by the police would have meant a bottle of whoop-ass from my father, but it was like PeeWee’s Big Adventure in the end,” he jokes. One hazy night combining booze, bombing, and the boys in blue led to a collaboration further down the road. “In the early ‘90s, my boys Phet, Circle, and I met two writers from Denmark. We had a great time together: got drunk, went out bombing, got caught by the police. In the end, we went our separate ways. About 15 years later, I received an e-mail in the Betamaxxx account from a guy asking if I knew Phet and myself. The Danish writers Googled us and found the Betamaxxx website. The renewed contact led to a show at Copenhagen’s Gallery Ebbesen; it was a great experience.” Erwin cites differences between street art and graffiti. “Graffiti and street art are two completely different things to me,” he insists. “The similarity lies in the fact that they’re both forms of expression on the streets of the city. But graffiti is a different, more hardcore thing with different rules and a specific form of expression.” Street art, on the other hand, is more free form. “To me it’s just art,” he adds, “whether it be in a museum, a gallery, or on the streets; if I like it, I like it. If I don't, I don't.” While he’s been getting up since 1985, Erwin first created specific street art projects in the late ‘90s.

When he’s not getting up, Erwin freelances at MU, an art space in Eindhoven. In this creative arena, he’s worked on exhibits featuring Geoff McFethridge, Miranda July, The Changes, and Henrik Vibskoy. While Erwin spends more time indoors these days, he’s still as prolific as ever. Currently, he’s working on a solo show set to open by May. Keeping himself on point, he pushes himself to develop new skills and ideas. He says, “My ultimate goal is to have people see the world through a different perspective after they encounter my work. I’ll use anything if it helps to get my point across. I think everything should be possible.”

All photos courtesy of Erwin. For more photos and information, check out his website at

Thanks, Erwin! To all my Dutch readers and everyone else worldwide, Hebben een goed weekend!

1 comment:

  1. interesante blog!

    muchas gracias por mostrarlo.

    un saludo, txemy