For some graffiti writers it is the process rather than the final outcome that is the motivation behind their craft; and to watch Deams (Deamz/Deamze) honing yet another complex, multi-layered, semi-abstract burner to within an inch of fracturing, exploding, and flying off the wall into orbit, is to see a man truly in love with the act of painting itself (coincidentallydeamo means ‘to be passionately in love with’ in Latin). And who can blame him? As any self-confessed aerosol-addict will tell you, propelling multi coloured spray paint onto a wall all day is, at its deepest, a form of moving meditation; relaxing, exhausting and hugely rewarding, all at the same time.
Now well into his third decade of painting, Deams’ style has reached that plateau where it is uniquely, unmistakably, and utterly his own. Whether painting his cartoon-like, beveled-edged straight letters; super complex retro-futuristic burners; or indeed, those open abstract spaces that seem to explore the insides of letters; a Deams painting identifies itself at a hundred paces. Deams is a ‘style writer’ in the truest sense of the phrase.
Felix ‘FLX’ Braun 2014.
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
Graffiti is my life, and has been since I became a hungry teen, not too long after the birth of the UK graff scene; but it’s strange when people ask me how all this came to be, and how I became Deams, not least because everything has become a little blurry after spending most of my life dedicated to learning the science of applying spray paint to a vertical surface.
What I can tell you for certain is that I was born into a rural Lincolnshire village community that could not have been further from New York, the spiritual home of subway graffiti. I always loved drawing and art in general, so when the graffiti train pulled into my teenage consciousness, hopping aboard seemed the obvious thing to do, and I’ve never looked back. Like most fledgling graffiti writers in the ‘80s, the twin graffiti Bibles Subway Art andSpray Can Art provided me with the hard facts I needed to set me on my way; and through good times and bad, graffiti has shaped my life in one way or another, ever since.
After experimenting with various names in the late ‘80s – including Picasso, Racket, Cept, Kea, and others that I’ll no doubt remember at some inopportune moment – I settled on Deam; mostly because the E-to-the-A connection always floated my boat, but also because it has no meaning, no sound-a-likes, and no connotations whatsoever. At a time when everyone was choosing tags that alluded to something, I liked the idea of good, honest letters that work well together. Inevitable variations on the ‘Deam theme’ ensued, including the obvious Nottingham-influenced Deame, followed by Deams, Deamz and Deamze. Whatever’s clever, as they say in the hip hop game, and if you are going to stick with the same four or five letters for your writing career, then you better love those letters enough to enjoy all the twists, turns and incarnations you subject them to.
When all is said and done, however, a name is just a name, and the letters we choose can be molded into whatever form we choose, from one piece to the next. So Deam is as good a name as any, and despite counting at least four others last time I checked, it continues to serve me well. After nearly 30 years with it I’m not looking to change it anytime soon.