Interview with Graffiti Street Artist ABOVE + Print GiveAway


Above is an extremely talented artist whose work can be seen all over the world. I had long discussions with him about his awesome Graffiti Tour to South America and the Sign Language Tour where he visited 26 countries. Every each of his masterpieces has a special message. Enjoy the many projects this young artist has done.

Information about the print give away at the bottom of the page

Graffiti Design by Street Artist Above

Ljubljana, Slovenia 2006


Graffiti Design by Street Artist Above

Copenhagen, Denmark 2005

Graffiti Design by Street Artist Above

Athens, Greece 2006

1. First of all we would like to thank you for taking the time to provide with this interview. Please tell us more about your art and design background and what made you become an artist and designer?

Thank you as well for having an interest in the artworks! My "artist" background basically started with my family. Both my Parents are artists and growing up as a young kid there was always art supplies to play with and experiment. I consider my family upbringing very fortunate and responsible for why I started and am curious in art. When I was about 15 I was already skateboarding and many if not all of my skateboard friends were tagging and painting trains. Because of my upbringing with art and an interest already established in creating It was just a matter of time before I too got into tagging and painting trains in California. I did the traditional letters but became bored with this coded language or style. In 2001 when I was 19 I moved to Paris, France to focus on making a new style in the streets. At that time there were just a handful of artists making "street art" that was not about letters but instead an icon/character/symbol that would represent their name or idea. For me I changed from writing the letters "A-B-O-V-E" to a symbol of an Arrow pointing "ABOVE." Years later back in the United States I started to make a physical wooden arrow complete with glued on fabrics and a word on each side of the arrow. The process of making these wooden arrows is about the extent of my "Design." I like to make things with my hands so designing on the computer just is not what I am interested in at the point in my life.

Graffiti Design by Street 

Artist Above

This Word/Play was painted on the outside of a 4th grade classroom. While the young students were inside learning how to put 2 and 2 together, I was outside trying my best to do the same!

2. You recently completed your 6-month word tour. Please speak about this project.

The South Central Tour was an intense 6-month long tour starting in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil and ending in Mexico City, Mexico. I was fortunate to have many contacts in most of the major cities thru south and central America that helped out with a floor to sleep on and who knew the city. The South Central tour was a progression from the SIGN LANGUAGE TOUR (2006) as during the South Central tour I was still doing Word/Play's but instead I was painting them on the wall much much larger. The South Central tour allowed me to make longer, and more elaborate sentences, questions, and puns painted on the walls.

SOUTH CENTRAL TOUR 2007-08 (Full Length) from ABOVE on Vimeo.

3. I love the idea of your Sign Language Tour in 2006. How did you came up with the concept and how did you implement the idea.

The Sign Language tour was a progression from the 2004 U.S.A. tour. In 2004 I designed the idea of how to hang and install the wooden arrows high above the city streets. Since each arrow has 2 sides and is constantly spinning around that it would be unique to paint 1 word on each side of the spinning arrow. In 2006 for the Sign Language tour I was able to do just that. Each arrow had 1-word on each side so the concept was that when the wind would spin the hanging arrow that a silent "Sign Language" dialog would be seen from the viewer below. The most challenging part was since I painted the Word/Play on each arrow before the tour I would walk around any given city along the tour at night looking for the perfect match of location and the word/play. For instance hanging an arrow in a busy intersection that read "HONK/HORN" or in Amsterdam that said "RED/LITE" (for the red light prostitution district) or even in sunny Barcelona that read " HACE/SOL" (It's sunny in Spanish). My goal with making each arrow as relative and specific to the location/atmosphere was that the viewer could easily make the connection and relate to this silent message.

SIGN LANGUAGE TOUR (2006) from ABOVE on Vimeo.

4. What are your tools of the trade? Explain for example how you created the "Playground Valentines Day Special"?

The PLAYGROUND LOVE piece was created out of cut out stencils I made. My tools for the trade really depends on what surface I am working on as well as what type of message I want to get across. For instance I felt like making this piece with a stencil because there was a lot of small and fine detail that if I were to paint that piece with spray paint the detail would get lost. As an artists I want to try and take on new mediums and applications so i can learn and work on my weaknesses.


5. How do people react on your work? Have you every got any trouble because of your graffitis?

It seems like they either love or hate it. Trouble because of graffiti, Yeah. I've been arrested more than I would like to talk about.

6. What, for you personally are the pros and cons of being an artist?

PRO'S: Being able to travel, meet new people, experience life at it's fullest and being challenged to try new things. CON'S: Little/no Money, and going to jail about 2 times a year.

7. How does your job as an artist and designer influence your life? Do you feel that you see things around you differently for example?

Traveling has had such an important impact on the way I look at things. When I am in a new country or city everything is new and there are no "filters" for what I am able to absorb visually. When I was hanging the wooden Arrow Mobiles from overhead telephone lines my perception and eyes were constantly looking "above" to see what type (if any) overhead lines were available to hang an arrow on. I remember being in Prague with some friends and I was extremely excited to see that in the center of the city there were a lot of overhead wires. My friends were confused as to why I was so happy and I explained to them it was because of these overhead telephone wires. They all looked up and said that they never noticed them being there, even thought they live just 2 streets away. So yeah perhaps I do see things differently?

8. Can you give us example of your upcoming projects?

I am currently living in California, and I hope to go back to Europe for the summer, then return to Buenos Aires around the end of the year. I love it in Argentina!

SouthCentral Tour (PART 1 OF 4) from ABOVE on Vimeo.

SouthCentral Tour (Part 2 of 4) from ABOVE on Vimeo.

SouthCentral Tour (Part 3 of 4) from ABOVE on Vimeo.

SouthCentral: Part 4 (The Final Chapter!) from ABOVE on Vimeo.

9. What are your favourite 5 websites, and why?

hmmm, let me think. Abduzeedo because all of them have new content regularly.

10. Once again, thank you very much for the interview. As a final word, do you have any tips for upcoming artists and designers?

Not really, I think I have said too much already.

Where to find Above in the web - Portfolio - Videos

Free Print Give Away

ABOVE is kind enought to give away one version of his limited edition "Put 2 and 2 2gether"-Print for the Abduzeedo Reader. Just leave a comment about what you like most in ABOVE's work. He will pick the winner in the end of the week.

Print by Above

You can get this Print for just 44 $ - and other great Prints - in his shop

More work of this artist.

Take from the Rich give to Poor by Above

Graffiti Design by Street Artist Above


Written by

Fabio Sasso

I'm a Brazilian product designer based in Oakland, California currently working for Google as a Staff Designer. I am also the founder of Abduzeedo, an award-winning digital publication about design and a personal project that has become the source of inspiration for millions of designers and enthusiasts.