We sat down with Olan to talk about the upcoming Tivoli Jam and the world of graffiti. He is the man behind All City and the originator of the Tivoli Jam. He shares our passion for graffiti and plays a big part in inspiring the next generation of creatives. 


Tivoli Jam 2014

APARTIAL: Tell me a bit about how the Tivoli Jam got started.
OLAN: The first Jam was back in 2008, we decided to try and create an annual event, like a meeting point for people to up their skills. There were a lot of people painting at the time but there wasn’t an outlet for quality work. The first few years were real loose but we had some international writers coming in, ESPO was one and a few of the English guys. It was a bit sloppy. It was just very much turn up and paint. 

APARTIAL: How has it all changed since 2008?
OLAN: It has and it hasn’t… The Tivoli itself is now much more open as the middle wall is gone so we can go the whole way around the car park. The organisation side of things has also changed because it’s no longer just rock up on the day; we’ve had to get insurance, security and a lot of other things that just have to be done nowadays. There is also lot more planning that goes into the walls, we actually started planning the main section for this year three or four months ago. The nature of graffiti has changed as well, there are some writers who left behind a certain style and moved on to something else now. This kind of graffiti / street art divide is more blurred. There is stuff that wouldn’t have been seen at the Jam a few years ago and now it has a place. Also, when it started there was the whole 4 elements thing; b-boy, hip-hop, DJing and graff; but that model has kind of died a bit so we brought in the skating and bmxing in 2010. 

APARTIAL: Who is painting at this year’s event?
OLAN: You will see all the regulars down there and James Earley is doing a big section by himself. When it comes down to international artists, this year we have Smug, an Australian who does photorealistic stuff. Then there is a guy called Gomer from Paris. Also, we’re bringing in a female artist as we’re looking to get more women involved. We picked Musa from Barcelona and she will be a great addition. In the future, it would be cool to have someone like Futura, maybe for the 10th anniversary.  Somebody that has moved into the art-world that has a graffiti background.

APARTIAL: Who picks the writers?
OLAN: We have one person who selects the colours and the writers. In the past we’ve had the likes of James Earley and Rask. This year, it’s a guy called Vents. I’m delighted because he has been coming to the Jam since the start and he is phenomenal. I think he will be a world-class artist in the next 10 years. He started it all by doing classes with us and now he is working full-time with Rabbit Hole. He has selected the writers but it’s always very organic. We’ve tried to keep the same people painting but also give other people the opportunity to be part of it.  We set up competitions for spots and stuff so everyone can get involved. 

APARTIAL: Has the media-hype around ‘street art’ had an impact on the event?
OLAN: Graffiti is now more in the main stream as Banksy has kind of opened it up. People know what it is now, before they just associated it with New York trains or vandalism, which are all still important parts of graffiti, but now advertisers use it, you see it all over Dublin. We still want to keep the culture the same; we don’t want it to be a mainstream event with 10,000 people. If it’s going to get bigger it’s going to get bigger organically. We don’t want it to lose its essence; it is quite specialist. 

APARTIAL: Any plans to change anything in the future?
OLAN: It always comes back to the same thing, what is the reason for the Jam? It is about the people who write all year around and I listen to what they’re saying. If I hear it has got boring, then we will change it. It’s been the same and people like it so I can’t see the concept changing. The fact that it is only once a year lets people put in a bit of effort. There is a lot of work going into it with a lot of favours being called in and it is a huge cost with insurance, renting the spot and paint so we can’t really do much more. 

APARTIAL: Will it ever become a pure ‘street art’ festival?
OLAN: I don’t think it will ever become a ‘street art festival’, it will always be a reflection of whatever is going on and letter-based graffiti is always going to be there, it just gets a bit more twisted and distorted as it gets older. Street art is geared towards older people and this is primarily for kids, they don’t really have a lot of events like this so I think it is important to keep it. 

APARTIAL: What about the changes in the graffiti scene in general?
OLAN: There are a lot more artists going to the canvas and it’s great. But, the wall is the easiest option for a kid. All they need is a fat cap, a skinny cap and a tin of paint. And spray paint is made for young people because you are allowed to be sloppy, there isn’t that defined aesthetic that you have in other art forms. Graffiti writers are very artistic and they probably don’t get enough credit for it. It is a broad church with a lot of different people who want different things out of it. Now that the top guys are getting in the papers it means everyone gets a lot more attention. Also, there are ways to promote yourself now and graffiti was just made for the internet; it is so visual and instant. It doesn’t matter if it is gone, it doesn’t matter where you did it. It’s all about the shot, its transience is gone. Once it is on the net, it is there forever.  

APARTIAL: Well, we’ll be there to make sure that it is all captured and goes online. Thanks very much for your time and we will see you at the Jam.

Head down to the Tivoli theatre car park on Saturday 13th to see how these incredibly talented artists create their unique work.   


Danleo - Tivoli Jam