Since 2002 on the street, Amanda Pankill is a graffiti artist and art educator. With a background in graphic design and art history, she’s one of the founders and cultural producer of Efemmeras, a network of women of the most varied art – graffiti, photography, etc – that has their work directly related to the street. Amanda talked to us about art, street, about her passion for sneakers and of course, about her flawless Air Jordan 12 Vachetta.
“I’m a graffiti artist, I have a degree in graphic design and art history, but I’ve been working with visual arts and art education with street art workshops since 2005. I’ve been doing graffiti since 2002 and today it’s my main job, art education came as a consequence.”
“Besides that, I’m a part of Efêmmera, a network of female artists that in some way relate themselves with the street – not just with graffiti, it’s not something closed just for a specific thing, the artist just needs to have some sort of relationship with the street. I’m a cultural producer and one of the founders, this is the project of our lives, our goal is that this project becomes our full-time job, we’re working for that.
Being an artist in Brazil it’s complicated, but we want to make Efêmmera viable as a self-sustaining network that can fill the needs we have for our space in the art market, because for women it’s always more difficult to enter. So the project looks to give more space for women in the market.”
Tell us how was the process of creation of Efêmmera.
amandaGraffiti is mostly a men’s universe, we understand that most of the people who are in this medium are men, but we also understand why it is like this. Sometimes it’s because of the limitations of being a woman, who gets pregnant, gets married or has a problem with her family because she is doing graffiti, a girl’s acceptance into graffiti is very different from a boy’s. I know this well because I went through this phase when I was a teenager.
We realized that there was a lack in girls’ sense of belonging because they didn’t have a network to support them or because girls usually had their first contact with graffiti because of their boyfriends, it’s very common for girls to get to graffiti through men. So we felt the need, to have a greater union between girls – we ended up being very distant from one another – and Efêmmera came with that intention. We don’t just give the support they need, we try to make things as professional as possible, the idea is to do a casting and work with money, we want this professional part more than just the support.
We also noticed that the curatorships were always made by men, so we end up being very segregated, sometimes they just put two girls just to have the female quota, you know? So because it’s a male-dominated medium, of course, it’s a very sexist medium, it’s a lot of times guys who paint inviting their girlfriends to paint together – it’s not like “this girl has nice work, let’s invite her”. There is the technical problem too, we understand that sometimes its harder for women to develop their technique because they have other tasks – usually the woman has a double or even triple journey. Now the guy can dedicate 100% to graffiti, so they automatically develop the technique faster. We saw a lot of these demands and Efêmmera comes to improve the placing of the woman in this environment, and what we can do to improve it, we will try to do.
When did you start doing graffiti?
amandaI started at school. I always liked drawing and scribbling my house – there even was a house that we lived in when I was a kid, that we called “the scribbled house” because the walls of the house were completely covered in our drawings, mine, and my sister’s. We lived in the same house since I was 7, so the whole street had streetlight poles with my name on it. At 18, I was still in school, I met some people who did some tagging, they actually paint and work with graffiti until today, they’re my friends. At the time they invited me to go painting with them, I went and I started – that was in 2002, I started with these guys and I’m still doing it today.
The curious thing is that after many years, I associated my relationship with graffiti, with my uncle. He is an architect and he always drew a lot, made mock-ups and he was also the person who did the World Cup drawings on the street! So during the world cup, everyone would call my uncle, Edson, to paint and I helped him. And it was only after years I related one thing with the other – I liked it a lot, I saw my uncle doing it, I saw him stirring the paint, I always accompanied him and I saw him drawing … and after years I started doing graffiti, so everything connects.
Do you think sneaker and street culture influenced your art?
amandaI think because they are so closely related cultures, I relate them directly to graffiti. Usually who likes graffiti already has a tendency to enjoy more sneakers and etc. I really like fashion, I’ve always been very involved in it and especially streetwear because I like Rap. Music for me also directly influences my visual arsenal, but maybe not in my work directly. But yes, I would say that these areas really influence my work, maybe it’s not my theme, but no doubt, it has influence.
The cool thing is that I got a scholarship for college because of graffiti – I was doing the Apprentice Project here in the Alley. I participated in the Zezão and Boleta graffiti workshop, I did the workshops with them and participated in the meetings where we talked about art and other things. The following year, the Apprentice Project partnered with FAAP, the students who wanted to apply for the entrance exam and got high scores they were going to give a 90% scholarship and I got it. So I went to college there and then did a post grad in Art History.
What is your relationship with sneakers in general?
amandaI’m a bit suspicious to say because I always liked sneakers, the end of the years was such an event in my life because I would get new sneakers. When I was about 11 or 12 years old, I remember I had the M2000 and I really wanted them! I was always into sneakers and my first real brand sneakers was that model. It was an event buying them and nowadays they don’t even exist anymore. I would get some Nikes that I would inherit from my sister, who is older, from my cousins, and I was very happy when their feet grew and I got their sneakers. My sister also had a Le Coq that I was crazy about, her foot grew and I got them, I was very happy. I remember all the sneakers I had.
I remember that I liked sneakers a lot because of basketball and in 1992 there was the USA Dream Team and the sport was very popular. I had a cousin who really liked basketball and we would watch the dunk contest and we would freak out over the sneakers. And it was around the same time that the players’ sneakers started dropping, like Charles Barkley’s, the Reeboks with the Chicago Bulls that had the Pump ball, and so on. I didn’t get any, of course, because my father thought it was absurd to spend all that money on a sneaker, instead, he gave me a Dharma, which was a national brand that came to supply the demand for basketball shoes.
I remember I had a national one, a Rainha Elastic System, that had no tongue, I think it was the first shoe that was like a sock. The day I bought them I went out with them on the street, I rode my bike, and I had the brilliant idea of using my feet as the brakes – so right on the first day I destroyed the rubber, then I had to take a pen and paint the worn out parts so my mother didn’t see what I had done to the sneakers, then I spent years with them with that pen paint. This sneaker was really dope, the sole was transparent and you could see your socks inside.
Do you consider yourself Sneakerhead?
amandaIf the definition is that you like sneakers and you are a bit crazy for them, then maybe yes. But lately there has been this whole “hype” thing, where you might not get to buy what you want. There are lots of “Hyped” sneakers that I don’t like and I wouldn’t buy them, like the Yeezys. I think they suck, I think it’s ugly, the shape is ugly and I’m really picky when it comes to the shape.
Every culture that grows always gets a little of the tracks and then gets a bit boring. By the time I started to wear sneakers, it was more a matter of liking sneakers than having them, because we could not buy them. So, if being a sneakerhead is when you are in love with sneakers, when research about them, then yes. But it’s having a lot of sneakers, or not buying something so you can buy a sneaker, then no, I’m a very controlled person and aware of what a sneaker is and isn’t worth. I think it’s absurd to pay 2,000 bucks for a sneaker, and you just put them on your feet so you can walk – and with that money, you can buy a Beetle.
Why did you choose this Jordan XII Vachetta for today’s photoshoot?
amandaI chose this sneaker, first because I really like Jordans, it was basketball that made me start liking sneakers, so it was only right that I choose a basketball sneakers. I also thought this sneaker was very special because it was a Jordan brand line for women – it’s a really cool symbolism. After so many years of Jordan Brand, so many girls that like Jordans, only now they’ve done a line just for women. So I thought this was symbolically important, even so, because my work is for women and their space in this culture. I chose them because that, besides it’s a beautiful and wonderful sneaker. I’ll clean the sole when I get home with baby wipes (laughs).