Diles: The Epic of a Graffiti Writer
Matt Diss • September 4, 2015 • Art •
Meeting Diles was nothing short of a mere absurdity. Intrigued by his knack for sketching and a welcoming smile, I sat down with my cup of coffee to comment on his abilities and inquire as to his intentions. It didn’t take long for me to unveil a light-hearted, linguistic divide. This would set our soon-to-be interview, friendship, and creative relationship two steps back in the making, with very little understanding or shared perspective. What I would soon discover was the tale of an artist of many shades, hues and colors.
Daniel “Diles” Jud is a passionate, motivated and intelligent graffiti artist that holds a sense of inspirational adventure. His ardent belief in expressing art in the most public way possible inspires lasting, conspicuous and professional creations, all which embody an intention to provide a voice in a world where we oftentimes don’t have one.
Hearing Diles’s story is inspiring in its own right. Everyone can commend an epic and get lost in its imaginative spirit. It’s the same discovering Diles, one of the first artists I’ve met born with a tact and talent conceived from birth and discovered as a young boy, whose life was naturally cultivated and consumed by an unbound creative force.
“My mom says I was painting walls since I was two,” states Diles, as he recounts his first fuzzy memory of graffiti-esque involvement. “Apparently, I thought it was the coolest thing ever. My mom, however, was not so happy about it.”
By age 14 Diles was stealing spray cans from the basement, setting alarm clocks for 2 a.m. and sneaking out into the surrounding metropolis to tag a wall, or a dozen. He would wreak havoc on the small, southern town of Villach, the location of his cozy Austrian upbringing. As a young child it was his newest thrill. There was an adventure to be had in climbing a large urban structure and spraying a tag that may remain timeless under the best conditions.
Diles’s unsung love for art, both creating and admiring, would soon connect him with other local visionaries who shared his passion. Austrian City Run (ÖCR), a crew comprised of audacious graffiti writers with extraordinary ambitions, would be his next great endeavor. It became a journey that would lead him into a new realm of intensity and expertise, spraying 100 tags a night and leaving the crew just three projects shy of bombing every city in Austria. But soon enough, as every weary human life can attest, all things good must fade.
As ÖCR began to dissipate and societal responsibilities (along with harsh penalties from unfriendly officials) became more apparent, Diles found himself an adolescent fueled by angst, and let down by our wondrous life, which despite all its beauty, always seems to pervade us in the most pertinent of developmental times. While family life continued and the lessons of the road were warranted, Diles would find himself in the worst predicament thus far: stabbed in an altercation, left bedridden for three months, no walking, no art, no happiness. “…even shitting there in my bed,” as Diles puts it. “I knew it was time to make a change.” And that’s when the street persona “Diles” was conceived. A name that creates confidentiality between a graffiti artist and his art. With a fresh identity, a motivation and desire to learn, and a skill set that was never lost despite the largest of delays, the story of a professional graffiti artist was born.
“All the illegal things had to be super-fast. Twenty minutes isn’t enough time to do something special. And ironically you don’t get money. As a matter of fact they arrest you for it and that actually costs you money,” states Diles.
Soon, he would start experimenting with caps and cans, always wanting to know how to work harder, attempting tirelessly to make lines better. “I never had a mentor or anyone who ever showed me how to do it professionally,” states Diles, “I just loved it.”
Diles’s first professional projects would come as a surprise. A friend’s apartment. An office wall of a notary, who requested a mural of himself to be painted on it. Alongside that, he has a great talent for networking, despite his detest of modern technology, a feat in its own right. Diles would find work from the surrounding European countries, sharpening the tools of his trade, but his greatest milestone was yet to be reached.
“My biggest break was painting at a campground in Austria called Wohnzimmer,” Diles says. “It’s a really cool place that’s filled with vintage furniture. The owner was a friend of a friend’s mother, and she was telling him about my art. He offered to let me paint the whole house, so I did… This pushed me as an artist to another level.” He started the project in January 2014 and painted almost the whole year, using 300 cans of paint to complete his creation.
After a personal, mental and esteemed rehab was completed, an exhibition at the Wohnzimmer, and achieving a master’s degree in tattooing, Diles took on the world one tag at a time, keeping an extended stay in the U.S in the forefront of his artistic progression. From Austria to New York to his newest home, Boulder, Diles set intentions that we can all learn from; a novel perspective that shows us all how to follow a dream, a vision that would push him across the across the globe, making Diles a lasting name for the future.
While his epic leaves off fervent in the present, Diles’s insight precedes his time, pushing a quiet but magnanimous message through his art, to share the power of public creations within a society whose voice remains to be unheard, oppressed and overlooked. For Diles, the world hasn’t truly realized the impact and depth art has on cultures and societies today. He plans to help make a change.
“Art is important for the same reason as a really pretty park. Someone felt inspired to make this a park and now when people see it, it puts a smile on their face,” states Diles. “It’s a place they can go that makes them happy. Art is the same thing. It’s the same thing with a big painted wall. Someone made it and now someone else sees it and they take a picture, it makes them feel happy. It is an inspiration for artists and people together. This is special to me.”
For Diles, to share your thoughts all the way around the world sends a powerful message to the corporation, the politician, the traditional neighbor or the observer of a memorable piece. It’s a contemporary concept built on the ideals of ancient rites. Humans have always been trying to leave their mark, to tell the world ‘I was here’, and to beg the question, ‘Will the world remember me? How can I know?’
“People have been painting on walls for a very long time, so long we don’t even really know when it truly started. I don’t know how I got this skill, but it’s something natural, that always can remind me that I was here. I can say ‘I know I painted this wall’. And things like that house, it will never be repainted, it will be there until it falls down. That is truly powerful. I did this and I can do it everywhere, and maybe in 2,000 years someone will see it and think ‘Wow, what’s this?’ They may think the same thing that someone thinks today, and I am always trying to make people reason.”
Art is an ongoing process, a life endeavor, and a message to the world that contemporary humans still exist, think and pursue as we constantly search for our meaning in life. As Diles continues to explore and tag across the globe, he admits he has no plan to stop. With a life philosophy that centers on openness, adventure and hard work, Diles plans to meet new people, collaborate, and paint his words, – “…to be free, as large as I can.”