Juan (aka Grisdansmavie or Videngris) was one of the first people to follow me on Instagram back in 2015. He has been drawing all his life, but started practicing more often at that particular time three years ago when he was living in Slovakia. Overwhelmed by the cultural change and the language barrier, drawing was like a kind of therapy, he recalls.
Starting with some illustrations for friends and sharing them on the internet, Gris then made a couple of fliers until someone asked him to do a design for the Hunt Saboteurs Association. Since then he has an impressive number of drawings for different projects. Artwork for bands, fund raising for animal rights groups, or drawings for small vegan businesses.
“It is cool that the people trust me in what I do. This is not my job, this is my way to help to the total liberation.” The Vegan Straight Edge, DIY ethics, and fundamental anarchist values like mutual-aid and solidarity are what inspire him the most in creating art as grisdansmavie (follow him on instagram).
Being friends on social media we started exchanging some messages, and later on I found out that he has been playing drums in some of my favorite Mexican hardcore punk bands.
He and three other punx crafted a great record called De la parálisis al fuego as Our Bastard Existence but started feeling discomfort about the band’s name and changed it to Clamant.
When Clamant finished, Gris wanted to continue talking about the important things, ideas and passions. But it was just him, with no other skill than playing drums.
“So I tried to make rap, I had to learn everything by myself. In 2012 Videngris was born. Then in 2014 a close friend joined me and we formed Lumbría. I have two solo albums and two with Lumbría. I’ve always been surrounded by the hip-hop culture, I grew up listening to rap, Colombian music, and punk. I still listen to all of that.”
Underground hip-hop was also my first association with the name. I asked him if it comes from the “Gris dans mavie” song by Madrid’s anarchist hip-hop crew Folie à trois, and he replies positively.
People come into straight edge and drug-free lifestyle for a various number of reasons, so I was curious to ask him about his personal reasons.
“When I was young, I understood that being sober and alert was the best way to fight against this world. In the beginning I didn’t know what the straight edge was, but then I claimed edge as an act of rebellion. I often get questions like Are you straight edge? that I answer with I don´t know since it has become like another thing that you can buy. Straight Edge merch, expensive shoes, empty mosh moves, but no self-criticism, no politics. Straight edge is a political position, straight edge means solidarity. Still sober, still dangerous!”
Vegan activism is another bond that we share, so I asked him about his interest in fighting for animal rights. “My first contact with veganism was through the punk scene. The lyrics, zines etc. There was a great time during the 2000’s in my city, a lot of protests, conferences, demonstrations… but then it started to fade away, and now we are trying to get active again. My reasons have not changed though, I’m still vegan for the animals, I’m pro-abolitionist, I think that everyone deserves respect no matter the specie.”
In 2017, I got involved in an animal rights organization called CAAI. Our first target was the fur farming industry in Bulgaria, specifically the mink farms in the area where I grew up as a child. Recently, we’ve initiated a national citizens initiative for a total fur farming ban in our country. So, I was eager to ask Gris for a benefit shirts design in support of the campaign. Of course, he came up with a great artwork and now we have more than 50 people proudly wearing the shirts.
Being an artist doesn’t mean being featured in glossy magazines or have exhibitions in fancy art galleries. It’s also the punk-rock art, the hip-hop & graffiti culture, or the political message on walls and flyers. Grisdansmavie is a DIY artist from the north of México who keeps the flame of XVX and radical subcultures alive!