Michal ‘SEPE’ Wrega was born in 1982 in Warsaw, Poland. He currently lives and works in Warsaw as a freelance graphic designer, painter and illustrator.
Raised in traditional graffiti movements, rooted in book illustration and then through later studies at the Academy of Fine Arts, Lodz, became interested in graphic and poster design. Sepe is searching for his individual art language mixing those three paths on paper, canvas and walls.
Sepe uses a wide spectrum of tools – spray paint, markers, pencil, acrylic, ink, stencils, sticky tapes, even bitumen pulp. It all depends on what sort of effect he's trying to get and on what surface or scale he's working on.
He says: "I was self-taught to begin with and went to art studies quite late – when I was 24 years old. I’m satisfied with that combination because when I started my studies I was already determined and focused in my interests. Studies improved my skills, opened my mind for various solutions, made me observe wider, but didn’t completely brainwash me."
Early graffiti in Poland was related to the anarchist and political stencil movements of late 70's and 80's. It was the only thing that was found painted on the streets – Nazi and anti-Nazi signs, political stencils and messages against communist authorities. In the early 90's, graffiti forms based on New York’s traditions began to appear in Poland – just after the communist break out. One of the first famous graffiti pieces was situated on SEPE's route to school. He was “attacked” by the “strange images” everyday. He was 13 years old when he painted his first stencil on the wall – a head of Donald Duck with crossed bones behind. Then, influenced by those “hard-to-read-letters”, he called himself SEPE and started to experiment with styles of painting, going through all paths in graffiti – city bombing, tagging, trains and hall of fame painting.
The 90's were really crazy times for graffiti development in Poland – with absolutely no professional shops for graffiti accessories, there was only one skateboarding magazine to accompany the culture shift featuring just 2 pages of “western” graffiti every month. With no Internet access nor any other way of information flow, all that resulted was a very slow development, but a development that also brought several years of “wild east graffiti polygon” as SEPE puts it. The authorities found graffiti as something completely new and they weren't ready for it – no cameras in the city, no vandal squads (graffiti police), no penalties for painting, no train buffing etc. It was a time, much like any archarcistic movements in their early forms, when the main protaganists were free.
"I was always strongly influenced by figurative paintings and illustrations in general. I think that my style is strongly formed by polish book illustrators from my childhood period like Boratynski, Szancer and Rosinski. When I decided to quit writing letters I focused more on the less traditional way of making illustrations. As the time was passing by I started to experiment more with deformations and distortions of my characters, having it more grotesque, ironic, morbid even. Inspired by my art college studies, I started to mix these narrative illustrations with modern, vector elements and abstract compositions. I’m searching for a proper balance of sharp, minimal hi-tech elements and pictorial characters based on traditional workshop. I'm Interested in contrasts between those two different worlds."