What is your name and where did it come from?
I’ve had a lot of names, when I first started tagging they called me Baby5. I was only 10 and in a breaking crew called ICE5 in Gardena ca. in 1988 I was given the name chief2 named after my best friends older brother that was a gangster from TCG. then I wrote Prae for a few years. in 1990 I linked up with circus but at that time he wrote Kmart and our crew was “weak ass toys”. it was a joke that we thought was funny but not too many people at the time did haha!! Anyways I started writing Big at the time and threw the 5 on for 2 reasons. Kmart and Big5 was funny together and because it’s my lucky number since I was young
Who were your first influences?
My local hero and biggest influence was risk wca. I’d drive around with my pops and take pics of all his stuff. I’d dream of being from WCA. when I was in the 6th grade a friend brought subway art book to school and that was a big influence too. I also had all the original ghetto art mags.
Have you studied Art in any way, or did you pick it all up in the streets?
Not really. Did classes in high school but I’ve always been drawing since before I can remember.
Have you travelled much for Graffiti? If so where have you been and where is your favorite place to spraycation?
I travel a lot for work. philly, Kansas City, Denver, Portland are some of my favorite spots.
Does music play a role in your art? What’s in your headphones these days?
Music is huge! not so much in graff but In all other aspects of life. I like it all! literally from patsy cline to orange goblin
How important is the legibility of letters?
I feel like on trains it’s really important. I try not to do the same letters more than 2 times but I always want them to be readable and recognized
Going back to the beginning , how did you originally get into creating graffiti art? Tell Us a little bit about the freight game when you started. How were the yards , how many people were painting?
I started seeing dudes paint freights in magazines in 1990-91. I was obsessed!! in 92 I got down with CBS and I remember it like it was yesterday, I was in McDonalds on Labrea and Santa Monica with Skate and he was telling me about painting trains. I told him let’s go now!! Ha he took me a few days later and that was it for me. I never wanted to paint anything but trains after that. the first person I seen up in the yard was sien5!! and I knew he was from NYC that’s when it really made sense to me to paint trains to get the ultimate US fame.
Are you a part of any art collectives, crews, or teams?
I don’t know anything about art collectives but I’m down with a few crews. Haha! Old school LA WCA and KSN. I started FU in 1993. There was no train crews in LA then, so I started my own. In 96 I moved to SF and met Giant and Jase, among many other dope writers. In 97 I was back in LA and Con came to live here. Jase called me and asked if I could take con to paint. We crushed in 97 together and I was put in BA. I’m also from FGS and AMF
What do you think you are best known for, and how would you describe your style?
longevity? Haha I don’t know. I used to do a lot of funny characters for my I. But haven’t done one in years.
Do you get involved with any other kind of art besides graffiti?
I’m a Tattooer. Been doing it since I was a teenager. It’s my life. I also paint a little.
MTN or rusto. I feel like hardcore is the best on trains. And the color options are the best. I get tired of the same ol rusto colors. When I was young we had a builders emporium by the house. They had the paint right by the front door. We used to rack there daily. I’ve got a great pic of me racking cans there. I’ll include it. Haha when I would chill with skate, I would be his get away driver. We would drive all over LA racking. Chief auto, homedepot, and he had a contractor spot that we would boost 6 packs from. One time he racked like 10 6 packs and it was all Copper. We did copper pieces for weeks!
What are your favorite colors or are there colors you find yourself using often?
I usually gravitate to blues and greens. When I’m painting with the wife WINK, we do a lot of pinks. (Her go to)
What kind of nozzles do you tend to use?
For the longest time I only used rustos with stock tips. Lately I’ve been feeling the yellow legos. On rusto I use ny fats.
Do you have a favorite marker? And why?
Streaks mostly, on the street I prefer mops. Kr makes great markers!
any decent chase stories?
Oh man, so many!! One night me Wink Duem and Auto(choro) were painting a layup in compton, when cops run up on us and we just broke out. When I realized they weren’t pursuing us, wink and I hid in some bushes under a bums mattress. Duem and Auto(choro) jumped into the canal and hoofed it home. For about 3 hours the cops circled the spot on loud speakers telling us to come out and that they were going to tow our car. They finally gave up and we made it to the car. When we got there we realized that the cops had keyed Winks whole car.
Favorite surface to put your paint on and why?
Metal. Because trains are made of metal. Duh!
How important is the “outline” in your process?
It’s a must . And it must be black and fat! I occasionally do a light outline but they don’t last and then your piece looks like shit.
Say Your leaving the house for a night mission, what are you bringing?
My bag! I’ve had this timbuk2 bag since 96. It’s been in more train yards then all you toys!! Haha! I used to carry binoculars and fence cutters but haven’t in years. Smokes and a water are essential too!
If someone asked you why you write graffiti, what would your answer be?
Because I have no other choice! It’s just part of my life. Catching a tag is like breathing. I’d die without graff. I’ve stopped a few times in my life and I was miserable.
You have enough paint for one Burner or several throwies, how do you use the paint?
Depends, am I solo? Throwies, with the crew burners! Or with Jase I’ll do both! Haha!!
What kind of project gets you most excited (i.e. Legal walls, crew productions, wholecars, freight bombing)
I get excited when I see a fresh line of racks pull in the yard, or a brand new box in my customer spot!
In an age of social media, with cameras everywhere, and police using technology to crack down on graffiti artists, how do you feel about the importance of protecting your personal identity?
Man my shit is all out there. Most people these days know what I look like. I don’t know, if I was doing ill city spots I’d be way more under wraps. I feel like if they really want you they get you!
Where do you think an artist should be able to paint in terms of street art or graffiti? What spaces are “off limits” to you?
Houses churches and personal property I feel are off limits
Can you speak on the importance of letters and can control in an era of hipster graff and street art?
Some of the new shit I like, but not much. Ha I don’t know man I like the 90s era. Newyork wild style. Dudes like ces per Enue. But I’m really feeling new dudes like Grisle, stoe and Kovet too.
What do you think of instagram and what impact has it had on you as a graffiti artist?
Like anything, there’s good and bad. I miss the days of graffiti pinpals but it’s rad to see all these benchers catch my stuff daily. The down side is toys getting fame and not paying dues!
What is a trick you've picked up over the years that helps out your process?
Haha!! I haven’t picked anything new in a long long time. I stopped doing outter outlines (force fields or what ever dudes call it now) which I like much better!
You’ve painted with a lot of talented people, are there any artists in particular you enjoy painting with and why?
Wink obviously is my favorite. I took her to the yard in 1997 for our first date when she was only 16 and she’s rocked ever since. I’ve had lots of dope partners over the years too that has helped me build. Con, apart, Jase, and most recently spot arek and adge.
Is there anything, inside or outside the graffiti world, that you find really inspires your "style" or how you make your art?
Cars. I like to build cars. I enjoy body work and paint mostly. It’s an art form to itself.
Do you have any big projects we should be looking out for?
I started writing a book a few years ago when I thought I had retired. It was to be called “20 years writing the rails” I put it on hold because I didn’t retire at all. I will finish it some day, it’ll be called “40 years writing the rails” I guess! Haha!!
Wink and I plan to do some art shows together in the near future and she’s got an all girls art movement called “Ladies first” that you should look out for!
I’m still out and about! No ones gonna lock me in the house! Just live your life! Don’t be scared and turn off the TV!
If someone wants to follow you or learn more about you, where should they look?
@big5_wink_fu_ba is Wink and my IG also for tats peep out @elcincogrande and @unionelectrictattoo
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Graffiti and writers used to be insanely mysterious- graffiti was really personal because we only knew what we actually saw in person.