What is your name and where did it come from?
I write ESKAE. This is the second tag I’m known for. I’ve always liked tags that could be spelled out but also written with shorthand abbreviations. Also, I thought S and K are great graffiti letters.
When you first started out, who were your first influences?
Growing up in Miami Florida I was influenced by local graffiti writers and crews. The crews who influenced me the most were AIM, WOW, 7UP and STV. One writer who used to get busy was STER. What’s up STER!! Its been a minute since I heard from him.
I never really had a mentor or anyone that showed me how to do graffiti.
Have you studied Art in any way, or did you pick it all up in the streets?
I always had an interest in art as a kid. I did take a course in college that showed me several disciplines like pointillism, surrealism, even drawing and shading with pencils. I don’t think I even knew the 2 of a Number 2 pencil meant the darkness of the lead. I mostly picked up graffiti by having my eyes on the streets.
Have you travelled much for Graffiti? If so where have you been and where is your favorite place to spraycation?
Yes. I have done quiet a bit of traveling and spraying graffiti. This year alone I traveled to Puerto Rico, Panama, Spain, Dallas, Fort Worth, Detroit, Seattle, Kansas City, Columbus, Pensacola, Panama City, Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Gainesville, Tampa and Orlando. I may have missed some. Busy year!
I really love island hopping in the Caribbean and painting. Dominican Republic is probably my favorite. You have the island vibe with the beautiful beaches and drinks. The police aren’t giving you a hard time about painting out there.
Does music play a role in your art? What’s in your headphones these days?
Yes music helps with inspiration. I always love the classic 90s hip-hop tracks. These days though, I’ve really been feeling reggaeton music. Some of the best music to me is coming out of Puerto Rico right now. The 4S Crew soundtrack has been reggaeton for a few years now. Maybe all the good memories around the music keeps us playing it.
How important is the legibility of letters?
To me legibility is very important. I mean, isn’t that the point? I can appreciate other styles and I can tell if its painted well but, if you can’t read it…eh. I think legibility that lets anyone read it is the best. I prefer having your own style that allows a person that is not familiar with graffiti to read it.
Going back to the beginning , how did you original get into creating graffiti art?
In the beginning it was Spraycan Art, Subway Art, Style Wars and break dancing that caught my eye. Not long after that my brother and friends started tagging and doing fill ins. This is my introduction to graffiti. We’d explore buildings that were discover pieces and other writers work.
Are you a part of any art collectives, crews, or teams? How did you join them?
Yes, My crews are ODDS, STV, WH, KBT, and 4S. A couple of these crews were my first crews that we actually created coming up. The others I was asked to be in because of the amount of work I was putting in.
Remember everyone, you never ask to be in a crew. Let them ask you if you want to be in the crew!
What do you think you are best known for, and how would you describe your style?
With my previous tag I was known for the bombing I did in Miami. Older Miami writers will know what time it is. These days I’m mostly known for illegal pieces in abandoned buildings and the work I put in the freight scene.
Do you get involved with any other kind of art besides graffiti?
Not really. I can paint a lot of other things besides graffiti letters. I do get gigs for random art or logo signage. Mostly graffiti letters though.
What’s your favorite brand of spray paint to paint with and why?
Spanish Montana, MTN 94, and Hardcore are my favorites. They have an amazing array of colors between all of the product lines they produce. The paint covers great, it’s quick drying, and allows you to paint with a great level of detail. Not to mention the MTN team is a great group! We always help each other out however we can.
What are your favorite colors or are there colors you find yourself using often?
I do have a few go to color schemes. I typically use bright colors for my fills and darker outlines. Yellow fills, light blue fills, pink fills. Lately I’ve been trying to do the reverse and use dark fill colors with lighter outlines. These darker color fills with light outlines look more dramatic to me. I think it makes your pieces look like they are glowing. Understanding colors takes time.
What kind of nozzles do you tend to use?
I get this one from other writers a lot. Pretty much it’s the orange Astro fat cap to fill and fade/blend. The yellow Lego caps for a medium outline. The MTN skinny cream cap for detailed outlines
Do you have a favorite marker? And why?
You know, I don’t really have a favorite marker. It could be that I don’t do too many marker drawings to have a favorite right now. I like scribes. Scratchiti!!
any decent chase stories?
I definitely do. This one is less a chase and more of a bad one.
I remember painting an abandoned spot with Helm one early morning in a less populated small town in Florida. We were up on a loading dock painting the wall. Not a worry in the world. We were well in to painting our pieces when Helm says “Yo!” When I turn around to look there is a police office outside of his car looking around, but he just so happened to be looking the opposite direction of where we were painting. I didn’t hesitate I was gone and caught out running! We still don’t understand how he did not see us. We went back weeks later to finish. Were that type of committed.
Favorite surface to put your paint on and why?
All time favorite is steel. Probably because when I say steel I’m think about trains. What’s better than pieces rolling around the country with your name on it. Tile is really awesome as well. Don’t get to paint on tile much. Brings back good memories with SCAN.
How important is the “outline” in your process?
This is the magic part of the process. It’s the final process where the piece starts jump of the wall. Hoacs and I talk about the last hour we spend on the pieces. That’s when all the magic happens
Say Your leaving the house for a night mission, what are you bringing?
A bookbag, gloves, fat caps, chromes, blacks, and whites!
If someone asked you why you write graffiti, what would your answer be?
It’s like therapy. I walk away with a sense of accomplishment. I feel like I did something with my life. Its hours where you think of nothing else but what you are painting. Its just you and what you are creating. It’s proof I existed!
What motivates you to keep getting up day after day?
Another great question. For everyone reading this, this is the hardest part of being a graffiti writer and probably to commit to anything. Where do you find the inspiration everyday to do more? I find the motivation in everything around me. Traveling, seeing new cities, hanging out with my friends, seeing what they create and work on, and there’s nothing that motivates me more than graffiti beef.
You have enough paint for one Burner or several throwies, how do you use the paint?
Probably lean to throwies. For me if it doesn’t have the illegal element its not quiet the same.
What kind of project gets you most excited (i.e. Legal walls, crew productions, wholecars, freight bombing)
Street bombing and freights are what excites me the most thee days. Finding abandoned locations and every part of the mission to get to them also gets me pumped.
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?
I’d love to be able to just be myself and recognized as a person that paints graffiti. This in my opinion is a mistake for anyone that is out there putting in a lot of illegal graffiti work in. It’s still a crime. It’s probably not the smartest idea to put your face out there. It’s a struggle for me at times. I just want to be me.
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?
Tough one. I guess there’s not too much I’d say is off limits. Respect the dead.
Can you speak on the importance of letters and can control in an era of hipster graff and street art?
I personally like strong letter structure and can control. While it’s not my favorite, I think you must embrace the hipster graff and any other types of graff being produced these days. This is an evolving art form.
What do you think of instagram and what impact has it had on you as a graffiti artist?
I think Instagram is amazing and awful at the same time. It’s amazing because it is a platform where we can all share our graffiti. We can see what’s happening all over the world in the graffiti scene. It allows us to connect with other writers anywhere in the world. It also lets others that really love your graffiti let you know. It’s a good feeling.
This is also what makes it awful.
Instagram has also created a generation where writers meet online. Crews are formed without writers ever meeting each other in person. More time is being spent painting the same legal walls over and over for the photo. The shit talking online from the safety of mobile device keyboards. I still believe you have to really get up!
What is a trick you've picked up over the years that helps out your process?
Sketch everything out first. When you think you’re done sketching take a photo of it, look at the photo, and keep sketching.
You’ve painted with a lot of talented people, are there any artists in particular you enjoy painting with and why?
I really enjoy painting with members of my crew. The energy while we paint, and the level of creativity always goes up a level when we paint together. You want to let your crew mate know that you showed up today, and this brings the best out of them and you.
Is there anything, inside or outside the graffiti world, that you find really inspires your "style" or how you make your art?
Recalling certain moments in my life and the emotions I was feeling inspire what I’m painting at that moment.
Do you have any big projects we should be looking out for?
I’m answering the questions in this interview just days before Hoacs and I take off for a Florida Tour. We plan on traveling to north Florida and working our way back to Miami stopping in as many cities or towns as we can just before Art Basel weekend. Be on the look out for some great footage of abandoned locations.
Do you have any of your art for sale?
I do. I have some canvases with a lot of font work. Mostly font letters with a graffiti element mixed.
What sage like wisdom can you offer the neophyte regarding the culture, codes and ethics, safety tips, tools and techniques, ect?
Remember this is the art of lettering and the art of getting up. When you are really putting in the work you don’t need to talk about it. The real ones will know who you are. Keep doing it!
If someone wants to follow you or learn more about you, where should they look?
Yes. You can always follow my adventures on Instagram @eskae545 or email me at email@example.com
Shout out to all my followers and all of you who find my pieces and send me photos! I really appreciate you. Special thanks to SPRAYPLANET and MONTANA COLORS
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