What is your name and where did it come from?/ what was the first names you wrote and why?
Most of the time I write FISHE. I started writing around the same time I began to have success with my short lived DJ career. I was getting lots of booking and decided the old name was a little long anyway. My boy Pysa had just dropped his old name and started writing PYSA. I was like fuck it, I am going to start the graffiti shit over using all the knowledge I had gained and see if I can make a mark. I guess it worked.
Who were your first influences?
My earliest influence was my boy Patton Taylor RIP. He was like my big brother, he wrote ALKIE AKM. He first took me to steal paint and paint in the river. He overdosed on Heroin not long after high school. I didn't realize at the time this would be a pattern repeated so many times in my life. After that I went to Bancroft Jr. which had a crazy history of active writers from crews like CBS, WCA, TCS, CMA, JOR/JS, MTA, AM7, CIA, ATC, etc... so all those LA/hollywood crews were an early influence. Names I remember from that era are dudes like WESR, INTO, GOGO, BASER, MEAR, AZROCK, ANGER. From outside my area I remember crews like LOD, OTR, STP, TNT, TM, UTI,BLA, IFK, K4P, and COI. I remember names like OILER, TOLSE, SNAP, SKILL, DCLINE, MEAN, ROC, MESK, 125ER there was a bunch of bus mobbing crews like RTDK and CDP but I was looking at dudes that did bigger and bolder spots. By the time I got into highschool I was looking at dudes like GKAE and SABER. At this time I also met dudes that would be big influences on me. First the 90's version of 29C a rag tag group of LSD eating, non conformist type writers that were older than me. Right after the guys like BURNT and VERSUS, also the earliest incarnation of KOG and later LTS were major influences on me. First dudes like DUNE, THAI, JIEC and soon after AYER and his cousin SWAE were doing the boldest and wildest work, Zes, Jrock, Kyle, Etc were doing really innovative styles and everybody was learning from and burning each other. Dudes like RETNA and BRAIL and SINER were dialoging and and really innovating styles for our crew. I was lucky to be around such creative dudes so early on in my life. SINER has always been one of my favorite style writers. He is under acknowledged and doesn't get the credit he deserves for his stylistic influence on LA style graffiti. Just after then dudes like DREYE, PYSA, RASK, KLEAN, RUSTY, DAME, ETC... all came into my circle and also had an influence on me. I feel like after 1997 My main influence was the guys in my crew.
Have you studied Art in any way, or did you pick it all up in the streets?
I was always drawing on everything as a kid my interest in drawing started early. I got into graffiti in the 6th grade and became my mode of survival in what was a pretty rough set of years.I learned to thrive there and made a name for myself on the street before considering art school. In my late 20's I quit my good paying job to go to school for formal art training. I am grateful I had the street work ethic when I got to school because I viewed everyone as someone I had to burn. I feel I got a lot out of it. SInce then many doors have opened for me. I don't know if it's causation but I am certain there is correlation.
Have you travelled much for Graffiti? If so where have you been and where is your favorite place to spraycation?
I have been blessed to have been able to spray in many cities. I have sprayed in a really long list of places so I will just say my favorite cities to paint in are mexico city, Oakland and LA. Each have a very different scene but they are all raw as fuck, real cities where crime and shit go down so its not for the "paint in the safe spot" types. I still haven't been to Asia, my boy DEMOS and SAUTE have smashed it hard out there and it makes me want to go out there.
Does music play a role in your art? What’s in your headphones these days?
Music is always on all the time. I have maybe the most eclectic and deep crates out of most people you might meet, but I am completely out of touch with mainstream culture. I don't know much pop rap, pop rock or any kind of popular music. I couldn't identify Drake on a verse but could tell you we are listening to a 1971 cover of "don't let me down" by the Beatles recorded in Ghana by Charlotte Dada. I love music but I view it as art and can't fuck with garbage. As far as new stuff, I like Blockhead, Machinedrum, Andreas Henneberg, Anderson .Paak, Khruangbin, Sault, Jorja Smith, Nikola Cruz, and the Lazy Syrup Orchestra
How important is the legibility of letters?
If your style is so wild you can't read it, it's garbage graffiti. Graffiti is specifically the art of using the pictogram icons in the form of letters and giving them an original and fresh style. If you have so much style the function of the letter is lost, you need to start over and work on your letter structures. That being said if a civilian can't read your wild style, that is fine, graffiti is a coded language. But once the participants of the culture can't read it, you go back to square one and work on your tags. All fresh letter styles start with dudes that have mastery over a good letter form. Letter form comes from having good hands.
Are you a part of any art collectives, crews, or teams?
I have been repping KOG and LTS since 1996-7 respectively. I haven't represented any other crews since but I am an honorary member of a few crews. I am a member of an art collective called SURVIVE aka Supervivere Design . Because of circumstances that project is on hold but it is also mostly guys from our crew and guys we have been friends with for over 20 years.
What do you think you are best known for, and how would you describe your style?
My graffiti and art careers have always been an evolving process. From my music to bombing to canvas paintings and murals it has always been a fluid dialogue between mediums. At one point it was my tags, later my burners, now my fine art and throw ups. It's an evolution. I don't ever want to be stagnant and only known for one thing. Being a a well rounded writer and human has always interested me. I have never been comfortable with doing just one thing or identifying too much as one thing.
Do you get involved with any other kind of art besides graffiti?
I spent some years shooting film and digital photography, which I still love but don't do nearly enough. I have done design and commercial mural gigs. I don't like it but it pays well. I have been lucky enough to show my work and am now getting collected. LACMA, The, Getty, ESMoA, MOAH, and the national gallery in Berlin own some of my work now which opens doors to other established art collections. I honestly never thought this type of doors would open for me but I am grateful.
What’s your favorite brand of spray paint to paint with and why?
Favorite brand will always be RUSTO, It's often free, the pressure is high and the coverage is thick. If you are a graffiti writer that does illegal work there is no substitution. As far as designer paint brands. None of them have ever done much in the way of showing me much love so they won't get love back. Some have really gone to shit in quality. I like high pressure paint that covers.
What are your favorite colors or are there colors you find yourself using often?
black and white are the best, they really let a writer's style shine without all the bullshit tricks people do to hide the fact they still have a long way to go. I guess I use green and blue a lot. I like dark purple also.
What kind of nozzles do you tend to use?
New york fats and astro fats. For day walls I may mix in bananas.
Do you have a favorite marker? And why?
Black and white, Solid Markers are great because surfaces are often hot and streaks melt like butter. Homemade drippers are nice. Jumbo silver uni paint... thats all I need.
Any decent chase stories?
I got some tips of stuff I learned by being chased. Always run, never give up. I broke my ankle on Thanksgiving after jumping off a rooftop in downtown. I ran, I got away... I repeat, always run and never give up. You can run from helicopters. Just keep moving. Only hide as a last resort and then get out of the area ASAP. Cops are lazy and most criminals are stupid. Get out of there fast, you will make it home that night. Last bit, always have your stories straight before anything happens. you don't know shit, you don't know those guys, you dont ever say shit until there is a lawyer present. Cases are made by scared people talking. If you are slow or unlucky and get pinched, don't say shit. not a fucking word.
If someone asked you why you write graffiti, what would your answer be?
Depends who's asking. For most the answer would be "to piss off squares like you." In reality it serves as an outlet for my frustrations as well as an avenue for personal expression. When I started we were just kids making trouble, it evolved and I with it. Now it's part of me. I always have a scribe and a marker. I make marks, its what I do.
You are a very active artist, but all those pieces take a ton of energy, What motivates you to keep getting up day after day?
I was most excited and fulfilled doing more burner style pieces years ago. I got to dialogue with dudes I really admired and it was fun and exciting to try to keep up with what was happening. Now I focus on my throw ups. They are kind of a devolved version of what was happening with my style but are very fulfilling to paint. I think they are their own art form that I am trying to master now. In a few years who knows what will feel right to paint.
What kind of project gets you most excited (i.e. Legal walls, crew productions, wholecars, freight bombing)
The most fulfilling stuff is stuff where I get to contribute to a community. Otherwise projects that get me excited are ones I can make at least a few grand from. As far as walls, I like painting with dudes from my crew, it's always a mini family reunion. For fun though walking around a new city with a pocket full of markers is pretty dang exciting to me.
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 am old school. I think things are much more impactful when you don't know who is behind the mask. I am always paranoid and tend to stay away from a lot of the spotlight. I am not as active as I once was at the peek of my illegal bombing but I am always vigilant.
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?
I am from the old school, nature, churches, cars and homes tend to be off limits. Other than that... people should respect others' markings. old graffiti should be considered almost sacred. leave it alone, don't call attention to it by spot jocking. Go innovate your own spots. street artist don't go over graffiti, it may get you beat up at the opening of your art show and your mom will cry. Don't do it.
Can you speak on the importance of letters and can control in an era of hipster graff and street art?
Well I know that the rules I learned actually held me back in some ways. I now think nothing is off limits. That being said, hipster graffiti operates in a separate universe like street art. it is the boogie boarding to the surf or the roller blade to the skateboard. it's fine but it aint for me. As far as can control, if you are a style writer it is really essential.
What do you think of instagram and what impact has it had on you as a graffiti artist?
I don't like dudes on instagram that mostly do tags on paper, you are a calligrapher, not a writer. Same with ipad guys, the algorithm should not mix them up with dudes that actually spray. I like seeing dudes in other cities that go real hard and kill shit. I wouldn't know about eastern european or aussie writers without it. It's a tool. It has ups and downs. I notice it fucks with people's egos in bad ways. People need to log off more. Finally some people don't know how to act on social media and should just quit.
Do you have any big projects we should be looking out for?
I have a few projects underway, nothing I want to mention at this time.
Do you have any advice for the beginner? Beyond the obvious response like “practice more” - What sage like wisdom can you offer the neophyte regarding the culture, codes and ethics, safety tips, tools and techniques, ect?
Study what you want to do, figure out who has done it before and how they did it. Be humble. graffiti is a specially life long craft. If you aren't ready to dedicate your life to it, like anything else it isn't for you. Learn the basics and master them before trying to evolve to your next step. fundamentals are key to not being a toy. People that know, will see right through you. Be mindful of who you roll with, they reflect on you. Be mindful of what crew you get into. It may be for life. Don't ever rat. Don't ever talk to cops about anything. Make sure the people you roll with are not rats. Don't do hard drugs, pills, speed, heroin, crack, coke... all that shit will lead you off track or worse they may make you a piece of shit waste of flesh. If you ask me, not a risk worth taking. Respect your elders, your cocky attitude isn't serving you. It's just graffiti, you aren't actually that cool.
If someone wants to follow you or learn more about you, where should they look?
@fishe.one on IG
@fishe333 on twitter
Last shouts go out to my family and friends. I am grateful for all you do. You know who you are, I love you fam! ACAB forever!
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