Flynt KAW (aka Milk TVC) is a true west coast legend from San Diego, California. He has been painting since the early 90’s and has been acknowledged by many respected vandals as a prominent part of the west coast graffiti scene. Flynt is a veteran vandal who comes from a time when hard work and active painting was the only way to gain notoriety and respect from your peers. We were grateful to catch up to him and get some insight into the graffiti culture in southern California over the last couple decades.
What do you write and where did your name come from?
I’ve written a few words, Milk, Lech(e), Sleap, Flynt, Mfer as well as a few others for fun in between. Milk and Flynt being the most known. As far as why I chose these words I think Flynt might be the most interesting story so I’ll share that. I think I was writing Sleap or a variation of Leche at the time and I was stood up on a date to go see “the people vs Larry Flynt” so I went by myself anyways. Larry Flynt was heavily persecuted for being a pornographer, did prison time and was even shot and paralyzed over his beliefs. Now some might be turned off because of the pornography aspect (probably not most of you readers ha ha) but please ignore that, porn had nothing to do with my choice. In the movie after he was released from prison he campaigned and fought for free speech and against the hypocrisy of the media. He used nightly news excerpts of the Vietnam war showing death and destruction of humans, and how that was ok and normal, but to show women naked, speak on a human activity that we are all here from and enjoy as adults was wrong and immoral. His fight for his beliefs and courage to keep on fighting for them through long odds and after serious consequences for them was really inspiring to me and the letters worked.
Who were your first influences?
My first influences were the graffiti I would see from the trolley and bus seats of San Diego around 1991-92 which were mostly tags. I think this is why I have been a bomber at heart and respect the illegal rebellious aspects of graf more than the pretty artsy piecing side of it. The names I remember were the names I saw up on the trolley line walls, back of bus seats, bus scribed windows, bus stops; those inspired me to be a vandal.
Funk and Zar, Kon and Oops of KOS Crew, Host User Cosmo Gran Sick of TMK, Ples Siner of FK are some of the tags that come to mind of my early days.
TMK were the kings of San Diego to me in the early 90s no doubt, and I wanted to be like them without their violent reputation. The way I saw it was TMK ran shit with no mercy to anyone who stood in their way, in ALL aspects of graf - including violence. The early to mid 90s tag banging was thee trend, and the violence of the 90s was what led to their decline in activity like so many other writers and crews in my opinion. I still to this day have the utmost respect for the work of TMK, I learned from them TRUE Kings run it from the ground up, BOMBING transit, street BOMBING, pretty pieces, but most of all being the most up with well-rounded BOMBING.
TO BE A TRUE KING YOU HAVE RUN IT ALL.
Others that have influenced my styles would be Dieslow, Serv, Lyph, Fokis, Shae (rip my stock tip brother), Jaler (put me on to freights). Fear Dove DCV, and Jero were some of the first names with solid pieces I saw and that changed my perspective on what I should be doing on boxcars in the very beginning of my fun on the rails. Still trying to catch up with those guys skills. Respect due.
Have you studied Art in any way, or did you pick it all up in the streets?
I took art classes in high school as a junior and senior but I don’t think much of that was beneficial to my vandalism addiction other than meeting the guy who introduced me to the lifestyle.
Does music play a role in your art? What’s bumping in your headphones these days?
I believe what we listen to (music) programs the subconscious mind and leads us into following the musical agendas. That might be a little deeper than just influencing artwork but I’m positive it’s relatable. Think about it, if you are working on a piece while listening to the Abyssinians (beautiful harmonic reggae) it will have a calmer more soothing energy about it than if you were listening to Slayer or gangster rap like Ghetto boys which might give you a more aggressive energy. If these groups aren’t familiar Sorry I’m old. Google for the references and thank me later. Ha ha.
How important do you feel is for your letters to be legible?
“If you want to be famous people need To be able to read it, thats San Diego style” -User TMK, to Amigo and myself on the 15 bus when we met him and Host TMK.
User was right. If people can’t read it, they won’t remember it either, unless it’s a very unique style stamped EVERYWHERE. When I was young I wanted to be king and my crew to be the crew running it so I tried to keep most of my work simpler and easy to read and remember.
After becoming established and achieving my goals (in my mind at least ha ha) it was more about the spot I was painting at. Freeway spots more legible, yards as creative as I wanted to be. Now, I do whatever is fun at the time and effective for the spot.
Going back to the beginning, how did you original get into creating graffiti art?
I was a senior in High school and my mom moved on to live with her boyfriend without me, so I moved back with my father in East San Diego and transferred into the high school back in my old neighborhood. An old friend introduced me to another skater he said I would get along with and he was right. Amigo and I ended up in the same art class and we have been best of friends ever since. His older sister’s boyfriend was a rapper/writer ( look up Def Audio Masters) from New York and put us on to graffiti. Amigo and I were taking the bus everywhere so graf was the best way to kill time waiting for and while riding the bus.
Are you a part of any art collectives, crews, or teams?
First Power Crew, which Pengone and I started as a graf crew but has now evolved into music production company. I used to rap too until I heard my voice recorded.
KAW, I’m just a newbie paying dues in a crew I watched grow up by stomping their own trail. It feels like being a proud father and little brother at the same time. Ha ha
Boxstars it’s an honor to be in a crew with the living legend Sug. I haven’t really earned that honor in the last decade though. It’s been a while since I’ve been consistent on the boxcars. My bad Sug.
I’d like to give respect to TVC even though I am not actively writing the letters anymore. I wouldn’t be typing answers for graf interviews if it wasn’t for my time and experiences with them. If I didn’t learn it from a TV member I learned it with them and I’ll always have respect for that.
Pwf-Painting With Friends is mostly just a hippy graf idea that I have flirted with in my mind so far more than a crew. At this point there is only one other member, Keith a younger writer who reminds me of myself at times.
What do you think you are best known for, and how would you describe your style?
Consistent work ethic and persistence, mostly illegal to this day, using stock caps and still being clean, going big and clean, original spot selection, power scribes on busses, being very well rounded, going over people for the right reasons (is that even possible? ha ha) more often than not by a long shot, handling my beefs with painting and not violence, and ironically after all that being a humble good person to all that come with respect, as I do my best to treat others respectfully myself.
As far as my style and how I would describe it, Blue collar, usually simple, but I can hold my own. My styles vary based on how much I am drawing at the time, mood of the day or where and what I’m painting on.
Do you get involved with any other kind of art besides graffiti?
I’ve always been a vandal at heart but am working on building my skills in other artistic mediums. I’ve enjoyed doing some water color and acrylic paintings. Mostly beach scenery type corny shit, but I like it and want to continue improving at it. I am working towards some respectable skills that can pay some bills, ha ha.
I never got into graf with the idea of making money so it’s never really been a thought until recently, but I’ve been doing this art form of graf for a long time and paid my dues in full, why not try and get something back out if it if it can help me take care of my family and I’m not compromising my values on graffiti in the process. So yes I’m working on art for sale, I post a few things here and there on my Ig page and plan to be more consistent and reliable about filling requests for my art.
What’s your favorite brand of spray paint to paint with and why?
Rusto is my favorite, it comes with a tip ready to go. Ha ha. It covers, it lasts, Has just enough cool colors and earth tones to keep a hippy happy, what else do you need? After that whatever, I don’t discriminate.
What are you favorite caps or “tips” to use on your spray paint cans?
I usually just roll with whatever stock tip comes with the can I’m using. Honestly I use stock tips out of laziness. I got tired always worrying about having a clean tip. Or getting stuck when your magic liner tip clogs and you don’t have another. In my opinion if you got can control you can make any tip work. Admittedly there are some magicians out there doing things with specialized tips that blow my mind. Kudos to those amazing artists, I respect the skill it takes for some of the beautiful pieces I see these days but that ain’t really my style.
You have enough paint for one Burner or several throwies, how do you use the paint?
I’d rather do 10 throw ups than 1 legal piece but if we are talking illegal burner that runs years, I’ll take that all day. Quality and longevity over quantity these days.
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 have 2 reasons to stay anonymous 1. is the issue of legalities. It’s only common sense that if you are doing illegal activities to stay as anonymous as possible.
2.If you got beef why would you want to put your face out there so your enemies know who you are but you don’t know them?
You say you don’t have haters. If your active enough you do, you just don’t know it yet. Jealousy is a bitch and she bites from the most unknown places.
What do you think of instagram and what impact has it had on you as a graffiti artist?
Ig gives immortal life to an art form that usually disappears within days, think about how much graf we get to see now that otherwise we would have no idea existed. It’s beautiful, but with the good is also the bad, the down side is Ig is a vanity nightmare, ego on steroids, cowards typing like they were lions, ignorance crazy ignorance, misinformed posts, misinterpreted comments etc. but I don’t think Ig is necessarily the problem as much as it is a trap to expose those problems within our society and the me first, get it now anyway anyhow, fake image having, materialistic, sex sells culture we live in.
I’ve been called a toy, an embarrassment and other fun names, lost friends over the way I’ve decided to use the platform and that sucked, it still hurts, But then maybe it was just exposing a problem already existing like I stated above.
If you met someone new to the Graffiti world, what advice would you give them?
My biggest tip I could give has nothing to do with any painting technique. It has to do with getting the respect we all feel we deserve.
IF YOU WANT TO BE RESPECTED BE RESPECTFUL TO OTHERS FIRST.
Don’t be afraid to give a compliment,
Don’t be afraid to apologize if you are in the wrong,
Don’t paint over others if you don’t have to,
Don’t take it personal if you get painted over in a yard, it happens, get over it.
Respect the ones that came before you in the yards,
Respect the ones that are earning yard spots or panels on boxcars by BOMBING streets harder than you, or have been all city before and longer than you.
This all comes from my experience of painting through beef pretty much my first 10-12 years. My last 15 been much more fun since I been willing to give more respect to others and not take little things so personally. I still get mad at times when toy shit happens that I think shouldn’t happen, I just don’t react the same anymore.
Any fun stories you want to share?
When I had changed my name from Milk to Sleap, a rumor was started that spread like wild fire. Pt Loma High school was a high school that bussed inner city kids into it so it was a hub for writers and gossip. A few friends had thought it would be funny to start a rumor there that Milk had died, had been shot or knocked off a heaven and run over or something to that extent. So the rumor is put out into this school and I’m doing Sleap now for about 4-6 months and I’m riding an east county bus on my way to court one day catching a scribe. I was usually as low key and inconspicuous as possible but this time a cholo from Encanto caught me. “What you writing Holmes” he asks me. Fuck me is my thought at first but I’m prideful and I answered “Sleap TVC” hoping not to have any issues. “Ahh shit, right on dog, sorry to hear about your homeboy milk dying” he says to me and goes back to doing whatever else he was concerned with never knowing, I wasn’t going to tell him. Ha ha.
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