July 17, 2020 2 Comments
What is your name and where did it come from?
I was always drawn to Mythology & the Old World Archetypes.
Merging creatures, styles & different types of matter together in my artwork, as well as having a "GRIFFIN" (part Lion & part Eagle) as a prominent figure in my family crest -- just seemed natural...
Who were your first influences?
Ever since I could hold a crayon, I’d have to credit my Mom first. She was, and still is, a crafty artist and always encouraged me to do me! Also I was a young skater kid in the late 80’s - in the golden age of skating. This was an era filled with high-gloss screen-printed skate decks, and real conceptually raw & trippy graphics. On top of that, think of all the album art during the 80s and 70’s too - album Artists like Jim Phillips, Wes Humpston, Rick Griffin, VCJ & Pushead, just to name a few favorites from that time. They were all pushing boundaries, influencing this Subculture - with original styles & a level of rebellion, raw perspective and with a psychedelic flavor.
Have you traveled much for Graffiti or Art? If so, where have you been and where is your favorite place to spraycation?
I have had the opportunity to travel & live in a fair amount of different places in the states, for a while I was pretty much picking up every 4 years to move to a new City - to simply start over, and to keep things spicy & challenging! Over time, I’ve organically been slowly building and connecting a web of sorts - with like-minded artists, musicians and other similar communities. Overall I dig painting in Europe in general, as there is a lot of culture & variety out there. Often it’s who you paint with, sometimes even more than where. I really do hope that if we are out of this pandemic next year, I have a chance to visit New Zealand & Australia - as they have been on the top of my list for far too long - to paint there & explore!
Any over Sea Adventure that stands out?
My first Big All-In Artwork trip story that stands out - is Painting Live on a two week European Rap Tour in 2008 alongside Headlining Rapper & eventual crew mate “Awol One” (from LA); as well as my long time friends the “The Insects” ( from Phoenix, Arizona)! I started doing live art back in San Diego in 2001 alongside Dumperfoo and have been doing it ever since, in the states. So my buddy Doug Quick booked the Tour & after I bought my plane ticket & sent a box of supplies over the pond, I had only $200 bucks to my name once we landed.
My hopes were to make enough selling a live art piece each night at the shows to pull this Adventure off, and not be “A mooch”! 4 dudes in a small euro car with a trunk - it was tight fit with all our merch & shit! ! Sometimes we performed in pretty big clubs, or on a bar boat & or super underground hot-wired squat vibe, etc. No shortage of stories from this trip, but no pressure on what to paint either, right? LOL Yet everything all panned out, we had no working cell phones, we had a 1st generation GPS we never figured out how to get use exactly - to tell us how far we were from the next venue exactly (in english), or even just how to get there. Somehow we made all of our show dates, some by literally hours before the show started, and some like 10 minutes before we went on. “Painting Live Art” at shows was not really done in the circuit or scene back then, in the cities we visited, I was told. So that too was a super unique & big opportunity for me. The novelty of it probably also helped me sell all my pieces! I met a lot of local graff scene heads pretty quick this way on stage. So No matter where we were, Athens, Greece, Switzerland, Germany, France etc., the homie Awol and I always got up in the streets - in each of the Cities we toured. We met a lot of Great People & it was one for the books for sure! This answer’s a bit long, but to me this is what the art life is all about. And in true road-trip fashion, I whole-heartedly believe in “The showing up” Factor it is Key!
Do you consider yourself a graff writer , a muralist , a street artist? and why....
I’m a pretty balanced mix of Writer, Muralist, and Illustrator if i had to say -- these days! Why? I see all of those elements influence me a lot in one way or another over the past 27 years of painting walls (sanctioned or unsanctioned) & also in my canvas work! I don't want to ever fit in one box, unless it's wooden!
Does music play a role in your art? What’s in your headphones these days?
I Have been working on a recent canvas series that plays into the theme, kind of around embracing all the senses. The taste factor is still in works however!
I will say, if painting in Hot Weather - It’s got to be some fast Metal of sorts!
During this pandemic with everything going on, I’m noticing I’ve been listening to way more mellow jams then normal - with less lyrics too! I’ve been listening to more Blues & Funk, so groups like Freckles, Labi Siffre, The Funkies, Adam Hurst, Tool, ST, Cannibal Ox, Jawa, & some trippy Binary Sound Streams, and throw in some Alan Watts.
How important is the legibility of letters?
I think letter legibility is an important foundation, shows one understands letter structure & discipline. Movement, Flow & energy are also important! I can see the attraction to go in the direction of more abstract letter forms, such as flexed out 3D-style, when it's much more just for art sake!
Going back to the beginning , how did you originally get into creating graffiti art?
My first influences with graffiti were watching the older generation punk rock kids in the late 80s in the skate ditches - all hanging out. I was a young skater kid, growing up in Northern Arizona!
That was the first time I picked up a can & attempted to leave a big mark, using scrap cans they left behind and later racking to finish. It was mainly writing band lettering under the Main street & Skateboard company names . That’s all I had really seen back then and/or emulated.
It wasn’t until like 1993 that I was reintroduced to graffiti as far as Tags & pieces go. There was this new kid who moved to My high school from Southern CA that went by XIAN1. He saw my drawing one day in class & brought some early graff zines to class the following day. He was like, you need to see these! For years prior, I was already drawing Band/ Album Art style lettering, Trippy Characters & future landscapes in my sketchbook or on the desk! So flipping through the pages of an early zine of Can Control & a subway art book, I was like YES, I get this & I want to see more! Digging the fact that what I was seeing - was on another level, kids actually flexing letters, going big...
I liked the sub society's destructive, angsty, punk rock, anonymity of the scene too back then, so from that day on, I never looked back - as they say… I have of course evolved a bit as a person & artist since then, but those roots I will always respect.
What Graffiti Artists early on inspired you!
Who inspired me? Graff character & letter-driven Artists from my generation or early on in the 90’s -- artists like Axis, Xpres, Zodac, Craola, Tyke & FX crew stood out to me. They had clean linework & imaginative color, glowing reflective characters- Making things look 3D! I feel these artists all had that “Triple Threat” skill set approach to painting - being able to Rock Letters, Characters & Backgrounds! A well-rounded artist spoke volumes to me coming up & still does in this scene! It seems more of a rare skill set & or even a path. Graff stamp branding seems to be more popular these days! Seems a bit limiting, but again to each their own…
Are you a part of any art collectives, crews, or teams?
LORDS | CBS | Curb Kids
What do you think you are best known for, and how would you describe your style?
Character-wise: My urban armored inter-dimensional characters, wizards, quills & creatures are some signature themed works I'm known for doing.
Lettering-wise: I like to switch it up frequently, but I often paint my fills more in a weathered color or in my chrome type style. I find this technique works well with the forms of my linear letters! Also some kind of illustrated element I, most often have mixed in.
Mural-wise: I have a few long-time Series that include: Portal murals, a Tree House series, Rips & Tears (kind of looking beneath the surface), surreal Dreamscapes, and organic nature landscapes. I still really enjoy doing all those series & vibes… I'm told these styles are recognizably mine & stood out for some as being the first large aerosol mural style painted in some of the cities I’ve lived.
Looking back, I guess Growing up in the middle of Vortex Country in Sedona, AZ probably had something to do with a majority of my themes subconsciously! ;)
Style-wise: My stuff is pretty illustration-driven & Graffiti-influenced. Influenced partially from the different cities styles I have lived along the way. So it's kind of a mixed bag GriffGraff style!
I'm more focused on pushing & challenging myself everytime I paint, and getting some random idea inside my head out on a wall. For there is usually another idea right behind it!I like a lot of different styles and genres, I see value in them all.
Do you get involved with any other kind of art besides graffiti? Do you do Art for a living?
Yes, I like all kinds of Art & mediums. I am grateful to make art for a living.
Graff & Spray Paint as a medium is my jam and always will be.
I paint Aerosol Murals as a main source of income & feel fortunate to have had that pan out! I landed my 1st commision in 1997 while living in Seattle, WA in Bell Town - for a Bar called the Lava Lounge. It was a dark style dive bar, just down from where I lived at the time. The short of the long is, that experience was a game changer to me, getting some cash & free paint and chances being it would run for a long while. I didn't know how but I was going to try to keep that boat afloat & walk the line!
As these were Krylon paint days and also prior to the internet, things happened more organically back then. Plus anything with a spray can was suspect & was way frowned upon by the general public . Only a handful of aerosol artists in cities were doing aerosol murals back then. So crazy how much things have changed - for the good & the watered- down bad!
I enjoy painting on canvas & do a lot of illustration work & lettering for T-shirt art, album Art etc. I worked doing vinyl boat name graphics in Seattle for a while, sign shops, video game companies, vehicle wrap shops, screen print shops in the different cities I lived in. My goal and focus was to learn different processes & put my mark on a little bit of everything that I was into & any surface + getting my work up into different countries. This all was & still is mad rewarding to me! Recently I've been exploring clay sculpture art, using bones & often old spray cans found in yards - that take on a personality of their own from the start. I’m not sure where this will lead, I just enjoy doing it!
I'm happy I explored a lot of different creative paths. It wasn't easy, nor am I great at them all. It gave me resources and art knowledge, which later in life allowed me to be my own boss & a Full Time Freelance Artist going on 15 years now, with a hat full of how-to tricks & experience & services to offer! It’s a lot of work, art is a small % of what goes into this career path! However for me, that’s been my way of beating the system & living life my way!
What are your favorite colors or are there colors you find yourself using often?
Greys, Purples, Teals & Blues I’d say are a few favorite flows. I'm Not a very loud rainbow color-wise painter, I like monochromatic color-ways in general mostly. I rarely paint much with red or orange for some reason… maybe in 2021 I’ll go there more.
What kind of nozzles do you tend to use?
Skinny pros caps or universals yellows for fine lines. Pink dots, blue dots for fills & stencil caps for high detail.
If someone asked you why you write graffiti, what would your answer be?
Because I can’t play guitar!
But really it represents an individual's Voice, with an expression, style, freedom & in a way not much else comes close to. It’s not for everyone to understand or read necessarily. The overall message etc? that's all up to the artist & or the person interpreting it! In other words, It’s Not painted for Radio play!
What kind of project gets you most excited (i.e. Legal walls, crew productions, wholecars, freight bombing) More than anything, I like Traveling to a New City & doing proper Mural or Big Graff Production that last a couple days to paint - solo or with some friends or crew mates! It always Makes for a Good Time & lets me catch up with some friends, Maybe that night, add on a walkabout… Overall, I’ve never had very good luck in train yards over the years…
Can you speak on the importance of letters and can control in an era of hipster graff and street art? ha ha
I love this quote “Bigger Art, doesn't make Bad art any Better”!
What I see & feel around me these days, are a vast majority of artists in this hipster graff and street art era , especially in the past 10 years, that are simply learning how to spray paint walls from some “how to” youtube channel - with the goal of being an instaFamous artist overnight! It’s Like designing the Album Cover before you have your first song written. This mentality is a very transparent Top 40 approach, by all means & it shows!
This recent trendy branch off the Graff Tree, no matter how colorful it may look to the general public, is often hollow inside with a lack of understanding, originality, street ethics, letter structure, years of practice, mentors, street credit & basic can control in comparison to what has kept the culture of graffiti & Aerosol art rich.
I'm not saying anyone can't or shouldn't paint, but this isn't street Art Karaoke Night! Pump the breaks & Take a step back - 1st off Respect the 40 year old Culture - put your new fancy projector back in the box, practice freehand with one color & then practice some more, find something in your work that talks to you, then go public need be! it's an over saturated street art, hipster graff world these days as is, with more trendy “copy & paste” artists & festivals then ever, over the last 10 years! The General public & most Curators may not know any better, but you really should - being the artist! Stay humble, you're riding on the coattails of generations of many mad talented artists who put in years of work, much risk & even jail time into this once sacred scene, whom most never made a penny from, nor was ever their intention!
What do you think of instagram and what impact has it had on you as a graffiti artist?
I think it’s better than most other social media platforms for the times. IG serves as a place to share what other artists are up to worldwide on that particular day, or to share content like this interview, etc.. So it has its power in its simplicity for that reason! However I feel that it shouldn’t be taken as too Real of a Validation, and with a grain of salt.
Any time you mix Art, “like” Points or a popularity Rating System (which can be bought), with a Corporate Agenda Algorithm System in place. I Dont think it's a healthiest approach overall or super accurate for that matter! I think doing away with others seeing posts or having “likes” -- as we have seen being changed in other countries -- is a good idea. Mental Health is a more important concern, especially for the next generation & for the youth of today!
What is a trick you've picked up over the years that helps out your process?
1. Match your buff Paint to a spray paint color, you'll save money & get cleaner results.
2. Background color when piecing, is as important as the fill color - oops buff paint for the win!
You’ve painted with a lot of talented people, are there any artists in particular you enjoy painting with and why?
Yes, for sure, I have had the honor to paint alongside a lot of talent, but they need to also be chill too! I paint with a healthy mix of crewmates & friends, a dozen or so would be Quake, Tewsr, Dytch66, Dcypher, Cogs, Mesngr, Haste, Vogue, Wesk, Sorrow, Sloke & Jaber! I enjoy painting with other like-minded seasoned heads, all doing their thing, our egos are down a few notches from when we were all youngsters… and the goal is for the greater good of the production or pushing each other! Everyone has a strength & a vision and these guys all bring this to the wall & come correct! We all live busy lives, so getting some “wall time” in and catching up is good medicine!
Do you have any big projects we should be looking out for?
4 months ago, prior to the Covid pandemic, I could have answered this with a healthy list!
A Lot has been Cancelled & or put on hold public event wise gigs etc. as you know! However I have been Taking this time for more Commission work, & have been staying busy in the Studio, with canvases, skate deck painting & some private residence murals, so i can't complain.
1 Big Project that was launched this month was, I had a cool random opportunity to design up a Killer whale themed graphics for a 70ft charter Boat in Seattle Wa. for Sailing Seattle. Just recently the marina’s re opened up & Prism Graphics Printed & wrapped the Sailboat & can be seen sailing around Elliot Bay!
- I have a couple more releases & a cool mural in concept phase- I'm hoping to share soon!
Feel free to follow my IG feed for New Things in motion.
Do you have any of your art for sale?
I do have some art on my online shop = https://griffinone.bigcartel.com/products
Please Contact me directly for Canvas, Mural or Graphic Commissions inquiries through IG or my website! Thx
In interviews people always ask the artist ”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?
If someone wants to follow you or learn more about you, where should they look?
Big Thanks for the Opportunity Infamy Art, & to those that took the time to read this interview & have contributed in one way or another to supporting my path & passion!
I very much Appreciate it!
Below are links to check out for more! Thanks
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