How did you first discover graffiti and what let you become a graffiti artist?
I first discovered graffiti through a buddy of mine that writes Joes, he was out tagging on shit and I was clowning this fool. Well there were a few other people doing it, and I was clowning them and then going in to Frisco I started seeing the productivity that other people were doing in like this silent secret culture and I was drawn to it instantly. That’s what kinda got me started in it.
Was there a specific artist that you worked with or mentored you? Or was it all self taught?
I would say like mentor? Probably LORD’s Crew. They were the most up, in the bay area, for my area of living. And I couldn’t go anywhere, I couldn’t go to the store to buy groceries, I couldn’t go to the laundry mat, I couldn’t ride my bike without seeing Lords, Lords, Lords, ya know? So I was like holy shit who are these dudes? As far as bigger names at that time, MSK just moved up there, Twist – by far, KR, Reminiscence painting horses illegally on the raw concrete. I just stood there with a 35mm camera taking pictures of this stuff that people wont really see in this culture now. People might not even know who they are but for the bay area it was like footprints of the beginning of graffiti.
You paint a lot of times in a very traditional wildstyle technique with strong legible letters, what do you think influenced your “style”?
I think the thing that draws me the most or helps structure who I am as a letter artist, would be the clarity of reading graffiti from a distance. A solid letter with a good balance, a little style to it, or even like the little tails people do. Whatever it is, I always focused on can I read that? Who is that? What are their colors? was it clean? was it laid out right? You’re going to look at an ad in Thrasher magazine and you’re going to say was that done nicely or wasn’t it? There is a balance, a weight, like why was the logo here? I kinda look at letter formats like that. I feel like it has to be structured before its slaughtered. There has to be a balance for that.
In your process, how important is your outline?
That’s probably 90% - I am more loose on everything else. I feel like the outline – if there is a bar going behind another bar – that shits gotta have a reason for why it didn’t line up, in my opinion. My “T” going behind my “S” - I cant have that thing shifted 2 or 3 inches above, its like “why?!” - “you f#@*ed up fool!” I think the outline for me is very important to being 90% there, for me on a wall the outline is very important because it holds the frame of everything I put together within it.
Especially recently you have been going bigger and bigger in terms of the actual size of your pieces. What do you think the largest piece you have done to date?
To date it would probably be with Ruste and Kems as far as with spray paint. But in the 90’s I did some rollers that were well over 100 feet.
For the giant pieces, are they spontaneous? Do you pick the location and plan it out? Do you use roller paint or spray paint? What’s your process?
I will definitely plan, I try to be more prepared. I don’t want to get to a spot that I think is virgin and then someone beat me to it, so instead of capping it, so I always have a back up plan. I will go as prepared as I can, but if I get to a spot and I think something more loose and fun fits then I will go for that.
Some artists are drawn to particular colors or color combinations. Do you find yourself drawn to any particular colors, if so, which colors and why do you think your drawn to them?
I go through phases. For a while when I was a kid, Painter Touch “berry pink” was on every single piece and my friends hated it like “f@$%ing pink again?” I was using a lot of yellow for a while. I just go through phases I guess. Right now I am hooked on the black and silver chrome and like one more color if needed, preferably, like right now I am using a lot of the 94 Cyan color, it just covers well and the vibrancy is great!
You’re in some legendary crews, so keeping the kids in mind - why be in a crew? What should an artist expect to give to their crew? What should an artist expect to get from their crew? What does it mean to you to be in a crew?
That’s a good question. I grew up as a single child, kinda neglected. I felt alone I guess. These crews were in the same frame of mind. For me having a crew is more of a family. As a young kid I wanted to feel accepted like I wanted to feel like what I was doing was being validated in some shape or form. You either have haters or you have lovers, there’s not really much in between in my opinion. So you got a bunch of haters who are jealous of what you’re doing or you got Lovers who support what you are doing. I felt like I got nothing but support from certain individuals. Mainly LORDs, UM, IBC… my early crews. We all just kind of supported each other through really shitty times. I felt obligated to give that love back. I still do, everything I do revolves around my crews and the support and the energy within that. You know, Old timers that arnt necessarily still painting, I still talk to on a monthly or weekly basis. I call these dudes like “yo whats good? How is it going?”. I think its only fair that you receive what you give, there might be some days when you don’t want to give but you got to give. Your giving love to the energy, if you find a balance and a happiness within that, it will come back in double amounts. Immensely. It’s like when you have a highly illegal spot, I am only going to roll to that spot with dudes that I know have my back. It was like that when I was growing up. My crew, I got nothing but love for these dudes.
Its not a new thing, but thanks to artists like you, it seems that finding new “virgin” walls in abandoned and out of the way places is becoming more important than it ever was. What are your thoughts about graffiti in these forgotten places that nobody may ever see?
Living in a community where graffiti and the culture and the word “ART” isn’t really supported, like there arnt murals around here supporting artists, or maybe a couple but very few. I felt the urge to go find what I was craving. These virgin walls are like what we craved in the 90’s, I didn’t want to sidebust Revok, I wanted to go do the wall before Revok, not that it ever happened like that but, there is that drive in me that I want to conquer things for myself before somebody else. I think that the adventure to some of these places creates more of the story than just “painting a wall”. Particularly - not long ago, 5 of us went on a camping trip, it took a day to get to this spot. We camped out and we had one vehicle that could even terrain us to get to these walls we found. That adventure and building that crew friendship and memories is more important and fun than getting a 2 hour piece on that wall. Also, you’re not going to expect graffiti – you go out to these remote places to hide from the world, you expect to have a picnic in the middle of nowhere , and your like “WOW” where did this graffiti come from? Why is it here? I call ‘em baseball cards – my photo collection of finished pieces. I don’t share a large portion of my photos on social media, because the audience doesn’t need to see all that. If the audience wants to see what we are doing they should be more involved. Get out from behind the screen, find these places, and live it.
You’re extremely consistent with both your quality and your quantity of pieces. Even your “quick” stuff has a striking cleanliness to it. How important is consistency and cleanliness to you as a writer?
Extremely important. Everything I do, being a father, a business owner, or a writer, I am going to put the effort into it 100%, if I can. The consistency is very important. If I can look at last month’s pieces and the month before that, and I see some growth, I am happy. For me I just show up and I put the effort into the wall, and if I can see my growth within my letter over a long span of time, I feel I am more happy with the progress. I am not expecting anyone but myself to appreciate the growth, I can look at anyone’s letters and say “ I could have done this” or “I could have done that”. People have looked at my stuff and called it repetitious, but they arnt comparing the stamp I did yesterday to the trains I painted 3 years ago. There is a MAJOR difference. That growth just comes over time.
Infamy Art staff has watched you paint several times. You paint very quickly, not rushed, but very fast. How long do you think it takes for you to paint one of your burners?
2 hours. When I was a kid we painted illegally. We had a few legal walls but the energy behind those walls wasn’t fulfilling to me. I picked up graffiti because I wanted to put something where it shouldn’t be and create that question of how and why it got there. I still feel that way. As much as I paint and travel, I personally have 3 permission walls that I can say are mine. I only paint those maybe once a year because those walls, as an artist, don’t push me to create what I want.
Most artists will create one piece, one burner, one character, whatever, and then call it a day, but Style don’t sleep, you tend to keep painting several burners in the same day. What makes you so insatiable? What pushes you to get those extra pieces in when others are content to wrap it up and go home?
We kinda touched on it. I showed up to a wall recently with a plan. And I looked at the wall and the plan wouldn’t work. So I found another abandoned wall and I did a warm up – filled in an outline, and it loosened me up and woke me up a bit. It got me more accepting of the plan I wanted to commit to. What pushes me I guess is the long term goal, if I only paint one piece a week – which isn’t fulfilling enough for me – that “Y” of mine wont change for probably 3 years. But if I am doing 4 stamps or pieces a week, over 6 months that “Y” will become completely different, because I have a span of maybe 100 fill-ins instead of just 8, you know?
Lets talk about your spray can back pack! Many people don’t realize the love and work you put into it. Tell us a little about why you made it, the quality of the bag, and all that good stuff.
I am pumped on this thing! As a kid I just wanted a bag. We probably all racked a few bags. But these backpacks are all crap and I have gone through bag after bag. Being in the promotional kind of marketing field that I am in, I found access to things that I might not have had as an outsider. I dabbled in looking at cost and design for a bag and I thought whats my dream bag? You know everyone has a dream car or a dream bike… I personally have everything like that, and I felt like this bag was a missing part of my life. So I started working with some manufacturers who failed. I put the idea aside, and when I felt I had the energy to do it again, I found a quality manufacture that could work with my expectations. In my first meeting with them I told them, not even knowing them for 5 minutes, I told them I am a graffiti writer, I break laws, and the market I am trying to sell to could be a 220 pound guy hoping a barbwire fence, and I need a bag that can handle that kind of life. The manufacturer became so dedicated to the vision, and put in so much work, that I think now they might be more pumped on the bag than I even I am.
How many spray cans does it hold?
The bag can hold typically 30 cans on average. It has a removable pouch that can hold 24 cans, in a box or not… I have developed a bag, me being more of an illegal mission type of style - I can’t have a backpack on my shoulders that has cans rattling. I have crew mates that just throw 30 cans in a bag and I just want to headlock them. I feel like you gotta be secretive, no one can know what you’re doing until you’re done. So I formulated this bag so I can stand my cans up, or I can lay them down. I can put a gallon of paint standing up, I can put some rollers in there. Every supply I need, there is a pocket for my mask, different kinds of caps, markers, can openers. The bag is developed with the different needs of the individual artist. I can show up to a legal wall and lay out 40 colors from the bag, or am I going on a night mission with a mile hike and I have to be really stealth and its only holding a 12 pack of tall cans.
So basically, you made the best bag every made for a graffiti or street artist?
That’s my goal, my long term commitment to this bag is that this is the last bag that a graffiti writer has to buy. The manufacturer originally couldn’t understand that concept and had some ideas for other bags, but it was like no – lets focus on this one bag and lets deliver a bag that will forever hold its name, like a STYLE piece in the middle of the desert. No one caps that thing and it rides to the end of the day. I don’t care about the next bag, I don’t care about the competitor’s bag, I want this bag to connect with the individual. Carry it to the grave!
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