What is your name and where did it come from?
The name Quake was actually my M.C. name for the rap game, as I already had an established street alias for digging dirt. Then when I caught a heavy case in the late eighties I switched to using the name Quake as my writing name and laid all my other pen names to rest.
Who were your first influences? Tell us a little about the Bay Area and the early years, who was pioneering a movement in that area?
The first tags that I was exposed to were from a writer named “SEXS”, pronounced (Success) in my hometown. Unfortunately I never had the honor to meet, as he came to an early demise after an altercation in Golden Gate Park. Around the same time I met a writer M.I.A. who had started in 1984 and was more of a traditional New York influenced writer/poplocker.
The first piece I ever saw in person was from the writer Cuba on Bolinas beach in Nor Cal around 1985. Other early influence’s came from the San Francisco and Oakland scene seeing tags and pieces from writers like, Dug, Spie, Dream, Phresh, Razer, Vogue, Twist One, Tach, Picasso, Dare, Quest, Sundance, Ghost, UB40, Pluto, Serf, Aeros, Jarskee, Buds A.C.I., Darks, Black, Form, Ive, Shelt, Prod, Metal, Jest, II Tense, and bushopping crews such as BVD, ARM, and THK.
Have you studied Art in any way, or did you pick it all up in the streets?
Art never came naturally to me and I never really had an opportunity to study it. My art experience was achieved through hard work and dedication to the craft beginning at the street level.
Does music play a role in your art? What’s in your headphones these days?
Music plays a huge role in my art inspiration and motivation as well as my day-to-day life.
I’m currently listening to Air, B.G.K., Black Sabbath, Brotha Lynch, Carpathian Forrest, CIN, Cougnut, Da Buze Bruvaz, Dre Dog, D.R.I., Dj Defie, DJ Squeeky,
Dj Rob One, Dj Phekt, Grand Invincible, Iron Maiden, The Knife, Khraungbin, Leviathan, L’Orange, Mac Dre, Mercyful Fate, Meters, Neurosis, The Oh Sees, Oranssi Pazuzu, Portal, R.K.L, Santogold, Sarcofago, Sargeist, Serge Gainsbourg, Taj Mahal, Tom Waits, Terra Tenebrosa, Young Lay, 2-11, 11-5, and X-Raided.
How important is the legibility of letters?
I feel starting out with legibility is important to the foundation of anyone studying letter forms, once you have a good base structure you can bend, break, build, destroy, and take that anywhere.
What do you think you are best known for, and how would you describe your style?
I’m probably best known for having a traditional Bay Area Funk style, which just means I’ve been in the game for a minute. My friends and crewmates have labeled my personal style as Bay Area 51.
Do you get involved with any other kind of art besides graffiti?
I do practice abstract art and collage artwork, which is a bit removed from my graffiti work, yet I rarely display it and use it mainly as personal therapy.
What’s your favorite brand of spray paint to paint with and why?
Lately I’ve been using the German Montana line because much like Rusto it withstands the test of time.
What are your favorite colors or are there colors you find yourself using often?
Green, Purple, Blue, and Yellows.
What kind of nozzles do you tend to use?
Yellow Universal outlines and “Raider” Silver and Black fat caps fills.
Do you have a favorite marker? And why?
Favorite markers are Uni PX-30 Silvers and Sakura Split Streakers. Yet my real favorite is my trusty scriber.
Favorite surface to put your paint on and why?
My favorite surfaces are metal and cinderblock, metal for the overall aesthetic and cinderblock for its grid like quality and paint absorption.
How important is the “outline” in your process?
I still try to use sketches as much as possible for every piece. So the outline sketch and the actual process of outlining a piece is something that I take very seriously. The outline is the key to variety and evolution of styles; otherwise it’s very easy to subconsciously replicate the same piece over and over again.
If someone asked you why you write graffiti, what would your answer be?
I write for the continued desire for style improvement and the endless quest for the perfect spot.
You have enough paint for one Burner or several throwies, how do you use the paint?
These days I’m definitely more interested in making a bigger and larger statement through one piece of art then the satisfaction of multiple smaller pieces.
What kind of project gets you most excited (i.e. Legal walls, crew productions, wholecars, freight bombing)
The thing that I still get most excited about is piecing productions with the crew. The comradery and collaboration with ones peers is still the most satisfying part of the art form 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’m far from the “Hot Boy” status of the past, yet I never got in this game to be a recognized character or figurehead easily identified. That being said I still prefer an anonymous approach to my art and even more to the identity behind it.
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?
It’s all up to the individuals interpretation and what the artist themselves are trying to achieve and gain from their participation in the art form. I’m not comfortable dictating the appropriate place for art as I have my own opinion and its consistently changing throughout the years.
Can you speak on the importance of letters and can control in an era of hipster graff and street art?
I think that the letterforms and traditions associated with the culture are more important and relevant now than ever. As writing gets more commercialized and diluted everyday through social media and other media outlets, only we can preserve and safeguard its legacy from negative influences and exploitations.
What do you think of instagram and what impact has it had on you as a graffiti artist?
I think that IG can be a beneficial tool for the disciplined artist, or it can be complete and utter waste of time and energy that keeps you from your art. I am currently not on social media as I’m making a conscience effort to be in the present without distractions.
What is a trick you've picked up over the years that helps out your process?
Currently I take a flick before I bounce and study the overall composure in order to make changes before I’m safely at home.
You’ve painted with a lot of talented people, are there any artists in particular you enjoy painting with and why?
I constantly try to hook up with new artist and partner with them for newfound inspiration without limitations. Painting with a variety of artist in new locations will consistently provide me with different results. I really enjoy painting with all members of my crews and right now Haste, Rome, Wesk, Sloke and Griffin because they continually push me outside my comfort zone.
Is there anything, inside or outside the graffiti world, that you find really inspires your "style" or how you make your art?
I’m very inspired by nature, music, my crews, and the surroundings of my environment.
Do you have any of your art for sale?
I am always down to do commission artwork. Holla.
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?
Always take the time to learn about those before you that laced the foundation of this game. Go for the long game and don’t burn yourself and career out by being super hot and making wrong and disrespectful moves. Search for an original unused name and develop your style on paper and in the cuts before you bring it to trains and yards.
I’ve always believed you will get better results respecting the next generation rather than snuffing them out, you never know which young toy will end up being the next key player in the Game.
Please feel free to add any parting words...
Thanks to Infamy Art for the Platform and the Products!
Much Love to all Lords Crew, Union Mob 86, Ex-Vandals, Tits Crew, and Aerosol Syndicate.
Respect to Jaber, Defie, Pastime, Rome, Adee, Wesk, Cue, Nesta, Spoze, Jenks, Haste, Sloke, Mesngr, Griffin, Drane, Tawl, Zone, Style, Clown, Kanos, Mers, Wins, Fowl, Gus Cutty, and Macali.
Rest In Paint:
A.C.I., Aneml, Bugs, Bisr68, Dekades, Dj Rob One, Dream, GEB, IZ, Jade, Kerse, Kutz, Lord XL, Marvel, More, Nace, Nekst, Orfn, Pak, Phrie, Rsen, Rvrs, Sace, Saze, Sk8, Slie, Sonik , Spesh, Stak, Stan 153, Tie, Topa, Vote, Yesm, Yo Gee.
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Graffiti and writers used to be insanely mysterious- graffiti was really personal because we only knew what we actually saw in person.