I am not going to go into your background cause obviously our world of Graffiti has it’s dangers. What I want to know about is that most people try to stay out of trouble by living their normal 9-5 boring ass jobs. What made you to enter a world of doing vandalism?
I started doing graffiti when the initial breaking scene fad died down in the mid 80’s. First Graffiti was unknown then it blew up and I guess we took advantage of it and that was when I truly started. I believe a lot of writers from my generation did the same thing. Simply say the roots came from Hip-hop. For me, unlike others, it was never truly about being a vandal. Honestly this was like perfect American Calligraphy and the letters simply looked sick. So truly, in the beginning, a few of my breaker friends were doing their thing, so naturally I just took suit. I never realized I would become an Ace of spades or something similar.
What are the different feelings you get from doing an illegal, commercial, or a battle/ event. How does it feel?
There’s an adrenaline rush when you are about to do some non-sanctioned works but at the same time, there is an uneasy feeling in the pit of your stomach until you are out of dodge. It is like there are evil ninjas around you. You can hear sounds that are not there and feel the paranoia or worry, but after a while you feel a little relaxed, but so might not feel 100% comfortable until you are a safe distance away from the illegal and it is complete. When you are away from the scene of the crime, a certain level of satisfaction is felt afterwards. That is the addictive feeling that is hard to duplicate. On the other hand I enjoy organized events. This is the time where you perfect or try to perfect your talent and zone out with some headphones. The only concern upon my mind is to really just to rock a good burner rather than knowing I might have to turn into an Olympic track star at any time and be gone with the wind.
Do you think that graffiti has become over exposed or manipulated by the world? In short, what bullshit do you think you can get out of the idiots that don’t understand our culture?
It probably is suffering from a little overexposure, but at least it’s now being appreciated on some levels where it wasn’t previously. It used to be that people had styles that you could easily identify reflected by their mentors. The styles were all so very similar by their region or their crews. Nowadays, graffiti is global. The scene has gone far beyond whatever I would have ever predicted. But at the same time I never really imagined where it would go, I just stayed faithful. I mean give a kid a marker or even a caveman animal blood and you will see something on a wall. I do it because there is an inner urge that I simply can’t fight.
Everything has change. For an example, a writer in Australia can do a burner and then thousands of people can see their work almost instantaneously through the web and social media in particular. This is somewhat new, and to me it is helping the evolvement so the world can realize, ART IS NOT A CRIME! As a result, now-a-days styles are a lot more homogenized and their roots are less identifiable. So on one hand, it’s really mixed up the lineage of styles that you used to see in crews or regions, on the other hand it’s an accelerated process for the learning curve of young and upcoming writers.
What are the dangers of graffiti, what type of punishment do people in your country get into when they are caught?
Beef! That is one thing with other writers or crews. That should be a concern if you are doing a considerable amount of work on the streets or are going over other people’s work or spots. Honestly, going over other peoples works should be forbidden unless you have a good reason. If we had a court for graffiti that is a high form of offending someone, so at most avoid writing over someone’s piece.
If you get caught, the punishment is pretty stiff here in California. These days the authorities will overestimate the damage cost. So in actuality, when you do get caught, your fines will generally far exceed what the actual cost to the property is. Technology has also made it a lot easier for law enforcement to document and track writers, so if or when we actually get caught in the act; they can then charge us for all of the damage associated to our name. Actually you might be charged for a name that is not yours because they are rather ignorant at reading letters, so in short, you can catch another charge for their illiteracy of our graffiti culture. It’s not the same game we played as teenagers in the 80’s that’s for sure.
Time for the most beloved question that all of our readers love. I like war stories. Can you entertain our readers with any stories where you experienced some problems? One but two is better.
In the 80’s a fairly common practice started to happen where law enforcement would insert undercover cops in to high schools posing as students. These, “students,” would show up to school day in, and day out just like all of the others but their sole purpose was to purchase drugs from as many students as possible so they could then arrest them in a set-up.
That was a real dirty way of doing police work in my opinion. I only target kids for graffiti not entrapment. But let me digress… Anyways, I happened to sit next to the undercover sheriff for about a semester. And as teenagers do, I inevitably bragged about a spot we had painted and shown them other flicks. So a few months later I ended up getting called into the high school principal’s office where two sheriffs were waiting to talk to me. We were doing a lot of work in the area at the time and these guys had been after us for some time. They even had nick names for us like they do bank robbers. Mine was “Little Boy Blue” apparently… haha. Anyway, at the time this type of graffiti was a relatively new crime in San Diego and we got off with a slap on the wrist with community service hours. Luckily we never really had to deal with any formal legal processes thankfully.
I know you have a company, Wildstyle Technicians. Can you tell us about your company, projects, etc. Also, what was your favorite work you did? Illegal or legal, dangerous, or whatever you choose.
Wild Style Technicians was started as a crew by Zone 1 in 1991. Other bosses were me and another crew member DazeRoc. For the longest time, we had thrown around the idea of doing a graffiti tee shirt brand similar to our friends at Top 2 Bot’m and Tribal. But as for myself, I wanted to do something that featured graffiti letters that were similar to how they appear in an actual piece on a wall. I wanted authentic letters from a wall on a shirt. I just wanted it to be real.
We also struggled to come up with a name that we felt was catchy enough for our clothing line. That changed when DazeRoc made some WST hats for the crew. To get a decent price per piece, he had to have a few dozen produced. After most of the crew members picked up one or two hats, he was still left with a dozen or two hats. So when we found out that the 2nd annual B-Boy Summit just so happened to be taking place in San Diego around that same time. We were in luck! On the last day of the park jam, Daze and I decided to bring some canvases to display at the event and Daze threw the left over WST hats in along with his canvases. Those hats sold like wildfire and no one there even knew what WST stood for. I think they just felt that it looked dope and wanted to rock it.
They loved it so much that Daze even sold the hat he was wearing off his head. His hat had a different logo. Really only one in the world existed and we will never see it again. This is when we realized we could just roll with our crew name as a business name. We started compiling artwork of our own and collaborating with some of our friends. This happened for a few years, we acted like ninjas to get our shit together and we made it mission possible.
Around this time, I began dabbling in Photoshop. First of all I was exposed to it and I also knew that this was what I needed to pursue. Well obviously I must say that I had some course work in a photo lab. Before the clothing line I was just mainly doing photo restoration and color correcting. It wasn’t until around 97′ until I figured out how to take a drawing of my own and turn it in to finished piece of art in Photoshop. The photo lab, in which I was working at, shut down unexpectedly at the end of 1997. From there I had to decide if I was going to go get another full time job, or try to…ummm….FUCK but I needed to hurry up! So quickly, I realized that in order for graffiti to work as clothing line, I had to find a happy medium between graffiti, graphic design, and fashion design in order for it to be a successful clothing brand.
Do you have any teachings or messages to give to the future artists?
If you want to be a professional artist, study business. I know a lot of extremely talented artists that don’t know how to make a living off their art. On the other hand, I also know quite a few moderately talented artists who are making a very good income because their business marketing and networking skills are on point.
Take you freewill and do whatever you want. Ask yourself a question, to yourself and answer it or whatever and end it with a shout out to your peeps!!
A huge thank you to all of those who helped me in my development as a writer either directly or indirectly throughout the years. There are so many people to thank so I’m sure I’ll miss someone but off the top in somewhat chronological order K-Way, DazeRoc, Sake aka Taze, Quasar, Phyzek, Zodak, Severe, Pres, and Zone. I also need to thank my staple artists with whom I’ve collaborated on artwork for WST which includes some of the same names as the previous list but also G-Rok, Romali, Kool Sphere, Pesa, and Soems. And last but not least, a thank you to my family, with whom without their support I would not be able to continue exist as an artist.
Thanks for the interview