Art By Lyfr

-->

Mexican graffiti artist and founder of Lady’s Graff website, KIF

Interview by Matthew J (@IamJamesMatthew)

To my knowledge this is the first time a Mexican-born graffiti writer has been featured on BombingScience.com and I want to salute, KIF for making history today. I hope this will be the first of many articles where Mexican writers to be get recognition on this platform.
KIF earned this post for many reasons: she is talented, she is serious about her craft, and her work has a social merit. She has created a website, LADYSGRAFF (
http://www.ladysgraff.galeon.com), which is building a foundation- not only for herself but for other young women in Mexico – to stand on and eventually get equal standing with the many male writers who tend to get more of the spotlight.
You are witnessing something special folks and to repeat my earlier sentiment; I am sure this won’t be the last time readers see KIF’s work on this website.

1) Introduce yourself to the readers. Who is KIF? What is your story?

Who is KIF? That’s a good question. It´s difficult for me to write about myself, but I’ll do my best. My name is Karina Alejandra Soto Hernandez. I´m 24 years old, and for the last 10 or 11 years of I’ve been painting graffiti.

I was born in the city of Leon Guanajuato (Mexico) and I feel very proud to say that because I love living here. Unfortunately, to begin studying for a Digital Arts degree at the University of Guanajuato – the only school which offers the program- meant having to leave my home city and move to Salamanca Guanajuato, where I have been living since January of this year.

Now don’t get me wrong, Salamanca is a lovely place, but it doesn’t match home.
I like to collaborate on projects that promote and spread awareness of the graffiti scene in my city, but also gender graffiti and the involvement of females within this art form.
Although I’m not a lover of rap music, I do like listening to all types of music.
I lean more now for made graffiti on a wall with its permission, because I am asthmatic and having to run (like the last times that I painted illegal) would trigger serious attacks.
Currently I’m in two crews: IKS (Sark, Gogue, Asme, Truko, Mikro, Jhard, Ocre, Dreik, Killer, Ear, Blexo, Dekl, Kabo, Dhoce, Time & Enter)
and CK (Nickis, Gogue, Jhard, Sukre, Bacteria, Boro and Nukleo). I’m the only woman in both crews so I have a very special affection and respect for each of them, as I know that they have the same feelings to me. I´m very proud of my boys!

2) See that wasn’t so hard now was it? (haha). Tell me how did you get your initial start in graffiti?

Graffiti was introduced to my life at ‘97 when my brother and his gang (BR Crew) went into the world of Hip Hop and they started painting graffiti in the city without have much notion about what it really was. I was a nosy little girl, who always tried to decipher the graffiti (or easy to find as it is now) I was constantly wondering how the writers made their tools for painting and how they repaired [those tools] since few replace pieces were accessible.

Although the graffiti wasn´t an unknown topic for me, I started painting when I was 13 years old and still in high school.

My boyfriend was a guy who was studying two grades above me; his tag was “Work”. He was spending a lot of time with his friends painting in the streets, so in secret, I began writing graffiti as a way for he and I to spend more time together but that was not a big plan Haha (nervous laughter). Eventually that innocent relationship of children took a break and ended shortly thereafter.

3) Where do you hope to see yourself, as an artist, in the next 5-10 years? Do you have any particular goals you want to achieve?

Actually my expectations haven´t changed much over the years. I´ve achieved some things that I never imagined, but my only vision for the future is to continue doing graffiti with a passion.

The day I stop enjoying what I do, may be that day I´ll stop being an active graffiti writer. I should always be honest with myself and when I´m not satisfied with what I do on that day I´ll stop “being in the scene”.

It´s very difficult for me to know what I´ll do in the next five or ten years, in regard to graffiti; although I would like have a stable job to support myself financially. I want to travel the world and give back to my family for all the sacrifices they have made on my behalf.

4) How does your particular style of art differ with that of other writers in your crew?

Each member of both crews has their own style. Me, for example; I like to make letters because I consider them to be vitally important in graffiti; it’s also fun to alter them and changing their shape.

I try not to do anything “overly feminine”, but I’ve always added hearts in their form. I don´t use them to make the pieces look feminine but more so for the iconography– I like very much for what it represents. Overall, I think the work of each member reflects their own personality.

5) You mentioned going back to school to study for a Digital Arts degree and further develop your skill (*salute*). First, I want to congratulate you on going back and build on your skill; that shows a progressive mind. Second, I want to know how you hope these new skills will help your graffiti. How do you expect incorporating it into your work?

Thank you (for your congratulations, support and the space).
I’m happy because I’ve gone back to school after some years away. I honestly don´t know how I can involve academic skills to graffiti, or if I really want to do that. I like keeping it real and keep that empirical essence, although I don´t close myself off from the possibility of harnessing knowledge, for my graffiti will go to another level.

Digital Art is more attached to the interactivity, design no longer remains static. I liked the Bachelor degree because I find it fascinating and I like the idea of [creating] animation; so with this I´ll learn how to improve as a web-designer and eventually upgrade Lady’s Graff. The degree will also help me make other better proposals. My one worry is that with all the school work I won´t have much free time for painting or partying (haha) but my priority is education. I want to learn more now, and as you mentioned earlier, progress as an individual and progress as a woman.

6) What motivates you to go out and paint?

I’m motivated by the fun; the entire experience of sharing good times with my friends as we work together on a wall. I also like how I am able to improve my technique and [spray can] control. Of course, the satisfaction of seeing a completed piece is very motivational.

7) You yourself, curate a successful blog, LADYSGRAFF which spotlights the work of female writers, in Mexico and abroad. Tell me a bit about your site and what it is all about. How did LADY GRAFF come to life and why is its existence so necessary? How is it improving the situation for female writers?

Thank you for considering successful! One thing that surprised me when I started [to paint graffiti] was how many men seemed to dominate the culture. With the arrival of the Internet I tried to investigate whether other women were writing, but I found there was very little being published [on the women] and less of them were being acknowledged.
I spent a lot of time online, so I decided to make a web site about female graffiti writers. The project began with the collaboration of writers in my state. Eventually, news of the blog had spread and with small steps many Mexican women were keen to contribute; they wanted their work to be seen. I guess the website attracted a lot of recognition internationally after Nicholas Ganz (the author of, Graffiti Women: Street Art From Five Continents”) contacted me and published the Lady Graff url in his book. Before that, I did have contact with writers outside Mexico, but now I am amazed to see just how many more women -from different countries- write telling me how they are interested in the project.

Sometimes I don’t have enough time to devote to the website, so I have considered the possibility of leaving without updates. But then I think that is necessary keep working on this and thus share the great female talent, as we´ve made important communication networks among us.

I don´t know how I can improve the situation for female graffiti writers, maybe it won´t be necessary. The situations are different as individuals and not as a gender. We have to improve the overall situation in the world that we live in. As people, we must become more aware and less materialist before we can change many things and do other ones.

8) How would you describe the graffiti scene in your Province and how does it is it different other regions in Mexico?

Graffiti in Leon was born in an autonomous way. It started in about ‘94 or ‘95 with great graffiti writers, but at that time graffiti was more territorial and centered on gangs and cholos (gangsters).

Most of the styles and information they had was influenced by the vision of Americans through immigrants, when they returned home in seasons to visit their families.
Leon is an industrial city so many families (lower class to middle class) are dispersed in their occupations. Both the father and mother work which means the children spend much time alone and as a result those children take to the streets to begin their careers very young. Much of early graffiti had to do with negative things and crime.

I don´t know the history of graffiti in every city in my country but, for example, in some southern States of Mexico things are very different compared to things here. Because they started later and they took references of what in Mexico City was doing.

The history of the art depends on the sociocultural situation of each place. For example, in Oaxaca graffiti is more political; more activist-driven and leans towards “street art”. Because it´s one of the most diverse ethnological States, its people have suffered much inequality and discrimination.

It is also very interesting that despite the trajectory of graffiti in Leon, the local scene isn´t as popular as other cities. People here have always focused on doing their work but don´t care much for disseminating their work and thus have remained out of the spotlight of the national scene. It’s like we’re in a bubble here, because few people meet from the outside come to see what we’re doing.

9) Your work is important and you are now in a position to influence people reading this interview. I think it is only right that we take this opportunity to share some words with the readers. Do you have for any advice for the young people–especially the females- who dream of becoming graffiti artist? What do you want them to learn from your experiences? 

I would advise that you always be honest with what you do, with what you say, and what you live. If you like graffiti and want to do it someday, have the guts to defend your work honorably, because many writers are ego-based and struggle to keep their power (positioning). They won´t hesitate to try to step on you and discourage you
from following your dreams. So be strong-willed.

One last and important thing: don´t lose the sense to do graffiti for the love it; yes, get your art out there so people can see it and but don’t worry about the fame. It may be hard to separate one from the other, as both go together; but the fame increases people’s ego and too much ego can lead to distorted perception. Love of the art is most important.
Always be real; with yourself and your graffiti.

10) Is there anybody you would like to shout out before we go? 

I´m so fortunate to have such great support from my family, the members of my crews, and even friends from different places of Mexico and all over the world.
So I want to take the opportunity to thank and send greetings to everyone who loves me and supports me, especially to: My mother, My father (RIP), My sister, My brother, my brother-in-law, Chucho, My uncles, aunts and cousins in Mexico and California… IKS Crew and CK Crew… Kiddo, Ivette, Toska, Erica, Yuvie MC, Daphne, Hurs, Saha, Rank, Dita, Vicky, Kirs, the fabulous TASH (she’s the first foreign writer who wanted to collaborate with LADY’S GRAFF), Awocp Crew, Xisto, Ramses Ruiz, PSF (Germany),
Kenny KW7, GSK Crew (Lady Butterfly, Tacha & Tarya); Sax & Geisha (Spain); Caitlin Bruce, Are2, Jessica Pabón & Tiffany Evans (USA); Wendy& Pau (My new colleagues at the University), Poxo, Bey, Craes, Deker, Ekis, DJ Raven, Bote, Ashes, Wes, Husmer, Cab (LA), Beis, Rubén Jasso, Weva, Zeke, Smash, Oex, Tropa M, Kubo, CAPone (NYC); EIN Crew, WAK Crew (Pare & Spark), the TFK Crew (Kubie, Kao07, Hoker, Seyo, Kube2, Etc.), ODK Crew (Holland), BR Crew (Drunk, Cuate, Lobo, Keis & Wreks); UK Crew, FEGS Crew, Etc.

I have a bigger list, but I prefer not to continue mentioning to everyone, because I wouldn´t want to forget anybody else. One last thanks to you, Matthew J, for this interview and for the opportunity to tell my story to the world.

Thank you, Kif for taking time out your very busy schedule to finish up this interview. You earned this opportunity –the hard work is paying off. I am sure there we will be seeing a lot more of your work [on BSCi] and people are taking notice. *salute* Stay focused, Kif.