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Day in the Lyfe Graffiti Magazine’s Online Blog Updated daily with graffiti, street art and original photography from around the world.

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Estria has been spray painting for over 26 years, and is recognized around the world as a graffiti living legend, valued historian, and leader on graffiti’s social and political impact.  Hailing from San Francisco’s “Golden Age” of graffiti in the 80′s, Estria is a pioneer in painting techniques, and the originator of the stencil tip.  Through graffiti Estria has become an educator, entrepreneur, and social activist, working with numerous non-profits, and high profile corporations.  In 2007, Estria founded the “Estria Invitational Graffiti Battle”, a nationwide urban art competition that honors and advances creativity in the Hip Hop arts.  Originally from Hawaii, Estria has called the Bay Area home for half of his life.  His murals are known to be whimsical, cultural, political, and vibrant, with a focus and dedication to uplift the communities they serve.

When did you start painting?

We started in ’84. My friends were breakers and we saw graffiti on

things like the Jelly Bean album, and in the movies Breakin’,

Beatstreet, Wild Style, Style Wars. Our first piece was with an

airbrush and a can of compressed air. We climbed into a canal and

tried to airbrush the word ‘fresh’ on raw concrete. People stopped to

watch, no one thinking it was illegal. We got to the ‘R’ when the air

ran out. It got us juiced enough to get spray paint and try it again.

That was the beginning of a life-long love affair.

Where are you from?

I’m originally from Hawaii and have been in the Bay Area for half my life.

How did you get your name?

Back then everyone was taking a word for their tag name, but I wanted

a name. For a month I played with letters I liked until I came up with

Estria. Years later a man told me estrîa, with the accent on the ‘I’,

means stretch mark in Portuguese. He said the Latin root was ‘stria’

meaning to stretch. He said it was a good name, as in stretching your

mind.

Who has inspired you?

Crayone TWS inspired me to believe that I could paint anything with

spray paint. He and Risque TWS taught me how to outline my pieces very

cleanly. Raevyn TWS taught me to explore anything and everything and

to make them into letters. He taught me to have fun inventing new

styles of lettering. Other than there was no one to teach us back

then. I learned a ton from Barron Storey on visual communicating,

techniques, and being creative. Going to the YMCA as a teen taught me

to envision a better world and how to work to make that happen.

How do you come up with ideas?

I pay attention to everything. Meditation and martial arts are great.

Dreams do a lot for me. Painting with others is good for sharing

ideas. Graffiti is very collaborative and you learn from others.

Studying geniuses and masters in other fields and cultures is very

good too. Having fun and being in a playful, stress-free state is good

for the idea flow. Basically, I feel like a gate and the ideas flow

through me, from the universe/higher being.

Why do you work with youth?

I was taught at an early age to give back to the community. Working

with youth reshapes the world.

Why is it important to create murals for the community?

When you paint for the community you speak on issues that impact us.

You can shift the social consciousness on these issues. You can

empower and galvanize people. You literally can save lives. You can

bring beauty and joy to an otherwise bleak wall and neighborhood. A

friend of mine says you should always leave things better than when

you found them, including relationships. Burners can build

relationships and community pride.

Why do you live in the Bay?

It’s gorgeous, it’s the progressive capital of the US, and it’s a good

place to be if you’re a conscious artist.

What do you want people to know about your work?

It’s fun and it’s always changing. As I grow, my pieces get better.