Art By Lyfr

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

Tag: bay area graffiti

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


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.

Bay Area Graffiti - SF in background

Steve Rotman and Mark Batty Publishers present this truly spectacular collection of photos from the Bay Area between 2004 and 2008.  This book is a must have  and is end to end filled with of high quality photos of artists like Chubs, Apex, BNE, Ashes and many, many more.  From tags to burners, this book is a complete record of this important period of recent history.  Many of the photos offer a look inside the secret places that your average urban explorer would miss.  Its hard to put this one down.

We here at Day in the Lyfe had a chance to ask the author Steve Rotman a few questions about this project.  Enjoy.

Steve Rotman 2 - Photo by Dan Carlson

1. What was it that first drew you to photograph graffiti? Were you previously a writer?

Steve: I was never a writer. I got into graffiti as a total outsider. Things got rolling in early 2004. I was wandering around San Francisco looking for murals to photograph and I came across some amazing graffiti productions in the Mission and Soma districts. They blew me away and got me curious. I started to read about graffiti’s history and culture and aesthetics. I fell in love with the art and the mystery of it. By the end of 2004, I was obsessed and searching for graffiti to photograph almost every day. 

Control Room

2. Did you use flickr to make a lot of contacts? Did it serve you well as you were developing this obsession?

Steve: Definitely. It’s the most consistent way I’m in touch with the graff community. It’s a great vehicle to share my passion for this subject and to connect with writers, photographers and graffiti fans. There’s a very active and enthusiastic graffiti crowd on Flickr. It’s fun to be a part of it.



3. At what point during this obsession did you realize you had to make a book?

Steve: After I’d posted graffiti photos online for a couple years, a lot of people started to suggest that I make a book. By then, I’d already collected thousands of photos and had become friends with people in the community, so it seemed feasible. Nobody had ever put out a book devoted to the graff scene in the Bay Area, so it seemed like a good opportunity to finally make it happen. At some point, I just decided to go for it. It took a couple more years to get a publisher and put it all together. With my outstanding collaborator, Chris Brennan, and a lot of work, we got it done. For as long as I’ve been shooting graffiti in the Bay Area, I’ve felt that this is a special and exciting scene with remarkably talented writers. It’s gratifying to have been to able to preserve and celebrate that in a nice big book.




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