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

Tag: matthew j

Interview by Matthew J (@IamJamesMatthew)

1) We’ll start this interview by having you introduce yourself to the readers. So tell me, who is Sinic? Where are you from? What crews do you represent? What credentials do you have in relation to graffiti?
Well, hello everybody. I write ‘SINIC’, I’m from Hong Kong and although I was born there and studied there, I am 100% Chinese. I rep for IDT crew which is based in South China & the KB crew which is based in Hong Kong . Me and my bro Stan (Xeme) are running an event named, “Wall Lords”, every year, which is the biggest graffiti battle in all of Asia.
I work as an organizer for a couple project related to graffiti and street art culture in China. Recently, I started with a new company named, “Kolour” that distributes spray cans ONLY to customers in Asia. Having a company that caters to the Asian consumers is important for as the scene grows, so must the ability for writers to get quality supplies. We meet that need.
People can go to our website: www.kolour-paint.com, and we have a facebook account as well, just search in ‘kolourpaint’.
2) Despite the graffiti being relatively new to Asia, many prominent writers and crews – including yourself- have emerged on the scene and are proudly representing the Continent. Tell me about your first encounter with graffiti and what inspired you to get involved within the culture? Who were some of your favorite writers, back in the day? What does the art mean to you?
Back in Y2K when I was just a teenager, who loved to draw, Street style ,culture was becoming a big hit in Hong Kong all of a sudden. I don’t know the particular reason why I’m so into street culture; it’s probably related to my childhood, growing up in a neighborhood that resembled a ghetto. I always loved Hip Hop and I knew of graffiti via Hip Hop culture. Of course, those colorful letters (typography) attracted me, as well.
I started to paint in wild style but was totally shocked after Neck (CNS) visited Hong Kong. After seeing that work, I was hooked 100%.
I remember that Seak, Daim, Totem, Shok1 were my favorite writers, back then.
To me, graffiti is not a game nor is something you do just to get a rep – it’s a big outdoor canvas to show people what comes from your mind.

3) You recently went on a trip to Tibet. What was this trip about and what was the overall experience like? What did you learn?
Yes, me and my other crew mates from IDT travelled for 50 days from Kunming to Tibet and left our marks on different interesting surfaces along the way. The whole trip took 1930km to complete. That journey, pardon my English, was so fucking beautiful!! From crossing desert valleys to climbing highly elevated mountains, we experienced the original lifestyle of the Tibetans. We saw how Tibetans have sacrificed their lives for their faith and also how the government has not changed its policies – denying true religious freedom and civil liberties to the Tibetans. For people outside of the region, it sounds very strange, I know, but it is really happening!!

4) Earlier in the year, both you and Xeme put together a calligraphy exhibit in Portland Street – in Thailand’s red light district. What was your inspiration and motivation for the exhibit and how was the show received by both art and the Portland Street locals?
Xeme and I are very good friends. We both share the same hobby (graff) and we work together and hang out all the time. Every time we’d walk through Portland Street, the most famous red light district in Hong Kong, we were fascinated by the neon light sign plus the funny messages, so we decided to use it as our visual theme for the exhibition.
That exhibition showed a different face of Hong Kong; a part of its the unique culture which is shouldn’t be limited to things such as Bruce Lee or sailing ships alone. The gallery that we exhibited is located on a exclusive residential district. The local people were very curious and a bit freaked out, because our decorations were so authentic that the gallery looked like a real house of prostitution. *hahaha*

5) Any chance of your guys doing another such exhibit in future?

Oh we love to, but I think we will show another interesting side about Hong Kong with our calligraphy next time. As I mentioned before, Hong Kong has a unique culture and we want to show all of it, not just the traditional imagery.

6) You are credited as being one of the founders of Invasian Magazine, the magazine which focused exclusively on the graffiti/street culture in Asia. Earlier in the year, there was a bit of restructuring within the group –  seeing some members branch out into other avenues while others stayed to focus on the Invasian website. Can you tell me a bit about what happened and what is your current relationship with the publication?

Sure, I can talk about. I was one of INVASIAN Magazine’s founders. It started with pure passion and was a ‘hobby’ while our business was growing, but eventually a branch of problems arose. The previous partner had a different vision from that of ours (Xeme and myself) so that we decide to part ways with the publication. At the end of the day, we’re still cool, we just had creative differences.
Xeme and myself have started another new magazine called, “ONCEAGAIN”, which focuses not only on graffiti, but looks at street culture, as well.

7) I know that 2012 has been a very busy year for you, but do you have planned for 2013? Anything major in the works?
As I mentioned before, Stan (Xeme) and myself recently started the magazine, “ONCEAGAIN” (1AGN) which is a free booklet designed for open minded people that are interested in traveling in exploring places around Asia. What we aim to provide is a travel guide combining different subcultures thus giving the reader a unique experience of Asia – from skate shops to art galleries, listing some of the best and most interesting places to visit that you will not find in other travel guides. We’ve felt that Asia has always been neglected in that area, so the magazine is here to help give a little push in the right direction. Check it out: www.1agn.com 
Also, in 2013, I plan to take at least one more trip, helping to promote more events in Asia.
Of course, Wall Lords – the graffiti battle for Asian- will always be my main focus. I put most of my time into helping organize, build, and promote Wall Lords. It’s a tough job but well worth it.
For those who don’t know, WALL LORDS is about: 9 major Asian Crews and writers compete over the 3 main graffiti categories at the qualifying rounds. And the best crew selected from each location will represent its country to compete with other crews from different countries at the Wall Lord Final.
8) You just explained the basic premise of WALL LORDS and how the competition-aspect is broken down. I want to know, from your point-of-view, what has made Wall Lords so successful and how has it impacted the graffiti culture Asia?
It’s a blessing that so many people support the event and are helping it to grow.  Many of the winners, in different countries, have gone on to gain much success and exposure, which is something we (the organizers) want to see; that has always been one of the outcomes we’ve wished for. Ultimately, we hope that every Asian country can and will host their own event thus building a strong graff culture of their very own. I see Wall Lords as more of a “road-paving machine”; it’s helping to empower our people and give them a new perspective in relation to art and their own self-expression. Once people start recognizing their own potential, [within graffiti], they should/could start their own “Wall Lords” style events. That is what I want to see happen.

9) We’re almost finished but before we go, is there anybody you’d like to shout-out or acknowledge? Who are some people that you’d like to mention or thank?
First, I want to thanks my family for all of their support and for not trying to stop me from do this crazy shit (they’re amazing people). I want to thank Stan (Xeme) for always standing with me and having my back. We’ve done this crazy shit together. Thanks to Jimmy from Taiwan for all the support and for trusting in our crazy shit. Thanks to my crew mate Nan, Yyy, Dal & his wife, all those Kong Boy, INVASIAN mates and Taiwan brothers Citymarx and Kolours Union. And the peoples who have helped me in the past. Finally, I want to thank the cool dude, Matthew J for this awesome interview. Big up to Bombing Science!! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my story.
10) Any last words?
In the end, I want to say. Now I’m an artist, event organizer and promoter/dealer. My work is always related to graffiti. I’m not rich though; sometime even broke. As a graffiti writer, it is hard to be understood within the view of traditional Asian culture but I’m very happy and feel that I am living (I’m alive). So I would like to leave the readers with this final message: DO NOT GIVE UP ON WHAT YOU REALLY LOVE; the more you give to it, the more you will get in return.
Contact info:
Sinic Choy
Director
1AGN | KB | IDT Crew | Wall Lords
Tel: + 852 9876 2146 (Hong Kong)
       + 86 135 7032 4546 (China)
+ 886 0981 367017 (Taiwan)
On Twitter: @SinicChoy

Stinkfish interview : REDUX


(Some kids posing infront of a painting by Stinkfish)

Colombian graffiti artist Stinkfish has been creating some of the most vibrant and colorful pieces I have seen in the last few years. Recently, he was featured in an article for BombingScience.com which was well-received by supporters and participants of the culture.
After reading the article, it came to my attention, that some of Stinkfish’s original thoughts and sentiments were ‘lost during translation’ and therefore we felt it was a wise decision to re-post the Q&A with expanded translation. This stays true to the what was first put on BSCi, we’ve merely polished the mistakes I made when translating Spanish to English.
-MJ

STINKFISH Interview (REDUX)
by Matthew J (@IamJamesMatthew)

We’re in a time where street-art has once again become “the cool thing”, in most mainstream circles, and the artists who utilize stencils tend to crossover into gallery shows; where the money is overflowing but often comes with the risk of limiting ones options – creatively. Choosing artistic freedom over the restrictiveness of “cashing out”, Colombian artist Stinkfish’s mission statement is centered on staying true to his creative path; a decision which has been working for him quite well. The following Q&A is meant to give readers an insight into not only what makes Stinkfish operate as an artist, but also remind people that art is NOT meant to be a commodity; it’s a way of life. Money can’t buy talent, but talent can make you rich in ways beyond currency; so absorb this article and pick up the jewels being left for you.

— Matthew J.
IAJM: It’s customary to begin these articles with a good artist introduction, so I want to take this time for you to introduce yourself to the readers and tell them a little bit about your life and person behind the art. Who are you? Where are you from? What’s your background story?

STINKFISH: I’m an ordinary person. I’m out in the streets painting and walking around as much as I can. I live like everybody else. Most of the time, I hang out with my friends and when the opportunity is available I go travelling. In the early 80’s, I was born in Mexico City (Mexico) but, since a young age, have lived in Bogota (Colombia), where I still live. As for my personal life: I never reveal my real name nor my actual identity. As a graffiti writer, I feel it’s important to maintain a level of separation between my artistic persona and my regular-day-to-day self. I care a lot about this; it’s important to maintain anonymity.


IAJM: The name Stinkfish is unique one for sure. Tell me where did it come from and is there any special meaning behind it?

STINKFISH: There is not a great story, I started to sign “Stink” when I was 15 years in the walls and tables of school. I just liked the meaning of the word; it had much relation with music I was listening to at that time. Later I added the “Fish”, on a whim. Then I got involved fully in the graffiti and right there I had a name ready to be used. At other times I also use name as Knits, Quetzal or Hate.

IAJM: Tell me about Colombia’s street art scene. What is it’s history like and how did you first get involved in the scene?

STINKFISH: I do not like to think about what I do as being “Street Art”. I prefer to understand what I do as Graffiti, the term street art divides what happens on the street in different scenes. Also it causes an divide artistically, regarding ones importance and power. In Colombia, graffiti came in late 80’s along with the arrival of Rap and break dance, but Colombia and specifically my city, Bogotá, have a long tradition of graffiti slogans coming from the 70’s closely linked to the high turnover union, student protests, and the guerrilla movement of the time.

During the 90’s, a solid graffiti movement was set in Bogota. Those people -the artists- involved would go on to be a great influence on my later work.

I came to work in the streets in 2003, together with a group of friends started to make posters, stickers and stencils especially, the group marked a change in the Bogota scene. The stencil graffiti movement so strongly marked the streets in 2006 – 2007, then graffiti broke out in Bogota with many new faces, new styles and many young [graffiti] writers wanting to break the city.

This is a scene that rapid grows more and more. The good thing about the scene here is that there are many walls to paint, no major rivalries to hinder us, and generally you can paint whenever you want.

IAJM: How would you describe your artistry, as far as the creative process is concerned? In your view, what separates Stinkfish from other artists – whether they be from Colombia or abroad?

STINKFISH: I’m not tied to a single creative process. I like to plan walls calmly; thinking through every step, but I also like going out without much thought and paint what I can and wherever I can.

Something I can excel in my work is the value of photography, both as a registration system and also as a tool for building some of the pictures I do in the street. I always carry my camera with me and I’m documenting places, objects and especially people. Other times I use photographs that I find lying on the street itself. Some buy them in small street markets and other times I give them away.

IAJM: Mainstream media and society tend to view graffiti as nothing more than crime; they ignore the social factors which causes the art to made in the first place. I don’t know how Colombia views, but here mainstream society labels it criminal. What do you feel is the ‘social relevance’ of graffiti - not only in Colombia but globally, as well?

STINKFISH: The fact is graffiti is a crime; by definition, graffiti is illegal, but it is a crime that speaks a lot about this unjust world we live in a world full of corrupt governments, arms, persons and drugs trafficking, exploitation child and all that supports this system and global economy sucks.

The graffiti shows the world that fails, it shows a society full of unjust laws that do not even manage to stop someone who wants to work in the streets. The cities are painted from top to bottom with graffiti because it is needed the opposition, the alternatives to a preconceived life from your birth and make you understand the force that is right and wrong. The graffiti is not going to save the world but at least if I go out and understand that my ideas do not belong to anyone else, I do on my own, without help or money to anyone.
That to me is the social significance of this scene, achieving small victories that result in individual and collective, get out there and see to whom it belongs

IAJM: I think you are very talented writer and your art could easily be displayed in galleries – selling for millions of dollars- yet you seem to keep your work away from the gallery crowds and stay in the streets. Why is that and what is it about making “illegal” graffiti that is so important to you? Why illegal art rather than gallery art?

STINKFISH: I do not think my work could be sold for “millions of dollars”. These “street art markets” are a strange little world within themselves. I would rather sell a few things when I can, without having major commitments [to galleries] and, at the same time, keeping my ideas, that’s all I want. I live and I painted on the street that is what I like. Why do I choose illegal art? I do it because this is a thousand times more interesting, fun, and symbolic to do so without permission or having to talk to someone to let you do it.

IAJM: Earlier we talking the social importance of the art, but now I want to know what graffiti mean to you and how has it affected your life?

STINKFISH: Graffiti is so many things to me. Graffiti is vandalism, destruction, revolution, freedom and love. My life revolves almost entirely around the graffiti, making great friends and enemies knew, love and hate, has allowed me to travel and see other ideas, one day in a stinking dungeon, another painting by the sea.


IAJM: Who in Colombia, artistically, is putting out work that people need to check out and pay attention to?

STINKFISH: Right now, I would recomend people check out some of my friends – not only in Colombia but others from around the world- who are in a crew named, Animal Culture Power. They are making some good art, for sure. You can find more about them from their site, www.animalez.org

IAJM: Who or what originally motivated you to follow the path of graffiti? How did you get started?

STINKFISH: The street itself, since childhood, has always motivated my work. I liked walking around for hours; watching all that was happening. It was there that I found new places, noise, old, new, and dirty. Life was happening there.

IAJM: Coloring is an important aspect in all visual art, especially graffiti and the majority of your art is colorful and vibrant (it is almost alive). I am curious to know why you choose the particular coloring style? What inspires that color schemes you use?

STINKFISH: There is no inspiration in particular. The colors combinations that I developed in my years of painting are based on trial and error, I guess. Like all artists, my work is influenced by different forms and skill that I’ve seen here and there but ultimately adapt those things to my own technique and merge all of it into the walls; into the work I create.


IAJM: Who are some of the artists that inspired you to paint? Who are some of your current favorites?

STINKFISH: There have been many who have inspired me but above all I’d say most inspiration comes from my close friends whom I have painted with such as Lorenzo Masnah, Saks, Buytronick, Mecamutanterio, Seimiek, Soft, La Ira, Zas, Malk, and Onesto, to name a few.

IAJM: What’s next for you in 2012? Do you have any planned events or projects you’d like to tell us about?

STINKFISH: For now I have some more travelling to do before January. I want to continue painting (as always). By 2013, I plan to begin working on a book that will document Bogota’s stencil movement; spanning the last 10 years of art.

IAJM: Before we end this interview, is there anybody out there whom you’d like to acknowledge or shout-out?

STINKFISH: Yes, I want to thank mi familia y mis amigos (my family and friends) for all of the support, encouragement and love they have continued to show me over throughout my life. I appreciate everything they have done for me and I return all the love and support right back to them, siempre!!

See more of Stinkfish online: http://stink.tk/

Killah EF

Interview by Matthew J (@IamJamesMatthew)

What’s your story, man? Apart from your MOOK LIFE membership; who exactly is Killah-Ef, as an individual, and why should people respect the name?

My name’s Killa-EF. Yeah I said it motherfucker, it’s Killa cuz I simply kill shit and my style straight murda! My chilling is HardBody and Visions are HD. My approach to life cannot be fucked with. I’m a certified OG Mook, All-City chilleur and a International Alcoholic. I been pulling stunts. I rep the Mook-Life to the fullest cuz that’s what I live. I’m against softness and I don’t fuck with fake shit. Motherfuckers respect my name and my game cuz they know I keep it real at pretty much anything I do. My favorite rappers are Raekwon the Chef, Killah Priest, Styles P, Sean Price, Thirstin Howl the Third and Kool G. Rap.

This takes us to our second question, what is MOOK LIFE? Tell me who is down with the group, what is it all about and how did it start? 

Mook-Life is basically the strongest movement of inappropriate behaviour in North America, right now. The subject matters are presented on the website differently than any other website out there. We touch and clutch many different topics. It’s not a graffiti website, it’s a fucked up lifestyle blog. We gave Mooks an official title.

It all started with the HD visions that my man Hard-to-Offend had, he came up with the idea of the blog and wrote the official Mook definition. He teamed up with Society’s Disease and they both made it happen. They started releasing posts that right away blew everyone’s mind due to its explicit content. I had the same visions and I had Mooked out pics for years so I quickly joined in and started writing my own posts. I personally have 35 HardBody posts under my belt, I mostly specialize in the abusive posts. Real talk, I gotta give it up to HTO and Society’s Disease, cuz they be putting blood, sweat and tears into Mook-Life. It’s really cuz of these motherfuckers that the website is rolling real hard.

Our website has no form of publicity what so ever. On the strength our website is pretty much the opposite of graff sites like BombingScience or 12ozProphet. I’m saying that in the sense that we ain’t trying to catch your attention to sell you something. We post shit for the love of it and for all the fans out there. Not one penny was made so far. We spend a lot of money to make some of these posts. The approach is not at all lucrative, as a matter of fact, the website could never be lucrative with the type of material we display. We are basically scarifying a lucrative project in order to feed the hardcore fans with what they really love and want to see. We invest our own time and money to make this shit happen. We volunteers, but we aint looser volunteers working at a library, we official Mooks. Everything is about money nowadays, so I think that’s why the people love the blog so much, we are giving something that was never given on the internet before.

What’s your definition of a Mook and what makes somebody a qualified to be one? 

The official definition of a Mook that my man HTO wrote is: ‘A common state of being which leads individuals to behave in impulsive and instinctual manners. The strong character of a Mook will transcend loudly in any environment and will display the set opinions, morals and ways of life which the person chose to live by. The opposite of a conservative, socially self conscious, uptight bourgeois elitist, the Mook is an open minded individual which lives in the moment and allows himself to indulge in the things he enjoys the most out of life. The common trait amongst Mooks is that they refuse to compromise to anything outside of what they feel is truly right.’ So with that being said, it’s really different from an individual to another. I guess It’s all about doing whatever you feel is right to do according to your own personal values. It has nothing to do with drugs and being ghetto and shit. It’s all about not giving a fuck and doing the hell you want regardless of people’s opinions. A business man coming home after work who’s pissing on a cop car is just as Mooked out as a street punk who just got a tattoo on his forehead.

4) What makes Montreal such an official “Mook city”? 

We’re the drinking in public Capital of North America. The Montreal streets are flooded with drugs…all kinds! We don’t sleep at night and we’re a fucked up society. We 3 million people in Montreal so you can only imagine the Mookness going on over here. We’re a bilingual city with many different cultures which makes our city hella vibrant.

Without mentioning any government name, what story best exhibits Mook Life to the highest degree? 

I couldn’t name one event in particular cuz we many soldiers and we all done the worst of things. We are not normal people, we fuck shit up and we always get into trouble. We live a lifestyle that many choose to avoid. Everyday we Mook it out and on weekends when we roll deep in them Montreal streets, we always happy if we don’t end up in jail.

I think some people reading this may need some time to recoup from all this Mook logic, so let’s take a quick breather, for a second. Since BombingScience is a graffiti-based site, it’s only fair that one question is related to graffiti. You are well-known for your art and have established a solid rep as a writer; so tell me what does graffiti means to Killah-Ef? What’s the connection?

Man, I love graffiti. It’s a great habit and will never vanish from my soul. I do it cuz I love it – bottom line. My status is legendary and I am now part of graffiti history forever. I do take very seriously though. I cut my line and work my letters until they’re perfect, or almost. I apply as much 3D effects as I can; my visions are always HD so it’s only normal that I make my graffiti look as HD as possible. My shit is hard and boy do I hate “street art”. I’ma let it be known, GRAFFITI IS NOT STREET ART, but most people don’t understand that. I hate it when I talk to some folks on some shit like, “Yeah, I love graffiti” and they’re like, “Oh, do you know Bansky?” I want to strangle these people to death when they talk shit like that. I represent real graffiti from its purest form. I don’t do characters and fancy stuff like that, I only fuck with letters. I love handstyles; it’s the basic element of all graffiti. I personally believe that no matter how good you are at piecing, if you can’t rock a proper tag, you’s a toy, no doubt.

Who would you say is your favorite writer in Montreal? Who is servicing the city properly?

Writers come and go I’ve seen thousands of writers kill shit and quickly fade away. But on the strength, Montreal’s best writer without a doubt, would be no one else but Stare Nme-Kg. You can check out his graffiti here: http://www.mook-life.com/kebek-gold-crew-montreals-graffiti-elite/

Your team is constantly putting new images and article online. What is the process that goes into differentiating your Tumblr and official website from others pages online? How do you keep up with the heavy rate content? 

We got some ill pics and shit, but I mean, there’s zillions of photography blogs out there. What really makes www.Mook-Life.com the best blog on the internet right now is the style of writing we use. No blogs out there can fuck with our style of writing paragraphs. The slang is rich and the talk is real as fuck. We try to make it as funny as possible. We say things that many are afraid to say but at the same time, it’s what most of the people love to ear.

We had to come up with something different, nowadays all the blogs are super gay. Writers turning hipsters and shit, you know? Street art done turned a lot of people into faggets you know what I’m saying? Me and my team, we ain’t down. We have to diss them. We call em out.

‘All City Chilleur’, what is that? 

It’s a Mook who chills everywhere he stomps grounds. Its basically the opposite of someone that never leaves his apartment or his neighbourhood. It’s not just about chilling in every hood of your city, it’s about chilling whenever but especially wherever. If I drive 3 hours away from Montreal to eat shrooms in the woods, I’m indeed outside the city but I’m still performing some All-city Chilling. You can be All-City Chilling in any city of the world as a matter of fact, as long as it’s far away from home sweet home, ya figgadeal thunn thunn?

Take me through a typical day in the life of Killah-Ef. What do you normally do from sun-up to sundown? 

I’m not a normal human being. A typical day in the life of Killah-EF starts with a hangover which is easy to handle. When I don’t work, I like to drink a Corona before breakfast. When I eat breakfast, I usually eat Salmon. When I do work, I make sure to jerk off before going to work. When I go painting, I don’t need to select colors cuz they selected in advance, I’m an organized motherfucker! When I take a shit, my favorite magazine to read is National Geographic. When I have the chance, I like to take a tab of acid and watch the Discovery channel in HD. I don’t play any sports and watch the games on TV, I just smoke trees and bump classics by Raekwon the Chef all day.

Tell me about the Mook-phenomenon known as “bum bombing”. How did it start and apart from the obvious meaning attached to the name, what is the concept? 

The bum bombing phenomenon is more than a discipline, it’s an extreme sport. I gotta give it up to my man Nesar tho cuz he’s the real original Montreal Bum Tagging King. He’s got more tagged bums under his belt than anyone out there. He is also my main influence and inspiration when it comes to this craft. Out here in Montreal we have a great selection of bums which allows us to get up on them easily. There’s lots of bums to tag in Montreal. Last week my SDK fam came out here and I made sure that we could tag a bum to show them how we gets down over here. But on the real it ain’t always all gravy as it looks cuz you might ask the bum if it’s cool and shit, and a few seconds later you got the bum flippin out ready to bite your neck and shit. You can read all about it here: http://www.mook-life.com/bum-bombing-the-art-of-human-advertisement/

Going with online content: Your site posts loads of pictures featuring half-naked women who seem to be down with your movement. I want to know, who are these girls and where do you meet them? I think I’m missing out on something. Is Montreal the place to be when looking for a “ride-or-die chick”? 

Montreal is indeed a heaven for bird watching. Lots of ride-or-die birds to found out here. My favorite Montreal intersection to meet birds is St-Catherine and St-Laurent. We got all types of chicken heads over here, lots of immigrant flavor as well. Lots of groupies be down with our movement and shit. Lots of shorties wanna be Mooks, too now, tho most of them will never be some. I mean, you don’t just turn a Mook overnight. When you’s a Mook, you been a Mook, you’s a Mook for life. On the real, I can’t blame them tho, our lifestyle is way too cool and it’s only normal that people wanna follow.

For the love of a city: Toronto has the reputation and Vancouver has a huge artist community, but I feel as if Montreal is the graffiti capital of Canada. There is something about the city; an overall vibe which separates it from every city in this country. What is it about your city that makes it such a great place for the culture to flourish. Is it the people? Is it the history? The mixture of language and culture? I want your opinion on what makes Montreal so vital to the art and culture. 

No question, Montreal is the graffiti capital of Canada. Pretty much any Canadian writer will agree with that statement. We got some sick ass writers over here. There’s indeed a lot of competition, we got thousands of starving writers that just wanna shine and crush shit. Our scene is rich and diverse; we got all kinds of styles out here. We got east coast flavors, west coast flavors and some shitty euro flavor as well. Sadly, there is also some art faggets dropping some hipster nonsense. Toronto is sick but the only problem in Toronto is that 85% of the city rocks that standard New York style. Vancouver is sick too but the buffing is a serious issue. Montreal doesn’t get buffed that much, it does, but definitely not as much as other Canadian cities. Anyways, I know the science of my city but on the strength, I feels that we don’t get enough recognition worldwide considering that we got one of the sickest scenes out there. HOWAREYOU!

Videos? Travelling? Clothing? What’s next for you and the Mook Life crew? 

We’re going to make bigger and better moves. We gon keep on Mooking it out; it’s our time to shine and we go eat. There will be many more posts, videos, and gear, yeah. We got an appetite for destruction, so trips will always be on the menu regardless of where we at. Whether it be Canada or all the way to Papua New Guinea; we gon stomp grounds across the globe and Mook it worldwide.

Before we end this piece, is there anybody out there whom you’d like to shout-out and acknowledge? 

I wanna shout out everyone who takes the time to read the Mook-Life articles. I know people check the flicks and shit, but not enough people read all the paragraphs. Do the knowledge Motherfuckers! One love to the whole Mook-Life staff. Much respect to everyone I know and gets down with. Big ups to all the degenerates and the trouble makers out there. Much love to all the cop killers worldwide. Oh yeah and Free Last!

For more of Mook-Life, check out: www.mook-life.com and www.mook-life.tumblr.com

Eyeone interview
by Matthew J (@IamJamesMatthew)

BSCI: Who is Eyeone? Where are you from? What is the significance –if any- to your moniker?

EyeOne: I was born in Mexico City. I moved to the U.S. with my family when I was 6, and I’ve been based in Los Angeles ever since.

As for my alias, EyeOne: When I was really little, I accidentally poked one of my eyes with a long metal rod from a model boat. I had to wear an eye patch for a long time, and it was possible I could lose sight in that eye. Fortunately, my eye healed but the experience had a big impact on me.

BSCI: I imagine that situation was very traumatic for you and your family. What impact did the eye injury have on you -as an artist and an individual? Does the memory of it affect the way you approach life? Are you now a more cautious person or more daring?

EyeOne: Specifically, I recall thinking I was not going to ever see again out of that eye. The first immediate impact on me was that of sadness. I think my family was more hopeful that the doctors could do something about it. And naturally I was way stoked when the bandage came off and I could see. I did have to do a bunch of eye exercises for years afterward, but as of now, my vision is fine.

As far as an impact to my approach to life, I really can’t quantify one. I know that I am super paranoid of anything close to my eyes. I think I am cautious in general, but not sure I can attribute it to the eye accident. I still pull some really dumb things from time to time, ha! As far as being daring, I enjoy climbing structures and ladders and things.  I don’t do for graffiti itself but rather for the fun of it- plain and simple. It is probably all somehow connected, but I can’t really explain how.

BSCI: How were you introduced to the culture and what was it about graffiti that caught your attention?

EyeOne: I first consciously wanted to paint graffiti after my parents took me to see the film “Beat Street.” I was always drawn to art and watching the pieces go up in the movie made it seem really fun. I think the large scale, the colors, and the fact it seemed mischievous stuck in my mind. After that, I started drawing silly pieces and bubble letters on paper.

What made me actually grab a can was a series of things. Seeing an unfinished production by Mandoe and Neo MAK and a silver by Krenz aka Yem AM7 in my area got me motivated. Linking up with two kids from my neighbourhood -Gloze OTR and Modem SH- that were also into graffiti pushed me to get a can from my Grandma’s garage (I asked for permission!). We went down to the L.A. River and painted our first piece.

BSCI: I have noticed that a lot of your work features a Zapatista character; for the folks who are unfamiliar with the Zapatistas, explain the significance of this group and why their image holds such a significant role in your work?

EyeOne: The Zapatistas are a primarily indigenous movement that arose in Chiapas, Mexico, organized in the struggle for basic human rights such as liberty, education, peace, health care, housing, equal rights, self determination, democracy, and justice. Since their public uprising in 1994, they have been a major influence and inspiration to social movements around the globe.

The Zapatista characters I paint were actually designed for their Other Campaign / La Otra Campaña outreach project that began in 2006 and spanned the globe as a grassroots effort to connect diverse organizations, peoples, and movements. The characters were designed to be used as icons for a myriad of related activities. They’ve ended up repurposed, remixed, and reproduced on everything from stencils to posters, protest signs to pencil holders (!)

At the suggestion of Cache, I began painting them on walls he had been painting around town, usually interacting with his trademark chickens.

I paint them as a way to show my solidarity with peoples’ movements and their struggle to make the world a better place.

BSCI: Being that you’re in America and the current political climate is not always the most welcoming to Latino people (i.e.: the ongoing debates over immigration), have you experienced any sort of backlash for using Zapatista characters? How has the public perceived the characters?

EyeOne: The funniest wrong idea people get about the Zapatistas is that they are ninjas. But in a deeper sense, even that isn’t too far off the mark. One of the communities that forms a big part of the Zapatista movement is the Tzotzil. Their name means “bat people”, with the implication that they can manoeuvre in the silence of night and see in the dark. Ninjas were defined by their stealth methods. The Zapatistas also existed as a covert, clandestine organization for many years. And ninjas in the popular imagination operate under the cover of night and darkness -  nocturnal like bats.

I have not experienced any backlash for painting these characters. The Zapatista movement has embraced them. And their message is ultimately one of peace, justice, love, freedom. Don’t know many people opposed to those values.

Read the rest of the interview below!

http://www.bombingscience.com/index.php/blog/viewThread/6865

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.

Sand One Show

BLOCK BY BLOCK Interview

BSCI: Before we start talking about the business aspect of your company and building process I want to ask you, who are the individuals that make up BLOCK BY BLOCK? How did this entire movement come to being?
We can start with me: my name is Sizeo and I am the creator of Block By Block ink. I’m born and raised in Toronto and have been involved in graffiti since ’96.
As far as building the brand goes, it has been a two year process; set off from the influence from some friends of mine, but keeping it as local and homegrown as possible seemed only right as there was no real Canadian brand. It seemed like the right time to come out with a high quality product(s) that could be sold at a reasonable price for EVERYONE involved – from the people buying it to the dudes selling it. I got tired of seeing kids split their lunch money three ways to buy a pen only to find out that these [expensive pens] sucked and the guy who sold them could barely make a profit due to the high price.
After some serious research everything was set to go and the name BLOCK BY BLOCK just seemed right…it’s how you see the best a city has to offer…by getting out there and walking it BLOCK BY BLOCK, it’s how you build a solid foundation, and I’m not just talking about houses…could be your rep, career or brand, it doesn’t matter…..you start with a single block of ideas and expand upon that!
I couldn’t be doing this without the support of a number of people, and at the risk of forgetting someone I won’t try to name them all, but the daily operation comes from me but with massive support from Dazem with the web/IT shit!!! Designs and additional nerdy stuff has come from Herbs, Bien and Cody Finney.

BSCI: In Canada, it’s not always easy to get “our own” artists and businesses off the ground, especially when looking at the art world, because so many people would rather support the American or other foreign bodies. Despite being its own sub-culture, I find that Canada has a tendency to be slow when it comes to supporting its own. For example: Banksy and Revok can get more love in Canada than EGR or Elicser. How supportive have Canadians -both individual and market wise- been to the Block By Block brand? How important is it for Canadians to get behind their own kind?
It’s of the utmost importance that we as Canadians throw our support behind our local artists and brands! We’re the second largest country in the world with the populist of the State of California spread over its huge land mass. At times, it can be difficult here BUT the support Block has received is HUMBLING on all fronts! We appreciate it.
BSCI: How important is word of mouth (advertising) concerning your product? I ask because unlike many American or European brands, BBB is not using slick-product ads or buying spots on websites. So how would you define your marketing strategy? 
Word of mouth is so important as to what’s going on with Block; everyone wants to be the one to put the next dude on to some shit…were all guilty of it But using some slick promo ads would be sweet. If the money was there maybe there would be some high budget block AD…..but that wouldn’t be BLOCK, hard work from the network of friends that have been accumulated throughout the years of painting graffiti and social media have been kind to us! Our strategy is to be out there and to be honest. If Block wasn’t around prowling streets would still go on in my daily life!
BSCI: Let’s do some a quick networking (roll call) and tell the readers where they can find Block By Block products? 
Vancouver: SHARKS AND HAMMERS
Calgary: LE ROCK
Toronto: JOE HUFFERS, HOME BASE
Hamilton: BLAZEN
Ottawa: FALL DOWN GALLERY
Kingston: ROCKIT BOUTIQUE
Montreal: LE ROCK, SUB V
Houston, Texas (USA): REAL713
Of course at WWW.BOMBINGSCIENCE.COM and our site, www.blockbyblockink.com
BSCI: Your brand is steadily picking up momentum and gaining supporters, but do you feel -at this point- it is too early to say whether or not you’re successful? From a business-world prospective, BBB (Block By Block) is one year old and considered “brand new” however -as a writer and crew- you have been around for quite a while and I suspect that reputation affords you a bit more clout and recognition than the typical start-up company. How would you define your success?
The measure of success differs person to person. Right now the main goal has been getting the product out to the people and they are taking notice – it’s amazing. Does that mean we’re successful and can hang out? Fuck no! Working hard is what’s up. Sitting around thinking about what you did seems like a waste. Pushing on; staying focused is the mo.!!!

Graffiti has given me an amazing network of friends, which I’ve used to promote the product and to reach out to shop owners through friends of friends etc. Using my own graffiti career wouldn’t get me that far….I’m not a talented artist, just a dude that’s honest about what I’m doing and willing to work hard for it.

Click the link Below for the rest of the interveiw!!!

http://www.bombingscience.com/index.php/blog/viewThread/6654

Ian Fraser Interview

by Matthew J (@IamJamesMatthew)

There is no denying it; the retail music business has been in a serious decline. Big retail chains such as SAM THE RECORD MAN and CD Plus have been closing up shops cross-country and in similar fashion; many independently-owned record stores are closing their doors, as well. What is causing all this? The popular business notion is that downloadable music -by way of the internet- has taken money from the stores leaving them with no choice but to close their doors. In other words, we cannot compete with the internet so let’s just quit without putting up a fight.

Enter Ian Fraser, the owner and operator of OBSOLETE RECORDS, who rather than following the so-called “popular notion” is going against the grain and providing his loyal and still growing customer base with the hard-to-find; sought-after physical records which the other stores aren’t carrying.

I sat down with Ian to talk about the current retail business, downloading music vs. owning physical recordings debate, his personal playlist, and more. Hard work is not a new concept and although he is not a fan of Curtis Jackson’s music, Ian does embody the hustler’s ambition: be your own boss, provide people with great music, and get paid while doing it.

obsolete records store front

We’ll start this off by having you introduce yourself to everybody reading this. Where are you from? What do you do? What is your story?

I’m Ian Fraser, the owner of Obsolete Records. We are located at 2454 Agricola Street in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. I’m born and raised in Halifax and I love this city and that it embodies; including its many flaws.

How did you get your start in the music retail business?

I loved a lot of different music at an early age, my parents encouraged this love of music by purchasing cassettes that I wanted for various birthdays and Christmas’s my Dad bought me “The Real Thing” by Faith No More and “Appetite For Destruction” by Guns N Roses when I was nine; my Mom bought me Onyx’s “Bacdafucup” and N.W.A.’s “Niggaz4life” when I was 14 I got my first job at a record store when I was 19 and have worked at two other stores before deciding to open my own.

Click the link below to read the rest of the article!!

http://senseslost.com/interviews/ian-fraser-interview/

 

Opek interview

 

Interview by Matthew J

BSCI: First question, who is Opek?
Opek: What a heavy question! (Laughing) At the heart of it I’m an artist from the western coast of the Great White North. I hail from a small town in the midst of Canada’s old growth forests and gigantic mountains. OPEK is the face of my artistic endeavours and in a way someone I turn to for strength when life gets hectic. I like to write on public walls. I don’t run with any crews.
BSCI: As far as graffiti/art is concerned what motivates you to go out and create?
Opek: I listen to a lot of music. Beyond that I look to nature’s use of colour, to urban decay, darkness, decomposition, and poverty. In graffiti I can’t pinpoint where inspiration comes from, but the concept of perfect lettering, being everywhere, paint fumes, the night’s empty streets, loneliness, nature, and an unhealthy addiction/obsession all play a role in my creativity. In life, I love hearing how children’s brains work; their curiosity, passion for simplicity, and their smiles/laughter inspire me to be better at everything.
BSCI: What are your views on the criminalization of graffiti? In particular, what are your thoughts on Toronto’s Mayor Rob Ford cracking down on graffiti?
Opek: In short, I think it shows how much work we as a society have ahead of us before we reach a point where art is incorporated into everyday life and considered an important aspect of it. In other areas of government as of late there have been calls to end the war on drugs, the war on terror. That same useless frivolity exists in the war on graffiti – it’s never ending.
Consider the minimal effort a 16 year old would need to get his or her hands on an Ultra-fat Sharpie, the minimal amount of time it takes for her to write her name 50 times in the dark of the night, the increasing number of youth who feel left behind/abandoned in our education system & unimportant to our society, and you have an army of minors; vandals that quite frankly don’t give a fuck about you, your respect, or the cities laws.
BSCI: If you had the chance to speak with Ford, what would you say to him regarding this “crackdown”? If you could, what would you say to change his views on the culture?
Opek: The crackdown is a losing battle; a waste of taxpayer dollars, a waste of man-power and ultimately the wrong direction to take as a society. Leveraging open space for passive advertising worked in the Industrial age, but the pendulums swung as far to the right as it can. As marketing becomes more passive-aggressive than passive – in your face, brash, large, blatant, shoved down your throat advertisements – so will the human brain seek to break out of the system. The solution is somewhere between clean cement streets and completely covered public art galleries in every alley, but there is absolutely merit in art, in graffiti, and in the public being able to openly express themselves. If society refuses to acknowledge and honour that art, it does itself a disservice.
BSCI: What are your thoughts on the way mainstream society has begun to “embrace” graffiti -via the marketing and promotion of products- YET still vilifies the art when it’s created by the everyday-independent-artist? How do they differentiate?
Opek: I think graffiti’s biggest enemy is mainstream culture’s acceptance of stencilling as art but its lack of acceptance of lettering. There’s something about traditional “graffiti” that speaks to society negatively and because of that the culture gets misrepresented as a whole. People who have spent minimal time and thought
practising their art form are now more accepted than artists who have put in years – twenty, sometimes thirty years of hard work; illegal work at that! We have to re-assess why lettering is illegal and unaccepted, but stencilling is illegal and accepted.
Continuing on that train of thought, the culture’s been watered down because those who are representing us from a mainstream perspective are in actuality people who have little knowledge of the culture, its history, and the ups-and-downs it’s endured over the years. From our internal perspective as the culture becomes disconnected from the mainstream’s perspective of it (in part due to this watered down acceptance of street art), you have more and more people who are undeserving (at least from an internal standpoint) speaking and representing us. If a car company needs some graffiti in the background of one of their ads, they hire an in-house graphic designer with no street art background to do the digital graffiti. She throw a bunch of arrows on some crooked letters and voila – Graffiti!
BSCI: You’ve put in work all over the globe, getting up in 4 continents. Of the four you’ve been in, thus far, what place(s) do you feel is the most overrated as far as creativity and skill? What place(s) is overlooked the most and not given its due respect?
Opek: No particular place is overrated. I don’t think there’s a single exception – worldwide- to the culture being underrated. I can’t think of a single city, state, or Country giving graffiti the respect it deserves.
The [so-called] ‘third world’ will always be underrepresented – by capitalist definition the third world exists the furthest from the first world. Because of this, I’d say Colombia is the most overlooked.
Colombia is a really great place for street art. The police simply have more important things to worry about and street artists get away with a lot more. Society is much more accepting as well. In North America when you are painting a wall, there’s still a large portion of the population that see a mash of unreadable letters and thinks ‘gangsters’ or ‘hoodlums’ but in Colombia, they look at you in another light – as artists cleaning up walls. A chrome throw-up is seen as art, you can knock on someone’s door and say, “hello, I’m an artist – is it okay if I paint on your fence out front?” and the mentality is, “Why not? Who would say no to free art in their front yard?”
South America has a distinct style that isn’t particularly influenced by North America and there are writers doing it big. You see writers going larger, harder, more reckless, more aggressive, in larger cities, with more creativity, in more dangerous neighbourhoods.
BSCI: When talking about South America You mentioned Colombia, but you recently spent some time living in one of the continent’s “graffiti hot spots”, Argentina. What led you to make that move and what are your thoughts on the scene down there? How does it compare to Canada’s?
Opek: South America came about in true travel fashion; a last minute plan to move to Argentina. There are 5 words to define my purpose: women, wine, weather, language, and steak.
I have nothing but good things to say about the South American graffiti scene. I was welcomed by friendly writers, often with no previous acquaintances to connect us. They have a unique style, attitude, and love to paint. In general, the police & public are friendlier towards street art – in Buenos Aires; for example, most public walls are legal to paint. I experienced writer’s showing a lot more respect for people doing their thing on a wall be it with a stencil, wheat paste, brushes, masking tape, aerosol, and/or a mix of them. As a younger writer in Canada I got caught up in the “unwritten rules” of graffiti, and it took a bunch of years to grow out of that, to recognise the importance of simply creating art, and to shed that notion of what’s acceptable in terms of creativity.
BSCI: In regards to overall growth, since you have had the opportunity to paint around the world, how do you see graffiti evolving? Do you feel the future of the art in good standing, globally?
Opek: I continue to see graffiti evolve in positive ways. In terms of paint, we have the luxury of multiple brands and seemingly endless colours. In terms of styles, we have North American, European, South American, the Asia’s, and of course the Internet has elevated our channels for inspiration & collaboration on so many levels. In terms of graffiti having lost its integrity – biting & overall culture (things like racking, having to find caps, having to learn the tricks
of the trade) – I’d say that anything grass-roots and underground goes through growing pains as it becomes more accessible. So, overall I think the good is outweighing the bad.

BSCI: What’s your view on the mainstream society’s love/hate relationship with graffiti? On one hand they demonize the culture and writers for “vandalizing” property YET on the other hand will use graffiti imagery/techniques/methods to promote their products and/or corporations look “cool”. How can they have it both ways?
Opek: Yeah, I’d expect it no other way. Mainstream marketing relies heavily on sub-cultures for inspiration. We’ve seen it time and time again so while graffiti exists as a great villain, the grit and honesty, the rawness, passion, and authenticity of the art form will always tickle the law-breaker/revolutionary/renegade fantasy of society.
It’s in our best interest to accept that in general cultures born out of oppression will be mimicked by the mainstream. To realize this, then take a proactive approach rather than play victim will empower us in understanding the value in what we do.
BSCI: You have an e-zine coming out. What are your goals with the platform? What can people expect from the publication?
Opek: Canned Goods! Yes! I’m so stoked on this project! It’s an online magazine that I’ve been putting together. I’m chopping up ideas in Photoshop and I mean, it’s all new to me but I’m trying to make it cohesive, to deliver an end-product of great quality – something to be proud of, something that people will really enjoy.
It’s a free, digital, magazine. The goal is to uncover artists, new styles, inspire other people and really just to give back to the graffiti community. There are pictures of nice looking women, lots of aerosol art, other art that I find inspiring and just great photos in general. I’m asking for donations on the project, and that’s the only form of funding for now. Beyond that, my goal is to make great graffiti and street art accessible to everyone without feeling obligated to pay a cent.
BSCI: In some ways, Canada is on the cutting edge of graffiti culture; the Under Pressure events, a strong band of graffiti-related sites, and a lot of talented writer. Despite all these pluses, Canada seems to be an afterthought when people think of “graffiti countries”. Why do you feel people sleep on Canada? Is the US shadow too big (does its presence overshadow Canada)? Are Canadian writers too complacent? What do you feel is the issue here??
Opek: Beyond the North American borders you can really see the drop-off in knowledge of Canadian culture; most definitely in part because Canada takes a pretty humble stance in the World overall. We don’t have the burning nationalism that exists in the US so in a lot of ways we take a back seat, and the graffiti scene is one place that I see that happening. The issues are numerous and it’d be hard to pin down any one specifically, but we have less people, less media, less money, less concrete to work with, and other things.
A bunch of Canadian writers have raised eyebrows on an international level and while I’m not going to try to name everybody: Virus & Tars, the Stompdown Killaz YouTube project, Bacon, and Sueme stand out off the top of my head. I have the utmost respect for all those guys, and they deserve all the International acclaim they’ve received.
BSCI: Everybody seems to have their own definition as to what is street art and what embodies graffiti. How do you define street art and graffiti? What makes them similar and what makes them independent of one another?
Opek: The real answer lies in the nuances & subtleties of the culture. I’d love to clarify and explain where the culture begins and ends but I’m confident that the Bombing Science readers understand and for the most part stand-by the cultures rules & regulations.
Officially, graffiti is ‘the act of writing or drawing placed illicitly on a wall or other surface in a public place’. I’ll stand by that definition. If you draw a dick on the face of the Statue of Liberty, I call that graffiti. But in day to day discussion, graffiti is a lot more structured than that. Every writer has his or her reason for writing – some love beef, some love bombing, some love the friends, some love the night, some legal walls, everyone loves tags, some hate the system, some love the paint, some are addicted – but we all know the unwritten but understood rules: throwies over tags, pieces over throwies.
Obviously, once you’re actually living the culture you realize it’s a lot more complicated than that and rarely does a situation seem that cut and dry. But we live by the rules and believe in the integrity of the culture’s structure. You don’t tag headstones out of respect, churches because they’re heat scores, and on and on we go… I sometimes wish I could sit down people who “hate graffiti” and explain to them that the kid who stole a can of glossy enamel from dad’s garage and spray-painted, “Jane Perry has a tuna-fish snatch” on his Elementary School wall isn’t from the same scene as us. But like I said, no one on Bombing Science needs to hear this, they already know the deal.
Street Art is all-encompassing, so graffiti is under the umbrella of street art but street art is a much broader term. It’s difficult to set rules of where graffiti ends and street art starts but to me if it’s not lettering, it’s not graffiti. If it’s not consistent, it’s not graffiti. If you can’t name the other writers in your area, your city, the crews, who belongs to which crew, and a general sense of current politics of your area, then you’re not graffiti. Stencilling a couple robots you and your art-school friends cut out in the safety of your apartment over a few beers doesn’t make you a street artist – a street artist puts in work on the street, not at home.
BSCI: Now, according to your definition, lettering is mentioned as being a key aspect of graffiti. I doubt anybody would disagree but why do you feel the letter structure/typography is so important?
Opek: It’s paramount. I speak for the entire culture when I say that a tag is the bread and butter of graffiti; there is simply nothing better. For me, and I assume a lot of other writers, there’s an obsessive-compulsive behaviour behind lettering. For all the tags you see on the streets, you see 10,000 in my apartment. Favourite moments of cities I’ve traveled are passing doors or dumpsters with a full roll-call of the cities artists. I stop, stare; take photos, videos, and whatever I can do to savour the moment. Neglecting the pursuit of strong lettering is doing the culture a disservice.
BSCI: How do you feel about graffiti art/artists going on canvas vs. the streets? Shepard Fairey comes to my mind as somebody who was loved and revered for his early art pieces but has since been ‘hated on’ by people in graffiti due to certain projects (i.e.: the Obama “Change” posters and of course his Obey clothing line). Is it fair to label an artist a “sell out” just because s/he is making money and getting notoriety?
Opek: I don’t relate selling out to commercial success. Cope’s been rocking his throw-up in any industry that will take it and I like that; I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a graffiti writer that argues his legendary status. We’re in the midst of a graffiti gold rush of sorts – street art’s really booming in the mainstream so of course people are gonna cash in on the culture. Canvas is a different medium than the streets, so they’re really not comparable – I’m excited to see the new ideas that graffiti writers will bring new mediums and think that as a culture we have a lot of creativity to be seen. Both Shepard and Cope have put in a lot of work and I don’t knock any artist’s hustle.
BSCI: Last question. What does graffiti mean to you?
Opek: Alright, first thing’s first: Graffiti is about putting in work on public walls. I don’t consider stencil work street art because the lion’s share of the process is done indoors – inside your cozy house with no time constraints, sipping on tea and biscuits or whatever goes down in that setting. Graffiti artists are out there.
To me, a nice stencil could never hold a candle to a nice throw-up or hand style because a stencil is sterile and controlled whereas a tag is dynamic. A tag is created on the spot, in a time sensitive environment, relying on one’s personal flavour to deliver the message. I think it’s irresponsible for mainstream media to blur the line between those who dedicate themselves to an art form – the only illegal art form – and those who have been inspired by the whirlwind of success of Banksy, JR, and Shepard Fairey. But that’s the World we live in, isn’t it?