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: san francisco

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.



This is a scene from DAY IN THE LYFE: THE MOVIE!

If you don’t know, I filmed this entire film 3 years ago.  For me, getting to meet all these writers was the most fun part of the whole journey.  Dr. Sex was a tough one to track down.  We had spoken on the phone a few times, and we were supposed to link up right after Santa Cruz.  Me and Don’t Sleep cruised up the coast in his beat up old pick up, it literally was on its last leg.  I rented a hotel in San Francisco for the night and then cruised over to meet up with  They were interested in buying some footage from me, but fronted in the end.  So we laid low and waited for the Doctor to come to town.  He never showed.  I was bummed.

We called Sex and he apologized for not making it through, he promised that next time we were in San Fran we would link up.  I didn’t think it would happen.  So I flew back to the east coast and don’t sleep kept on trucking up Portland.

A few months later, I got a piece of great news.  A film that I had produced was invited to a horror film festival in Modesto, which is about 3 hours drive outside of SF.  I booked my ticket for a day earlier than I needed to be out there and called up the Doctor to let him know it was time to film.  He was ready to go he said and I was pumped to film with him.  

When the time came I boarded the plane headed to SF, on arrival I called the Doctor and to my surprise he was not even in the state.  Shit.  We talked and I explained that this would be the last chance I had to get him in the movie.  He said no problem give him 8 hours and he would be there.  With some new found time on my hands and no clue what to do in SF, I rented a car and put the only destination I knew in SF into the GPS, the notorious intersection of Haight and Ashbury.  I cruised down the Haight and found a medicinal head shop, but I didn’t have a license so I couldn’t get any medicine.  No worries, there was a guy standing outside with the same stuff he guaranteed, so I gave him the green and a few minutes later he gave me the greens.  Check.

I went back to the car, rolled one up and with a new found energy I set out to get B-Roll of SF.  After filming street levels and rooftops, I stopped into a local video store to get some advice on a place I could go and get shots of the whole city.  I was told there was a great overlook.  Later that night I called the Doctor and he said he was on his way but still a few hours outside of SF.  

The Doctor was in, he made it to SF a little before midnight and we started shooting.  The first spot we did was the gas station, it was framed perfectly, the single light, the gas pump, to this day that is still one of my favorite shots ever.

Dr. Sex Pigs KCW

We filmed all night, including a brief run into the BART tunnels, which had just been buffed.  I was dissappointed to not get a chance to view that piece of SF graff history, but you move on.  Now, I don’t like to tell people what to do when I film documentary style, I much prefer to let them do what they want to just observe the process.  

After a whole night of filming, he had shown me just about every hollow he ever did, but I wanted to see the classic Dr. Sex.  The one that was everywhere in NYC, the one I had seen above so many billboards, the icon.  He turned to me and said you want to film one more spot, of course I said yes.  We headed to downtown SF, it was dead there this night.  That’s when he walked up to that gate, with his first few lines I knew he was doing it.  I stood there and smiled, getting a chance to see one of my favorite throws up close and personal.

Girafra got bagged this week on a $100,000 warrant.  Sucks dude, get out soon.425855392_8797cf0a98_b

Reports are surfacing that the San Jose police are describing the  30 year old Steven Free as one of the Bay Area’s most prolific writers.  He was nabbed on 10 felony counts of vandalism and causing approximately $40,000 in damage.


Photo from Don BeetleDick

vomit truck

Q) Who are you, introduce yourself?
A) Vomit AQ, ZEE

Q) Where is AQK from? How did it all get started?
A) AQ originated in Las Vegas. Heroz started it in 1995, I got in in
1996 and we crushed vegas bein only a few deep. Task force raided
houses and heroz and i got hit with 1.3 million in damage. We slowly
started movin away from L.V. after this.

Q) Vegas? I heard Vegas is a crazy town. You got any crazy stories?
A) Shit. My whole life growin up. From robbin banks and drivin sickass
lowriders to paintin 24hr traffic streets and hangin over 14 story
casino rooftops paintin fillins. All vegas girls are sluts and fake I.D.s are hella easy to get.

Q) What cities can AQK be seen?
A) Mainly the SF bay area now, but warrants and police keep most of us
nomadic. Oregon, Nevada, California, New Mexico, and a couple other
random safehouses in some other states.

Q) What is the main crew focus or common goal?
A) To paint, party, hustle, live life bein a tight family.

Q) A couple of years ago I took a trip to the SF, and I saw you guys up
A) SF is fuckin fun to paint. Tho its not like it used to be. theyre
really crackin down on graff there. FREE KEEP

Q) What are crew members currently working on? Any projects in the works?
A) We just take things as they come.
and to crush the alcatraz tower hahaha.

Q) What direction are you guys headed?
A) Up Never Down

Q) What do you think about Nevada? Why?
A) Nevada Sucks. From the laws to the snitches. Lots of good spots and
an all night scene, but cops love to kick in doors.

Q) Lets hear about Propain Tattoos whats that about?
A) Propain Tattoos is our underground tattoo company we’ve been slowly
workin on the past 5 or 6 years.

Q) Being a resident of the Bay do you ever find yourself ghost riding the whip?
A) If its fun and crazy ive been known for doin it.

Q) Last words?
A) shout out to all the homies in the crew and everybody thats helped
us out by housing, feeding, giving us drugs and alcohol, throwin down

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.




Come to the official Day in the Lyfe Halloween party at Coco 66 in BROOKLYN, NY!