I actually got an interview!

If you recall from last year, my interview requests crashed, burned, asked me to tell their wives they loved her, and then convulsed wildly until their vital signs were zero. I believe this was because I was overly optimistic about securing an interview with my person himself and so did a pretty half-hearted job of seeking interviews from anyone else. In short, I was fishing with a line instead of a net.

This year however, my interview request was fired out to a potential audience of almost 60, 000 people, all who are knowledgeable or at least interested in graffiti. Where did I find such an audience?

graffiti

 

Reddit!

Now, last time I used reddit for a TALONS project, it was for in-depth to find a mentor. It failed miserably – but no worries! This years reddit request required much less commitment from another user, and with just one post:

graffiti2

The post received mild success and I actually ended up getting three offers for interviews. I fired off questions to all of them yesterday, and so far have gotten one set of answers back. I also tailored some of the questions based on the information they gave me. The first person is a graffiti artist themselves, who declined to be identified. My questions and their answers are below:

1. As a street artist, what do you think is the difference between ‘street’ art and more conventional art?

The main difference between street art and conventional art is obviously the venue. If it’s not in the streets, it’s not street art. Another difference is motivation. While fame/infamy is certainly part of it, street art mainly focuses on sharing your art with the world. Some people try to make money off of it, but it’s based in the idea of giving your art to the world with no expectations of profit or recognition.

2. What is your opinion on the illegality of street art and graffiti?

Marking property that isn’t yours is a crime. There is absolutely no question about it. But think about how many billboard you see a day. Did you ever agree to let Coca Cola plaster your city with their logos? If companies are going to put up their ugly advertisements (some of which are actually illegal) then I’m going put up my art.

3. Is the process of becoming eminent as a graffiti artist different than with conventional art?

Most graffiti artists remain anonymous for their own safety. With a few exceptions, few graffiti artists are going to give TV interviews about their work. Fame/infamy can certainly be achieved in graffiti, but you’re known for your work and whatever name you choose for yourself. In conventional art, celebrity can certainly be achieved. You can look at a picture of Andy Warhol and know who it is but you’re not going to find any art depicting Katsu.

4. Are you anonymous to everyone as a street artist? Why do you think that being anonymous is something so many artists do?

Anonymity is for security first and foremost. Graffiti is illegal and broadcasting that to the world can get you in a lot of trouble. An artist may also choose to remain anonymous to let the art speak for itself rather than making themselves the focus. My close friends and family know that I do graffiti but I don’t go around telling everyone I do it.

5. What are current trends in the street art and graffiti world? Is it expanding or shrinking?

Graffiti has always been around in some form and always will be. At its simplest, it’s writing your name or drawing a picture on a wall. There have certainly been developments (wildstyle, stencils, electronics) but it all goes back to that tag. I haven’t seen much of an increase in people doing traditional graffiti lettering but street art is certainly expanding. Not everyone is going to want to risk their life by painting in a train yard but anyone can grab a marker and some labels and make sticker. There are a lot of casual street artists who aren’t too serious about it but if you’re doing traditional graffiti, you recognize the risks you’re taking and accept that as part of your life.

6. Are there still original ideas in street art? Or have things started to be recycled?

As mentioned above, there have been developments. People are experimenting with materials other than just spray paint and markers. Things like yarn-bombing, 3D installations, and projection bombing are all pretty new and it’s cool to see what new stuff people can come up with.

I will update if or when I receive more interview answers!

 

SFU

The procrastination was strong with this post. We went to the Simon Fraser University on October thirtieth (Read, 17 days ago), and I am only now uploading it. But at any rate, here it is!

15489089328_86e1b96d29_z (1)

 

I headed off into this trip with a goal of finding more about the art form that my eminent person, Banksy, works in, which is of course Graffiti. There are a few books about him, but none that were available at the SFU library, so I was looking for more general reference information on graffiti, different styles, and in what ways Banksy is different.

There were a few photos taken that were relevant to this cause, but for the most part i retained what I read, I only wish I had taken photos of what I saw in one of the large reference books on graffiti.

Over the course of the trip I learnt about the graffiti styles from around the world, especially in France, which is where a large reference book I read was based around. These graffiti art pieces were often simpler than a lot of graffiti art that you may associate with the word. For example, it depicted a few pieces of ‘situational graffiti’ which were when art was based around something existing in the environment, for instance, two holes that were drilled into a stucco wall for no discernable reason, and an anonymous graffiti artist designed a basic face around this. This simple piece of art was believed to be at least seventy-five years old. The book was a photographic chronology of graffiti in Paris, and covered simplistic pieces such as the situational graffiti described above, to more modern day stencil art and ‘tagging’.

15055134193_199e517211_kI wasn’t supposed to be in this picture.

For me, the theme of this trip was blending in. On this trip, I felt deeply out of place, a group of over fifty teenagers in a university is like several teenage bulls in a very quiet china shop. We were noisy and took a lot of selfies (see above), and together I think we really did not fit into the environment of SFU. However, as we broke up I began to feel more in place. I like to think I look slightly older than I am, but I do not look like a university student, first year or otherwise. At any rate, as the group temporarily dissolved, I felt a lot less like a huge awkward group of people and more like integrated members of the community that SFU has created. I felt more productive and generally more comfortable when I was alone there.

From this trip, I think I can use my greater understanding of graffiti art to really appreciate what Banksy does and better understand him for when I go to write my speech. I enjoyed my day as a freshman, but honestly I don’t think that life is for me, at least not yet.