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?
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:
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!