Arbor – I started writing in Baltimore in 1992. I wrote until around 2000 and then pretty much stopped until 2014. So it’s hard to say how long I’ve been writing. I moved to New York in the late 90s and I’ve been here ever since.
I have a million influences: Baltimore hands from AREK, ANDER, ZEK, DAVER and JESER. If you don’t have good tags, I probably don’t like your graff. A very small sample of NY writers that influence me are COS207/KEL, STAK/WOLF, SCOPE KOMA, CHAIN3, REVS/XSOUP, ACNE/CECS, SP.ONE, SKUF, YES2, and AROE 77. The list could go on forever, but nobody really wants to read a giant list. The two other cities that really influenced me are San Francisco (I still do a lot of stickers because of TWIST) and Paris. Some of the first terrible marker tags I ever took were actually in Paris in the summer of 92.
As far as style goes, a lot of the cliches are true. Originality counts. Good spots count. Quantity counts but quality is more important. Shitty bombers that go hard before hitting history’s trashcan are a dime a dozen. One incredible tag in a good spot can burn into my brain forever.
Illegal graff looks better. When I see a talented person painting nice pieces on the same legal wall over and over again…that’s fine, but not for me. They almost always look lifeless. And it’s not just the legality, but the repetition of the same spot. Drips are OK and fuzzy lines can actually help unify a piece, but lazily sloppy graff is corny. You have to know the rules to break the rules. Don’t be the guy that doesn’t want to practice scales so you just play free jazz instead. It may seem easy, but it’s going to ring false. Writers in the 70s were not trying to be sloppy. A lot of people searching for the amazing energy of those early pieces miss the point and just copy the surface details.
Evolution is important. Dudes that have the exact same style for years and years are a mystery to me. I respect a failed attempt at something new much more than the tired recycled old piece you’ve seen every time. CURVE, another influence, is always taking risks and his (rare) misses are far more interesting than the thousands of generic pieces we’ve all seen. If you realize that you’re doing the same thing again out of habit instead of necessity, stop doing it. Don’t be predictable.
KPG crew in Baltimore are very inspiring at the moment. They’re the new generation keeping some of Baltimore’s unique style alive. They are eager to learn the history of their city and older writers (shout out to Paradise Art Crew) have been happy to pass that knowledge down to them. So some of the mentorship that is so lacking in today’s game is actually happening there. It’s great to see that and the result is a solid, history-based foundation combined with a new energy taking it to the next level. That is probably the most efficient summary of what I aspire to do as well.
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