Block By Block inks

Interview by Matthew J

1) The drive to keep going; to keep building; to stay consistent is fleeting. Our generation, especially, has been written off by society for having no goals or ambition. Tell me how does Block By Block stay driven? How you are able to keep pushing forward?
BLOCK BY BLOCK: Just walking around and seeing the product put to use, it gets me excited and forces me to go that extra step. I can spot our ink from a block away, seriously, so I so knowing someone else is as excited to write on shit as I am, it’s almost like I owe it to them to have a fucking marker that makes you want to empty that fucking thing before you go home. It’s like listening to Ante Up (M.O.P.), first thing in in the morning!
Graffiti spawns work ethic, I was fortunate enough to come up in a time that didn’t rely on anything other than hard work to get out there. It translates to all aspects of life. If you want good grades, you work for it. If you want money, a career wherever it is … get the fuck out there; see the path and go earn it!


2)  You’ve been hitting some roads and doing some traveling to promote the product. Tell me about some of the great things you’ve seen and experienced over the last few years. What would you say were the highlights?
BLOCK BY BLOCK: I’ve met some of the most amazing people, and made contacts that reach far beyond graffiti. Traveling is so important. Walking into a shop and meeting the owner or the staff, and being able to relate to them as a writer; showing people that the brand isn’t just some bullshit gimmick is the best promotion.
Even if we don’t end up doing business, it’s amazing to see the shops and to see how other are doing their thing, to see how far graffiti has come – from mail order caps and domestic paint, to full-on writer supported businesses in every city is amazing!
Getting the opportunity to take-in another city’s scene is fresh, too. It’s always nice to have someone hit our email and say, “I saw you were here, and bought a pen from the shop.”

Block By Block 2oz mops and Block By Block Ink Refills.


3) Talk about some of the new colors and styles you’ve been developing. What are some products people should be looking for?
BLOCK BY BLOCK: New colors! We’ve expanded the line. The lime green and mint green are super vibrant and are total head turners. We reworked the Baby Blue and Violet to be more in-your-face. We have a few other things about to drop; we just need to get them to the point where we are satisfied before they are released.


4) Growing pains are bound to pop-up. What are some of the biggest obstacles that have crossed your path? How have you navigated your way through it all?
BLOCK BY BLOCK: Worst thing that has happened so far was the white out pens. It was our first time dealing with anyone outside of North America, and they tried to rip us off on shipping and the product does not match the samples. We had to pull cards and thankfully our records matched our story, and we didn’t have to pay $8000.00. Off shoring product is sketchy, even though the dollar value seems worth it, the stress is not. The dollar is in the toilet right now, and our operating costs have doubled; we’ve just been trying to thug it out and keep offering people decent product while spreading out further and linking with more people and shops we’ve managed to stay afloat. 


5) Networking is very important. Thank God for networks. Who are some of the people/groups that have been most steadfast; staying loyal to your brand?
BLOCK BY BLOCK: There are so many people and places to list for this answer, I don’t even want to try because someone will catch feelings for being excluded … let’s see how this goes:
Le Rock, Montreal and Calgary are my dudes. They have been down since day one. Le Rock MTL was the second store to pick us up and they have always been consistent and have constantly given their customers the best prices.
The Collective (Toronto) are my fucking boys. I can’t shout them out enough!! Blazen, The Blackbook Collective, Leave Your Mark, and Scrapyard. Duel RIS – has an amazing web store.
Bombing Science has been down with us pretty much since we launched. They have watched us grow and have given us time and space needed, at times, to find our groove. Most importantly, they have given us a platform to speak to the graffiti community and address our customers. 
As the project caught momentum and grew, a lot of people started to come around and offer advice, and the for the most part it was genuine and supportive, but no one has been as down as the homie BIEN. That dude has filled mops, done graphic work, and has been an all-around good person.
TOBIE & SMUG: These two came up with the ads we ran in INFAMOUS! Two super talented and funny guys; they took whatever ridiculous ideas we had and took it to the next level.
The Infamous: They ran ads, helping to spread the word and hooked us up when we couldn’t afford it, they came correct.
DAZEM – our web developer/IT dude.
All he GH and WH dudes who have been going out spreading the word; getting ignorant with the product. The list of individual writers is crazy-long and so I will thank them all for their role in helping us progress. Most of you know exactly who you are.


6) What strategy do you have to help balance the difference between rising production costs and the quality of products for your customers?? I know it’s a struggle, so what’s your game plan?

BLOCK BY BLOCK: The [Canadian] dollar crashing has been terrible. I’ve had a few people ask, “Why, if it’s made in Canada?” The business world unfortunately operates on the US dollar; materials for us have gone up, in some case as much as four times for one colour. We have built a solid foundation with our current group of suppliers, and I couldn’t imagine sacrificing our quality to save a few bucks, so we tightened up our belts and hustled smarter – that is our game plan. We haven’t upped our prices in three years, so offering up decent wholesale prices, and small incentives to new markets and just doing what we have always done seems to be working. We’ll ride this out and see what happens.


7) I don’t expect you to reveal your secret recipe or anything like that, but I want to know what’s next for BBB?
BLOCK BY BLOCK: Hahaha. I’ll tell you how to make ink … but make sure youre estate is in order. I better be getting some valuables in return!
Availability is what’s next! We’ve been talking about our new site forever, like serious fucking years, but it’s super close to being done.  As mentioned earlier, we’ve been messing with a few new colours and keep fucking with some of the originals just get them to the point where everyone’s happy.


8)  We kind of joked about this earlier, but I want to give you the opportunity to have an inspirational DJ Khaled moment, and speak to the person(s) out there, reading this article, who are having difficult times while trying to make their goals into a reality. What words would you like to share with them?
BLOCK BY BLOCK: Hahaha, yeah. I went Khaled off-the-record, earlier. It’s important to set realistic goals, and that’s not from me saying you can’t do whatever it is that you’ve set out to do, that’s from me saying people often want the world without fucking earning it, and that success is earned – step-by-step. Organize the ideas and make them FUCKING HAPPEN. Like I said earlier, if you want good grades, you have to study for them. If you want to be the most-up, go paint. You want that career; start THE PROCESS TO GET IT.
If it’s truly worthwhile, it will be hard and won’t happen overnight.


9) And, when can we expect the new revised website?
BLOCK BY BLOCK: FEBRUARY FIRST!! It’s taken forever; due to how busy we have been, BUT we can’t be salty about that.


10) One last question, regarding leadership and how you have been able to keep your team together: I am sure there were a lot of things happening (internally) over the years, especially during the stress situation involving white-out pens. Pressure can bust pipers or can turn coal into diamonds. How were you able to ride through the challenging period? 
BLOCK BY BLOCK: I bottle up a lot of shit and just work through it or draw parallels from my other business, and try to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Occasionally, I will call Globe and bitch about bad experiences or customer, and we’ll just make joke so I don’t lose my head over small things that doesn’t warrant that kind of reaction.
The crazy thing about what’s gone on with BBB is that with the occasional help from some of the homies and crew, I do the majority of the work. I fill, I label … total lie … there is a super beautiful woman who puts the labels (I’m not joking). I fill the orders, I’m driving the to the shops to drop off product. I meet with the people and talk to them. When I speak about this, I remove the ego and try to say WE or US because without the help of my friends, crew, family, and other graffiti community all of THIS wouldn’t exist.
So thank you to everyone. It’s been a crazy ride so far and I can’t wait to see what’s next.  


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