Alright so thanks for taking the time out to do this interview, can we get a brief run down of who you are and how long have you been in the game? What crew do you rep and how did you get the name Orfn?
I write ORFN because I originally come from a small town in Nebraska and moved to Chicago when I was five years old. it was definitely a culture shock, came from a small town but you learn how to move. Eventually, you learn to adapt. Chicago is definitely a violent and gang-influenced city it is also very segregated. I’m lucky that I moved to 36th and Wolcott where the crew Tdm resided. I have two brothers and they were the first to actually get into graffiti they write NARK and Helen, my brother NARK was the first person I see a bust attack and I was amazed.
I also witnessed my brother get locked up because he and his boys had flicks on them and they were caught stealing from the local convenience store in the flesh, worth their feelings that they were rocking of the week. See you ironically, are used to still colored hairspray from the Walgreens down the street and I used to write LTDMS across people’s garages not knowing any better. LTDMS stands for little TDMS I definitely got checked for doing that garbage and eventually, I became the leader of TDM. When I was 11 years old, I was given the name Orfn from some cat named rane NMU.. see I was doing my tryouts for NMU .. which I completed but things just didn’t work out. I picked it from a list of names and when I read ORFN I knew that’s was the name I would stick with for years down the line.
First off you create a tremendous amount of work, i really dig your output. Looks like you do a lot of risky tags on billboards which is awesome we love that shit! Have you ever gotten close to getting caught doing some of these billboard tags? It must be an awesome experience nailing one of these like the “youth to the people” billboard piece, how long do these tags stay up before they get washed off/taken down?
Yes, I love painting billboards. They are actually one of my favorites and I’m really getting into the groove. You guys just caught me on a little weird stage where I’m trying to perfect the billboard. I do put a lot of effort in time at the picnic spots and locations are very key to the success. Yes, I’ve actually been caught and I would love to share the story: See when I was like 16 years old I used to kick it with this homie named Dtek.. Dtek’s is hand down the one who showed me the roads when it comes to billboards definitely a true legend.. we decided to paint a billboard off of Cicero and everything was going well.
So Ditech was just getting out of a war and I feel like somebody peeped us on the billboard and called us and we heard some shouting so we stopped and looked around, and as we were looking around, we noticed a cop driving north and busted a U-turn with his lights off. We both lay down. My heart was beating out my chest as he passes us so we decided to try and finish. We started scrambling a bit, and I noticed that the cops are starting to gang up on the other side of the bridge. I told Dtek that we had to go as a grab the ladder to go down drek couldn’t wait and jumped off the top of the billboard onto the tracks. It wasn’t a very high billboard, but to see him do that I knew that we were on, we started running down the tracks and eventually got cornered in about a half a mile down.
We tossed our paint bags and wore gloves but the cops really knew what was up. We played stupid and they couldn’t find any evidence so we were booked for trespassing it was funny because right before we were drinking some Remi and I was eating Doritos so my stomach was already upset from all the running, so I threw up in the back of the squad car. The mixture of Remi, Martin, and Doritos was the worst smell ever even the cops were laughing at me, but the smell was so pungent that they had to roll the windows down, funny story every time I think about it, I laugh.
Billboards typically last about anywhere from three days and I could rock for months. It all depends on the advertisement see back in the day we come from a city where the buffers were invented so it’s a lot harder to get your name out there. Nowadays kids got it easy but back then our mayor Daley did not play with any vandalism we still have the law where you cannot purchase or sell spray paint in the city of Chicago so it’s hard to actually get paint.
Like I said you put out a ton of work but it doesn’t look like you do a lot of mural work like I see a lot of other graffiti artists do, you seem to be in the thrill of the game is where your art lives. Do you do anything creative for your day job? Do you ever have plans on trying to do this full time, for example I see you have done festivals and art shows so is there a path there you think? If you sell your work, let us know where we can send people to buy individual pieces.
Yes, I do for the last couple of years. My main focus was design, but unfortunately, I had some minor setbacks due to a breakup and set me back a ton but I’m still trying to bounce back, I do also do our full-time and really trying to get into the scene but it’s a hard transition from graffiti writer to artist but I do believe in me and what I do and I don’t change because graffiti is where I come from.. you can find a lot of my stuff on my Instagram but I don’t post pictures. I normally just post them in my stories definitely 2023. I need to focus on the website and get my name out there a little bit more.
As far as traveling and doing tags around the states where all have you been? How would you compare the graffiti scene in Chicago compared to other areas in the states?
I do feel like Chicago has one of the Dopest scenes I’ve seen so far. and I just feel like because of all the talented artists around It makes it hard for somebody to make a name for themselves without putting in tons and tons of effort. But you guys are probably just saying I’m saying that because it’s my city but I’ve been to a lot of different places Chicago’s definitely the hardest city to paint.
What is your favorite documentary or book that covers the history or major players of graffiti and why?
I believe Dirty Heads two is one of my all-time favorites and you can’t go wrong with Style Wars. See Star Wars is one of the first graffiti documentaries and if you plan on starting doing a CD I believe everybody should watch this first before even trying to pick up a cane. Learn your history…
Are you completely educated just from doing street art or did you go to school for design?
when it comes to schooling I got my GED and 10th grade because unfortunately, I had a kid at a very young age. It’s been a battle trying to juggle both family plus career but unfortunately, the family life didn’t work out so much for me I believe that that’s why for the last couple of years I’ve been paying a very hard to try to keep my mind off of what I lost.
What’s your go-to hip hop artist to listen to while you’re working? Who would you say is underappreciated in either hip hop or graffiti that deserves more recognition?
When it comes to hip-hop, it definitely heads down Conway Danielson, Wu-Tang, and Mobb Deep for sure but I’m definitely a hip-hop advocate and I can go on for days about hip-hop. I believe that Danielson deserves a little bit more recognition. I truly think he’s one of the best in the game and I said if y’all have not heard of him, you should check them out he’s from Canada.
For people interested in getting into graffiti, what do you recommend for getting started? Is there anything that you wish you know now that you wish you knew in the beginning?
I’m 32 years old now and I’ve been painting for 23 years it’s been a long journey but I love what I’ve created and I definitely do it for the culture. If anybody does wanna get started doing graffiti, I think the first step is like I said to learn your history second of all you’re gonna get a lot of haters so don’t feed into the negativity. Third, make sure you stay consistent. Consistency is key it’s a marathon, not a race. One wise word I’ve heard from an older head name Erie CMW tells me he likes my drive, and if anybody’s Hating their hating from the couch.. that definitely motivated me when he said that because I definitely respect CMW crew for what they do in the city.
Any crazy travel stories you can share?
Yes, I can share a short story of me traveling, my favorite story is when I went to New York City with my homey MEMS. See we’re Chicago’s natives, so we bring that Chicago energy to New York. Metros are not easy to paint in New York they run 24 hours and they got a vandal squad, always trying to catch somebody.. so we arrived in the Bronx Pete, one of the metro layups, cut a hole in the fence and try to paint them at like 8 o’clock. We were kind of hesitant and almost finished, but the train eventually pulled off. This is Peter metros it’s all about timing and I was from a different city. We definitely have the timing right so we went to another spot. Found an abandoned house crept to the backyard cut the fridge down and try to do the same thing but once again, we failed so the thing is it was way too early for us to be doing that and we eventually got chased out the yard. It was a cool experience and nobody got pinched but I like that particular time in my life.
Any shout-outs you would like to give? Where can people follow you and purchase your work?
I get some shout-outs I definitely want to give a shout-out to my homey dek, 2dx. The homeys always showed us love when we come to New York City I also want to give a shout-out to my homey, Gerb, and Merff doing big things with there band don merfos exotics proud of you catch. Definitely gotta shout up my crew love you guys couldn’t do it without you, and a very special shout out to my daughter Emma do you know daddy loves you .peace y’all
You can find ORFNs work on his instagram.