Alright so thanks for taking the time out to do this interview, can you give us a brief introduction to who you are, what your history is in the graffiti game and what crew do you rep? Do you go by Vokles or lost.ground?
Thank you, I appreciate the opportunity. I’m a graffiti artist based in New England. I started writing around 2008 and represent a two-person crew known as 2X. I go by Vokles.
One of the first things I’ve noticed about your Instagram feed is that you produce a lot of work! Not only that but there is a lot of variety in the styles you use, and type of locations. I can tell a lot of thought was put into these pieces; can you give us a brief breakdown of your process? How long does it take you to complete an average piece?
Graffiti is not my main pursuit when it comes to art, but it a form of escape from everyday life. Keeping a consistent or repetitive style has never come naturally to me hence the variety of letter structures. Lately I’ve been trying to create a more branded aesthetic to my pieces. Most pieces take between 1-3 hours depending on the complexity of the design and amount of detail included.
You mentioned before this interview to me that you work as an artist as your day job. Thats an amazing accomplishment! How did you get started in your business and how does what you do in your day job connect with the graffiti hustle? Do they feed off one another or do you consider them to be completely different disciplines?
My job as a full-time artist is a dream yet still comes with responsibilities. I use graffiti as an escape from that life. No clients, no rules to abide by, just complete freedom. Yes, both lifestyles absolutely feed off each other. It’s as if one could not exist without the other. The two create a great balance of expression. Inevitable cross-over does
exist in style/visual content at times but I try to keep my graffiti purely letter based. That said, I don’t want to limit myself to integrating fine art elements into my pieces either.
In your opinion what separates a successful artist from an unsuccessful artist? How does one bridge the gap from doing this as a hobby and trying to pursue a career?
I believe dedication, commitment, and compromise all play an important role in becoming successful. One must ask themselves how badly they want to make their dream a reality. People measure and define success in a variety of ways so it’s hard to give a definitive answer. Some are comfortable enjoying art just as a hobby while having financial stability from a primary job. Nothing wrong with that and honestly it can be a safer, more stable option. To anyone interested in making art their full-time career, it’s more work than it may initially present itself as. I consider myself blessed to do what I love every day.
Do you think being self-employed as an artist is all it’s cracked up to be? Is there anything you didn’t expect when you were working a regular job that took you by surprise when you started your business?
I’ve either quit or been fired from the jobs I had prior to becoming a self-employed artist. I’ve struggled with authority figures my whole life and naturally opposed the idea of having a boss. When I eventually realized I couldn’t work for anyone else, I decided to become my own boss which ultimately was the best decision.
How did you get your first gig and how do you recommend someone getting into mural work? Do you think doing free mural work for businesses is the best way to get your name out there?
My first mural job opportunity was a result of the initial nonprofit work I had done around town. I thought if I built up my portfolio, I could then present that work to a potential client which then led to receiving paid opportunities. Every artist deserves to be fairly compensated for their labor and skill but sometimes you may have to work your way up.
What are your favorite graffiti documentaries or books and why?
Infamy, Style Wars, Dirty Hands, Beautiful Losers, and The Radiant Child. I mention the last three documentaries because Barry McGee, Jean Michel Basquiat, and David Choe inspired me to start writing graffiti at an early age.
Any crazy travel stories you can share? Where all have you been in the world and
where do you currently reside?
Unfortunately, not many crazy travel stories come to mind. I haven’t traveled nearly enough outside of the states yet but have plans to do so very soon. I reside in New England.
What are your favorite supplies right now and what do you recommend for people just getting into graffiti?
I prefer MTN 94 or German Montana but willing to use other brands. Enjoying the experience of painting is worth investing in high quality products. Although, the paint brand you use or the cap you have on can still be insignificant in achieving a fresh piece. Some of my favorite artists use rollers, brushes, etc. at times and achieve amazing results. My advice is work with what you have available or what you can afford then gradually grow from there.
Any shout outs you would like to give? Where can people follow you?
Definitely. Geser, Jimboe, Kems, Trace, Hoacs, Osteo, Ouija, Twice, Veo, andeveryone else holding it down on the East Coast. People can follow my work on IG: @lost.ground.