BEGR is one of my personal favorite piecers of all time or at least in the years I’ve been looking at graffiti. I think he is a good example of what makes an all around good graffiti artist. He has excelled at all levels of the game from handstyles to straight letters to burners. As well as showing the dedication it takes to be a factor in today’s graffiti world. And I mean world, because the internet has provided our art form with the world wide exposure it deserves. As far as being a Bay Area kid born and raised, BEGR was one of my main influences growing up and getting better at writing.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who owes a style or two to this man. It’s about having put in the work over the years to stay relevant and to innovate and make progress. There’s always a few names from each wave of graffiti writers every year that stick around and remain on the walls. Those are the names that influence the next generation and so maybe those are the most important writers of them all. Graffiti in general has always been a testament to the fact that one cannot stop the march of progress, no matter how hard one may try. In the current political atmosphere and culture of fear we live in, it is important to remember that somethings remain and are still freely expressed. Without rules and regulations of a governing body and without the permission of anyone in particular.
What do you write and how did you decide on that name?
B-E-G-R pronounced beggar. The name came to me around 1993. A childhood friend used to write BEAM then changed his name to WISH. I really liked the way the letters B and E looked next to each other, so I decided to write BEG / BEGER. Fast forward to 99/2k I decided to spell it BEGR.
Do you have a favorite spot or type of surface you like to paint more than anything else?
I grew up bus hopping and doing insides on trains. So naturally metal or glass will always have my attention. Outside of that I love raw brick or concrete.
Who were some of your biggest influences when you first started painting?
Early on my friends influenced me. Pretty much neighborhood kids from the city I lived in at the time. In 1995 I started paying more attention names like DREAM, BLES, GUS (unite), KR, JASE and KING 157 to name a few. All are very influential but the one who really put the nail in the coffin for me and stood out is GKAE his style was bold and readable. The spots that he painted had never seen graffiti until he put it there. He also didn’t stick to one area– he had spots all over. That’s a common thing now but only a small handful actually traveled around to do spots back then.
How long have you been writing graff and what has changed since you began?
In 1990 I did my first tag but just like everyone when they first start, I had a very poor idea of what the writing culture is about. Then around 1995 I was introduced to Daver (then writing I-O-U) who was all-city or at least very close to it. He showed me a lot about writing and introduced me to San Francisco. So if I have to put a date to my actual starting point in writing I’m gonna say 1995. The writing culture is forever changing with each wave of writers. One thing for sure that has changed is the lack of respect/ knowledge writers have today.
Do you think the internet has had a negative or positive influence on graffiti?
You can look at from two point of views:
The negative view is that the internet gives a lot of undeserving writers a voice– new and old. Instead of using it to learn, admire, or keep up with the rest of the world of graffiti you have a lot of people developing internet personalities by talking shit, making memes, and shamelessly self-promoting every single thing they do.
The positive view is that the internet provides an outlet for those who want to educate themselves on what this culture is really about. It’s an opportunity to see new and old work from around the world. And once you feel like your work is ready it can be a place to share it.
Which do you prefer, Permission Walls or Illegal Pieces?
I will paint a permission wall– sure why not? It’s the same as doing a freight versus doing a subway. It’s all just painting at the end of the day.
Have you had any formal art training?
I learned and got a lot of training and tips from my friends and crews.
What do you think makes someone a skilled and well rounded graffiti writer?
To be a skilled graffiti writer it starts with a good tag then knowing how to do throwup letters and so on. I see so many wildstyle guys with my first tag handstyle. When that’s the case I already know they either have some watered-down version of a throwup or just can’t do them.
To be well-rounded you’re gonna have to get everything down. Well I’ll break it down in percentages.
25% tags (bathrooms don’t count)
20% throwups (only street visible)
20% straight letters (also only street visible)
25% illegal pieces (preferably on metal)
10% mural/permission (make sure it’s a collab)
Whats the dopest piece you’ve ever done or seen done?
I’ve seen so many people paint through the years. This is a tough one. One that sticks out is in Oakland at the secret yard I was fortunate enough to watch MIKE DREAM and the TDK crew put the finishing touches on the “TAX DOLLARZ KILL” production. As far as getting up goes witnessing TIE1 THR go all city was unreal. The TWIST and KR war was epic as well.
What advice would you give the youngsters coming up in graffiti today?
To the kids who are 12-18 just starting to show interest in graffiti, I’d like to tell them to have fun and appreciate graffiti for what it is. Forget paint sponsorships, art jobs, shoe/clothes deals, social media fame. Just have fun. This is not the skateboard, music or fashion industry. In time, if you happen to receive any perks from writing graffiti, you will appreciate those perks more because you earned them.
To the adults 21-35 who are just getting into graffiti, 9/10 chances are, you plan on being the next TWIST, POSE, RETNA, PANTONE ,REVOK or HAZE. And if this is the case, my advice to you is stop it. These guys are who they are cause they have put in 20 + years of work. Your art degree doesn’t validate you in the world or graffiti.
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Article by Skaz One