The OG’s in graffiti are some of the most important cats in the game. They hold the keys to the past, they know the history of the art form and often times they lead the most influential crews. This has been true in graffiti since it’s humble beginnings. When I came up, the older writers were the ones who taught me to paint, taught me the rules and showed me how to go out and get my respect in the streets. Plus they always had my back and as a young kid, that was important to me. I feel that some of that has been lost in recent years, especially since kids can get a lot of the information they need off of the internet. They don’t have to interact with older artists in order to learn their craft or the history of graffiti, but this often means they miss out on the rules and social hierarchy that comes along with painting. Graffiti is an art form that will never go away, as long as there are walls to paint on, there will be writers to paint them. But graffheads need to continue to communicate in person and as Joker said, get out there and paint. Get out there and paint together, don’t be afraid to paint with someone who is better at graffiti than you are and learn as much as you can. Joker, a man with 30+ years experience, shows a true commitment to graffiti and the graffiti scene, I caught up with him on a phone interview this week. Here’s what he had to say.
What do you write? Where are you from and how long have you been writing?
I write Joker ICP, AJ, CA, FKO, KHY. I’m probably forgetting a couple. I’ve been writing since I was eleven and I’m over forty now, so 30 years, which is a long time in graffiti terms. I started around 1985 or so, things were different back then.
In 30 years what have you seen change?
The big things when I was coming up was getting your name up on buses and trains. We bushopped a lot back then and it was because in the eighties the influence from New York made us want to bomb trains.
What’s your favorite spot or surface?
I like any smooth surface anything that you can use a good marker on like windows any smooth surface. Then like I said I love to write on trains and again especially when I was younger.
What advice do you have for the youngsters?
Most important thing I could tell the youngsters is to follow the etiquette of graffiti and a lot of people say there is no rules in graffiti, but there are or there is at least etiquette. And if you are going to write you should know your history and make sure that you follow that etiquette.
Is it better to practice in the street or in a black book?
It’s good to be able to sketch and sketching in black books and practicing your letters has always been a part of the game, but you have to be able to translate that to the wall. It’s good to practice in the streets because if you can’t paint on a wall I don’t consider you a true graffiti artist. There have been a lot of talented black book artists and sketching is part of the game, but you have to make it to the wall or it’s not really graffiti. You need to know your colors and cans and you want it to look good aesthetically and it’s hard to do that if you only sketch in books. Black books have always been a part of the scene, but graffiti is about being well rounded. You can’t just do one thing and claim to be a real graffiti artist.
Who were your influences growing up?
Like I said we had influence from New York and we liked to bomb buses and trains you know, public transportation. There were a lot of cats getting up back then, but definitely spooks of gift of gab clothing, he wrote COPR. It was up everywhere you went back in those days. And the bus hopping really exploded even more once they shut down psycho city and people took it to the streets again.
So you got to paint psycho city?
Like I said, I wasn’t really piecing as much back then, but I would go paint throwies sometimes, but everything we did over at psycho city got gone over pretty fast. But that was the nature of that spot. I was that kid that would grab a scrap can and hit little tags around the big pieces (laughter) that was a long time ago now, but it was one way to try and get seen.
Anything you’d like to add?
I definitely want to add something that I hear being argued about these days a lot and that’s legal vs illegal graffiti. When I was coming up the idea was to get your name as many places as you could any way you could. It didn’t matter how it got there as long as you were getting up, but these days I see people going over murals and legals and saying it’s not true graffiti.
So you disagree with throwies over murals?
I don’t disagree with it. Like I said a lot of people don’t like legal graffiti and murals now, but I’m not going to hate on someone for their opinion, but someone put their time and energy to paint those legal walls and it’s unfair to go over them like that. But they’re going to do what they do and who am I to say they can’t. The most important thing is to get out and paint and I know young cats think it’s cool to go over other writers but that’s not what it’s about.
Follow Joker on Instagram @Jokrae415
Article by Skaz One (@skaz1official)