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? By the way I love the MSG crew shots you guys do, who are all the members and how did yall guys meet up?
My graffiti tag is KOMIK28. I have been doing graffiti on and off in Miami, Florida since 1995-96. I first met some of the MSG’s back in the mid 90s at a friends house during a party. If I remember correctly, I met DOPER and CROME, And a few others that I can’t recall. I’m shocked to remember the party at all, we went hard in the 90’s.. I think that was the introduction of the TSC’s (Atomik,Quake,Dtek,Whie) and MSG’s as I remember it.. There’s a lot more to the growth of the crew after that. I wish I would have had a chance to meet all of the members of MSG. The crew has been around a long time since about 1993-94 and has seen a few lineup changes since then. Some of the crew mates that I frequent with is Atomik, Slabs, Chnk, Crook, Quake, Dtek, Starve, Fubar, Five, Doper, Dose, Miro, Kemo, Esben, Hiero, Lobsta, Arive, Abstrk, Bulk, Abuse, Crome, Gere, Ripes, Eson, Pucho, Hox, JonVale, Charm, Ikon, Hedge, Heat, Eser, Whie, DosXX, Nerve, Oxide, Meyer, Enmity and I’m sure I forgot 28 other people. Rest easy :SEGE:BENO:YNOT:RP:EVILS:
Do you make your fulltime living from graffiti or is graffiti an after hours hobby only?
I do not make a full-time living doing graffiti, it is merely supplemental income at this time in my life. I’m sure if I worked harder at it, and made more time for graffiti to take precedent over some of my other hobbies and or work, I believe I could make it my full-time job. I do feel graffiti is an after hours job, but also I feel that there shouldn’t be structure to graffiti in my eyes. Just like in so many other things that drive me and other people, If graffiti became scheduled or structured in a way I think it will change my feelings towards graffiti for the worse. If I had to do graffiti like it was my 9-to-5 job, I’m not sure if I would be as invested emotionally in the work that I display.
Do you think that a regular practice of letters everyday is more beneficial then trying to come up with sick designs right out of your head when you are beginning graffiti? What kind of exercises or practices did you have when you first started that got you to where you are today?
When you are beginning to do graffiti or you have an interest in the art form, I think it’s really tough to define your style or your typography. And with the introduction of the Internet, being able to See so many different and diverse styles of graffiti can cloud the initial inspiration to create or at the very least be original. We all steal or borrow from someone, somewhere, that’s just human nature in my opinion. The thought is to take the lessons learned and change them in your own way as to make it your own. I do not practice as much as I should which is my downfall. I enjoy the spontaneity of it, showing up to the wall and just getting busy. One thing I do practice, and I practice this a lot, is Can control. In my opinion, can control is everything. I think it’s truly freeing when you can forget that you have a can in your hand and you can just draw on the wall and let your imagination take over.
I see that you did Art Basel this last year, can you tell us a little bit about that experience? How often do you do festivals and which ones are your favorite?
Painting a festival or a Demo is always a great experience. Art Basel is always a blast! Good times, good people, good memories. I have been asked to paint a couple times at art Basel, but I wouldn’t say that I necessarily paint for art Basel. We just happen to live in the city that hosts Art Basel. We paint year round. Sometimes people ask you to paint at their event during art Basel. Sometimes you get painted over during Art Basel. It’s a love hate thing. I will say the real treat for hosting Art Basel is seeing some of the best artists in the world rock some serious walls in my city. It’s nice to see worldly inspiration right at your front door. Also it’s a nice change that the art, and the artist change yearly, tons of inspiration to be seen. There is a lot of real estate in and around Miami to paint, not just Wynwood. I’m not a big festival person per se, I’ll leave that to the professionals like my boy Mastro. But I have been known to frequent a dab day or two.
For people that are beginning how does one find a wall for big mural pieces like you do? I know some people reach out to offer their services to businesses for free, is that something you do or are you someone who will paint whenever, where ever?
I guess it all depends on how bad you want that wall, or how hungry you are to get your art on that wall. Some walls are obtained by a simple conversation, others may take some finessing or even some good bullshitting. Some owners flat out ask for a sketch, or just say no up front. I think the free approach is definitely a great way to start, especially if you’re trying to build a portfolio for other businesses to view. You have to start somewhere. I will ask majority the time if there’s somebody to ask, but usually it’s the ask for forgiveness approach that I end up taking. And I tend to think that yeah, I will paint wherever and whenever I feel like it. But in all respect I try to keep it cordial.
Is there any piece of advice or lesson you learned that you feel is worth repeating?
I don’t think there is one piece of advice or lesson that I’ve learned that somebody already hasn’t learned before me. So my life lesson is that, life is short, it is full of experiences and encounters. Go out and meet as many people as you can and talk to them, share their experiences share their encounters, go to as many different places as you can and revel in the culture, soak it up. Fill your cup with as much of that as you can, And in my eyes that’s what it is to have lived a full life. Many experiences and many encounters. Go make em.
Who are the people who inspired you when you started and who inspires you now? What kind of music do you listen to when you paint?
I would love to tell you all of the cliché answers as to who inspired me, Dondi, SEEN, and all the greats, but that’s not who inspired me at a young age. I was inspired mostly by the local people in my community or in the outlying neighborhoods. I think I started noticing graffiti in Miami around the early 90s as a young boy, especially after hurricane Andrew. I also think I was like all young bucks without the internet at that time, until you start reading the graff magazines and watching the movies and learning the history of graffiti culture, I don’t think you knew where to turn or where to look. I think inspiration is simply organic. I get inspired by people pushing the envelope with colors and with Style. My crew mates are the biggest inspiration to me and they keep me moving. As far as music goes, my content varies tremendously. I could start a piece listening to some boom bap hip-hop, and flip the script real quick to some grimey Punk rock or some good old classic rock ‘n’ roll. It truly depends on the vibe. A lot of times it’s nice to hear your surroundings, or at least be aware of them, depending on where you’re painting.
What separates a successful artist in your mind from an unsuccessful one?
I think one of the main key factors that separates a successful artist from an unsuccessful artist is the drive. The internal drive to keep producing, regardless of the outcome. Some people are really amazing at art, or music, or any other creative field, but if they don’t know how to market themselves to the masses, then they may go unnoticed. Confidence is so important and timing truly is everything. This whole thing could be over tomorrow.
Any great travel memories you can share? What has been your favorite place to visit?
I have had a couple great travel moments with some of the crew. One of the more memorable trips was to Jaco Beach Costa Rica. Me (Komik28), Atomik, Quake, Dtek, Reams, and John Vale got loosely goosey in Jaco. I think from the moment we landed we already knew what kind of vacation this was going to be, and it was pretty intense. Me an Atomik immediately looked for the hardware store or ferretería and bought all their paint. Which apparently was a problem for the guy at the store. Me and Atomik proceeded down the street to look for tags or any sign of graffiti, which we found our homie Tragek of FDC crew up on the wall and we decided this was the place to start painting. We both rocked a quick get-up, I rocked my letters, Atomik rocked his character. Just as we were finishing the Costa Rican police rolled by and gave us a wave, at that point we know it was all good. We stayed a few days partying and painting and getting crazy well until the early hours of the morning. On the last day me an atomic had leftover paint, and went to hit a few more spots. Atomic rocked a character then walked across the street to look out for me, and as I was about to outline my letters, our friends the Costa Rican police pulled up and decided to have a chat with me. After a lot of American coercion and Nonscence that I was blabbering the two nice Costa Rican policeman decided to take 120,000 colonès and $60 American in exchange for my passport. Thanks again Jaco beach and Costa Rica we had a blast. And on another crew trip we decided to head down to Medellin, Colombia. On this trip we had a similar cast of crazies, some friends, some family. This was a very memorable trip, just the difference in landscapes where we were staying was amazing. We stayed in a neighborhood called El Poblado. Me (Komik28) and Slabs broke off from the other homies and bought paint at a local shop, We bought most of the blue spray paint and headed on our way to look for a spot in the daytime. We found a really dope spot under a bridge across a little river where we drop the nice beveled MSG, The locals were vibing while we were painting. Meanwhile The other group of homies made their way to the paint shop late and couldn’t buy any blues because we bought them all so they went with the greens. They made their way to one of the barrios named JuanXXIII, They were welcomed as one of our homies has frequented Medellin and that particular barrio on prior visits. They (Quake, Reams, Task DAMcrew) painted a really dope spot on a main Avenue in the barrio, super clutch, super fresh. The following day we all walked through the other barrio adjacent in the mountains. It was amazing. Houses on houses on houses. We made it to a soccer park, vibes with the locals, broke bread and painted a nice spot looking over Medellin. We took the Metro Cable back down the mountain and made it back home safe. That was one trip that was for the books. I will never forget Medellin or Jaco beach.
Any shoutouts you would like to give? Where can people follow you?
First and foremost I’d like to think my wife for putting up with all my bullshit always. All my crew Mage and MSG, TSC, and 28 crew for always busting my balls. Quake, Crook, and Jerry at Cushy gigs. My mother for always supporting me and everything I do and have done. To my homie Ryan (NASA) Without him I wouldn’t write Komik, never forget your roots. I would like to thank Jason Jones for swimming why the spray and listening to me blabber for several hours. And I would also like to thank Glayson LeRoy for all the walls, and everything you do, whatever it is you do. And to anyone else that knows me, loves me, or hates me, it’s all love. You can love me or hate me on Instagram @KOMIK28
interview by Wesley Edwards