The history, the family graf influence, the characters and the continued dedication. His spots ran for years in the underworld and the below read is nothing short of humor and his unique approach to painting. I present to you Tyke, an in depth look into the mind of one of the illest to ever do it.
– Jehu ‘OSD
Why graffiti? We paint in the dirtiest places, take chances with our freedom and well-being, why do you remain so addicted to this movement?
Initially for me personally, what attracted me to graffiti in the early and mid 1980’s because of how amazing the art stood out to on a large scale, a wall, the anonymity of the art and culture, the friendship, brother/sisterhood and those links of bond, the paint and supplies of spray paint and tips before it was international… And of course the adventures. Being in dirty parts was part of the course. The best graffiti comes or originates from these places.
As I was coming up, I would often run into your pieces in yards. Your formula of having a full complete piece and character inspired me alot. Who inspired your piecing formula?
Thank you, these yards were my favorite parts of graffiti as a painter or as an observer. I grew up all and down SO. Cal, from Agoura, the San Fernando Valley, Orange County, Santa Ana down to Laguna HIlls. Also I was super blessed to have had influences from kings that I admired or was lucky enough to cross paths with. Being influenced since middle school with Crews like KSN, WCA, UTI, DTK, K2STN, TCF, SMD, WCK, NASA, LOD … I was inspired by these folk and many others. So many key guys I looked up to, Krush KSN, and Eklips AWR really helped me and supported or influenced me since i was 14 years old… guys I saw on the way that I can name off the top that influenced me was REV, RYSE, KRUSH, RELM, GREEN SLICK, SKIL, RISKY, DREAM SMD, CHARLIE, GENIUS, EKLIPS AWR, ASH BC, DREAM TDK, FLAME/Mr.Cartoon, HEX LOD, HEX TGO, PHEVER, MEAR, COAX, CASE 2, COCO 144, FUTURA, DOZE, ERNIE, DAIM. These guys were older and had some influence on my style…I looked up to them like ballers looked up to Jordan, Magic, Kareem, or Ewing.
Somewhere I read that you have a very unique painting formula of starting with certain letters and working in reverse perhaps? Can you shed some light on your process?
It happened organically, maybe because of ADD, or Dyslexia!, but I think I rush or maybe also when I work or paint… To be honest, I put little stress on how my final piece will turn out. I rarely go in with a whole plan. Maybe some doodles of a few letters of my name, and I just try to trust the process and live with the outcome. It is what it is. Some are ok, some sucked, but I never really gave it too much thought. I liked the process, so I just kept with it and I still do go with the same formula for the most part.. Normally, I seemed to do my whole letter Y, with fill, 3d, details, some background even before i started other letters. I think also part of it was I never enjoyed people watching me paint much similar to an animal at the zoo. So I would do things to not let them know how I constructed or why I constructed my pieces in such a strange out of order fashion. And just start doing things in unorthodox steps or manner. But it made sense to me, I didn’t know it was strange until Revok pointed it out once to me or someone…
At some point I learned through graffiti folklore that Sumet was your brother. How did that influence your early years of graffiti?
Yes, he is my older brother by 3 years. He got me into this mess…I was tagging along to all his mischievous activities for years. Before he discovered graffiti and pursued it in the mid 80s , I was the same kid but around the Valley skateboard scene of the 80s. If it was not for Sumet, I would not have done graffiti at the time, nor would I have been around so many of his friends and later friends to me… Mentors such as the AWR crew. Sumet took me to all the yards when he could, or he told me of what or who he saw up and where. He would tell me about valley yards, and take me to yards like Belmont tunnel, Motor Yard, Levitz and many more. He was the letter guy, so when I was a kid, I ONLY did characters besides his letters…That was my job. I doodled at home and did letters but rarely painted them… Most of my characters then emulated Rev KSN characters, and Krush’s characters. I would paint these character heads more than twice my height. I think this helped me develop my style because I had trained for years just shading or rendering junky faces .
Sumet always had great pieces. What is he up to these days?
Yes he had some heaters, and he always did his own style and made up shit all the time. I had to try my best as a kid keeping up with all his drawings and piecing and also bombing spots.. This helped drive and mold me for sure. He is in the field of mortgages loans, he’s good at playing pool and numbers. He is a Dad of 2 also, so he pretty much works and goes home. I hope….
That’s tight! Thank you for sharing that about Sumet. Your pieces ran for years in those San Diego yards, which is rare in graffiti. Where are some of your favorite places you’ve painted?
I had no idea they ran for years!, I forgot or maybe never came back after painting them. There are so many favorite places to paint, I think it must be Belmont Tunnel, Motor yard, Commerce yard, Santa Fe. Krush had found a crazy tunnel in Pasadena in 1997 that you walked a good mile before you were in a huge dark tunnel that had lights built in that ran for a long way. The walls had never had Graff on them…that spot was rad. I dont have pics. but I might have some recording of it somewhere in space. Many cities are great to paint and meet other people and cultures, and enjoy the foods and new elements. Such as Montreal, Toronto, San Francisco, NY, Paris, Mexico City, Amsterdam, Miami, so many great places I’ve been able to see, lots of great humans I’ve been able to bond and stay in contact with.
For me, skating & graffiti went hand in hand. The outlaw lifestyle, creating by yourself, picking yourself up after falling and of course the inventive artwork. I see you collecting skateboards, taking photos with the legend Paul Schmitt and being in tune with skate culture, how did skateboarding impact your life?
Skateboarding art was an instant love I found like when you found Graffiti art. It had a major impact as a kid, it was probably the first sport I bonded with others to. It let me travel and see the city on a ground level and that also helped me be aware of graffiti art in other cities that I skated to art at like Venice, Santa Monica, San Fernando Valley Cities and LA Spots. When Sumet first introduced me to skateboards, the art of Lucero, VCJ, Phillips, blew me away, It was like seeing underground comics or cartoons. It had its own culture and identity, just as graffiti does, it made for a seamless transition to start to follow skateboard art like PusHead and Robert WIlliams through mags like THRASHER, GHETTO ART, Can Control . It went from being obsessed or consumed with Marvel comics and Cartoons on tv, to skateboard art and Pro Riders, to Graffiti art and Graffiti Writers.
We’ve seen you paint alongside the likes of Twist, Mear, Krush and more. Describe your ideal day of painting and the dream line up.
iDeally I like to get up and paint early before the sun wakes up on our side and gets too hot. I don’t mind being at a wall by 5 or 6 am and getting it cracking and almost be done before lunch. A dream lineup could go so many ways, with friends or with painters I’ve never met…. But I thinks getting a group of close friends and others I never painted with that I admire would be, KRUSH, SUMET, EKLIPS, SKIL, RISK, RYSE, REV, BAMA AMRL, PHASE 2, BOTH DREAMS, SLICK, TEMPT, CHARLIE, MODE2, SEEN, T-KID, BIO, CHINO, RIFF, CLIFF, DONDI, SKEME, LEE, POSE, ALTER, OMENS ,EWOK, REVOK, SABER, ZES, MYTE, COAX, AUGOR, RICH NASA, ROIDS, ASKEW, SOFLES, SK8, MEAR, VULCAN, ARTCHILD, SKAM, VIRUS…. I can go on , I’m sure I’m missing many more….this wall would be a 1/2 mile long….
What is a day in the life of Tyke?
Well most of my days and nights just mesh between a quick power nap or sleep about 4-5 hours till I start moving. But these days in 2020- it entails mostly parenting duties like, cooking, feeding, getting our 2 daughters ready for school, cleaning, brushing, laughing, reading, more cleaning again, some art, some dog shit to pick up, some phone calls to make, some texting to follow up on, a power nap, coffee breaks, snacking between meals, shoot some buckets, drive some cars, some sketching, drawings, or illustrating, some planning to paint that rarely comes to light. I guess what most parents all do….bullshit and slave.
Lines from what movie are forever stuck in your head?
Lets do it for JOHNNY, man, leave the gun take the cannolis, those guys are fags, can you dig it, so your telling me there’s a chance? You know me, anything for the kids, That wild Indian picture happens to be Stylin’, you don”t know what you’re talking about. What’s this I hear about you having problems with your TPS reports?? For relaxing times, make it Suntory time. That’s 2 dollars, Cash…. Look what you did you little jerk, Yo Adrian, I Love You.
Release the Kraken, Stooooppiddd Billlyyy! It’s an awesome spectacle…
Haha, nice. As you’re driving to go paint, what music are you listening to?
Probably some rap or hip hop. Mostly what I’ve consumed myself with is the same old and a few new. Artists like Wu Tang Clan,Kool Keith, Outkast, the cure, Freddie Gibbs, Action Bronson, Mobb Deep, beastie Boys, Digable Planets, Black Sabbath, Radiohead, Lumineers, Ozzy, oldies, Madlib, anything goes. really, sometimes I’ve painted with one or two songs on repeat for hours.
As a parent myself, how has being a father impacted how you view graffiti?
As a parent, I cant go do dumb shit I used to do or nearly as much, so that is a big part of being active or possible time to be active in a days time. But everything takes its course, for me, parenting is the greatest life I’ve had. IT means more to me than all my art. I love doing art, but parenting brings so much, it’s plenty and great enough for me to paint once or a few times a year and not have any FOMO, because I’d rather be hanging with my kids or be near them if they are doing their thing and I’m close to doing mine.
I totally agree and relate so much! Martial arts is a big part of my life and I see you posting photos that reference martial arts, the UFC, etc. so I’m curious what role martial arts has in your life?
My dad was a Black belt in judo, so he turned me on to the first UFC and I’ve followed MMA since then. Growing up on martial art films and Bruce LEE, it helped internalize or see the focus one needs to reach goals one sets. I love watching it and the constant evolution. It’s a lot like graffiti, in the beginning styles were more regional or more secret, in time these styles and techniques were shared and developed and then spread and changed for good. constantly evolving or in some cases devolving to what its core may have been….
What is something people don’t know about you that you’d like to share?
I’m a fun guy. Obviously I love the game of basketball. It’s just more questions that you’d have to ask me in order for me to tell you about myself. I just can’t give you a whole spill. I don’t even know where you’re sitting at.
Haha, fair enough! What joys & pain has graffiti brought you? What triumphs and challenges has graffiti brought into your life?
Joys of graff mostly are the many personal experiences it has brought me. You can learn alot about a person, a place, a culture, based on their graffiti art or the types of graffiti you see. I’m always grateful for the role it played in my life where it took or showed me because of graffiti and the art it brings, or creates in my life. So I’m indebted to it, and would help a young kid in graffiti if or when they ask.
I’m very grateful to the culture and the ones who all paved the way to form the core Graffiti culture and roots that came through many hip hop channels..Graffiti has so many complex structures that encompass the hundreds and thousands of stories within the deep history. All of which are relevant to someone or something important, bigger than what it was intended for. Graffiti has also brought physical pain, whether from fumes consumed as a youngster- adult, the toll it can take on the body, but that comes with almost anything worth it….I’m lucky to still be here.
Being so well-rounded in art, what role does art have in your 2020 life?
Art has helped me get shit off my chest. Art has helped keep me occupied and away from some of the dangers that may lurk when one has too much free time. It also helps me network and stay connected to others. Often I meet new people through art. Many of many art friends are my best and greatest friends. I’ve had them luckily in my life for decades, some for over 30 years.
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Interview by JEHU OSD