Rage5 Interview

Interview by Yoni Levin

I spoke to Rage5 on a rainy night while he was taking a break from his art…

Rage5: So yeah, no art today yet…the rain just stopped though, so I will try and head out with some posters a little later
BS: Oh really? Late night wheat pasting?

Rage5: More like early evening I think…but yeah I have some posters I want to use before the snow falls…
BS: I’m sure it’s harder to get it to stick in the winter
Rage5: yeah it’s the worst.  I try and paint freights in the winter instead
BS: You seem to have a hand in many different street art styles, how did you get so diverse?

Rage5: I guess I rock a bunch of different street art styles/mediums because I get bored of my artwork so quick. I get really bored if I paint the same thing twice or use the same technique too often…
Rage5: That’s why when I use the same poster image over and over again I try and use a different technique to paste it up…

BS: Different kinds of paste?
Rage5: Sometimes I drip white paint at the bottom…other times I use a stencil with color paint to make shapes spew from the mouth.
I tend to use the same kind of paste…the cheapest the better for me
BS: Wallpaper paste?
Rage5: Yeah exactly…just the powder that I mix with water
Here’s an example of the drips:

BS: That’s great, do you use images of friends for this?
Rage5: Yeah the main one that I use is a buddy of mine.  He is an actor in the independent film scene
BS: So in that picture you pasted up the picture and then did the outline in white?
Rage5: The image is printed on white paper so when I cut it out by hand I leave a white outline and then I carry white house paint in a squeeze bottle and apply it once the poster is up.
 BS : I see, did you study art, or did this just become a hobby that ran wild?
Rage5: here’s an example of the color shapes I add sometimes:

Rage5: Art stared as a hobby as a kid after high school I had no idea what I wanted to do so I studied visual arts and literally tried every medium…
That’s where I was taught by some friends I made that what I have been drawing in sketch books and scrawling on walls was actually graffiti…before then I had no idea what a throw up was…I just knew that I liked writing my name in bubble letters…I had no idea there was a name for it
Here’s an example of my marker drawings on trains:

 BS : I see these skulls in your work a lot.
Rage5: The skulls are just fun to draw…they are mostly done with just one continuous line, which is super playful to execute.
I’m not a super dark and eerie dude who thinks of death all the time…i just think a floating skeleton head is funny…hahaha
 BS : yeah, it makes it faster to write also
Rage5: yeah that too
 BS : yeah, it doesn’t seem eerie, it looks like it’s playful
I’m in texas, so we have a lot of that “dia de los muertos” style down here
Rage5: Yeah I love that stuff!

 BS : So would you say your boredom stems from the actual pictures you draw, mediums, or both? How do you keep it fresh?
Rage5: I always make sure I challenge myself…I try to never paint or paste anything where I know exactly how it will turn out or if I am capable of doing it.  I feel it shows in an artist’s work when they get lazy and stop challenging themselves.  Shit always looks fresh when you sweat your balls off doing it.  That’s not meant to be a gross metaphor by the way…hahaha
I think doing something you have never done before is more important than doing something that no one else has ever done before…you know?
 BS : Totally, I get it. So do you prefer the big pieces because they are a lot of work, or is it better to do a throwie in a spot you might get pinched?
Rage5: hmmm good fucking question…
I think either one of those situations has a “can I pull this off?” element to it…
I guess lately though I have been getting off on big elaborate pieces…because I haven’t done too much of that in the past so I feels a little less familiar.

Although I recently started doing these:

Rage5: That definitely makes me feel good…because it looks way more suspicious than just pasting a poster…when you pull out a can and start spraying people automatically think “illegal graffiti”
Whereas just pasting a poster many people think it’s advertising…which is why I usually do it during the day
 BS : So you just throw up posters during the day?
Rage5: Yeah especially the big ones…if I do them at night it looks more illegal.  Like why is he doing this under the cover of the night?  Many of us go out during the day dressed like city workers to put up big pieces.
I used to do that with my buddy VESK

Like with these:

or these:

 BS : Do you have a bunch of people you go out with? Is there a good community in your area?

Rage5: There are more and more wheat pasters in the area…whereas I used to only go alone and I was known as the “ART FAG” hahaha
 BS : Well, everyone gets criticized when they start the trend.
Rage5: I started going out with some people that I met at UNDER PRESSURE…they started the “wheat pasting club” …we try to go out once a week and drink Whiskey and put up posters.
It’s a blast, here’s what we did recently:

 BS : So tell me about all the eyes in your work.
Was that a phase or are you just getting warmed up?
I also like the glasses at the art show, nice touch.
Rage5: hahaha thanks
I just started with the eyes…I am Loving that…
It’s my new thing; let me think about why I do em…
 BS : how long before you were in a gallery? Do you like moving towards canvas/legal art?
Rage5: I have had a long lasting obsession with drawing & painting hands…so I wanted to change things up I guess.  It has taken ten years for me to have my own solo art exhibit.  It was an amazing experience but it’s so expensive and time consuming…
 BS : Hopefully you made some money in the process
Rage5: It costs a lot to paint and draw on clean wood and to mount them properly…
Well you only make money if you sell them…and all my friends who attend the exhibit are broke ass starving …so I ended up trading tons of pieces with them which is also amazing
 BS : That’s really a great part of art, is all the bartering
Rage5: It’s just so much cheaper for me to create work in the streets a giant poster costs me $3 to print and I use less than $1 of glue on each one and if I want to paint some letters I usually fill them in with a roller and latex paint that I find in the garbage…so I only end up using a few cans of spray on each piece…it’s way more immediate.

I got super lucky with my exhibit at the Emporium gallery…those guys helped me install all the work and they had free beer and snacks at the opening
 BS : Awesome, free drinks and art is where it’s at
Rage5: hell yes!
 BS : So eyes and wheatpastes are in the future, anything else to look out for?
Rage5: I started making installation pieces when I had the “PURGATORY OR SOME PLACE LIKE IT” exhibit at Emporium gallery.  It was so amazing…and I Love building film sets for my friends who make films…so I plan to build some weird things in the streets and in galleries in the future.

I want to create characters and narratives in my work…graffiti has so much potential for story telling but many writers don’t use it.  I feel I started something interesting with the character I created in the PURGATORY series with the eyeball in the forehead…
I want to put her in the streets more and maybe build weird structures around her…

Rage5: I pasted her on the wall behind the weird wood structure too the right

 BS : I saw those shots through the wood
What’s going on with the lightning?
Rage5: hahaha…I dunno…I saw it more like electric shocks…
Like mind reading power that can electrocute a mother fucker…hahaha

 BS : Word, powerful third eye
Rage5: haha yeah
I think the eyeballs in this series represent the metaphorical goggles that I had to put on too see through the misconceptions I had about the commercial art world…if that makes any sense.  Hence the glasses in all the other photos
 BS : Totally, art is driven by a lot of bs
Rage5: fuck yeah
 BS : So your message is almost challenge yourself and fuck the critics
Rage5: Yup that sums it up real nice.  No one knows exactly what went in to the work as much as you…so as long as you know you challenged yourself and the work please you…fuck anyone who says otherwise

 BS : I think you see that a lot in subcultures, like skateboarding or other trick sports, art…etc
Rage5: Yeah I totally agree…
Like for instance, I wheat pasted a poster to a freight and some writers thought that was fucking absurd…like only spray paint should be used on a freight…

BS :  Yeah , it’s weird how even counter culture has it’s own so called rules
Rage5: It’s funny because graffiti writers are supposed to be the most free thinking artists… but I get the most flack from other writers
Writers can sometimes be the most closed minded artists which I find completely contradictory
BS: Art school is half criticism…
Rage5: True that. We are supposed to be doing what we want where we want despite what anyone else thinks “art” is

BS: Especially in street art, there is this intangible spot, that when you see the right art in the right place just feels good, it’s like a warm cup of soup, just perfect
Rage5: hahaha yeah!
How can anyone say that is wrong…or that it’s not graffiti or art…
BS: So now that we have established you don’t do a lot of symbolism, it sounds like there are some stories that will be coming out of some of your work
Rage5: Yeah I am working on some stuff…
Just gotta find the right way to make it work in the streets
Let’s just say I have all winter to think about it…

BS: So what are you messages to the public, other writers, and to all the haters?
Rage5: hmmm….I guess to the public I would say whether you are an artist or not…don’t wait for permission to do something creative (as long as it’s not going to hurt anyone)…you have the power to do it yourself right away.
To other writers I would say thank you for inspiring me and keep on rocking…
And to haters I say DRIVE HOME SAFE…
Hope that makes sense.