So first off thanks for doing this interview, can you introduce yourself to our readers? How long have you been involved in graffiti and what made you get into graffiti to begin with?
I’m REAF One from Swindon, south west England. I’ve been writing since around 2003. At first a mate from school introduced me to tagging. After destroying school books and later discovering the copy of spray can art on the shelf in my art class I started to get hooked. I learned about the graffiti game and looked up to the older generation of writers where I lived. A few friends outside of school who I skateboarded with were also into it and strangely enough ended up in the same art class at college with a bunch of other writers from different schools. it was tough for the teachers! The college elevators and stairwells were destroyed on a daily basis and this is basically the time where I started seriously painting pieces and trying to get better.
I see that you do graffiti pretty much full time now, what does your day to day look like? What is The Visual Drop?
The Visual Drop is a company set up by myself and Poster, covering graphic design, custom airbrushing, interior design and painting murals.
The Visual Drop has been going about 5 years now, my day to day usually involves a mix between painting helmets for Extreme Sports athletes and the general public, designing branding and artwork for our clients, filming and painting murals and of course graffiti.
How did you transition from a normal day job to doing what you love? Is it everything you ever dreamed of?
I’ve had a mix of interesting and bullshit jobs over the years, after college I joined the army, then a few shit jobs in between then I had a job building concrete skate parks. After getting laid off from the skate park job I vowed to not work for anyone ever again.
At first it was tough making that transition. Living off of a small amount of savings and landing the odd painting commission here and there, things started to pick up when we landed a job to paint a 40,000sqft skate park in the Cotswolds in England. This opened up more doors for us and the work started to really pick up.
I’ve always dreamt of doing something like this from a young age, its tough sometimes but I wouldn’t change it for anything.
How did you network yourself with businesses whenever you were starting out? Did you have to do work for free before people would take you seriously? How long did it take before you were making money off your art?
Before we started out we were painting for peanuts, literally painting on anything for anyone whether we were paid or not whenever we could. It finally came to a point where we had to improve our approach to all this. As soon as we decided to become a business under a proper name clients started to take us more seriously.
This allowed us to approach people professionally which eventually led to us landing more commissions and bigger clients, the big skate park job I mentioned attracted quite a few clients and from there we have always improved the quality and standard of our work which definitely helps you get noticed. Eventually when you are recognised as a company that produces high quality work you can increase your prices!
You guys seem to do tons of different custom work from large scale murals to graphic design and illustration, but what is your favourite and why?
I enjoy all of it but painting large murals has to be my favourite, as it all progressed from painting graffiti. Graffiti art will always be my number 1 passion and something I will always make time for, but sometimes clients don’t always want graffiti! To do this as a job you often have to stick to clients briefs, which has made me learn more about design processes and other mediums.
Most of our custom work involves a lot of airbrushing, which is something we’ve grown a passion for over the last 5 years or so and has opened up more avenues for work!
What are some of the places you have travelled to and which was your favourite?
Been around Europe, Florida once, A few places in the Army, one of them in Belize for 6 weeks when we were training in the jungle, I’ve particularly liked Cyprus and Barcelona, but my favourite so far has to be Thailand. The paint was awful though!
Do you have any chase stories?
There has been a few chases over the years, one where a few of us skipped college for the day to paint track sides and as we got off the line the police clocked us and chased us through the streets and only when they had to get out of their cars to chase us on foot we managed to split up and loose them, I hid in a thorn bush for 2 hours which was shit and quite painful.
Another more recent one involved me hitting a sick spot I had my eye on one Sunday morning, did nice big colourful bevelled letters, I was just putting my paint away then a police car speeds towards me and I somehow managed to sprint with ladders and paint for half a mile before diving into my back garden and into my house without them noticing. That fucked me up but was funny watching them run around in circles confused through the crack of the curtain. It’s nice art on a shitty wall for fucks sake get over it!
Who are your favourite writers or graffiti artists out there right now?
There are so many killers out there today and with the internet you get to see everything as soon as its painted! Bates and Dare have always been firm favourites, Does, Soten, Asoter, Oker, Rasko, Totem2, Pork, Taste, Voyder, Ziner, Geser, Sokem, Karm and loads more.
What music do you have on your playlist right now when you work?
When im working at the moment I usually have Wefunk radio on. Such a dope station for hip hop, soul and funk based in Canada, if you haven’t heard of it download their app!
Any shout outs or last words? Where can people follow you these days?
Shout outs to Poster, Slyes, Owed, Ryder, Ware, Devas, Ami, Rake, Desk for inspiring and keeping me busy over the years. Shouts to NK crew, KTF crew and RAW crew.
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Interview by Wesley Edwards.