Part graffiti artist and part entrepreneur Skam is a Toronto based writer who has mastered the fundamentals of art and typography and in the pictures below you will be able to see his hard work has paid off in his incredible versatility. Outside of graffiti he also runs his own lifestyle shop in Toronto called Homebase where he sells a variety of street art products which includes everything from spraypaint to vintage snapbacks, clothing, and art. For all his talent Skam is a incredibly humble guy and we would like to thank him for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions for us, we hope you are inspired and motivated by his story.
When did you get started in the world of graffiti and how did you get your name?

I have always been interested in graffitti because I have always had an interest in hip hop. My older brother was a BBoy and just had a fascination for the hip hop culture. I started tagging around the city in 1992, which I consider late. My name SKAM (originally spelled with a C) was self proclaimed because at that time in my life I basically racked for a living.

Who were the writers that you looked up to coming up?

Well, when I was coming up in the early 90s, the internet was not around and there was very little writers to look up to because I couldn’t get information or images of the culture. Guys like REN, Daser and TCM Crew in Toronto was the only graffiti I saw and a few guys from the west coast Canada like AA Crew (Virus, Dedos, Ephx, Zlok) were ones that I looked up to. I also looked up to AWR crew in Los Angeles because of my connection with TYKE/Witness AWR I met a bunch of members in 1996 when I painted in San Diego and took a trip to LA. Kings of New York were also very inspirationational like SEEN, Zephyr, WEB, Dondi, Futura and the list goes on.

3) I’ve spoken with a lot of other writers who say their main drive in writing is the thrill of being caught, like its an adventure. Would you agree? How do you balance the rest of your life with your work if so?

In the beginning, that is the thrill for everyone. Trying to get away with as much as possible without being caught. And that is still a thrill. Gradually, I wanted to do better pieces and spend more time on the art side. I got more focused on doing better pieces and mastering letter forms and can control. Anyone can go out on the streets and can tag their name on anything but not everyone has style or skills.

Have you had any run-ins with authorities for putting up your work in public?

I have had a few encounters in my younger years. Mostly in the 90s when I was concentrating more on bombing. I was chased a few times and got bagged only once in 1997 only because two patrol cars caught me in the end. I hopped over a barb wire fence and got away from the 7 cops that were already chasing me.

Do you work full time as a artist/muralist or is this only something you get to do in your free time?

Luckily, I have been able to make a living off of the graffiti culture. It was never the initial intention. It just sort of happened being in the right place at the right time. I have been consistent in the graffiti world in the city of Toronto, that I have been able to build networks. People have seen my artwork in Toronto for the last 25 years. The quality of my work has always been clean and consistent and has landed me many gigs.

How do you go about finding spots for you to tag your name? Do you have any problems with people tagging over your work?

A lot of my spots are my original spots from back in the 90s. Quite often I am approached by individuals who want a piece for their building or garage. The art of exploring and crew members inviting one another to each other’s spots is how I gain more spots. Being an OG in the city, I haven’t really had problems with people tagging over my work, its more like little mosquito bites, Toys catching a tag in my bubbles or background.

Outside of graffiti what else inspires you? Is there any books, movies or music that has inspired you lately?

Anything and everything can inspire me. From fashion to travel to admiring other art forms and writers. Being an OG sneaker collector, sometimes the color ways on shoes inspire me to come up with a color scheme for a wall.

About how much time do you put into your black book versus actually tagging your piece in the streets? Do you ever freestyle your letters?

I can’t lie but I haven’t touched a black book in years (terrible, right?). I do sketches on loose leaf paper. Sometimes I do freestyle my letters. It is a good challenge. A lot of the time I freestyle on new walls because I don’t know the dimensions or if I am going over another piece.

Your colors are really good and your line work is so well controlled, how do you advise someone who wants to get the control of line or color that you do? Was there anything in particular that you practiced?

I have been an artist all of my life. I formally learned composition, color theory, typography, positive and negative space, all from graphic design in College. Practice makes perfect and the more pieces that a artist does, will only help sharpen their lines.

Where do you think you will be with your art/graffiti career in ten years? Do you see yourself always tagging or would you like to branch out to other fields?

Every year I make it a personal mission to complete at least one personal piece a week. I don’t see this changing anytime soon. I recently had a solo graffiti canvas show and it was very well received. I would like to do more gallery shows and travel more. I think I’ll be doing the same thing 10 years from now, unless I have health complications. I haven’t slowed down in the last 25 years, I actually paint more now than I did in the 90’s.

What can people expect from you next and what is the best way for people to follow you?

 I have many big projects on the go in the next couple of months and since my solo show last month, their has been a high interest in SKAM pieces on canvas. The best way for people to follow me is on Instagram @skamoney.

Any shout outs you would like to give?

Shouts to all the crews that I push, DOH, YNN, KAOSinc, AK, Style Monsters, TM7 and, Get it Gang. MTN Canada and of course Bombing Science for the interview. Peace!
You can follow Skam on Instagram and his website.