EWOK MSK brought the heat to Wynwood this year! We caught up with him as he rocked this wall and talked with him a little about the graff game!
What do you write and when did you start writing?
I write Ewok MSK, HM, Seventh Letter, AWR … I started painting around about 1992, I believe. I was probably dabbling with it about maybe two years before that but I didn’t really know what is was doing so I’d kinda say like 92 was when I had a general concept of what graffiti was, and what my objective was in trying to do it.
How did you first get involved with graffiti?
Yea I had just seen, like I had see graffiti in limited amounts, I remember there was that TV show named Welcome Back Carter and there was a scene at the beginning of the show where they were showing kinda like an aerial shot of these trains on the elevated tracks in New York. And I remember seeing graffiti on the trains and I’d always specifically look for that part of the opening credits. I was probably 5 or 6 at the time, it just struck with me as being really cool and I would see tags and throw ups in very limited amounts in very limited places. if I would be in Chicago or in New York, like trips and stuff, it always stuck out to me and grabbed my attention because I knew it was against the law, but it was also beautiful and interesting to me and I just kinda gravitated towards it.
What keeps you still writing/ involved with graffiti?
I’m still painting just because I love doing it and it’s one of those things that is never ending in terms of there’s always some area that you can better and there’s always people doing new things that are kinda like expanding the envelop. It just never get dull to me, it’s like a zen experience trying to paint on a nice day and sitting there with your piece just trying to figure out. It’s like therapy to some degree as you, It’s a creative outlet and it feels productive even though to most well adjusted people it’s a total waste of time but for me personally I just get a lot out of it, you know mentally.
What inspires you and your graffiti?
I think the things that influences me is just naturally the foundation of what influences me, which is the classic like subway era graffiti. That’s like the foundation but then I like to pull from other sources of inspiration, and it can be in any and everything. It can be from other art; like fine art, like oil painters as well as a lot of other things just like nature and animals.
I use to be inspired by lobsters and crustaceans and things like that when I was doing more organic pieces. I would kinda just see ways to apply the structures of different things whether it was architecture or biological things and just sort of applied that to letter formation. Just kind of a strange thing because they are total opposite but I’m kinda open to a lot of things.
I’d say maybe my biggest source of inspiration style wise but outside of graffiti for probably the first 15 years of my graffiti career was the movie Akira, the Japanese anime movie. There was a scene where Tetsuo’s arm goes crazy, like some fire mechanical stuff. That scene specifically was kinda like the launching pad for a lot of the organic stuff that I was doing in the 90 and early 2000.
What was your process going into this piece, as in letter structure and color scheme?
I don’t have too much a game plan with the majority of the piece that I’ve been doing lately, it’s a continuation of what I’ve been stylistically doing in previous pieces. I’d like to try and maybe develop a more rapid pace, I guess going forward but I think it’s basically improvising on things that I have done recently and trying to improve upon them. So in terms of this specific piece, the color scheme is just whatever I had in hand and generally that’s the area I do the least amount of premeditation on. I don’t really think too much about the colors beyond just having a basic contrast between the outline and the fill, I try and take whatever I have at hand and make it work. Usually that’s not too difficult, I mean there are times it can be challenging but usually if you have a variety of colors you can figure out some sort of combination that’s gonna work.
How would you describe your style?
I would say where I’m at right now is kind of in the middle stages of doubling back to more classic type of construction when it comes to the letter forms. The work I was doing in the 90’s and early 2000’s was very outside the box, there was a point where maybe I was leaning too hard on technique and not focusing enough on the letter structure. Which is what I guess have always considered to be the heart of what graffiti is about, and so when I was leaning more on technique I sometimes started questioning whether I was even doing good graffiti. I felt like I could dazzle people with technique stuff but that was kind of boring, that wasn’t the part that really mattered to me. Good letter structure is timeless, there is technical things that can fool people, especially people that don’t do graffiti, into thinking that its important or worthwhile. I think good letter structure is a timeless thing, when I see pieces from the 80s that are still good by today’s’ standards I realize that I needed to focus my effort more on the fundamentals of letter structure and maybe, in a lot of ways, pay homage to the tradition. Some of the stylistic things that kinda serves as the foundation for everybody that does graffiti, it has influenced them either consciously or subconsciously, so I started trying to just be more sound in terms of the fundamental aspects. Like doubling back to doing good simple letters, not making everything about technique and color, that type of stuff. That’s where I’m at now, I think I’m at the stage where I feel like I’ve done it for about five year where I’ve really focused on a more traditional kind of approach to graffiti and now I want to start getting super wired with it again. I just haven’t crossed over quite yet but hopefully that will be coming in the future.
Whats your least favorite trend or type of graffiti?
I don’t really have a least favorite type of graffiti, there’s stuff that I like and stuff that I don’t like but I really don’t categorize it as this type is whack and this type is good. I look at each thing individually and sort of judge it on its own merits. I think if I had to say what my least favorite type of graffiti is, I would have to say the stuff that people create that have been doing for about four or five years where they’ve gotten proficient enough so that it looks like graffiti but they haven’t mastered it and looks so naive and goofy. I think I dislike mediocre graffiti more than I dislike super whack graffiti or super beginner graffiti.
I feel like there’s a charm and a personality in stuff people create that have no idea what they are doing. and that’s more interesting to me than someone who has been doing it for a couple of year and is just boring. it’s just like nothing that’s really expressive about who they are their whole point of view, it’s just kind of a reflection of them just fitting into what they are comfortable with. I think the middle stages of evolution with style as far as graffiti goes is always at the most boring. The type of work they do at the beginning, like maybe the first year, they don’t even know the fundamentals enough to apply them so it just kind of like there notion of what they are even striving for. I think once you get a clear idea of what you are trying to do, it automatically reaches this wired adolescent that’s super boring. and then if people stick with that long enough then they actually feel comfortable enough about the fundamentals aspect where they can start applying their own spin on different things like being creative. I think that’s where the sweet spot is, it’s like when you have an understanding of traditional graffiti and what makes it good, and apply that to your own take on it. It’s like something that’s unique to your own creative vision, when you are in that middle stage you’re just trying to get your bearings and when you’re in the beginning stage you have no idea and finally when you’re a seasoned veteran you can apply more insight to what you are trying to achieve, just trying to keep up with the status quo.