Interview by Matthew J (@IamJamesMatthew

We’re in a time where street-art has once again become “the cool thing”, in most mainstream circles, and the artists who utilize stencils tend to crossover into gallery shows; where the money is overflowing but often comes with the risk of limiting ones options – creatively. Choosing artistic freedom over the restrictiveness of “cashing out”, Colombian artist Stinkfish’s mission statement is centered on staying true to his creative path; a decision which has been working for him quite well. The following Q&A is meant to give readers an insight into not only what makes Stinkfish operate as an artist, but also remind people that art is NOT meant to be a commodity; it’s a way of life. Money can’t buy talent, but talent can make you rich in ways beyond currency; so absorb this article and pick up the jewels being left for you.

— Matthew J. 

It’s customary to begin these articles with a good artist introduction, so I want to take this time for you to introduce yourself to the readers and tell them a little bit about your life and person behind the art. Who are you? Where are you from? What’s your background story?

I’m an ordinary person in the street painting and walking as much as I can. I live like everybody else. Most of the time I hang out with my friends and when the opportunity is available I go travelling. In the early 80’s, I was born in Mexico City (Mexico) but, since a young age, have lived in Bogota (Colombia) ever since. As for my personal life: I never reveal my real name nor my actual identity. As a graffiti writer, I feel it’s important to maintain a level of separation between my artistic persona and my regular-day-to-day self. I care a lot about this; it’s important to maintain anonymity.


The name Stinkfish, where did it come from and is there any special meaning behind it?
There is a great story, I started to sign Stink when I was 15 years in the walls and tables of school, I just liked the meaning of the word, had much to do with music listening. Later I added the Fish, also on a whim. Then I got involved fully in the graffiti and it had a name ready to use. At other times I also use name as Knits, Quetzal or Hate.


Tell me a bit about Colombia’s street art scene. What is it’s history like and how did you first get involved in the scene?
I like to think of “Street Art”, I prefer to understand what I do as Graffiti, divide what happens on the street in different scenes also divides its importance and power.
In Colombia, the graffiti comes to late 80’s along with the arrival of Rap and Break dance, but Colombia and specifically my city, Bogotá, have a long tradition of graffiti slogans coming from the 70’s closely linked to the high turnover union, student and guerrilla of the time.
During the 90’s is set writing graffiti movement in Bogota, you people will be great a great influence on my work later.
I came to work in the streets in 2003, together with a group of friends started to make posters, stickers and stencils especially, the group marked a change in the Esceba Bogotana, stencil graffiti movement so strongly marked the streets to the 2006 – 2007, then broke the graffiti in Bogota, new faces, new styles and many young graffiti writers wanting to break the city.
It is a scene grows more and more fast enough, the good thing is that there are many walls to paint, no major rivalries and generally when you can paint.


How would you describe your art, as far as creative process is concerned? In your view, what separates Stinkfish from other artists – whether they be from Colombia or abroad?
I’m not tied to a single creative process, I like to plan walls calmly, thinking through every step, but I also like going out without much thought and paint what you can and wherever you can.
Something I can excel in my work is the value of photography, both as a registration system but as a tool for building some of the pictures I do in the street. I always carry my camera with me and I’m documenting places, objects and especially people. Others are photographs that I find lying on the street itself, some buy them in small street markets and other times I give them away.


Mainstream media and society tend to view graffiti as nothing more than crime; they ignore the social factors which causes the art to made in the first place. I don’t know how Colombia views, but here mainstream society labels it criminal. What social is the importance of graffiti not only in your country but globally?
The fact is graffiti is a crime; by definition, graffiti is illegal, but it is a crime that speaks a lot about this unjust world we live in a world full of corrupt governments, arms trafficking in persons, drugs, exploitation child and all that supports this system and global economy sucks.
The graffiti shows the world that fails, it shows a society full of unjust laws that do not even manage to stop someone who wants to work in the streets. The cities are painted from top to bottom with graffiti because it is needed the opposition, the alternatives to a preconceived life from your birth and make you understand the force that is right and wrong. The graffiti is not going to save the world but at least if I go out and understand that my ideas do not belong to anyone else, I do on my own, without help or money to anyone.
That to me is the social significance of this scene, achieving small victories that result in individual collective, get out there and see to whom it belongs


You are very talented writer and your art could easily be displayed in galleries – selling for millions of dollars- yet you seem to keep your work away from the gallery crowds and stay in the streets. Why is that and what is it about making “illegal” graffiti that is so important to you? Why illegal art rather than gallery art? 
I do not think my work could be sold for “millions of dollars,” this is a strange little world of “street art market,” sell a few things when I can do without major commitments and keeping my ideas, that’s all, I live and I painted on the street that is what I like. Why illegal? that this is about a thousand times more interesting, fun and symbolic permission to do so without having to talk to someone to let you do it.


What does graffiti mean to you and how has it affected your life?
Graffiti is vandalism, destruction, revolution, freedom and love. My life revolves almost entirely around the graffiti, making great friends and enemies knew, love and hate, has allowed me to travel and see other ideas, one day in a stinking dungeon, another painting by the sea.


Who in Colombia, artistically, is putting out work that people need to check out/pay attention to/learn about?

Right now, my friends – not only in Colombia but others from around the world- are in a crew named, Animal Culture Power. You can find more about them from their site,


Who or what originally motivated you to follow the path of graffiti? How did you get started?
The street itself, since childhood I liked walking around for hours watching was happening, they found new places, noise, old, new, dirty.

So much of your art is colorful and vibrant (it is alive), I am curious to know why you choose the particular coloring style? What inspires that color schemes you use?

There is no inspiration in particular. The colors combinations that I developed in my years of painting are based on trial and error, I guess. Like all artists, my work is influenced by different forms and skill that I’ve seen here and there but ultimately adapt those things to my own technique and merge all of it into the walls; into the work I create.

Who are some of the artists that inspired you to paint? Who are some of your current favorites?

There have been many who have inspired me but above all I’d say most inspiration comes from my close friends whom I have painted with such as Lorenzo, Masnah, Saks, Buytronick, Mecamutanterio, Seimiek, Soft, Anger, Zas, Malk, and Onesto, to name a few.


What’s next for you in 2012? Do you have any planned events or projects you’d like to tell us about?
For now I have some more travelling to do before January. I want to continue painting (as always). By 2013, I plan to begin working on a book that will document Bogota’s stencil movement, spanning the last 10 years. 
Final question: Is there anybody out there whom you’d like to acknowledge or shout-out?
Yes, I want to thank mi familia y mis amigos (my family and friends) for all of the support, encouragement and love they have continued to show me over throughout my life. I appreciate everything they have done for me and I return all the love and support right back to them, siempre!!