If These Walls Could Talk
How old were you when you did your first tag?
First memory of a tag. I was really into it in middle school. That was when I really started recognizing graffiti. That whole aspect of all this art covering walls and stuff. I got into looking at it, the visual aspect of it. I don’t know that, if in sixth grade, I would have been willing to go bomb walls or do that sort of thing. I started messing around with it on paper in middle school. I’ve been drawing and painting for as long as I can really remember. Middle school was the first time I picked up the pen.
What were your earliest artistic influences?
Originally, my mom and my dad. My dad is a goldsmith, and my mom has a degree in the arts. She told me, “Don’t ever go to school for the arts, because there is not much of a career in it.” Those were my earliest influences. They are both really incredible. As I started getting into it more, my influences were a lot of the people that do really eclectic styles and wild colors. Now as I get more into graffiti, there is an infinite amount of influence, everything that you see from every different person doing graffiti. It’s just like synapses firing off in the brain. You see it all, and take it all in, then you see something that you want to tweak or something new that you want to try yourself. The influence is endless. I also get a lot of influence from my friends and the people that I work closely with. My art also coincides closely with my music, so seeing Dismals work, or seeing the work of Next, or seeing the work of Black Mask and the people that we work with. It all funnels down into a creative influence that spans a lot more than just paint or drawing. It really spans everything. It bridges the gap between music, painting, and just living life.
Share The Arts
There are a lot of parallels between Hip Hop and being an MC and the spontaneity of painting and doing graffiti. Do you see influence carrying over between the two?
Music and art are just different sides of me. It’s about trying to convey positivity. I put my spirituality into my work, so when people hear a song of mine, or see a piece of work that I did, they can get the emotion, even if it’s in some minute sense of what I felt when I created it. I guess it’s just putting yourself, as much as you can, into whatever you are doing.
What is your favorite visual medium to work in?
Right now, it’s been spray paint. It’s been the bread and butter lately. With spray paint, you can take a can or two and cover a huge canvas. Something that would normally take me a couple of hours to paint using acrylic paint or a marker, you can take that, blow it up 100 times. It’s incredible. It’s more gratifying for me to see something bigger. If I spend three hours doing a little tiny painting, or I spend three hours doing a large panel, I get more gratification out of making something bigger. Bigger is better in my eyes, but not always.
Have you ever been apprehended by the law for making art?
Nah, no, never apprehended. As I’ve heard it said, people just have a “spidey sense.” It’s just about being smart, not being careless. It’s like that with anything. If people are careless, you will end up slipping at some point. Be that graffiti, or not looking both ways when you cross the street. If you are careless with it, eventually you will end up being caught up in something. I just abide by the code of the ninja.
You are trying to work with the city to encourage public arts projects. What is your take on the current state of public art in Bozeman and what are your goals?
I’ve always seen Bozeman as being an artistically driven community, which is kind of weird, because it is a conundrum in itself. Bozeman is liberal, but also really conservative. There are a lot of individuals who are trying to get art more involved in the daily life of Bozeman. There are also a lot of people who are really set in their ways, whatever those may be. Where we are at in our current state of life, with graffiti on walls, you can’t turn your head the other way and not see it. It’s still there. The way I see it, is people don’t care, or they pretend like they don’t care, because they won’t look at it. If they pretend that it’s not there, then it just goes away, but we can’t ignore the fact that all these walls are covered with stuff. Some of it is garbage. People try to go and express themselves and paint and vandalize, whatever it may be. It can be a grey area. The way I see it, if people are going to go and destroy this wall with a bunch of “Jimmy loves Suzie” or other vandalism and it can stay up for six months, then why can’t people who want to be artistic with it and actually create something positive and visually stimulating, why can’t those people be able to do it? Instead it’s been kind of shunned and become this vandalism crime. I want to be able to bridge the gap between what these conservative people think that graffiti is, and what it can be, like the art on the side of Heebs. That’s really cool stuff. I think it’s positive stuff that is good for the community to see. Doing a mural project will eliminate graffiti in a sense. You don’t see a wall with a nice mural all tagged up.
If you could paint any wall in Bozeman, which would you choose?
I would probably say one that I would never go paint, so I wouldn’t be on record saying it. But a perfect dream spot? I’d say one spot that has really caught my eye since that explosion happened downtown, is that area between the new buildings where there is just that huge gaping void on Main Street. I think that would be incredible to work in conjunction with other artists and collaborate on a massive mural. Especially on a wall of that proportion. It would be unreal.
Tell us about your collective “Indelible Artistry and what your goals are by distributing high quality spray paints to Bozeman.
I’m not trying to supply the vandal scene. What I want to do is bridge the gap between what people think the art form is on the outside looking in, and what I actually see that art form being capable of being. I want to supply people who want to make art and be creative. Spray paint in itself can be used by anybody and that’s what is so cool about it. It’s not just writers and the graffiti scene. It’s anybody who wants to use it or pick it up. There is a big stigma behind spray paint, because “That’s what the taggers use.” It’s funny to see. But those are the walls that need to be broken down.
What are the origins of the name “Indelible Artistry?”
Indelible struck a tone with me because by definition it means “A mark that cannot be erased.” Basically, a permanent mark. It has always resonated with me and my art, because in a sense everything we’re doing is a mark that can’t be erased. In some way, shape or form, it can’t be removed. Every time that you do your own thing, you put it down on paper, a board, musically, whatever, you are creating your own little footprints. That best describes what I want to do with it. I want to be able to make moves and make works that will be felt positively. The Indelibles is going to be the business of paint supply, and apparel as well. It’s going to be working with people to educate people on the art-form, it doesn’t just have to be an illegal venture for people to gain a reputation or street cred. The goal is to see what the possibilities can be if people are willing to look beyond the stigma.
Paint The System
Any calls to action for the art scene in Bozeman?
I would charge people to start getting more involved with each other. Whatever the medium may be, the more people that can come together and recognize it as an artistic community, Then it is going to get a lot better. That stuff will build a solid foundation for the arts in Bozeman, and will get people on the same level. That sort of thing is good for the arts in Bozeman. It’s good for art in general.
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