Who are you and what do you do?
Cameo VTS NR WCB. I put my name on things I own, and things I don’t.
How long have you been doing graffiti?
1996. I did tags, doodled and messed around before that, but my first piece in early 96 was when I considered myself an actual writer. That was a fun day, I did some soft letters that said CMO, Acrow helped me tweak the sketch a bit to make it symmetrical, that’s how I was put onto that style. A lot of people want me to revert to that style haha, when I do a new piece those same people say they liked my old stuff better, but you gotta evolve or you’ll get left behind!
What was your influence to start doing graffiti?
My friends I guess, we hung out with these guys Kover and Serb when we were skateboarding, they were always tagging stuff and we started to get interested in it. My old crew mate Ranks started a few months before me, and Kaput and I started at the same time, we did our first pieces on an old shed in Ranks’ backyard. That thing looked like hell after we destroyed it practicing. Then I met Acrow in grade 10, I couldn’t believe how good that dude was at such an early age. He offered to do some sketches for me but like most toys I didn’t want any help haha. I remember getting the issue of Rap Pages that had a can of Krylon on the front. It was a graff issue, that thing blew my mind because it was really the first graffiti I’d seen outside of Vancouver. I remember I was writing Repo and was re-drawing pieces from the magazine to try and get them to say Repo. I used pencil crayons to colour everything in, I still have that old sketch book, pretty funny stuff.
Do you remember the first time you held a spray can? What did you paint?
When I was around 13 I remember spray painting my skateboard baby blue, I did masking tape designs. Baby blue was the hot shit back then, I can’t remember why, maybe it was because of the North Carolina basketball jerseys everyone was rocking.
I know the first time we went out and did actual spray paint tags was around 93, I was with Ranks and we had one can of Navy Blue, I think it was from Cloverdale Paint or something, I remember the clerk asking what we were using it for, I think we said “painting our bikes” haha. We stayed up all night waiting to sneak out and we just kept making excuses, trying to delay going out. Then we had the bright idea of waiting until the sun came up so we could see what we were doing (13 year old logic). So as soon as it started getting light out we snuck out his window, it was a 20 min walk to the town, so by the time we got there it was completely light out, full daytime… idiots. It was still super early so no one was around, we walked around and caught a couple stock cap tags, then we started seeing the morning commuters and we went home haha.
Have you done any traveling over the years? If so where?
I’m sort of a home body, I don’t like looking and feeling like a tourist, makes me anxious when I don’t know where I am haha. I like Vancouver and besides going camping I don’t really like to leave.
I’ve still travelled a bit, I’m always reluctant to leave but once I do I have fun. I went to Under Pressure in Montreal, drove out there, was a good time. I went to Saskatoon for Summer Fling this year, drove out there too.
Hawaii was fun, I went with my girl in the Spring, just ate good food and chilled. I always had my eye on spots and checking out graffiti but didn’t do anything there, I was drunk or in a food coma most of the time.
Do you have a favourite city you like to visit?
I don’t want to call it by name because it’s a secret spot but there’s a place we’ve done reefers in for many years. We’d camp out, eat and drink during the day and paint all night. Never got much sleep, quite an exhausting vacation, but fun as hell. Spent many summers there getting busy, a lot of great memories and stories.
The first time I went there I got like an hour notice that we were going and wasn’t even told we were camping, I was so unprepared, no pillow or sleeping bag or anything camping related. We got there at night and started painting right away, so when the sun came up we went back to the campsite and tried to sleep. I was laying in the dirt on a tarp using a t-shirt as a pillow with ants crawling all over me, and it was hot as fuck already, so there was really no sleeping involved haha.
On the last night I just started hallucinating, I kept thinking people were walking down the tracks towards me. Then I starting seeing really weird shit, like gangs of people, and a huge guy made out of midgets, like some kind of fucked up Voltron dwarf. Once I realized I was just seeing things I started just making up shit in my head and I would see it in front of me. I wasn’t on any drugs, just Sparks, beer and lack of sleep and water I guess. I think my piece came off kinda weird that night…
You’ve been doing a lot of illustrating lately. How did you get started? What kind of stuff have you been working on?
I’ve always been into drawing cartoon characters but I use Adobe Illustrator for work, so just learning on that got me pumped on drawing on the computer. I just like how clean everything looks and how easy it is to get rid of or change something you don’t like, I sometimes catch myself thinking there’s an undo button when I’m drawing with pencil, or even painting.
But yeah, some friends asked me to do their album covers and I just kept on going with it. I get a lot of requests for designs but no one wants to pay to have it done, they think $50 is fair for a t-shirt design, no one deserves $50 for a few days work. Artists always get shafted because no one thinks you should get paid for doing something fun, and they don’t understand that your paying for the persons skill, not just the design.
It can be hard to convince people you have to pay for an artists work. It’s like any job and should be compensated appropriately. Do you think trying to get some client work will be something you’ll pursue?
It’s not something I’ve ever really pursued, I just let it come to me I guess. I have a full time job already, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like taking on side jobs. I mean I made a website to showcase my portfolio so jobs aren’t completely far from my mind. At first I wasn’t posting any graffiti on there but as I’ve been painting and drawing pieces more than illustrating right now I’ve been updating it with more graff than computer stuff.
What tools do you like to use for your illustrations?
I just do a sketch with pencil and then scan it and re-draw it in Illustrator. I’ve been using acetate a lot for art show stuff, I’ll draw the image in Illustrator and print the black outline on the acetate, then paint the reverse side with brushes kinda like a cartoon cell. It’s a lot of work getting the colours solid, you just gotta make a pool of paint and just move it around to fill in the gaps, it’s weird because you can’t really use the brush normally because it will just dry with the brush strokes in it. It’s a fun way to actually physically paint something, but still involve using the computer.
What’s one item you couldn’t live with out?
Netflix, haha. The Canadian one blows compared to the US version but it’s still new here so they have to get licensing for everything I suppose.
It’s gotten a lot better over the past 6 months though. People ride me sometimes for paying for something you can just stream or download for free but after watching something in HD on a big screen I can’t go back to watching a pixilated shitty looking image on a computer screen. People hate on cable a lot too but I always have Teletoon Retro on when I’m drawing, I love that shit, Looney Tunes, He-man, Hercules, TMNT, Inspector Gadget, etc. Seems I’ve reverted to my childhood taste haha. I’ve grown less interested in music over the years, I used to always have music on when I was just home chillin but now it’s cartoons.
Netflix is great! It’s nice not having to search for content. It’s there when you want it. What are your favourite cartoons or tv series you’ve been watching?
For cartoons on Netflix I’ve been watching Spongebob, Futurama, Family Guy, Spider-man, X-men, and Fairly Oddparents. There’s a lot of new cartoons on there that I would like to check out too. I like some of those Dreamworks animation and Pixar movies, Kung Fu Panda is awesome. For “grown up” stuff I’m watching Breaking Bad, Community, Trailer Park Boys (again and again) and Mafia’s Greatest Hits (corny but informative).
There’s stuff that isn’t on Netflix too, Check it Out with Dr. Steve Brule, Seinfeld, and Curb your Enthusiasm are each something I have to see an episode of at least once a week.
I started watching The Wire again, and I’m trying to get into Treme and Boardwalk Empire, but there just aren’t enough hours in the day haha, stuff like that I can’t draw when it’s on though, I gotta pay attention, I get super into it and turn off my phone haha. I’ve collected a lot of DVDs too, but haven’t really kept up on it in the last couple years, I went crazy there for a while on old samurai movies. There’s a series from the 60’s called Zatoichi the Blind Swordsman. They made close to 30 movies with the same character, it took me a while but I got all of them. The Lone Wolf and Cub series is another awesome one.
Do you find the cartoons help with your drawings?
Yeah they definitely give me ideas. If I’m ever stuck on anything I can just look up at the TV and stuff seems to pop into my head, even if I’m just drawing a piece. I really like the old cartoons, the black and white ones they show on Looney Tunes sometimes, old Porky Pig is great. This episode “Little Beau Porky” from 1936 where he was in the French Foreign Legion, and there was this huge bulldog General with a long pointy moustache. A messenger gave the General something to read and when he looked at it his moustache curled up around his eyes to make glasses. It didn’t make any sense at all in the real world but it was such a cool idea, that’s what I love about good cartoons, they’re so ridiculous and far from real life, anything goes, but like graffiti there’s still traditional rules to follow, I don’t know animating well enough to know those rules haha, but I know they exist. I read John K’s blog (johnkstuff.blogspot.ca) on a regular, he always has good tips for drawing.
Do you have any chase stories or crazy things you’ve experienced while out painting?
I’ve been pretty lucky not to have had much drama with graffiti, but it hasn’t been all smooth. I’ve been caught a few times, and it’s always for being stupid about things. You just gotta check your head every once in a while and you’ll be okay. Some people just don’t give a fuck, but for me I always find myself thinking of the consequences nowadays. It comes with getting older I guess, more to lose. I’ve Never Regretted anything though, all the good and the bad have gotten me where I am today, I’ve got a good girl, job, friends, and a roof over my head, what else do you need?
What kind of advice would you pass on to aspiring graffiti writers?
Start simple, do it the right way. You can’t just start writing and do a wild style piece or it’s gonna look like a pile of shitty spaghetti. Start with fonts and learn what letters are all about, practice with different names and draw, draw, draw. I know nobody wants to do it that way, I didn’t, but after years of doing garbage and weird looking shit I went back to the basics, started over, got my simples down and evolved from there, it takes years and you have to be willing to do it that way or it’s not gonna work out for you.
Toys can bite shit off the web, and come out with a pretty good piece on paper, but when you go to actually paint it it’s gonna look like garbage because your can control hasn’t evolved with your style. It’s like driving, you can read books and roll in the passenger seat all you want but until you drive a car first hand you don’t know how to drive! Gotta get your class 5 graffiti license!
What can we expect to see from you in the future?
Well I’ve been working with Visual Orgasm and Kobra paint, so you’ll see me pushing Kobra, the stuff is a really good alternative to Montana. I wouldn’t be supporting it if it sucked. I’ve never been one to do “Super Burners” but I’d really like to move in that direction, I’m not talking changing my style or anything, but maybe just spending more than 5 hrs on a wall haha.
My friends and I all went out and bought blackbooks recently, I haven’t bought a book in at least 10 years, I usually just use loose paper and sketch with pencil. Now we get together once a week to do full colour pieces in each others books, it feels like we’re in high school again, so much fun. It’s exciting seeing everyone drawing again and putting effort into creating a nice piece. It’s not all serious though, it’s just a good reason for us to get together and have some laughs.
Any last words you’d like to share with the Senses Lost readers?
Don’t paint the same outline all the time, you’re just cheating yourself. Try to do something new every time you draw, if it looks wack just erase it. Look at how graffiti started, just a bunch of kids “doin they names big”, how do you think this shit evolved?… Trying new things! I’m never 100% satisfied with my stuff, when I look back at it the next day there’s always things I would like to change, but you just have to move on to the next one.