Interview with James from Oink Art Ltd
By Matthew J
This is your interview and your time to shine, so I’m going to step aside and give you the opportunity to introduce yourself to the SL readers. Who is James? What sort of things make you tick?oinkartltd.com
My name is James, I run oinkartltd.com, I’m an entrepreneur, a family guy with a wife and a kid on the way, a vandal. I’m not the best at any of these things but I’d like to think i’m pretty good at all of them.
For those people not familiar with your company, could you share some of the history behind OINK ART LTD. ? How did the company get its started?
OinkArtLtd.com is an online retail graffiti store and we manufacture Oink Ink, the hardest staining ink on the market. We started the company about 5 years ago as I was disappointed with the service and delivery time I received from other online graffiti shops. We pride ourselves on having the highest level of customer service possible and shipping all orders out the same day we receive them.
Your YouTube videos are some of the better product-demonstration clips online; they’re entertaining, too. How did that concept come about? I ask because it’s one of those no-brainer concepts that very few sites actually utilize; which I feel is a mistake because [the demo videos] help to customer see if what they’re going to buy is worth the $$.
Thanks for your compliments regarding our videos! The concept started when we saw graffiti product reviews online by purchasing customers but not by anyone who actually sold the products online. As we became quite successful in this way all of our major competitors have followed suit. However it’s very expensive and labour intensive to make high quality videos regularly so we’re really the only ones doing it consistently and trying to step up the quality every time. We consider ourselves the graffiti version of direct response marketing.
What’s the typical day in your life like? Anything extraordinary happening in Texas?
Typical day for me is wake up at 7am, take the dogs running, get fresh to death, head out the door, get to the shop, answer emails, waste time on twitter, print orders and fill them all. At this point we average 25-50 orders a day so this is an all day project in itself, much the less answering new emails, managing the chat, buying new product, all the other stuff that comes with running a business, so i probably end up working 12-14 hours 7 days a week. In the evening i tend to either spend time with my wife at the house or running the streets, usually solo but sometimes with a few close friends.
I love Texas so to me there’s always something cool going on here, but what that is can vary. Some nights it’s a dope gallery opening, other nights it’s finding that perfect spot to paint, sometimes it’s just a great party with friends or a cool concert or whatever. Like any major city in the US or Canada, Dallas usually has something going on if you’ve got money and transportation! Ha.
Hip Hop and graffiti go hand in hand; graffiti is a major pillar upon which Hip hop was built. Now when people outside of the United States think of American hip hop/graffiti, we automatically think of new York or Los Angeles. Of course, Texas has made major contributions to hip Hop – mainstream and independently- and is seen as a HIP HOP STATE. With all of that being stated, the connection between Hip hop & Graffiti, I’d like to know how strong/how deep the graffiti culture is in the lone star state? Who are some of the legends and could you share a bit of the states history?
Well I’m from Houston so rap music is a major part of my life. I grew up listening to DJ Screw (RIP) and am a huge fan of “chopped and screwed” music. Also, the area of town I grew up in and being a drug dealer, i knew a lot of rappers and people involved in the hip hop industry so hip hop is a big deal to me.
Regarding hip hop and graffiti though I think this is something that’s changing pretty quickly. Now a days, you probably have more white kids who are into hardcore music writing on stuff than you do people of other ethnic backgrounds who are into hip hop doing graffiti. That may not be 100% accurate, it’s just my opinion not the result of a scientific study, but from my experience it seems to be true. I feel that hip hop and graffiti are now two different things, as hip hop has become extremely mainstream and commercial while graffiti, although becoming more mainstream and popular, is still a primarily underground subculture where the biggest people don’t want to be “famous” per se.
Anyways, Texas, hip hop and graffiti are still a big deal. Most writers i know from Houston are like me, listening to Swisha House as they go from spot to spot, smoking weed and drinking syrup (promethazine with codeine cough syrup). San Antonio also has a scene where hip hop and graffiti are closely related. However the scenes in Austin and Dallas are much more hardcore-orientated than hip hop orientated, for sure.
In your opinion, is graffiti vandalism or legitimate form of art? And why?
In my opinion there’s illegal graffiti aka vandalism and there’s graffiti art. A legal wall with graffiti on it is art. An illegal wall with graffiti on it is vandalism. Real graffiti to me will always be vandalism, but i recognize the importance of legal graffiti and muralists these days. As writers get older they have responsibilities, bills, families. It only makes sense to try to get paid from a craft you’ve honed by doing legal walls and paid jobs. However if you’ve never done illegal graffiti or your illegal portfolio is less than half of your numbers on legal stuff, I think it’s better to call yourself an artist than a writer. I also come from a strict “no snitching” background so if you do criminal things, take the charge, do your time, shut the fuck up. Snitching on anyone at anytime is totally unacceptable. But a good share of writers were artists first and criminals second, or never criminals, and fold under police pressure. To me, the old saying “don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time” is 100% true.
How is distribution to Canada coming along? Are there any stores, sites, or shops currently carrying your ink?
Distribution in Canada is good! We’re very happy to work with VisualOrgasm.com, TheBombersDream.com and a number of walk-in retail stores in Canada. Contact VO or us directly if you have a store we’re not already in!!
What projects are in the works, right now? What can we expect from Oink Art Ltd. within the next year?
Within the next year from OinkArt you can expect more exclusive products, higher inventory levels and maybe even a relaunch of the site… but no promises on that, we’ve been working on it for over a year so who’s to say when we’ll be done! haha
In your home State of Texas, who are some of the more artists that are holding down [graffiti] culture and making serious contributions to the art? Who should we be checking out?
In Texas, as far as illegal stuff goes, Abel in Houston is killing it, as well as the DTS/GY crews in general, in Dallas my homies who go unnamed are doing big things, respect to them. I also like the work put in by people like Ever FKC or the ESK crew. In Austin my dude Robem is killing em, a dude named Kudos had it locked up for a minute but was recently arrested on a major felony case and is likely on the bench for a while.
As far as the legal graffiti scene, in Dallas my boy Soner is making a major name for himself and doing shows here and across the country, in Austin Robem is also making big moves in the gallery world, in San Antonio my homies at the Yard (a major store) are putting on the best shows and people like Supher and the rest of the SA CBS crew are really putting in some amazing work.
I think the chemical workings within graffiti is something most people -myself included- rarely think about. What caused you to make your own ink? How did get your chemical education? Did you take classes at school or were you self-taught?
I decided to make my own ink because I had some basic chemistry knowledge and figured I could make something better. I had a cousin who was arrested for manufacturing ecstasy, he’s the one who got me interested in chemistry and taught me a few basic things then i was off to the races. All of my chemistry knowledge is self taught from either free e-books or friends on sketchy forums making this or this mind altering substance. I am not involved in drug manufacturing though which i am very proud of, I stick to the legal stuff chemistry wise.
You taught yourself chemistry? Wow, I honestly can’t think of too many people who would actually put in the time and sacrifice needed to pursue a goal ,especially something like chemistry. Chemistry isn’t exactly as easy as leaning to ride a bike. What motivated you to keep up with the studying? What would you attribute to that focus?
I’m really motivated by having knowledge on a subject. I had a cousin who was in the drug manufacturing industry. I thought it was crazy people could ever do it. I asked him what was up with it, he told me to just free chemistry books online and I learned through these forums and stuff. I had no interest in doing what he did, but to learn stuff easily at home that could make me more money in crazy times seemed interesting ,so I read up. When I got back into graffiti, a few years later, and learned how people were making ink, I could see an alternate method to make potent staining ink. Most people, even today, are using industrial inks and thinning them down or merely thinning down paint mixes. I have respect for it, but I like the fact that I make a product from basics and am using totally different chemicals than other people are using.
How has the internet site helped your business progress? Compared to traditional graffiti supply stores, do you find the internet is giving you a greater advantage?
The internet has helped our business a ton, but it’s hard for me to compare us to a traditional retail store. The markets are admittedly a lot different, our main things are good inventory, best prices, fast turnaround. In a retail store typically the most important things are wide range of products, reasonable hours of operation and wide availability. The marketing, the customer age group, all that stuff is totally different.
I think through hard work and creative marketing we’ve created an advantage for ourselves but it’s not just being on the internet. A lot of former customers of mine have now become competitors as they either copied my style making ink or mimicked our company’s marketing style and online presence. However our success while most of them have troubles i think shows that we’re working harder to provide a better value and a better service to our extremely valued customers.
Without our customers we’d be nothing, it’s their loyalty and trust in our operation that helps us succeed.
5.10.15. Where do you see both yourself and Oink Ink Ltd. within the next 5 years? 10 years? 15 years?
In 5 years I see myself with at least 1 kid, maybe 2-3, hopefully still writing on shit and having fun in my off time. OinkArt should be established as the #2 or #1 online retailer by then, we’re already a strong #3. In 10 years, we hope to have changed the game as far as how online graffiti sales are conducted. With our great customer base and their loyalty to what we do I see this as totally possible. Within 15 years, I hope to adapt the OinkArt business model towards other online retail opportunities and hopefully employ hundreds of people to further their dreams and provide the best service possible in whatever industry we enter.
Before we wrap this article up, I have one last question regarding the heavy crack-down on graffiti. There seems to now be a massive push -both domestic and internationally- to punish graffiti artists with heavy fines and in some instances, unnecessary jail terms. I do understand the thinking behind give writers fines or even commiunity service, HOWEVER, I don’t understand why legislators would purposely lump graffiti writers into the same prison populations with hardcore violent offenders. What is your opinion on the whole crackdown on graffiti?
Regarding the graffiti crackdown issue, I have mixed feelings on this. The reality is bro if you’re writing on chill walls and abandon buildings, you most likely will be totally cool and can do crazy nice burners without a major risk of arrest. However writing on stuff that people generally find valuable is taking a chance of provoking them and making people want to catch you. At the end of the day, illegal graffiti is vandalism, and in some cases trespassing and whatever, right, so yeah you take the risk you may go to jail. In my opinion, minor drug offenders, graffiti writers, lots of non-violent offenders may not necessarily deserve to go to jail, but yeah man if it’s a crime in your jurisdiction you take the risk of arrest. If you don’t like the idea of going to jail, don’t commit crimes, or at least try not to commit crimes people care about. I’ve been to jail for graffiti twice and both times did my jail time, paid my fine and was done, no probation and such. I know people who are facing major time for multiple subway cases, right, and yeah i’d like to see them go free, no fine, no time, but if it was like that, would it be exciting? I don’t really think so. I think part of why most people do this is the risk of arrest, so if you’re pushing the limits, be a grown up, man or woman, take your time, don’t snitch, and everything will be alright. Regarding violent crime, I have a friend on Death Row, www.FreeRobWill.org , that dude will most likely die in jail within the next year, and he’s innocent!
Most graffiti writers are guilty if convicted and generally serve a few weeks to a few years at very most. It could be worse, bro. Be glad you’re not in Russia, Brazil, even the Carribeans. I was in jail there. The jails in America are nicer than the courts there.
Final words …
Huge thanks to SensesLost for this opportunity and props to everyone writing on shit! Hit us up at www.OinkArtLtd.com and use the coupon code “SensesLostRules” for 7 days after this interview is posted and receive a free bottle of Oink Ink with any size order! How’s that for doing it big?