Let’s start by introducing yourself. What do you write and what crews do you represent?
Signt: I write SIGHT1, down with BA, BSM, and KWOTA crews
How long have you been doing graffiti for?
Signt: Nineteen years this year
What influenced you to start doing graffiti?
Signt: Comic books were my first obsession, as a kid I thought I might someday work for Marvel or DC or maybe Darkhorse or something, I got into skateboarding at about age 13 or so. I used to spend my days skating and spending allowance at comic shops, around 1990 skate graphics began to have a slight hint of graffiti art style to them, this was before my friend Mike Giant was working with Think skateboards, before Real etc. The early Andy Howell graphics were a huge influence back then. But nevertheless it was a Los Angeles California -Slick, Risky, Hex burner and character style infiltrating the early skateboard culture. It was the freshest, much sought after board graphics that first caught my eye. My friends who were perhaps more accomplished skaters knew to buy boards based on nose, tail, ply thickness, how much concave, you know overall durability and quality instead of just visual appeal, I would base my purchase solely on the hot artwork alone. It was just something new, different than I had seen before, bold outlines, super intense color combination, I couldn’t completely understand what it was I liked so much about it at first but my interest was super peaked from those days on.
Did your write any names before choosing Sight?
Signt: Yes. And some of them were pretty lame, I tried Opus, Atari, Noc(short for nocturnal), Aqua, Duel and a bunch of other ones. Out of all those the Atari name had some potential, I didn’t use it for long. I don’t even think I did an Atari piece, just tags.
You’ve been involved with the graffiti scene for some time now? How have things changed since you first started?
Signt: Oh god yeah, things have changed in so many ways. on so many levels. I had to fight harder back then to earn that wall-space, to paint in high profile spots, recognition did not come easy, there was just a hand full of good writers Canada wide, and I wasn’t sure just where I fit in. Getting a shop owner to give you permission to paint their wall was a big ordeal. The general public was way less versed in graffiti and it’s potential to function as actual mural art. I mean that’s the perspective on the whole push to paint legal walls etc, when it came to bombing and just getting up perhaps that was not so different, just a lot less people doing it, a lot less people to learn tricks and techniques from and just generally be mentored by.
When this question comes up, inevitably the internet comes up, it’s no secret that we (writers from my era) had little or no kind of networking other than trading packages of flicks through the mail, that kind of thing. Magazines started to pop up mid nineties and that made us kind of all go, yeah -this shit is worldwide, our little obsession was bigger than we first assumed. And there were some well established artists who were actually really good at it, a few more years advanced perhaps.
How would you describe your style?
Signt: Constantly evolving. Ever changing. I think I paint clean so I’ll say that, clean.
Freights, Walls or Bombing. What do you prefer?
I loved bombing when I was younger with much less to lose, my attitude has changed. You can’t beat the rush of ‘getting away with it’, climbing down off of the rooftop you just hit and standing there looking up at it, nothing can compare to that. Or that fill in you just did on a high traffic corner, glancing over your shoulder as you walk away and smile, nothing like it.
Walls are great as long as you have enough paint, yet somehow know just when to stop and not over saturate it. It’s almost like when I paint a really big full out production I feel like I’ve had too much time to stand back and critique my own work and obsess over every little detail and alter things over and over. the urgency of bombing is missing, that raw energy. Fear is a great motivator to paint good and fast. Too much time and I tend to stand around and fuck up.
Freights I absolutely love and no one can ever paint enough of them. It just feels right to paint them. I feel good about doing it. A nice end to end or crisp panel piece gives me a different kind of satisfaction than I get from bombing or walls. The right kind of lay-up or yard can be a very inspiring place to paint, either relaxing and meditative on a nice quiet desolate spur or, intense, nerve racking and noisy plus infinitely dangerous in an active yard. You know- watching the workers lamps swinging in the dark as you hide under a hopper trying not to breathe. Fuck I miss painting freights, too bad for me I just can’t deal with the cold outside tonight. Not doing it. This old man is not so into punishing himself with the brutal cold these days.
Seeing other artists out there, which graffiti writers are inspiring to you?
Signt: You know what, thats always changing too, like some writers I might be super stoked on for a year or two and then they get kinda soft and comfortable and start to become boring and half assed. I’ll try to list off a few in no particular order, these are artists whose work I have always enjoyed, for different reasons. Consistently dope writers staying ahead of the curve. ESPO, DMOTE, KWEST, TOTEM2, BACON, JASE, GIANT, AREK, OTHER, TYKE/WITNESS, VIZIE, CON, ASKEW, DEMS, JURNE, WANE, JOKER, OUIJA, PRE, SCAM, RONS, TARS, SAKE, SEVER, WYSPER, BIG5, TAKE 5, HOW & NOSM, CYCLE, DARE(RIP), POSE(MSK), KEM5, SWET, BATES, VIRUS, STARE, RCADE, SMK, NEON, KREWZ, GKAE, CES, SENSR, PRISM, I know I have forgotten so many but that’s a decent chunk of my favorites right off the top of my head.
Over the years you’ve done some traveling with your graffiti. Where all have you gone?
Signt: That’s funny I feel like I have barely traveled at all, I mean compared to some people I know, I’ve got around North America a little bit but I am so unsatisfied with the amount of travel I have done in my life. Canada wise I have been on road trips from Victoria to Montreal or Toronto 4 times, round trip!. Painting as much as possible at all point of interest along the way, made a ton of friends like that. I have never been further east in Canada than Montreal though, i really want to see the Maritimes. In the good old USA I have been to Seattle, Portland Oregon, L.A., San Francisco, New York, Arizona with my dad when i was a kid, Daytona, Florida, took a greyhound bus trip down the Atlantic coast from Buffalo N.Y. to Florida and got up just a little, crushed a lot of greyhound bus bathrooms. I have seen a lot of backwards sketchy small towns in America like Tacoma Wa. or Jacksonville Fla., well Jacksonville’s not that small but it sure is fucked up!. I have been to Mexico city twice, seen the Yucatan and traveled that area quite extensively and inland Mexico too. Been to Costa Rica, Cuba, and St. Lucia.
What are your favorite cities to visit?
Signt: Havana was fucking mind blowing, wish I stayed longer, same goes for New York. Montreal really appeals to me. Favorite U.S. city would have to be S.F./Oakland. For years I have wanted to uproot and move there somehow. it’s a dream of mine.
How would you describe the Toronto graffiti scene?
Signt: I’m not sure, co-operative?, I mean for the most part people here seem to get along fairly well, a lot of shit talking behind backs but y’know no one has really shot anybody over graffiti here. I’m perhaps a little out of the loop as far as the ’scene’ goes, I used to be right in the mix of it all. Now i feel like I know everybody i really care to know and can paint with them at any time, just a phone call away. Toronto seems lucky to me to have so many legit spots to paint, spoiled even. I’ll say this- Toronto’s graffiti scene is actually pretty well rounded, we have people really tight with piecing, some pretty dedicated bombing cats too, freights have kind of dried up in the downtown core somewhat though.
Do you have a favorite brand of paint or color combination you like to use?
Signt: I like that MTN 94 stuff for steel and it’s opaque coverage, i try to get my hands on Montana gold for outlining. Belton is real cool with me, covers better than that gold stuff. throw me a can of American Accents and I’m happy as shit. no favorite color combination, i try to rotate the colors I use a lot. Red with black and white will always work no matter what, like native art.
What can we expect to see from Sight in the future?
Signt: I’m so bloody lazy when it comes to painting canvasses these days and I need to change that. I know I could be showing work and bringing some really cool ideas to life, selling art etc. I’m of course talking about ART, not graffiti. I have endless motivation to throw cans in a bag and paint walls but when I’m at home around my T.V., fridge, computer and whatever I get distracted so easily, trust me i have a ton of unfinished canvasses on the go. I want that to change this year. I need an art studio. Other than that just more of the usual crushing, bigger and better, more traveling. More characters, I can paint them you know.
Any last words or shout outs you’d like to share with the Senses Lost readers?
Signt: To my beautiful girl Suniti-I love you and thanks for putting up with my crazy shit over the years. Shouts out to my faithful hound Tiger and my chameleon Hanz. Shouts out to my BA BSM and KWOTA bros. stay hungry. oh yeah check out www.sight1.com adios.