Tiffany Evans LA Graffiti Girls Interview
By Matthew J
From what started out as blogumentary to becoming a full-fledged site dedicated to representing the females in Los Angeles’ graffiti scene, LA Graffiti Girls has steadily built a strong following over the years making it one of the sites to keep an eye on. The success of this website can be accredited to its creator Tiffany Evans who is the driving force behind the site. Not only does she represent the culture properly, but Tiffany also studies @ Cal Sate University Long Beach, working towards a degree in journalism (*salute*).
Despite having a loaded schedule of schoolwork, maintaining the website, and life-in-general, Tiffany was gracious enough to give her time and thoughts to Senses Lost for this interview.
You know, there are a lot of people in this scene who talk about all the work they put in, yet have very little to show; truth be told, Tiffany is lapping a lot of you (you so-called “kings” and “queens”, included). To steal a line from Dilated Peoples, “pace yourself, so you can face yourself. Run hard you really only race yourself.”
Be thankful you’re only racing yourself, because whether dealing with graffiti or journalism, Tiffany shows no signs of slowing down. To the victor!
Ok, let’s start off with an introduction: Who is Tiffany Evans? What’s her story and how did L.A. Graffiti Girls come into existence? What do you hope to accomplish with this platform?
Tiffany Evans: Tiffany Evans is currently 21 year old senior at Cal State University Long Beach earning a bachelor’s degree in Journalism (with a specialization in Public Relations) and will minor in Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies.
LA Graffiti Girls began in 2008 as a “blogumentary” project for an Art History independent studies class (AH 495) .
I had a really great professor, Glenn Zucman, for my Art 110 class, who included graffiti art in his lecture, as a graffiti artist myself I was thrilled to see a teacher that embraced creative art, even as illegal and socially ‘taboo’ as graffiti.
I spoke to him after class one day and he convinced me to do a lecture for his classes about the different elements of graffiti art. (The class took place in the university theater, so there were 200 students+) It was rewarding to see the students’ fascination with stories of my experiences as a writer. I exposed people to a part of culture that is often overlooked. I was thrilled.
Anyway, I eventually became his teaching assistant and gave the graffiti lecture for his classes several times. As a part of the TA program, I had to do an independent project. Originally, my project was going to be a simple documentary video about graffiti in general, but that’s been done so many times. I didn’t just want to mirror what has been already done. I wanted my project to include all of the important and very different aspects of my life: journalism, graffiti and feminism.
Glenn and I coined the term “blogumentary.” A burgeoning blog tailored to internet culture that documents, in this case, Los Angeles women in graffiti art.
And we thought that a website may be more suitable for the project considering our lack of funds for equipment and a film crew.
You’re study journalism, but once that is completed will L.A. Graffiti Girls remain running as a website? Or do plan on going elsewhere with your [journalism] certificate?
Tiffany Evans: Well, my LA Graffiti Girls project officially ended in 2009, but I decided to continue the website because I felt like there was so much more that needed to done. I want to continue LA Graffiti Girls after I graduate and one day write a book that would include a compilation of the interviews, photos, my research, and my own personal experiences as an artist. But I still have a lot to figure out so I don’t think this will be anytime too soon.
Right now, I’m just hoping to get an internship somewhere, preferably doing PR work or writing for a magazine, if I’m lucky. I’m hoping that my work on LA Graffiti Girls will be a stepping stone to a future career and maybe even a book.
This may seem like a silly question, because its obviousness is glaring, but I’ll ask it anyway. In your opinion, how important is it for female writers to get equal shine in the graffiti world? Your site is catching some major buzz, but even with that, do you feel females are getting a fair share of the recognition/acknowledgment?
Tiffany Evans: In my honest opinion, women have rarely gotten equal shine or recognition for achievements in almost every aspect of culture, graffiti being one of them. Unless it’s pink or covered with hearts, almost everyone assumes that bomb, piece or tag was done by a guy. It’s like a default setting society puts in our heads, it’s up to us to see the world through an unbiased lens and question what we see.
Do you feel that existing sites need to wake up and start spotlighting more females? Or is it up to the ladies to make it happen for them?
Tiffany Evans: When it comes to graffiti, it’s up to the artist to make it happen for them, male or female. A major foundation of graffiti is “getting up”. If your art work isn’t out there for us to see, then you’re keeping yourself out of the spotlight.
Who are some of the female writers, in Los Angeles, that you feel are being overlooked as far as recognition is concerned? And who are getting the respect they deserve?
Tiffany Evans: I don’t feel comfortable dropping names.
That’s more than fair. Moving forward! You’ve been steadily building a solid portfolio of artists that you’ve interviewed –Steve Grody comes to mind. As you continue to make more moves and connect with more people, who are some of the people that are on your interview “wish list”?
Tiffany Evans: Omega, Opea, Chalk, Cuddle, Jel, Kair, Meek, Kween, Glossy, Beka, Minx, Sand, Dots, Eris, She, Girl, off the top of my head. I’m sure there’s more.
I’ve seen them all up somewhere. That’s what counts.
But getting in contact with these lovely, yet elusive ladies is the hard part.
Thus far, what would you say has been your personal favourite moment in relation to running the L.A. Graffiti Girl website? It must be great being boss. What moment has been the highlight for you?
Tiffany Evans: One of my greatest moments was actually meeting Evidence (of Dilated Peoples). When he tweeted “@LAGraffitiGirls run shit” I was hysterical (since I’m a huge fan) … and LA Graffiti Girls instantly got 50 more followers. A few months later I met him at one of his shows, he recognized me and said I was a great girl and he respected what I was doing with the project. That was one of the greatest and most rewarding experiences, to be respected by someone I admire.
I want to move away from the website, for a second, and find out what exactly about this culture that attracted you to graffiti?
Tiffany Evans: It wasn’t necessarily the culture that attracted me to graffiti, but just seeing everywhere sparked my curiosity. As a young kid in the early 90’s, I always saw “Armer TRL” up everywhere. I was so fascinated, even by his basic bombs. I told myself that I wanted to do that one day and I did.
Studying to be a journalist is not an easy thing to do on its own. On top of that you’re managing website and living in one of the biggest cities in the world, Los Angeles. I imagine juggling life, work, and a website are not as easy as some people would assume yet you are doing it every day. What’s your secret? How are you able to balance school, the website, and day-to-day life?
Tiffany Evans: I’m going to be honest, I feel like I’ve neglected my website. I guess I could say due to lack of resources, assistance, and school. Not having a car sucks too because it limits where I can go and who I can meet up with and I’m constantly writing for school so by the time I want to edit an interview I feel exhausted. But somehow I manage to spit out an interview for people to read every now and then and hope that I’ve changed someone’s perspective not only of graffiti, but women too.
This is a bit of a generic question, but relevant nonetheless: I was wondering if you could explain to me and the readers -outside of your city- what makes the Los Angeles graffiti and the scene so significant? Living in Eastern Canada, when it comes to graffiti we usually get a “New York overdose” in regards to the artists, styles, and history that we’re taught. Not too often do we get to hear about Los Angeles’ contribution to the culture. So without putting you on the spot, I want to know, in your opinion, what differentiates Los Angeles from other scenes and who are some of the people/events that helped put Los Angeles on the map?
Tiffany Evans: Los Angeles, CA is a very big and culturally diverse city with so much life. It’s an invigorating and exciting place to live and it is the home of west coast hip-hop and graffiti culture and of course Hollywood.
Most people here have that “Hollywood Mentality” (being famous is an important part of life) and it shows, even in graffiti. And I think that is a part of the graffiti culture that differentiates Los Angeles Graffiti from other places.
Some key contributions:
- LA is famous for its freeway graffiti (suicide walls and bridges) and the LA River
- The world famous “MTA” and “Saber” rollers became landmarks and even attracted tourists to the LA River.
- 2007 LA River hosted the worldwide graffiti event “Meeting of Styles”
- LA’s art galleries display many works of Los Angeles graffiti like Crewest, MidCity Arts
- Books like “Graffiti LA” and “The History of Los Angeles Graffiti”
So apart from your Art History Professor encouraging you to present a lecture on campus, have you come across any other faculty members who have been as open to your involvement in graffiti?? I ask because, often times at a University level, there is NOT a lot of openness to any thought-process that is “outside the box” of tradition; graffiti is definitely outside of that accepted viewpoint.
Tiffany Evans: I’m sure you don’t run around campus proclaiming your love of graffiti, but do you ever worry that your involvement could interfere with your future career as a journalist??
If I was an art student, I might share that information with professors, but it’s still not really a comfortable thought. The only reason I spoke to Prof. Zucman about it was because he was the only professor I knew of that considered graffiti an aspect of art that was worth lecturing about. So I felt comfortable sharing this information with him. On the other hand, I wouldn’t share much with my journalism professors because most people don’t consider graffiti as an art form but rather just an act of vandalism. I have however mentioned my website to some of my journalism professors when they ask about any projects I might have going on, but I emphasize my work as an interviewer and writer, and leave out details about my personal involvement because it’s irrelevant to my study.
Although most people have been supportive I have one friend that keeps telling me that my involvement with graffiti could hinder my chances of getting a job as a journalist and even more so as a public relations practitioner (which is what I want to be) because it’s all about the image. But I’m hoping for the best and working hard.
Let’s look at goals and ambition. It’s obvious that you’re a goal-driven individual, so where do you see both Tiffany Evans and L.A. Graffiti Girls standing within the next 5 years? 10 years? 15 years?
Tiffany Evans: In 5 years, I hope my website will be close to fulfilling itself. Maybe have a legit web designer to make it look pretty by then. In 10 years, I hope to have a book out by then. In 15 years, well, I don’t even wanna think about how old I will be… Can we just skip that one?
My final question, for you, deals with MOTIVATION. Where does your drive come from? What’s the driving force behind everything you’re doing??
Tiffany Evans: I love education and I love being able to tell the sides of stories that people may not always hear. Offering a new perspective on something, is what I believe, the real job of journalists are. We give all the facts, and let readers make their conclusions based on this information.
Graffiti is an art that is often misunderstood. Most people base their opinions about graffiti on what they watch on television or movies, or read in newspapers. Their assumptions about graffiti are often one-sided; most of the public doesn’t have the opportunity to learn about it from the “other side.” But this is changing. Today, there are numerous websites about graffiti (growing in popularity) and many have in-depth interviews with the actual artists, therefore, providing the public with the “other side” of the story. BUT since the graffiti art scene is mostly male-dominated, most people learn about the men’s perspective of the art… not women. This is where I come into play. I think it’s important to educate the public from every side, every perspective of the story… This need to tell the story by providing the most accurate information is my motivation.
To more information and articles on LA’s female graffiti scene, check out: www.lagraffitigirls.com