Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Graffiti Artist Interview is Here!

Ok, My questions are in red and Jake's answers are in black. Enjoy!

Name: Jake Beal
Age: 18
Location: Carlsbad, Ca

1. How did you get interested in Graffiti Art? And how many years have you been doing it?
Well I could remember it like it was yesterday.  I was in 4th grade, 9 years old give or take, and me and my mom were driving through downtown San Diego on the I-5 and we drove by a Spanish ghetto called Labrio Logan.  I saw the paintings for the first time in my life and i was blown away (well at least blown away for a 9 year old ha ha), I loved all the colors and everything and I remember asking my mom what it was.  She said something along the lines of, "That's graffiti, and its illegal." Ha ha.  So I pretty much forgot about it for the next few years until I was in sixth grade.  After we had finished a test in school one day I decide to look at a magazine.  Inside I saw the pictures of graffiti and I was mesmerized.  One of my best friends was Mexican and I knew he knew what it was so I asked him for advice.  He didn't give me much advice but I basically started drawing what I saw in the magazine and from then on I was hooked.

So I guess I have been actively doing graffiti for about 7 years now.

2. What is your graffiti name? And what does it mean?
I swear I go through names like they're ice water.  Usually a writer (someone who partakes in graffiti) picks a name and they stick with it.  Not me.  From 6th grade to about late 8th grade I didn't know people actually had graffiti names.  But 9th grade is when I met some writers at my school and I picked a name for myself. "Seek One".  It had no meaning to me at all but I knew I was decent at drawing the letters "s" "e" and "k".  But throughout the years of learning and getting more experience I went through names such as "Proper" "Easter" "Okaer" "Wetsr" "Werms" and then Finally "Amens".  Amens is what I write now.  And I am very religious and my religion has been a big influence to my art.  And i feel like I am going to stick with the name "Amens Onest".

3. Who/What are your biggest influences for graffiti?
Well I would have to defiantly say my favorite writers are Retna, Revok, Saber, Craola, Krush, Swet, Hense, Obey, Reyes, Sever, Rime, Pose, Norm, Skrew, Zes, Great, Bates, Erue, Skuzer, Amuser, Augor, and Toomer A.K.A. Tloks. those are all the ones i can think of off the top of my head.  But basically all the guys from the crews MSK, AWR, CBS, NCT, BDR, DA, TKO, and TLK.  All those guys are major influences just because i love all the different styles and attitudes of their work.

4. Sometimes Graffiti is associated with vandalism. What are your thoughts on this? Do you vandalize property?
Most writers will say graffiti was made in the streets and it belongs in the streets.  I agree with this 100% too a certain extent though.  Me myself I do not vandalize property and I have no intentions to.  I keep all my art on paper or on legal walls (like my garage ha ha).  I know one writer that was painting a legal mural on the streets and people will come up to him and say, "Wow, that's a beautiful mural! I love the colors and the detail."  Everyone one loves all the bright colorful graffiti but hate the tagging. (Quoted by Toomer TKO from the movie Infamy) "What they don't realize is that, that's how graffiti starts.  With a tag.  Because a tag turns into a throw up, a throw up turns into straight letter, a straight letter turns into a burner, a burner turns into a piece, and a piece turns into a mural.  They don't realize without that first tag he wouldn't be able to paint these beautiful murals." I believe this to the fullest extent. So to answer your question, I have no problem with people doing illegal graffiti.  I myself do not do it illegally.

5. Most people refer to Graffiti as stuff they see on the side of trains, do you know any Graffiti Artists that display their art on trains? Is the Graffiti on trains real Graffiti Art?
The way graffiti started was in the 70's by this guy TAKI 183.  He was the most influential.  He wrote his tag everywhere and people started to catch on and started bombing (when writers go out and paint all night and hit up multiple spots) trains in New York City.  Train graffiti is a key role because people could paint their name on a crate or something and that train will travel all across the United States and hundreds of people will see it.  As far as me knowing people that bomb trains, i don't know anyone that bombs trains.  Just because i don't live in an area where there is a train yard.  Everyone here just paints walls and billboards.

6. Obviously Graffiti Art is a different hobby than most would have, do you ever get criticized for having an odd hobby as such?
When I tell people I do graffiti I usually get a remark like "Oh..... like on walls?" and then I say no if keep it on paper don't worry.  Then they get very interested because they now know I'm not a vandal.  Then after we finish talking about it, i usually say something like “You can see my artwork anywhere along I-5. hahahahahaha....."  Yeah... just to lighten up the subject a little and everyone usually laughs at it.

7. Do you ever do Graffiti for somebody else, like a customer?
    Yes I have.  I have painted two murals for my church.  One for a stop slavery convention and one for the high school youth group.  Then i also did some commission work for this contest called "San Diego's Best Dance Crew"  and i painted two murals for that and I was really proud of them because it was the first time anyone had ever paid me for my art hahaha.

8. Do you plan on pursuing your career as a Graffiti Artist? Or do you have other plans for the future.
    Well, graffiti has been a huge influence for other things in my life such as graphic design and photography.  My major right now is photography I feel like that's what I want to do for a career. But as far as graffiti goes I am always willing to paint for a few extra bucks.

9. You must have an artistic mind to do this; do you ever practice other art styles?
     I do, I love characters and stuff like that but most of my other drawings all originate or support graff.  I used to play the drums but I got tired of going to lessons and crap so I got over that.  But mainly graffiti is where all my art is at.

10. What mediums do you use and what kind of canvas do you paint on? Can you do Graffiti Art with something other than paint?
      Well the different mediums i personally use are mostly pencil/graphite, pens, markers and spray paint.  But the joy about graffiti is that you aren’t restricted to one medium like say an oil painter or something.  Most artists have a wide array of mediums such as, Spray-paint, markers, stickers, wheat pates and posters, pencils, sculpture (if that’s considered a medium), stencils, rocks and needles to carve their name in windows and stuff.  The list goes on and on and i love how free graffiti is. 

     My canvas is anything i can mark/draw on.  Like walls, paper, canvas, newspaper, maps, cardboard, my table, hats... haha anything.. i literally draw on everything i own... its fun haha.

11. I hear you practice the discipline Parkour, does this ever inspire your work? Do you paint Parkour oriented paintings?
     Well I have only started parkour like two months ago.  I was actually inspired by and artist named Zeser, and I thought to myself "wow that looks really sick" ha ha and then I found out there was a name for it... Parkour.  Since I haven't been doing Parkour for very long it hasn’t really inspired any of my work yet, but I am planning on painting a wall in my room incorporating Parkour.

12. Is there anything you would like to add about Graffiti Art that is often overlooked or misunderstood in today’s society?
      YES! I hate it when people look at graff and they instantly think "gang bangers". WE ARE NOT GANG BANGERS!!! Ha ha I want to stress this so much because its so annoying when I'm with someone and they think the graff we see is coming from a gang.  I want to say, for the most part its NOT.  There is a distinct difference between Graffiti and gang graffiti.  When gangs use it, they don't use it to get their name out there or to get famous, its to mark their territory and 9 times out of 10 its very ugly. So yeah that's my main thing.  And graffiti writers aren't all scumbags..  Its such a stereotypical thing.. its so easy to label graffiti artists because they are so venerable.. because they break the law.  Most of my friends that are writers are the nicest most loyal people i have ever met! so PLEASE do me a favor, next time you see a Piece, or a tag or something, don't look at it as vandalism and destroying property, look at it as artwork, people expressing themselves.

 Here is a picture of Jake.

Along with a few samples of his work...

 Hope you all enjoyed the interview. I know I learned a lot about a foreign subject while talking with Jake and composing this interview, I hope you learned the same and no longer look at Graffiti Artists as "Gang Bangers" but more as a different way of artistically expressing yourself.

E-mail all questions and comments to