Sounding like an old man

The story about my Dad showing me graffiti in the early to mid 80s is one of my standard tales. When I saw Beat Street I kind of tagged once or twice and lost interest. Even though I saw it and was blown away it took a few years before I decided to do it. The writers I met were a bunch of criminals, violent punch you in the face and take your stuff kind of guys. It was a real shock, here was all this mind blowing art and I guess I just met the guys from Redfern and Waterloo who took your shoes and like I said before punched you in the face. Tudor, Seems, Mystery, Fab4, CIS the art was amazing. As amazing as street art is today to a lot of people. Basically I had to stand over the guys who stood over me and eventually I got there. I was the guy doing the face punching after that. Pretty ridiculous and what about the art? When I turned seventeen I stopped hanging with violent types after a bunch of guys I was mates with got done for murder, what was the point? You have to understand the history of these guys and my own experience with violence to understand. My Dad was psychotic at home when I was young and attacked people randomly on the streets so I felt comfortable in that environment. My mates in Waterloo brought me to their houses and their parents were shooting up back in the 80s-90s you couldn’t just walk around the streets there at night it was dangerous. My mates regularly beat people it was standard. Really I was a mess back then, emotionally messed up and really inside I wasn’t a particularly violent person you just had to stick up for yourself. Youth gangs in Sydney are not the problem now it is more organised crime gangs that are a problem. I used to emotionally rely on my crew and when I finally decided to change what I was about I was shunned, I was an artist, (that was an insult back then), I was weird. Really it was the best thing that ever happened to me, I broke away I got a low income scholarship to go to University and study art, I took opportunities while some of my old crew battled with drugs and crime. Basically I was lucky I always had opportunities where as some people have a bloody hard life. That is what has annoyed me about some street art types taking the piss out of that culture as though you are some kind of loser. A lot of these people have their own stories to tell and some again are privileged, come from a nice safe home free from “bad” stuff. They are usually professionals etc, more power to you but don’t knock those poor bastards who did it tough. It isn’t a joke and sure they could have made better decisions and of course a lot did but some of them didn’t have the tools in their heads to see the way out. For me graffiti was a shock but it was also an opportunity to learn about people and improve. Just because gang culture is now looked down on in Sydney doesn’t mean some people didn’t have genuine struggles, sure it isn’t Iraq or Afghanistan we are talking about, it is about people battling their own demons and hopefully coming out on top. Thats just one side of the story though.

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