Appreciated from afar

When I first started doing graffiti I was not confident to do a lettering piece. It took a few years before I pushed myself to learn the artform. Sometimes I have described graffiti as anything other than an artform on this blog. Yet the core drive for a lettering piece is to create an ‘illusion’, an artifice. Something that goes beyond reality into another realm. That is hard to achieve and not many get there. The reason I never talked about it that way was because initially I saw it as a way of getting up or getting known. I wanted to be known, a name, so for years I was happy to just scrape the surface of the artform. It was probably more a lack of confidence and imagination initially. I was lauded locally for making simple letter pieces that conformed to the standard of getting up. At least that was in Randwick in the late eighties with my crew. In the nineties I got more ambitious and discovered art. It wasn’t until 1991 at the age of seventeen that I felt confident that I could make interesting letter pieces. It became fun and interesting for me and I started to move away from the crew I had been painting with. I suddenly had ‘style’ and I think my initial leanings for getting up held me back but also made what I did, at times substandard passable as I still had a small stake in illegal graffiti. This went on for years and years. Maybe too long. Even though after I left the illegal side of graffiti behind years later I still couldn’t do anything that good. The only thing I could do was bring my interest in contemporary art somewhat awkwardly into my lettering work. Did it ever work? Has it ever worked? Is there any audience for it? Blah blah blah.

Yet I still get motivated to do it. Some of those initial interests in my work from the beginning still show through and all of the attempts at illusion. In 2014 me and Zapgalaxy started painting a wall in Newtown and we chose to keep it raw. We were not fussed with technique, fashion, trends, or any particular finish. We just wanted to concentrate on structure. That is the structure of a letter piece. Sometimes it got lost and at other times a whole host of approaches, some historic and others new, seemed to come out of this collaborative effort that pitched two opposing approaches side by side. On smaller walls we would create a whole finished background but on this bigger wall we concentrated on the core structure of lettering pieces. Probably to our own detriment and damage to our already misunderstood graffiti practices we forged ahead and created a large body of work with many approaches. Some hate us for it and a few love it, while most couldn’t care less. Yet it is unique and has kept us busy. Maybe we were never meant to reach the zenith of the artform and are just as clueless as when we first started. Yet there it is, written in the after notes of Sydney graffiti. More appreciated from afar than near but still determined to create art at all costs. 

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