Your guide to SXSW.
Whether it’s your first or 10th SXSW, it helps to be prepared. Here’s a list of seven helpful tips that will keep you going to make your experience at Austin one to remember.1. Protect yourself from the sun.
The sun can get intense in Austin during SXSW. Having some protection from the sun’s rays during shows will help you get a clearer view and keep you cool. Be sure to p…
- 4 days ago
Music Festival Tunes
With only a few more days to go till SXSW arrives, EB&Flow arranged some our favorite tracks from some of the artists being showcased at the festival. You can stream the full mixtape below. SXSW takes place in Austin, TX March 7-16.
1. Little Dragon - Klapp Klapp
2. Danny Brown ft Purity Ring - 25 Bucks
3. Phantogram - Fall In Love
4. Sam Smith - Money On My Mind
CL: What is the first thing that comes to your mind when someone says “Graffiti?”
SO: When I think of graffiti I think of the streets. Graffiti to me is tags, throwups, and bombing trains and subway cars —it’s from the streets. I just think lawless; illegal activity. It’s available to anybody but you gotta put your work in the streets, that’s where it starts. Now when someone says “graffiti art” that’s a whole other thing for me.
Why don’t you tell me a little more about how you got started?
Well, I started out in the streets. I got up, took my little flex and pictures, then enjoyed a little bit of street fame for a while. But unfortunately the law caught up to me and I went to jail 3 times for graffiti.
I had to make a decision around 2002. I was doing the streets for 12 years by then and it was like, man! You know?? You almost gotta understand that where I’m from it’s not like New York, or LA, or San Fransico — especially back then. The scene was really small — it still is small — but it was even smaller back then. So the more you got up, the more you stood out. So we, like a lot of other cities, have graffiti tasks force, et cetera et cetera, and then after a while they knew who I was. Even though I switched names, went undercover, and all that, I had to find a way to keep doing what I love to do — which is paint. It was that time around 2002 I started to do more legal work and that transitioned into a fucking career in graffiti art. [Laughs]
It’s been a long road — don’t get me wrong. I’ve been doing this for 24 years now. You get older, everybody’s different. Some people play both sides of the fence. But for me, it was that the legal aspect that caught up to me. It was like every time I fucking got up I had to worry about getting a phone call like “Hey, we’re watching you.” I just kinda got clamped on by the law. It was just like, damn dude, I can’t go back to jail. I’m losing time man! You know all I did in jail was draw graffiti anyway! [Laughs]
It was just kind of finding a way to make it work, and that’s what I had to do — that’s what I’m still doing.
I’m sure a lot of other people would’ve called it quits after getting pinched 3 times. What kept you going?
I had times in my life like everybody else — going through struggles — whatever they may be. Graffiti was a bit of like an anchor for me.
When all else fails, go pick up a can, and paint. -SlokeOne
So then in ’02 I got out of my trade as a screen printer for 16 years. I mean, graphics art are cool but I didn’t want to own my own shop or sit in front of a computer all day. So I had to find ways, and it started more in the mural aspect. Like going up to businesses, asking “Hey can I go paint some murals up for you?” Show them my portfolio, knock on doors — it was basically the way I looked at my approach on the streets. But doing it in a business sense, legally.
I knew that if I did it legally and with permission — which I don’t consider graffiti by the way — it would stay up. Pretty soon I started to get all city with these murals/ permission walls and people would ask me to do commission work. Then I started teaching graffiti as art.
So as I got older, it was like, “man, how can I make a living off of this?” It was a lot of trial and error. I just took my business sense, and just applied it to the legal aspect. Things slowly overtime started to change and people started to contact me to do murals, even corporate offices wanted me to do graffiti. It was just like, man, I’m gonna dive in. I gotta pay my bills, just like anyone else. You know what I mean?
Yeah — hustle.
Yeah, exactly. I began the art hustle. [Laughs]
I’m sure that paved the way for a lot of the youth.
SO: We got a whole new generation of kids up here. I like to think that we did lay the foundation here for kids in Austin. In terms of the art form transitioning from the streets to above ground. And of course with street art becoming popular, it’s a really interesting time for everything because not a lot of people know that graffiti is the mothership. Graffiti is kind of what the blues were to rock and roll. That’s how graffiti is to street art. It’s interesting to see where it’s all heading. I see a lot of kids now want to jump immediately into the t-shirt lines, the websites, and that’s great and all — but yo, you’re forgetting that you gotta build your skill.
It’s good to see these kids hungry. But you gotta know your foundation, you gotta know your history, and you gotta build skill. I mean if your stuff’s whack, go home and practice. It doesn’t happen overnight. It’s just like anything else — you gotta have the heart. I mean I didn’t think I’d still be doing graf 24 years later. But at the same time, man, I don’t know what else to do. I mean, I love it.
Find something you love to do, and bust your butt at it. Just don’t ever forget why you got into it. -SlokeOne
Cause you know, it is work. That’s why they call it art-work.
SlokeOne pt. I CL: What is the first thing that comes to your mind when someone says “Graffiti?”
- 2 weeks ago
Continued from part one.
Can you explain a bit about your creative process?
I try to draw as much as I can because that’s where I could save a lot of time. A lot of ideas can come out in the sketch book to transfer to the walls. But for me, the sketch book and the walls are two totally different things.
I’ll say it’s 50/50, sometimes I’ll freestyle. Sometimes I’ll bring a sketch. But even when I bring a sketch, it’s really just a blueprint for me. When I start to paint my piece, it kind of takes on its own life form. It evolves into the way I feel I’m ready to stop. That’s one of things I love about the art form, is that I can come to the wall with an idea, but in the end it really becomes it’s own identity — if that makes any sense. It’s funny. Maybe I’ll be dead set on a certain style, and then I go to the wall and I start rocking that style, and I’m all “Oh, well, why not fan this?” You know, or “[Why don’t I] stretch this out? And then pretty soon, it’s like, man, I’m already onto something else. All of that happened throughout that process. A lot of times I’ll come with an idea, and sometimes I don’t. But I really like it to take it’s own [identity].
I guess what I’m trying to say is: In the beginning it’s a lot about controlling the process, and now it’s like letting go of the process, and letting the process become it’s own identity. It’s more free flowing. I try not to think as much. For me painting is very meditative. Very meditative for me because a lot of times man for a brief second I’m in bliss. It’s like wow. No matter what’s coming out of my head, it’s going on the wall. Or it’s just what’s in my soul.
I don’t really listen to an iPod or anything when I paint. But if I do, I like to listen to hip-hop, reggae, reggae dancehall. I would probably say hip-hop and reggae will be my first choices. But then again, anything that sounds right at the time, you know what I mean? I like all kinds of music, but definitely hip-hop and reggae would be my favorite.
How do you feel about artists using different mediums such as stencils, stickers, and wheat pasting?
I feel it’s kind of the sign of the times. We’re living in an age where everything is being fused together. Whether it’s music, whether it’s art, style of clothing, et cetera.
For me, graffiti is about letters. Street art is more about icons — iconic images. So for the stenciling, wheat pasting, and all that, I consider that more street art. To me that’s not graffiti. Do they [street artist] use a lot of tactics that came from graffiti artists? Yes they do. But at the same time, it’s a different medium. When I was coming up, everything was free hand. It still is. But it’s kinda one of those things where [now] everything is getting fused together. I mean, I’ve seen people use paint brushes in their graffiti pieces. You know what I mean? To each is own. It’s just cool seeing where it’s all heading.
I look at the art form as, like, yeah, there’s a code of ethics, there’s an etiquette, there’s rules. But it’s kind of hard to put a rule on something that’s unruly — you know what I mean? [Laughs]
Can control takes time. It takes time. It’s like anything else. It’s like learning how to use a paint brush — it’s gonna take time. I think there’s a lot of shortcuts these days. But you know, whatever, everyone’s different. A lot of people end up projecting out and all that stuff. I mean…ahhh..I don’t know man — I mean, hey, can you still draw? Can you still rock a piece in a black book? Can you still rock a silver and black? I mean, you gotta start somewhere.
How do you feel about the topic of beef between graffiti and street art?
I do my best to stay out of the politics. I’m either thinking about it or I’m painting it — and I’d rather paint. We have a saying here: “Shut up and paint.” I know heads are going to bump into each other because it’s just human nature. But at the same time I look at it like, “Man, we’re all in the same game. We’re either fight amongst ourselves or we’re going to express ourselves with art.”
I think it’s really important for people to know that we’re all in the same boat, man. Even these kids in Austin — these street art kids in Austin starting out — they’re getting all this attention. Hey man, we all gotta start somewhere. We’re all a toy in the beginning. The reality is, we all influence each other whether we wanna admit it or not. It’s just like, we’re all on this big ‘ol boat, some people are jumping ship, some people are trying to get on, some people are playing shuffle board on deck — you know what I’m saying?? Like, we’re all on the boat man! It’s just like, what are we gonna do? Are we gonna shoot each other? We gotta create something. So it’s like what do you wanna do, create or fight? That’s kinda how I feel about it. With all the jealousy; the smack talking and all — man, just shut up and paint! You know? I’m always good as my last piece, you know what I’m saying?
Spoken like a true vet.
And pass it on. You know, I can educate, or I can hate. I’d rather educate, personally. Pass on the traditions, the culture. Give another young buck a shot that’s hungry. You know what I mean? Let ‘um work their way up like we all have to. We never stop paying our dues. So in terms of all the rivalry between graffiti art, and street art, and all that — everyone’s gonna have their own opinion. But you know, just go paint something.
Any advice you would like to give anyone just starting up?
I would say, “learn the history.” Learn who created what. Study fonts. Know your roots. Practice, practice, practice. Don’t be so quick to be like, hey, I’m a big shot. Earn your respect and your skill. You can focus on what everyone else is doing, or you can focus on your next piece. You know what I’m saying? But definitely, know your roots, man. Know your roots. Just because it’s become mainstream doesn’t mean it was created yesterday. It’s decades and decades of history built on what we’re doing now. You gotta give props to the pioneers and know your just a player in the game. The game has been going on for a long time, and will continue to go on. A real writer doesn’t quit. Once you get bit by the bug, man, you got it. [Laughs] I’m already looking forward to next week. I don’t know what I’m gonna paint, but I’m gonna try paint something nice.
Speaking of being one-of-many, how would you like to be remembered amongst other writers?
For my style. [Laughs] And most of all, my character. Character and style.
That’s why I think it’s so important to pass it on to the next generation. They’re going to be the ones carrying the torch. You gotta school ‘um. It’s not about going on the internet and biting styles. It’s not about YouTube. It’s about putting in the work and knowing that it doesn’t come over night. Not forgetting why you got into it in the first place — cause your heart was into it.
Sometimes it ain’t gonna be fun. Sometimes nobody is gonna like your stuff, they’re gonna put you down. You gotta do it for you. If your gonna do it for you, make it nice. Cause in reality, your dealing with an art form that’s public. Besides yourself being the biggest critic, the public will let you know when your stuff’s whack. When you go to create your work, keep in mind your not the only one.
I still got a long way to go in this game. I’ve been blessed to know and work with some amazing artists, travel, and I’m grateful for those opportunities. But I know I still got a long way to go. For me I’m always on quest for the next style, I think that’s what’s kept me going on for so long. I rock a piece, I enjoy it, and now I’m ready to rock another one. For all the writers that I know, they’re the same way. That’s why we all keep doing it. We got that fire inside of us. The art form is really at a place where — I don’t know if it’s been this popular before. I mean, it’s a worldwide art form. People from all races, colors, ages, backgrounds, they do it cause they love it. They wanna get up. They wanna express themselves. It’s a beautiful thing.
Anything else you wanted to say but didn’t have the chance?
I wanna give a big shout out to the universe. To all the people that ever believed in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself. Big shout out to my crews: NBK, CBS, LAWS, TD4, CREATURES, LORDS, RWS, GTO, and all the artists out there keeping it real, keeping it moving. And a big thanks, big ups, to you my brotha!
SlokeOne and his crews’ wall work during SXSW 2013.SlokeOne pt. II Continued from part one. Can you explain a bit about your creative process? I try to draw as much as I can because that’s where I could save a lot of time.
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