For my first year of college, my roommate had to leave the apartment that he lived in. There weren’t many other people living there and there weren’t many cars going up and down the block at night. One night my roommate woke up to this graffiti on the front of the building.
“The Fuck That” and “Bitch, Get Away From My Boyfriend” were two of the first graffiti artists that I ever encountered. They were teenagers at the time. Their message was not one of violence or hatred, but anger at the world and the lack of justice and equality in the world. The first time they got the idea for graffiti, they did a short story describing their struggles. It was the first time they realized what a graffiti message meant to them.
What was it like being a graffiti writer in the 1980s?
It was very difficult from the jump. I was living on the street, being an outcast from high school, which was very difficult in our community at that time. There was a period where I didn’t speak to most of the people in my community because I wasn’t accepted as a person; it was a very isolating, dark period. The main reason I joined the graffiti scene was to escape from that. I wanted to live normal, live with people. It took 10 years for me to get into the lifestyle that I was part of then.
What’s the next project you’re working on?
I’m working on a project called “I’m Just A Boy.” It is about a 17-year-old boy in Detroit who was kicked out of a school because of his race or religion. He’s been living out on the streets for the past two years. It’s his story and his story needs to be told. And he has been in my head for a while. It is about an outsider trying to make things better. His story is not about the police, it’s about the school system. I’m also putting together a project about a family that was recently evicted from their home after they were evicted to make room for an empty house.
Who’s currently doing the most work in graffiti?
In the last decade or so, the most work is done today by young boys that grew up on the streets. They had no opportunities, so they’re using graffiti as a way to survive and pay their rent. Some of the work is done by street artists or graffiti writers that are out of school, or out
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