I've been searching for my own style since I got back from touring Europe in 2014. I wanted something that would be unique to me but easily recongnizeable by my audience. This new style needed to be highly adaptable to any environment or concept. The beginning of 2015 is when I discovered the early stages of my new style. I named it Petal Blocks.
Petal Blocks are my interpretation of Nature. While mankind may be destroying the world, nature is continuing to thrive. It will exist in new ways. It will evolve past humans who can not live harmoniously in this echo system. This concept came about organically from my doodles. The arcs and lines of my fluid thoughts formed symbols to identify my native land, Northern California. The suns, clouds, leafs, mountains, and waters are morphed into compositions that follow the graffiti letter art form. Shading, 2-D & 3-D, outlines, are the parameters for exploring my conversation with Mother Earth. Graffiti and nature, both find the balance between structure and free form. As I try to find my own balance within this modern society, I try to exist like the nature I depict- fluid, vibrant, and persistent. For in the end nature wins, always.
This is me painting ADA music studios in Nairobi. Its located at this place called the Alchemist Bar. I met many talented people and some of them produce content for Whats Good Network. They featured my mural process on their site along with a conversation about their perspective on graffiti and street art in the city. Check it out here: link to article.
These backpacks sat in my closet for a year before I made my move. I needed to be clear on my style and technique. The Petal Block motif executed with a brown Molotow marker worked out great. On sale in my shop now.
I bought another 1-way ticket and I'm headed back to Africa (for the first time). I'll be a featured muralist at the Chale Wote Street Art Festival in Accra, Ghana. I figured since this is my first time flying to The Continent, I might as well make it an adventure. My goal is to do exactly what I did in Europe only better- make art and build with the people. In addition to street art, I'll be engaging the local startup scenes to see what issues they are dealing with and how this current push for technology is empowering or hendering their communities.
People wonder how I do this whole "1-way traveling thing". To be honest its fairly simple. I focus on the journey, not the destination. Trust in God and rock out. I'll be fully documenting and sharing my experiences this time around. If you would like to collab or link just message me.
Tour Schedule (tentative)
Casablanca, Morocco. Aug 15 I dont know anyone in Morocco and I wont be there for very long. Only 23 hours to be exact. It's my layover before landing in Ghana for Chale Wote. Street art does exist there and I want the inside scoop. My goal is to meet a local artist(s) and experience how they get down.
Accra, Ghana. Aug 16 Ghana bout to be crackin. You can believe that. I'm landing two days after the festival officially kicks off. I have no idea what to expect. Just point me to the nearest wall. After the festival I'll be doing personal studies and developing an art series that I've been dealing with since 2012.
Nairobi, Kenya. Sept 15. I'll be in Kenya for 2-3 weeks. Dont have any concrete plans except to find artists.
Johannesburg, South Africa. Oct 1. I'm good when I make it to SA. Got relatives and friends.
My Memorial Day Weekend was spent in LA where all I did was make art and look at art with my friends. As an artist that travels its my goal to 1., connect with local artist 2., explore the art scene & lastly, to paint on walls. I accomplished all three and it was an amazing.
Friday we got into the city and were able to check out the opening of the RFK Highschool Mural Festival. As an educator its my dream to turn every school into an art gallery. It takes cultural enrichment to a whole new level. As an artist I was overwhelmed with inspiration. I saw some of my heroes live in action like Sam Flores of Upper Playground and met new dudes like Rob Hill who did a dope installation in the hallway leading to the cafeteria.
Saturday I did some live painting with Chuck in Venice. Krista came through and painted on the beach. I have mad love for public places to paint because Its how I learned 2 years ago when I was traveling Europe. It also gives the public the opportunity to see the art being made.
Kyle Montgomery had a really dope show in Chinatown with his Crystal Mary collection.
On Sunday I got to link with my good friend Oz. He's working out of the Super Chief Gallery in Downtown, LA. We came up together in New York together as struggling artists. He was gracious enough to give my friends and I a tour of Swoon's latest show- Pearl Beauty Shop.
On Monday, Chuck and I made it to South Central where we got the opportunity to paint in a really nice backyard. I did a kool piece. Still learning how to rock these cans, but overall I'm content with how everything turned out. I'll make it back at another time to expand on the piece.
So the homies and I got together and decided to host a music festival in our community garden. After some deliberation and a few cease and desist emails, we came up with the name Oakhella.
The inspiration for the design came from the album artwork of "The Low End Theory". Instead of Oakhella, it was going to read "The Lower Bottoms" with the map of the neighborhood incorporated into the form. I decided to rock with "OAKHELLA" instead because it was a great opportunity to brand our event with dope artwork.
"Graffiti ist Jazz mit buchstaben" translates to "Graffiti is Jazz in Letters". Its a book about street art in Germany. I got a full page feature for a piece I did at the Meeting of Styles Graffiti Festival in Magdeburg in 2014. I'm really grateful to be captured in that moment.
Here's a few facts to consider:
1. I bought a one way ticket to Europe and discovered legal graffiti parks. Thats how I learned to paint with spray cans. I had only been painting for one and a half months before the festival in Magdeburg, Germany.
2. I was the only American at the festival and definitely the least experienced. I painted on the last space of an uneven wall that was located in a bed of weeds.
3. Mike Brown had just been murdered a few weeks earlier and I was still processing all the emotions I had regarding domestic terrorism on non-white communities.
I was blown away by the level of talented artists at the festival. I was more concerned with not stinking up my piece. It turned out to be an amazing experience. I met some great people and learned a lot. I left the Meeting of Styles motivated to find my own style.
Fast forward 2 years later and I get a message from my Belgium homie that he saw me in a book. Turns out the authors attended the festival and captured me in a moment- probably when I was uploading a photo to instagram. You never know who is watching you or your work.
For 6 days I had the opportunity to lead a mural project with 30 middle school students who attend East Bay Innovation Academy. The mural is on two sides of a Matson shipping container that was donated to the school. I challenged students to think of solutions that will improve the the mentality and emotion of their fellow students and teachers. I led them through a series of brainstorm activities which enabled them to create images that would be appropriate for the mural. Students organized themselves into groups and after completing sketches & color, were ready to paint.
The mural itself is awesome and really contains the creativity and energy of middle school kids. It was important for me to empower the students by allowing them to create whatever they wanted.
Side 1 of the mural contains images and characters that represent the students and their interest. It has a fire and ice phoenix (school mascot), robots, pokemon, lizards, ying yang symbol, abstract patterns, my little pony, and other random creatures.
Side 2 of the container is a more traditional mural concept that shows the EBIC with students playing in a grassy field with blue sky. The grass contains multi color flowers and lizards. Abstract patterns decorate the borders of the containers.
On a Friday afternoon, the owner of 7th st. cafe (formerly the Revolution Cafe), Tony Coleman, invited me to paint some fences in the outside yard of the cafe. It's an amazing space where the entire yard can be seen by BART riders while traveling between the 7th st and Embarcadero stop. I linked up with my artists friends the next day and we started brainstorming some ideas. What followed was a 4-part collaboration that took place over 2 days.
The most difficult part of this process was getting to a place of understanding between the 4 of us. There was a lot of deliberation, critiquing, and bouncing of ideas going on. Some compromises were made, but in the end we got to a place of understanding and execution.
I joined Attitudinal Healing Connection about two weeks before the third Super Hero Mural installation began. It's located under the 580 bridge on West and 35th st in Oakland. I had high expectations. This would be largest project I've worked on in regards to the size of the wall, team, and technical skill required to complete the work. I was excited for the opportunity to create with other amazing artists that I had briefly met during our orientation. I had no idea how important the team and AHC organization would mean to me after facing a tragedy that rocked us and our Oakland community to the core.
Within the first week of painting I formed a special connection with my fellow team member, Antonio Ramos. I knew from his energy that he was a good guy. His excitement and enthusiasm for the mural was the greatest on the team, which shouldn't be taken lightly because the energy was high throughout the entire team. Antonio and I prepped the wall together and he painted on my right side for the entire first week. He painted the purple house and I painted the pink house.The following are a list of experiences we shared that stuck with me and caused great sorrow when I learned he had been murdered while painting on the wall. He died on a Tuesday of our second week.
• Before I knew Antonio, we met. My best friend lives off of 33rd and Telegraph. One day I noticed an electrical box that had been painted. It was dope. I took a picture. And made a mental note that I need to paint electrical boxes.
• Antonio was from Oakland- a real Town dude. Numerous people shouted out to him through passing while we painted. I was impressed because his conversations were genuine and they were usually with people he considered really good friends. They were people who reminded me of my friends.
• Antonio brought a portable speaker and we connected fast through music. He asked me to dj because he ran out of music that wasn't appropriate for everyone to listen to. I was impressed that he considered others and prioritized being respectful to children and elders that may have been passing by. I introduced him to Fela Kuti and he loved it. He sent me a few reggae playlists and showed me how to download music off of youtube. Here are two reggae mixes he sent me youtube.com/watch?v=tR-5AZF9zPI & youtube.com/watch?v=joqvGrZWZt0
• There was a moment when I felt myself tired with low-energy. I made a sly comment about being too tired. Tony agreed with me because he was up at 4am to help the lead artist and mural director trace figures onto the wall. He had just gotten back after a few hours of sleep to continue working.
• Lastly, Antonio documented the entire mural process shamelessly. He took photos of/for everyone and posted them on facebook along with an encouraging message of support and acknowledgment. He wasn't a journalist or a social media personality. He didn't post photos for more likes or followers. He was just genuinely happy to share his experience with others.
I didn't get to ask you about the funny blue car that you drove around or what your clothing brand "inermies" is all about. If we had more time I'm sure we would have figured out that we share hella friends in common, like that new skate shop on macarthur is across the street from the middle school I teach at. I guess the sorrow that I am felt/feeling is what happens when a kindred spirit is ripped from you.
Your light was bright and pure, and I thank you for that. My prayer and love goes to your family and your friends. I thank them for being a part of your life and enabling you to be who you were. Continue to create and watch over us. Much Love.
I designed Gentriface in 2013. From living in DC and New York I've become quite familiar with belonging to communities that have been gentrified. Some of it was welcomed. Most of it was hated. You can donate to the Gentriface Sticker Campaign via my paypal. I'll be doing print runs of 4,000+ from a local shop here in Oakland. My goal is to raise $200.
Oakland Leaf's Oakland Peace Camp- A 4 week summer camp.
This summer I returned to Bret Harte Middle School to lead a group of 30 students to participate in a graffiti and mural workshop. Our theme for the summer camp was ‘Hands Up! (no…) Rise Up!” The students were encouraged to speak their mind, represent their culture, and empower each other through their creativity. They participated in every aspect of the mural process from brainstorming, to sketching, to prepping and finally mural construction.
The first half of the program I focused on teaching creative exercises, screening graffiti documentaries, and leading drawing tutorials with my students. They were challenged to become creators, break boundaries, and develop positive habits that will make them strong artists as they continue to develop. My lessons included the birth of Hip Hop and Graffiti, Oakland graffiti legends and the Bay Area scene, & the emergence of street art as a new gallery platform.
Some lessons were co-facilitated by local, professional artists who volunteered their time. They led discussions on what it takes to be a successful artist and entrepreneur. Students left the course feeling empowered as artists with skills that will allow them to develop their own artistic styles and personal views as creatives.