Marvel production on The 34th St Wall. Interview with seven artists who participated

What is your name? How did you become interested in graffiti? Are you independent artists or a crew?

My artist name is #point108  but some call meBhuta. We as a muralist group just gather seasonally and brainstorm some themes and try to execute them as creatively as possible. We will soon have a website to display our collaborative wall productions. For the time being, pretty much everyone has their respective social media outlets….My personal choice playing field is on my Instagram. In that digital arena I’m open to explore innumerable  social circles without boundaries and have meaningful exchanges. Way before the Internet boom we we’re all doing this type scene hopping. You’d catch the graffiti writers at the drum’n’bass spots, vise versa, the break-dancers at the hardcore punk shows, this was Normal in Miami where I spent most of my childhood growing up. From an early age you’re exposed to so many things, so graffiti artists usually start young in Miami. For me it was a no brainer in 99′ walking into a high school filled with talented graffiti artists, some even Infamous in the scene. So there was always mentoring, someone to learn from, something which I think is an essential thing missing in today’s generation.

SONY DSCWhat was the goal of this project? Why Marvel?

This project specifically was an attempt to get together with fellow graffiti artists both locally and some from out of town in order to organize a fun theme on the wall. My generation grew up on these Marvel comic book characters and the new film just came out in theaters, so we had planned for this loose age of Ultron theme. It’s more nostalgic for me because I don’t read much comics these days, I’m more into philosophy and metaphysics at the moment. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I still have my comic books, trading cards and action figures of course. I usually randomly distribute them in my  sticker packs sold on my Etsy store.

SONY DSCIs it fun to paint together?

The creative process is always fun. Normally we try to communicate with each other a few weeks in advance and exchange sketches and ideas. The day of our production we all contribute to painting the background usually a solid color with found gallons of buff. Then everyone goes at it with their respective pieces. We all mainly paint with spray paint. I personally use anything I can get my hands on. So I bring brushes, rags, rollers, bucket paints, water,… you never know what you can utilize to get your desired effect until you take those risks.

What is street art today?

Thanks to the social popularity and economic interest of Art Basel Miami, a lot of other cities are catching on to the exponential possibilities from the propagation of “street art” and other public art. Once appreciation is there for the public art then the cityscape will dramatically change.

SONY DSCWhat are your future plans as a group?

We will continue to provide some positive and engaging murals on the 34th street and hope to participate in any project development  in support of street art. We’ve already  been discussing our next themes and it’s exciting.

Sounds great!  How could people help you to develop street art in Gainesville?

One idea  would be for business owners to sponsor artists to paint on The Wall. For example, we can do our mural then add “sponsored by…” I think this would show support and a healthy relationship development in our community. Another thing would be for business owners allowing murals on their buildings. In a time where cookie cutter conglomerate businesses flood every major city in this country, a bit of colorful variety is like a breath of fresh air, a sense of humanity, a personal touch. That seems like a reasonable goal. Support your local street artists!

SONY DSCHow can I call you?

Greetings , You can call me Ras if you would like.

Hello, Ras! How long have you been into graffiti?

I have been in the Graffiti Culture since the early 90’s in Miami Florida even though I have done extensive traveling. You can check out a lot of my work here . I am a Cuban American from Miami Florida and I am an Illustrator and designer. I have been doing art all of my life, from fine art to commercial art and beyond. I am a UF Alumni as well in connection with New World School Of the Arts.

SONY DSCWhat is the aim of this project?

This Project’s aim was to get a little more involved with other Artists in North Central Florida area and to do some serious Urban Art work for the Community to enjoy. I chose Hawk Eye as one of the heroes because he has skills but no super powers all of his efforts leed to his amazing abilities. I feel to an extent that I am the same way I was not born with super drawing skills but through patience and time and effort my abilities have developed. I as well chose Vision as the hero/antihero because an evildoer created him even though in the end he turns good. I as well was created from a negative environment and situation but found my way to the good to the light.

Did you do a sketch before?

I usually start with a design idea and sketch it a couple of times on loose paper before it ends up in my sketchbook in color. A lot of house paint mixed with spray-paint and patience is required. Professional graffiti tips and paint is used as well as ladders, stepladders and gloves. Lots and lots of gloves lol. We start with a background and then move onto the sketch and proportions. From there the filling of colors and shapes takes way as the mural develops.

SONY DSCWhat are your future plans?

One of the things I would love to do and have been talking to a lot of people about is taking an industrial area in Gainesville and turning it into a huge urban art area where all types of artists can paint the walls and exteriors and on the weekends we could have craft Bazaars and shows. Each vendor would pay a fee to pay the person who owns the lot of the industrial area and that we, the community, would have a place to go and engage in the arts as well as artists and vendors a place to sell there goods. Everything would have to be hand made though.

Haha, cool! I like the idea! You must have been inspired by the Wynwood District living in Miami. Unfortunately we don’t have such a big area with warehouses. However, we definitely have some buildings that would look much better with lots of graffiti than they look right now.

If business owners could ask for permission to paint their business or different areas that are ugly and bland that would be a start. As well maybe having someone go to the city and show them how Jacksonville just got a 400,000 dollar grant for public art and how well Miami and Wynwood are doing maybe they would allow a public art committee to focus and bringing great art from Gainesville locals.

What would you say about paintings on The 34th St Wall? 

Please help keep art alive on the 34th street wall. There is so much space please don’t go over the awesome art whether its graffiti or a painting someone did. Especially the UF CLUBS!!! You guys are the biggest culprits in going over our art we have spent time doing. Please and thank you!

SONY DSCWhat is your name and where are you from?

My name is Campbell and I write “ASXIII” aka “AS13”. I was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida.

How did you get involved in graffiti? Do you have any formal art background?

I’ve been an artist since I was a child. I picked up a pencil at around age 8 and started drawing and never really quit. I’ve been doing it professionally for about a decade now. I attended Douglas Anderson School of the Arts and it gave me a ton of skills that I still use today. It’s where I also started getting into graffiti. It was my sophomore year and there were some guys in my classes who wrote and I wanted to get into the scene. They let me hold some cans of paint and I started sketching out some pieces….they were awful….like severely bad. You gotta start somewhere though and I kept at it and I’m still learning.

SONY DSCHow did you guys get together?

I got involved with this project after Vandal said he knew some guys who were trying to put together a crew of writers to make this Marvel piece happen. I showed them some of my work and they welcomed me into the group. I wanted to be on board because I grew up with Marvel, it was a big part of my childhood.

Is Ghostrider your favorite hero?

I came onto the project a little late so a lot of key characters were taken and I only had so many colors so I thought about it and decided to paint Ghostrider. He is a guy who had to make a deal with the devil to save the ones he loved. I can respect that, plus he is a total bad-ass.

SONY DSCHow do you start a new project?

I usually start a project with some rough sketches after I have an idea that is. Then some more drawings then I make a final drawing and plan out my color scheme.

What are your main materials?

I try to buy good paint without crippling myself financially. Nice paint costs a bit but it stands out and is durable against the sun and the weather. Then black gloves and a gallon or two of black buff to go over the wall to make a clean surface to paint from. Paint rollers and step ladders. I also make sure that I have an assortment of caps for the spray paint so that I can do different line thicknesses and effects. It’s a lot when you list it all out.

SONY DSCTell me about yourself please.

My name is James aka VaN594, I’m based in Jacksonville and I own/run the street wear brand Kingdom Clothing CO or KCC for short. I started writing graff when I was 14 back home in England I’ve been writing on and off for awhile now.

SONY DSCWho is your hero and why did you choose him?

I grew up watching X-Men and fell in love with the comic books/cartoons. I was a cartoon junky as a kid and I chose War Machine because he’s bad ass and has a ton of weapons. I would stand by the microwave hoping that the radiation would make me an X-Mmen but instead all I received was crappy food ahaha

SONY DSCDo you plan your murals or just let it flow? 

I usually freestyle my pieces, I feel free when I paint that way and it becomes more personal because I figure stuff out as I go and depending on the colors or the mood that I’m feeling but for projects or large murals it’s best to plan out. I love mixed media and using different mediums but there’s nothing like spray paint.

SONY DSCYou have your own legal business Kingdomclothing related to graffiti, what about “the taste of fear”, something forbidden?

I’m getting a bit old for the illegal piece aspect of graff but it is part of the scene and I understand it will always be there but I stick to working on projects or custom artwork I can share with the public or sell. I want to help to push street art/graff into a positive direction in my city/world wide, we have a lot of talent in the area and it’s time to showcase that and share the stories.

SONY DSCWhat would you say to teens that just started to do graffiti?

There is a lot of history and knowledge in street art/graff as a whole. It’s important to learn the history and how it even came about. The problem I see today is kids starting out without learning the history or the respect that comes with the game. For most of us writers it gives us an outlet to be seen and heard in this world so the next time you see a large complex mural or even the next time you see a simple tag up high on a sign remember that person has a story to tell.

SONY DSCWho are you and what do you do?

Well, I go by MOGE. Right now I work for a A/C company and I’m a Project Manager and estimator. I do this cause the dream of becoming a professional graffiti artist is a very long road and you have to learn a lot along the way. So I have to find a source of income in the mean time. I sketch whenever I get a break at work on my lunch break. Any free time I can. It’s important to have as many outline sketches as you can! I am going to paint probably for the rest of my life.. Cause I enjoy it and I love anything that has to do with graffiti. If graffiti ever takes off professionally I will leave the a/c business and continue my passion in graffiti. What they always say is do something your passionate and happy about doing. As long as your happy nothing else matters!

How long have you been passionate about graffiti?

I have been into graffiti ever since I first noticed it in about 2007. I was in 9th grade at the time. After I had seen what you can do with a spray can and letters I’ve been addicted to this!

SONY DSCWhat is the meaning of this project to you?

Strictly professional. I came to bring my best to this project. Marvel has always been a part of my childhood and it brings back memories watching it on TV and reading comic books. I pick Hulk because he is indestructible he can never be taken down. No matter how hard to fight him he’s gonna get right back up. I see it as no matter how hard I fail at a (graffiti) piece I’m always improving and always picking my self back up to do it again and again until I’m satisfied. That’s why I picked Hulk and my passion towards this piece… Plus I love the shades and colors of green! 🙂

How did you prepare for this work?

I and several others painted every weekend to get our control with spray cans down and practicing making our lines even and as perfect as can be. Making sure we knew what we were going to do when the day came to putting your piece on the wall.

Wow… A lot of time… How much does it cost to paint one block of the 34th St Wall?

Spraypaint ranges between $3.00 to $6.95 a can, Coptic markers are about $2.50 to $4.50 a piece, Mechanical pencils I like to use when I sketch the point is always sharp pack is about $1.50 of 20 pencils, Erasers, Paint markers $2.00 a piece, Prisma color pencils $250.00 for full 50 pencil set, Prisma color markers $250.00 for 50 marker set….

SONY DSCWhat do you think about street art in Gainesville?

On the 34th Wall your shit gets cover by dumb shit. Not even actually artwork. But it is the only legal place. The problems with getting a permission is people think graffiti isn’t art or isn’t something that will make a building stand out and look beautiful (vandalism). A lot of old heads (older generation) in the city commission, so trying to get anything to get through would be hard. To the younger generation I’d say come together as a group of artists. Do what you can to make Gainesville beautiful. Spread the art everywhere you can besides The 34th Wall. Bring it downtown.. Because downtown Gainesville looks grubby and nothing brightens my day going down University Ave.  Don’t ever give up on your dream or goals, always keep your head up if people try to put you down. Always try to improve yourself and your art work. The harder you work the more it pays off in the long run.

SONY DSCWhat is your name and how long have you been writing?

‘ello my name’s KEVO. I’ve been painting all my life but within the last 8 years I started writing graff, and haven’t stopped. It’s part of my life now.

SONY DSCI like your tattoos! It seems to be Banksy?

Yeah, I have two Banksy tattoos. I got them done about 6 years ago. One rat in a business suit and one with a parachute, my version of business and pleasure, and at the time I was mainly doing stencil art.

Do you ever have regrets about it? I would say he is not really relevant lately

I don’t regret this tattoo at all! A lot of graff artists don’t care for him and think he’s a sellout but he’s still going strong and he gets his message across. I’ve got lots of respect for his work.

Would you like to do a tattoo of any other artist now?

I would like to have some of BLU’s work done on me, you should check him out. And of course plenty of my friends work.

I’ve seen BLU’s work in Spain a few years ago…Yeah, he is great! I personally love so many artists and if I had at least one piece from everyone there would not be a free space on my body, haha.

SONY DSCTell me ,who did you pick for your character on the 34th St Wall?

For the production on The 34th St Wall, I picked Loki. I did so simply because he’s the God of mischief and he’s one of my favorite characters. I mean c’mon, the God of mischief and graffiti go hand and hand, don’t you think?

SONY DSCWhat is your name?

I don’t want people to know who I am, I just want them to see and appreciate my work, the process and graffiti in general.

Ohh… No problem. What is your attitude to the project on The 34th St Wall?

My attitude towards the project going in was kind of indifferent/lackluster due to the location of the production. I knew whatever we produced would be destroyed quickly. I also wasn’t really familiar with the artists present, so I wasn’t sure how the group dynamics would play out.

What do you think about street art and graffiti in Gainesville?

In relation to this town I am unsure of its receptivity to graffiti murals. As it stands there are hardly any outside walls that display graffiti art. Although I have my own opinions about why this is the case I say I am unsure to remain optimistic. I can say, however, that I have seen no systematic effort to support murals of any kind in Gainesville and that public art in Gainesville is severely lacking.

Is it hard to get a permission to paint on a wall in Gainesville? I know the materials are not cheap, is it possible to get any compensation?

From my experience with commissions a common problem encountered by graffiti artists is an unwillingness by business owners to fairly compensate the artists involved. It is true that the materials alone to complete a mural can be expensive. Many times even if a patron/sponsor agrees to provide the supplies individuals run into trouble with establishing a fair pay and wage compensation for the work put in on the project. It is hard at times to put a price tag on the value of your work, time put in, transportation expenses etc. Quite often the graffiti artists bear the brunt of this burden sacrificing fair pay or even pay at all for their work and labor. Their ability to freely share their artwork on a large platform being their primary desire.

SONY DSCHow were you preparing for the production? What the materials did you use?

By getting inspiration from various images of my character and getting the appropriate supplies together. Some of these supplies included bucket paint, spray paint, a paint roller extension, paint rollers, trays, graffiti caps, a step ladder etc. Spray paint is the core medium I use in most of my art and graffiti so a spectrum of color and numerous cans are involved in large-scale murals. Bucket paint is also frequently used and graffiti caps are essential. At times elements of a wall are sketched out or they may be freestyled extemporaneously on the spot.

Why did you pick Doom?

I picked Doom because he’s always been an interesting and peculiar character to me. His character has even inspired musicians, most notably MF Doom whose music I enjoy.

SONY DSCHow do you think we could improve Street Art in Gainesville?

Individuals can help develop graffiti and street art in Gainesville by first seeking to understand and be open minded and tolerant of something that the majority of the population knows little to nothing about. As with discussions of race, gender, sexual orientation, national origin etc. certain individuals have to overcome their prejudices, stereotypes and fears about something that they are not involved in or a part of or are ignorant of in order to value it. In regards to graffiti and street art this must be done in order to recognize graffiti and street art’s intrinsic transformative and revitalizing social and political power that is capable of improving communities if given the appropriate support and channeled. Examples of successful meaningful public art projects include the Atlanta Beltline project, Richmond street art festival, Detroit Beautification project, Urban Nation Berlin, Murals DC etc.

True. There are many more successful street art events around the globe, the USA and Florida particularly. I hope Gainesville will be among them very soon!

Video of  Marvel production in progress.

2 thoughts on “Marvel production on The 34th St Wall. Interview with seven artists who participated

  1. Burny

    I live right across from the 34th St. wall, and I really liked the Marvel-themed work. My favorite was Ghost Rider — very well done! And this interview was very inspiring, thanks GNV Urban Art!

  2. Iryna Kanishcheva Post author

    Thanks for reading, Burny! I hope we see more themed artworks there! 😉

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