This is it people, this is it gang! This month marks the start of a new feature in THC magazine where I will be interviewing Graff and street art legends bi-monthly, (some of whom may change your opinion on Graffiti and street art), in an effort to chronicle history and forecast the future of its development. This month I talk to L.A. Graffiti pioneer SLICK. Check out an excerpt of the interview after the jump.
Menace: I’m interested in your back story - how SLICK came to be. Let’s reflect and start with your earliest memory of doing anything art-related. Where did it start for you?
SLICK: My mom used to paint and she told me ‘bout my grandfather in China that was a great illustrator, who passed away at a young age. She used to let me mess up her paintings as a kid. She used to take me to a lot of galleries and museums. I used to trip on Dali as a kid. I guess I can blame my mom for this art bug I gots, she said it’s in my blood.
Menace: Did you have a creative background such as drawing or did you take art classes as a kid?
SLICK: I remember really sucking academically (see what I mean) but excelling in my art classes. When I got kicked outta MID PAC, the principle told my mom that he thought I was autistic and should attend a special school. We thought they said “artistic” so I went on to Ottis Parsons, then Art Center in Pasadena. Thanx principle Demelo!
Menace: Yeah, shouts to Demelo for that! What mediums were you working on and with back then?
SLICK: How far u wanna go back? Ok, crayola crayons, then pencils and markers, then spray paint.
Menace: How influential was your mother with regards to the statements you made through your art versus your experience in school and what academia taught you to implement?
SLICK: She was extremely supportive until it went towards graff. My parents are law biding citizens who got caught in the fucked up “middle class”. They cannot understand the whole need to graff anti-establishment mentality. Good school and study hard + degree + job + hard work = $$$$$$ to them and happiness. I always wanted the short cut. I always kid with them and tell saying “It’s hard work to be unemployed and still live good”. My pops is old school and thinks all artists are “con-artists” creating a bunch of bullshit to not do a day of hard work.
Menace: Proved him wrong huh! So, how old were you when you first got exposed to graff? When was SLICK the writer born?
SLICK: I was in a b-boy crew during the mid 80’s and every time we’d tape b-boy videos, I would gravitate towards the graff. I knew my b-boy skills were mediocre at best, but art was in my blood. That’s when SLICK was born. I remember specifically seeing a DOZE piece on a sheet when Rock Steady came to perform in Hawaii.
Menace: How did being exposed to both the NY scene and Hawaiian scene further develop your craft as artist?
SLICK: We were heavily influenced by NY. We’d jones for any video clip, music or flix. There was a large military presence stationed in the islands. The popper dude in my crew was from NYC, Crazy Waves. Since there were no trains, we hit buses, walls, canals, freeways and the secluded water tanks were our playground.
Menace: At which point did you form the Bomb Squad?
SLICK: It started ‘round ‘84. The original members were me, 2swift, Jrock, Krush, Jswift, Seanski, Dr. D and the rest came on later. It started as a graff crew, but me and Krush were the only bombers, everybody else were B-boys so we ended up battling a gang of fools as Bomb Squad on the dance floor! We danced together and did shows and were finalist in an island wide talent search called, “Brown Bags to Stardom”, hahahaha. Even when we performed, I would build sets with graff. One year I made a giant electrical outlet and plugged in my boy Krush, who could do a sick robot!
Menace: Dope!! What’s the status of the Bomb Squad today compared to when it was first formulated?
SLICK: Bomb Squad is active and Krush recruited some new talent and some Hi old school cats from other crews and still krush shit, shhhhhhhhhh.
Menace: Ha ha! If any, what kind of relationship and association did they and do they have today with your past and current endeavors?
SLICK: FAM fo’ life!
Menace: How much of a distinction is there between Slick circa 80's and the Slick today both creatively and mentally?
SLICK: I would have to say it was my attitude. We were really hungry back then for fame etc. I started to get good and I thought I was the shit! We were all about graff. Now I gots responsibilities to my wife, child and my company. I didn’t have that back then, so I just didn’t give a fuck. If u couldn’t burn us, don’t even try and step to us like that. I’ve gotten a bit more humble over the years and have a renewed appreciation for the art form. Back then I excelled in characters, but lately I’ve discovered the beauty in throw ups and bubble letters, I guess we’re always evolving as artists and human beings.
Check out the full feature length interview in issue 6 of THC magazine, which is available online and instore at Oner this month.
Check out http://dissizit.com/index.html for updates on upcoming designs.