I had just gotten done watching Graffiti Verite' when my phone rings. I quickly answer two find Bob Bryan on the other end asking me what I thought of his video. The first thing that came out of my mouth was the word "wonderful". I thought that the video was the next best thing to Style Wars (compliment). It was full of history, it explained a lot about graffiti on the west coast. What really caught my eye was the wonderful interview with LA's Chaz, he really broke it down on how graffiti started and about it's evolvement. So to make a long story short, Bob hooked me up with Chaz so I could get the 411 from the source.
"I started in 1969 when I was 19 years old." said Chaz, " I would always see the graffiti where I live in Highland Park, Los Angeles." "The graffiti that I was doing was Chicano Graffiti, all the guys in the neighborhood would leave their names on the walls as sort of a community roll call so that others knew their names." Graffiti was always here in California, its been a long tradition, it started back in the 30's when shoeshine guys would leave their names on the walls with their dabbers." Then it moved onto the Zoot Suit days in the 1940's, from the Chicano movement all through the riots when the suiters would leave their names on the walls for recognition and for rebellion against the American Government. Of course they didn't have spray cans yet but they used brushes. I asked Chaz if he prefers brushes and this is what he said. "Well the spray cans came out in the 50's, it was around when I started but I always preferred brushes." The Cholo letters are American Gothic and the style just taken off from that." "Spray cans made Graffiti quicker and letters got bigger."
Most of the letters that today's writers from the west use, come from old school Cholo graffiti. Chaz also pointed out that New York is known for bringing the colors to graffiti, he said that Graffiti in the West was always black and white. I decided to ask him what he thought of hip hop graffiti as we know it today and his response was, "I was surprised, I didn't expect anybody to continue it." " Graffiti almost died twice, once with the big buff and recently with the media hype." Chaz has good thoughts about the future, he said that the east and west will unite and bring graffiti to the world like never before, he sees it going mainstream. " I have been doing graffiti for 15 years on the streets and 10 years in the galleries."
"What I want to do is legitimize graffiti as a true art." "I'm not a graffiti writer, I'm a graffiti artist."
He explained to me about what it was like
doing all the street work compared to doing the galleries. " The streets
are fun, it's great to get out at nite." "When you do galleries, you lose
your guts a little bit but in return you reach a new understanding of graffiti,
you reach a new meaning and most importantly you reach a new audience."
He had something to tell young aspiring young artists, "Draw, draw allot!"
"You can only improve, taggers get better and evolve into piecers, be involved."
"Graffiti is a part of Chicano history."