Name: Hoskins. Bob Hoskins.
Crew: Good Life, SPS, FYM, UKS.
City/Country: Manchester, England
When did you start writing?
I think I started trying to mimic on paper the little amount of graffiti I’d seen, in about 1985, and progressed to doing the same on other people’s property a year or so later. I was pretty much a tagger (busses mainly, the same as most UK cities outside London in that era) with the occasional piece, up until about 1991 when I drifted away from graffiti, to come back to it about 15 years later. I never completely lost interest, though.
What’s graffiti for you?
Fancy letters, fun and friendship.
All the New York golden era kings, probably Dondi more than any other. Carl 123 and the rest of the Goat Squad. Typographic, automotive and architectural design. Nature.
Tell us about your city, how is life and graffiti there?
It’s a nice place to live. I’ve got to know a pretty diverse, good bunch of people from all sorts of places and backgrounds through doing graffiti here. Being such an ex-industrial city, gives you plenty of places to paint in peace if you look for them.
What keeps you still writing?
The urge to get better, to have some kind of impact however small, to paint something that looks as good on a surface as it does in my imagination.
What first made you interested in graffiti and how did you end up on that track?
My story is probably one shared by most British and European writers of my generation. I saw it in a few music videos in the early 80s, then it all arrived in a nicely bundled package called ‘hip-hop’, and unlike the other ‘elements’ (I hate that notion of ‘elements’ now!), graffiti was the part I was actually capable of doing. But I think I’ve always been drawn to letter forms, even before that. I still think the alphabet is the absolute pinnacle of human achievement, and there’s so much you can do with basic set of geometric shapes.
What trends are you seeing now in the graffiti world that you don’t like?
Well, we all have our preferences, but I don’t like being too negative about others’… except when I’m making fun of stuff with friends, but that doesn’t get published on the internet.
What do you do when you’re not painting?
Draw, cook, eat good food (the next best thing to graffiti), live as Good a Life as I can, within my means, and occasionally beyond them, hence our little crew’s name.
How would you describe your style?
Constructed, funky with smartarse connections. I like to pick a small number of bricks from the Lego box of graffiti history, and see how many ways I can build something with them until I need to grab some more.
Can you remember the first piece you did?
Yeah, unfortunately. It said, imaginatively enough, ‘crime’, and was painted entirely with gold and silver paint.
I’m not very good at planning too far into the future. I’ve got a few ideas for small-scale stuff in mind, like collages and drawings, depicting things other than letters.
Do you adapt your pieces and tags to the spot/surface?
I guess I do to some extent, but not as well as some people do, and usually it’s by necessity rather than inspiration. Plus, I can be a greedy bastard for space when I’m painting with others.
What do you think about the new generation of writers in your city?
Overall, I’m not on the same page style-wise as the younger writers who get up a lot, but I have a lot of respect for their dedication. I love 2Waze’s tags and throwups. Nowt’s throwups are cool too.
What are the best and worst aspects of graffiti?
Best: the friends, the fun, the freedom and the creative possibilities.
Worst: I dunno. The occasional hostility maybe, even if I do sometimes enjoy watching it unfold on the walls.
Who do you paint for?
I’m reluctant to pull out the old Skeme quote ‘me and other graffiti writers’, because the exclusion feels a bit arrogant, but being totally honest, it’s true. It’s nice when people who don’t write appreciate it, but I know they can’t really see it. It’s a visual language that’s been developed for half a century now. I might like the look of a poem written in Chinese, but I wouldn’t be appreciating it like a Chinese speaker would.
What writers have inspired you?
As well as the aforementioned, friends like Free, Nukl, Mers, Krek, Onek, Dreph and everyone I paint with regularly.
Can you ever feel tired of graffiti?
Yeah, when I’m trying paint a shit wall with emulsion. I think that’s about it.
What do you hope people will think and feel when they see your stuff?
Spray Paint: Yard Master, if they made a bigger colour range.
City: I haven’t travelled enough to honestly choose one, except for my home city of Manchester.
Markers/pens: Pentel White 100W.
Surface: Clean ones.
Cap: The old Belton stock caps, AKA ‘Pocket Caps’ (as opposed to those massive caps that don’t fit in your pocket?).