GRAFF TV is a series of graffiti videos capturing the style and techniques of some of the best and most interesting writers around the world. From simple new school styles to futuristic 3D-burners or playful naive pieces. Follow the process from sketch to finished piece, all cut down and compressed to three minutes episodes.
In this latest episode of Earthling we met up with Mast of TGE, IMOK and GFR Crews.
He brought us back to his roots, what inspires him and where he’s going. Mast has one of those histories that almost all writers around the world dream about. Inspired by the early years of development and discovery this graffiti writer does the East Coast justice. His letters and style scream tribute to the roots of what graffiti was and is till this very day. Serringe spent 5 Days with the writer…. this is what went down. Enjoy.
Name: Emit Crew: DF, ATT, IMOK & RTD City/Country: Currently living in Denver CO – USA When did you start writing? 1989
What’s graffiti for you?
It’s changed dramatically over the years. It used to be to get up, get fame, get recognized, etc… Now it’s just a reason to get out of the house and hang out with friends. I try not to take graffiti very serious these days and I find myself looking for ways to keep it interesting. Two summers ago I painted a ton of pieces drawn for me by other writers. Last summer I made a book of abandoned places, and I really enjoyed getting back to really simple graffiti. Solid fills, simple outlines. Since I don’t paint very often, going into a building and busting out 2-3 simple pieces in a couple hours was more entertaining that spending an afternoon on one wall. At the end of the day graffiti is still an escape from everything else going on in my life.
When I started my main influences were guys from my area in Connecticut and a bunch of NY writers, particularly the Bronx and Westchester County. As I learned more, the writers that really pushed me and changed what I did were crew members like Gaze, Noble, Besm, Sub, and East. I’ve always looked to graphic design and other more traditional art forms for ideas and colors.
What keeps you still writing?
Not exactly sure.. Sometimes I ask myself, “why do you keep doing this”? Sometimes I just see new cans of paint, and I just want them all. Despite the consequences, there becomes a biological process that would classify graffiti as an addiction.
What first made you interested in graffiti and how did you end up on that track?
I always liked to cause trouble and be out at night. Once someone showed me graffiti, the idea of just being out at night sneaking around seemed appealing. Once I actually wrote on a wall, I was instantly hooked.
What trends are you seeing now in the graffiti world that you don’t like?
Trends come and go, so I guess that’s just part of every sub culture. Hopefully trends will make people see the need to reinvent themselves and try new things.
What do you do when you’re not painting?
Work, watch movies, play hockey, and bash RC cars.
How would you describe your style?
Well, It has evolved a bit over the years, but in the early 90’s during the first wave of 3d graffiti, Sub and I were also doing variations of 3d graffiti. I was always hooked on traditional NY graffiti, so I always incorporated an actual outline. I moved forward with elements that made the piece look as if you could grab it off the wall. Shadows, 3d with lighting effects and overlaps, fill-ins that overlapped the letters. If I can, I like to incorporate brown or grey with a couple bright colors and it’s probably pretty obvious, clean lines are important to me.
Can you remember the first piece you did?
Yes, it was stock caps and Krylon and said “wire”. It looked a bit like that retro graffiti you see with random arrows and disproportioned connections.
Do you adapt your pieces and tags to the spot/surface?
There was a time when I always wanted a nice flat surface with no obstructions, but guys like Jive and East helped me to see the beauty in random spots that were not perfect. A big part of the abandoned places book was the uniqueness of the spot. Seeing a broad picture that showed the location and how decayed the building was.. the spot becomes just as important as the graffiti.
What are the best and worst aspects of graffiti?
Worst: Corporate marketing using graffiti. Overpriced art. People getting recognition because of who they know, not because of what they have actually done. Street art getting too much recognition, when graffiti artists really paved the way for all of it.
Best: Events where a ton of writers from different cities get to come together and paint. People that know graffiti history. The new age of social media being much more positive then the early days of graffiti message boards.
Who do you paint for?
Are you asking about sponsors? I have received free paint here and there, which was awesome. I really don’t like to paint for other people. I tend to stay away from painting as a job, but receiving free cans to paint what I want is a blessing.
What do you hope people will think and feel when they see your stuff?
I remember the feeling I used to get when I saw a piece in person walking along the train lines in New York. The graffiti I saw made me want to paint. I hope my work inspires others to want to paint as well.
Name: MAST Crews: TGE, IMOK & GFR City/Country: New York City When did you start writing? ’93
What’s graffiti for you? The Great Escape! Style, letters, colors, characters, composition, attitude!
What first made you interested in graffiti and how did you end up on that track? As a youth growing up in NY I had first-hand exposure to the bombed highways and streets during my travels all through NYC and the surrounding boroughs. At the same time, I was exploring all around the buildings where I grew up, searching for graffiti. There were always these random hidden locations where you would find an awesome piece or production, usually Vet, TMC and crew. Finding work like this only fueled my curiosity – I had to find more. As I began exploring the train lines and tracksides I came upon a True Mean Creations wall that was done by Vet and Bost in the early ’90s. I was only able to read the True Mean Creations spell out on top as the production only lasted a few days due to the massive amount of beef and crossing out that was going on at the time. It wasn’t until 2000 that I finally got to see the wall in its entirety with a pic that was posted by Noble on 12oz. Encountering the scale and quality of the work at that time, in person, had a lasting impression on me. As I searched more and more I eventually stumbled upon the 238th Street Bridge hall of fame in the Bronx. Sien5, Key, Cavs, Wane, Dero, Bom5, Ces, Clark, Yes2, Sub, Gaze, Emit, Noble, and Besm, to name a few, all had amazing work down there. While I was previously walking the line looking at trackside walls, one underpass at a time, here was a location with over a dozen walls, all covered with quality productions and pieces. I was really amped. After 238th, it was the Amtrak hall of fame. These hidden locations were eye-opening experience that got me hooked on the magic of graffiti. Discovering Subway Art and Spraycan Art at the bookstore only helped me realize that this cultural event had become a global phenomenon.
Influences? In my formative years, the work that Sub, Emit and Gaze put in the early ’90s really shaped my idea of a polished finished product. The craftsmanship and composition of their productions set a superior level of quality that I’m still trying to reach in my work today. I think the reason it was so influential was that I was viewing these walls in person; I was looking at all of the details with my own eyes. It wasn’t something I saw on a screen a few inches wide. The amount of style they presented on their highway-bombing missions was also another influence – they were dropping fresh pieces on the highways in the winter. It was awesome. Sento was out doing colorful pieces in locations where many would only catch a tag at. Ces and Clark were doing colorful pieces and their classic silver, burgundy, summer squash pieces were all over the Bronx and New York City. There was a lot of good graffiti happening all over. If you wanted to stand out, you needed style. These days my influences come from everywhere; we are constantly influenced by what we see. My interests in fine art, illustration, comics, and design keep me immersed in a broad range of aesthetics. There’s always something catching my eye that I can repurpose in my work.
What keeps you still writing? The search for the perfect piece! haha The constant adventure, experience with friends, and the creative outlet that graffiti offers me keeps me hooked. I also think the process of using a spray paint is extremely fun, ever since I was kid. Its also about being on this interesting journey for the last twenty years that is constantly changing and evolving. I’m interested to see where its going and what if any impact I can have on its future.
How would you describe your style? Midnight Malevolent Muralist Missions Accomplishing All Aggressive Aerosol Alphabetic Styles Showcasing True Talented Typographic Techniques.
Can you remember the first piece you did? The first piece I did was a mess, but I’m lucky to have a flick, I was horrible at taking flicks of my work in the beginning.
Future plans? More travel, more painting, more adventures. I’m definitely looking up the wall these days, trying to figure out my battle plan.
Do you adapt your pieces and tags to the spot/surface? Yeah, that’s one of the most fun parts of graffiti – fitting it into the environment and improvising. Making each piece unique, with a bold, memorable component, style-wise, or a character.
What are the best and worst aspects of graffiti? The constructive creative outlet vs the drama.
Can you ever feel tired of graffiti? Yeah, it can be very tiring at times. Sometimes the process, sometimes the people involved. There needs to be a balance in whatever you do and too much of any one thing can burn you out. I try to keep that balance in my painting as well as in my life.
Who do you paint for? I paint for me, for my crew and for the enjoyment of it, actively escaping into the moment.
What do you hope people will think and feel when they see your stuff? That all depends on the viewer. But I think I know my audience, and I want them to feel happy. I want them to see and appreciate the craftsmanship and composition and new element or idea I’m presenting in the work, whether it’s on a trackside, a wall on the street or in a piece of artwork.