UNDR RPBLC MGZN #19
Establishing a network of Artists, Musicians and Iconoclasts.
Richard! What up, what up! How’s LA? LA is LA. [laughs] Good and bad all the time. I’m actually stationed in the IE right now. When’d you start rapping? When I was about twelve or thirteen—just on some funny stuff. Then I started taking it seriously my freshman year of high school. So I was like fifteen or sixteen—something like that. How would you describe your style? If I had to describe my style I would use one word: adaptable. I feel that I can rap over almost anything. I wouldn’t, but I feel like I could. [laughs] What was it about hip-hop that drew you in? It was from my people, off top. Hip-hop was the most modern music that I could relate to, was made by my people and explained what we were going through. Then, of course, there was just this feeling that some rap gave me—I loved the way rappers controlled their words. Every genre of music does it, but with rap, I feel you’ve gotta be major dope with the actual words. Unless you’re gonna dance or put on some kinda crazy theatrical show. How do you think music has helped to shape you as person? I feel like music has made me a much more patient person than most—just the process of making an album has given me a stronger work ethic. I know what it takes to make something memorable now. Your new album Open Minded recently dropped, what can listeners expect there? A roller coaster ride—different feelings and emotions in every song on the album. It should feel like an adventure. What about this project stands out to you from your previous work? This project is complete. Because I’m consistently evolving through music, I can find things that I would change about the album now. However, that album is done. This was, honestly, my first time making an album with a full concept and direction from beginning to end. When’d you initially link up with J. Bizness? I linked up with Biz about three and a half years ago at a legendary event called “The Spliff” thrown by some of my comrades. How often is it that you two work together? Whenever we have time. I’m always looking to record and Biz is always willing to make music with me, so it’s a perfect situation. We’ve made a lot of music just sitting around bullshitting. It all comes out pretty dope as well. What’s happening with Illregular Music? We’re just planning our next mode of attack. Besides rapping, are you involved in anything else musically? I’m featured on a lot of upcoming songs from locals, as well as artists from out of state. If you keep an open ear, you’ll hear me on a lot of people’s albums this year and next. …Artistically? I’m also working with video a lot—shooting music videos, shows and documentaries. My big dream is to make a movie featuring music from all of the up and coming artists that I respect and listen to. Has LA helped develop your style? To be honest… No. As crazy as it sounds, LA doesn’t really have a style when it comes to rap, and I really don’t feel any of what Southern California has as far as styles of rap. If it’s not on some gangsta shit, we just kinda mix key essentials of styles. That’s me—my style is a product of not really liking gangsta music and just finding a way. What feeling do you get rocking a show? I feel the show is what it’s all for. It’s like practicing in a gym all month, you play a couple scrimmages—that’s like recording and putting out music—people get to see your moves and then the show is the big game. Either you turn up and give buckets now, or your stock is gonna go down and scouts are gonna look at you funny. A bad live performance is like being great at practice, then playing like a bum in the real game when it counts. Does anything else compare? I feel like every job or sport has its own version of a show for a rapper. Like I said in comparison to sports, it would be a big game. In film, a live show would be a premier. In dance, it would be a recital. For an actor, it would be a play, show or movie. Everything has something like a show. Of all your work, what are you the most proud of? All the songs I’ve ever written for the women. Those are the realest songs I write, hands down. Whether good or bad, I always seem to space out when I’m writing something about women. How would you like to be perceived by others? As one of the best you’ll hear rapping right now. Nothing more, nothing less. Who pushes you to be your best? Belvi—my best friend. He’s one of my favorite rappers in the world and my everyday competition. What helps you to unwind? Music and a certain woman whose name I won’t mention out of respect for her privacy. Where would you like to be five years from now? All around the world with a place to always come back to in California and South Carolina. Are you repping any brands or sponsors? I’m not sponsored, but I definitely wanna shout-out some people I work with: UTB Life$tyle, BBi, Mafmatix Evolution, Greedy Alien, Saucy Garments, MoVintage, Tresor Cache and Acrylick. How about crews or clicks? UTB Life$tyle, Black Cloud, OSA, Hostile TakeOver, Super Food Crew, Spliff Alumni and iMC. Do you have any upcoming shows? Well, I don’t know when this article drops, so it’s hard to say if I’ll have a show or not. Where can we go to purchase your work? http:/ /www.illregularinstrumentals.com and http:/ /richardwright.bandcamp.com You can also find me on iTunes—it just takes a little more work ‘cause the name is pretty common. Are you anywhere else on the web? I’m on Facebook at http:/facebook.com/1richardwright, my twitter is @RichardWright_1 and I’m on ReverbNation if people use that, as well as a bunch of blogspots. What’s next? I think the next project is either my solo album with my good friend and producer RC titled LA Zoo, or Players and Pea Coats 2 with my partner Belvi. Other than that, just more visuals for everything—I want people to see my work ethic and how much I love this music. I figure the best way for them to recognize how much I put into it is for them to see it first hand. I also have a couple comedy shows in the works right now. ‘13 should be a fun year. Have I missed anything? Nope, nothing I can think of. Any shout-outs? I just wanna shoutout everybody who really believes in what I do, that way I don’t miss anyone. I will give a special shout out to Bosnia, Scotland, Ireland and Russia though—people have been hitting me up from these places saying I need to come out. I swear if someone gets me out there, I’ll give him or her the show of their life. [laughs] Thank you. Juan! Yo! What’s good? Everything is good man, thanks. How’s Providence? Improving everyday. Have you been having a wonderful summer? It’s been a beautiful summer. Has hip-hop always been an interest of yours? Ever since I saw 2 Live Crew on The Box in ‘91. When did you get in the rap game? ‘91. How would you describe your style? My style is like if Uncle Luke met Paul Giamatti. With five albums and an EP to your name, how do you come up with new material? By working with great producers—it starts with the drummer. Has your creative process evolved over time? Yes, very much so. What’s Falside up to? You can probably find out right now on Twitter (@Falside). How often is that you two work together? Often. We’re working on a new LP as a follow up to The Mechanics EP. That way are you able to focus on a clearly on a concept from start to finish? The LP will definitely have a specific sound and tone, with a lot of wild stuff on there as well. Now yous guys just released that No Sweat + East Toast pack, what’s cracking with that? You can purchase the two CD pack exclusively through http:/ /www.strangefamousrecords.com What else is happening with Strange Famous Records? A lot is happening, keep up via Twitter (@SFRupdates). How’d you get linked up with Ricky Shabazz and The Boom Bap Boys? http:/ /match.com The videos are fresh, how do you come up with the concepts? Thank you! Ricky is really imaginative. We build upon whatever he conjures up—if it works, we’ll give it the go. How much of that 84lbs of pudding from the “Hard Luck” vid got snacked? It was there for people to enjoy, but no one wanted it for some reason. Of all the shows you’ve done which stands out the most to you? When I opened up for the GZA! I cut out the caricature of my face and passed them out to the crowd on sticks—everyone was throwing them up, plus we caught it all on tape! Check it out: http:/ /www.youtube.com/ watch?v=roybcZQlybc What do you do to relax? Breathe. How much hip-hop do you listen to, really? I listen to as much as I can. I like to stay in work-mode by listening to beats. Are you repping any brands or sponsors? http:/ /juandeuce.com Where can we go to purchase your work? http:/ /www.juandeuce.bandcamp.com Are you anywhere else on the web? You can also purchase the hard copy of No Sweat via http:/ /strangefamousrecords.com, and check me out on Twitter (@Juan_Deuce). Whatâ€™s next? Tons of shows while I work on the new LP with Falside. Any shout-outs? Big shout-out to everyone listening, thank you for the support! Tell a friend! Kathryn! How goes it my dear? It goes well! What’s new? Working away. Some friends and I just opened a studio in a storefront space—we’re getting ready for our first show. It’s going to be really awesome, I’m very excited! How would you describe yourself? Quiet at times, although I can be goofy if the mood strikes me. …Your work? Humorous and sexual. Lots of layering with collage, scratches and smudges. When‘d you get your start in design? After university, I got my first job interning as an art director at an advertising agency, which lead to me working as an art director for a year and a half. What drew you to it? It’s the only thing I’m good at! Creativity runs in the family, my grandmother was an artist and my dad is an interior designer. What’s kept you at it? The love for it! I’ve always made art for as long as I can remember. Where do you see it all going? I’m not sure, but I think it’s important to keep an open mind. I used to try to control my career and plan what my future would be, but things change so quickly (especially with technology) that it’s difficult to predict anything these days. What’d you learn in art school? A lot. Techniques. Concepts. How to communicate through art. Was it what you thought it would be? I’m not sure… I can’t remember what I thought. When you dream, what is it you dream of? I have a lot of anxiety dreams—where I’m packing to go somewhere and every time a piece of clothing is put in the suitcase another one comes out. Or I’m trying to make my flight and I’m running in slow motion. I also have hilarious dreams. I just did a piece for Dossier on dreams—I had to illustrate one of my dreams. It was about Snoop Dogg. I was trying to get into a music festival but the tickets were all sold out. I was anxiously waiting out front, when Snoop Dogg appeared and said that he could get me into VIP. When I got inside I realized I was in a zoo! What’s your idea of happiness? Laughing with friends. Making awesome art. Spending quality time with my family. Are you sending subliminal messages through your work? Yes, I think it makes my work more interesting. I love when the viewer has to take a closer look to find a deeper meaning. What’s your motivation towards using sensual materials in your pieces? Well, for one thing, sex sells! I think it captures the viewer’s attention. I also love the passion that’s portrayed in the imagery. Do you have anything new popping on the magazine design tip? I just finished a few pieces this month for the fashion magazine Grip and I did four t-shirts for a clothing company in Japan called Sweet and Vicious. I liked that video on your Tumblr, what’s that on her tongue? Haaa! I’m not sure, but I think I may have an idea. The vid was directed by Cameron Duddy, it’s the fall lookbook for Blood is the New Black. One of the T-shirts I designed for them is in the video. How often do you listen to music? Very often. It’s extremely important to me—I can’t live without it! shutting out the world. When’s the last time you got good and pissed off? Ummm, I’m not sure. I don’t really get pissed off, I might get annoyed for a minute or two, but that usually just passes. It’s a waste of my time! Has your work helped you to find yourself as an individual? Most definitely. I think it keeps me honest. Who makes living your life worthwhile? Family. Anything that you would like to share with us that you have never told anyone else? I don’t keep secrets. How often do you think about sex? Everyday (more than once). Does music help with your creative process? Yes, very much so. Music really helps me get into the zone—I love just putting on my headphones and I felt that I had tremendously overpaid for.. My therapy session.. But just knowing that.. She would put me under hypnosis and take me into past lives.. Made it all worthwhile in my book. I can guarantee that.. I will be a Billionaire. What are you thinking about right now? Painting the other side of the display window at my studio (http:/ /www. huntclubstudio.com/). How much of todayâ€™s advertising moves you? Maybe 1%. Is there anything that you know that you could definitely do better than what’s being done elsewhere? Pornography. What would you do with $37? Buy seven hundred and forty 5¢ candies. Do you have any upcoming shows or exhibitions? Yes! September 6th is the grand opening of our studio space. It’s a storefront gallery space with a work area in the back for the artists. Darlene Huynh, Lauren Pirie and myself have curated the first show featuring over twenty-five local artists to show one or a few pieces. All the work is being sold for $100. http:/ /www.huntclubstudio.com Where can we go to purchase your work? I have a few pieces on Big Cartel (there’s a link on my site), but I’m still working on properly getting my work up for sale. Are you anywhere else on the web? Yes… What’s next? Just working on our upcoming show. Then installing a proper screen printing studio in the basement so I can start screen printing again! Have I missed anything? Definitely not! Any shout-outs? http:/ /www.huntclubstudio.com ! Yo Gabe! What’s going down? Bitties in the BK Lounge. How’s the fine city o’ Burbank? This place is pretty mellow, maybe too mellow. How’s the design-ing/ paint-ing/risograph-ing/awesome-ing going? Great. When I come home from my day job it all feels neglected, but I do what I can. When’d you get your start? As a little kid, I wanted to be a zookeeper or an artist. Then, for a long time I didn’t think about it—all that I was responsible for was scraping by in school and skating. One summer I got hit by a truck and broke my collarbon—I was couch-bound for a couple of weeks. During that time I made some “drawing breakthroughs”, and figured out that I had an aptitude for it. In high school everyone was playing with their identity—art was a good thing for me to hide behind. What’s kept you going? I feel a responsibility to make things. Plus making art can be very generative—the more you do, the more possibilities there are. One thing leads to another. How was art school? I think I went to school for too long, but I did have a lot of time to experiment. How would you describe your style? All over the place—I try not to define it too much. Keeping that part of the process in flux is part of what keeps things both exciting and refreshing for me. Of all the formats you work with, which is your personal fav? My favorite is usually whichever one I’m most involved with at the time. Recently, I have been working digitally and I’ve been getting really into it. But then again, I’ll get back around to making things with my hands soon. Things always balance out. What’s the inspiration for your work with signage? The signs you’re referring to are actually business signs I’ve discovered on my daily commute and wanderings—I usually post pics of them on my Tumblr. I get excited seeing How much time do you get to design a day? My day job is in the design field, so luckily I do get some quality time to design throughout the day. It’s not always my cup of tea, but it does keep me practicing the craft. Does music play a part while you’re working? Yes, in terms of feeling out an aesthetic in music and sound and synthesizing it through a visual medium. how much or how little effort goes into these types of handmade signs. Do I sense a lil’ bit of graf in your past? Furshur. That’s what really got me started on drawing as a teenager—it was a good way to compete with friends and boost my ego. What’s happening with Never Press? Good stuff. We just released three new publications from Jason Holley, Robert Hardgrave and Michael Olivo. Post Compost came out fresh, who all was involved there? Thanks! That was initiated by James Chong and Jesse Fillingham. So they, Mark Ingram, Nick Arciaga and I all contributed. Are you working on any new editions? Not of Post Compost, but we’ve started a second group publication called Pedestool Sample—dealing with the theme of idolatry. It features some awesome artists from around the globe that we’re stoked on. Now, do you dance or boogie? Boogie is a good way to describe it. Have ever gotten straight A’s? Yes, my last semester of community college—the pinnacle of my academic achievement! Why not Gabe? ‘Cause it smells funny. Why did you choose these particular pieces for your feature? These are all recent pieces of mine and some that I have yet to post anywhere else. How do you go about new work? A deadline helps—otherwise I just get the urge to purge! Where can we go to purchase your work? You can contact me directly or find some of my books at http:/ /neverpress.com Are you anywhere else on the web? http:/ /cargocollective. com/condimentkitchen Condiment Kitchen is multi-disciplinarian think tank specializing in spur of the moment technologies of yesteryears folktales. Look out for us in ‘13. ---> Guest Questions <--Geo Gonz asks... Has working in commercial art changed your personal work? At work I end up taking a lot of specific stylistic departures and making things that might be outside my comfort zone in terms of technique. That all gets filtered in and might push its way back out. It’s cerebral, but also has to do with muscle reflex. Do you come from an artistic family? Yes! All of my immediate family practices some form of art. Do you think mustaches are funny? Always. Have you ever tried to move something with your mind? Tried? What’s your favorite cartoon? Problem Solverz. Your images are very “other worldly”, what’s the deal? Orbs of light from the sky blessed my mom’s womb. Steve! How are you? I’m doing well, thanks! What’s new in SF? Well in terms of graffiti, there’s unfortunately not a lot new in SF these days. The city is pretty clean when it comes to—well, clean depending on your definition, I guess—clean from the point of view of city authorities. You know, the scene has been in decline in the city for a while and most of the interesting action in the Bay Area these days is in the East Bay. Yep, Oakland is cracking short version? That’s up to you… [laughs] Well, the semi-long version is that starting—I don’t know— maybe ten or eleven years ago, I was active online on a photo-sharing site called Renderosity. I was posting my landscape photos there and I kind of randomly picked the name “funkandright now. jazz” because I’ve always Yeah, yeah, Oakland is crazy. loved funk music and I used Are they getting heavy with the to be a jazz DJ. And when buff? I switched over to Flickr, I They’ve been getting heavy just kept the name since I with the buff in San Francisco didn’t feel like coming up for the last five or six years at with something new. least. It’s now reached the point Nice. Are you originally from where there’s virtually nothing SF? left other than legal and grafI am not originally from SF; fiti-style murals that are sancI am originally from tioned by the city. But in terms Minneapolis, Minnesota. of illegal bombing or even chill What originally brought you spots, there’s hardly anything out to San Francisco? left. I mean, of course, there are I moved out here a while a few things here and there, but ago, 1988 to be exact. I compared to 2005-2007, and had lived in Minneapolis certainly compared to the 90s, my whole life and had just there’s hardly any graffiti in the graduated from the city anymore. University of Minnesota. I Well, that’s too bad. was twenty-three—which Yeah. gives away just what an old Why the name “funkandjazz”? man I am—and I just wanted You want the long version or the a change. I had come out to the Bay Area to visit a friend for spring break my senior year in college and I just kinda fell in love with it. So with a good friend of mine, I moved here in the fall of 1988 and I’ve been here ever since. How long have you been actively involved with photography? Since I was just a kid, I was probably eleven or twelve-years-old when I got my first camera. I don’t know—I’d always been a hobbyist photographer and I started to take it a little more seriously in the 90s. Yeah, the mid-90s was when I started to take landscape photography sort of seriously and then, of course, the graffiti stuff started up for me around 2004. What led you towards graffiti? Well, I had left a job that I’d had for many years in radio and I suddenly had a lot of time on my hands and I was trying to figure out what to do. So just to pass the time, I was walking in the city with my camera and I started to get attracted to all of the fabulous murals that were around the city then. Really, I just liked the idea that you could go out with a digital camera and gather up all this amazing art for free. So I sort of dedicated myself to finding as many murals as I could. It wound up being a great way to see the city and document art at the same time. Then I started to notice these graffiti-style murals and they blew me away more than the other murals because they were so vibrant, colorful and wild. I didn’t fully get what they were about, but I was fascinated. I especially loved the characters from these murals— and it all snowballed from there. I started to read a lot about graffiti, watched some graffiti documentaries and started to check out graffiti photos people were posting online. Little by little it turned into a crazy obsession and by the end of 2004 I was pretty much photographing graffiti every day. How has your work been received by the graffiti community? I would say very positively overall. You know, I didn’t know what I was doing when I started and didn’t understand graffiti very well. I didn’t know how to distinguish what was “good” from what was “not so good”. I just shot whatever caught my attention. So some writers at that time understandably had some criticisms about what I was doing. But over time, it got better. I think writers like having their work photographed well and I try to photograph graffiti as well as I can. I try to photograph it to showcase it in such a way that it looks cool. I think people appreciated that and my dedication. When the books came out, I know people were grateful to finally have the Bay Area scene documented and preserved in a more serious way. So yeah, reactions have generally been great. Writers have always been helpful and pointed me in the right direction. It’s been a positive relationship overall. What’s your camera of choice? Well, my camera of choice is one that I can’t afford! The camera that I actually use is an ordinary Canon Rebel XTI. Most of the photos in Bay Area Graffiti were actually shot with the original Digital Canon Rebel that came out in 2001, or something like that. So yeah, nothing fancy. How often do you go out and take pics? Well, these days not nearly as often as I’d like. I’m transitioning into a new career, so unfortunately, I don’t have time to shoot the way I used to. I would say that from 2004 to maybe 2010, I was out shooting almost every day. During the height of my shooting I was out, you know, every day and posting like seven to ten photos a day because I was so intense about it. But these days I unfortunately don’t have as much time. I’ve been shooting a little this summer, but otherwise not so much. So why’d you pick out these pics in particular for your feature? I chose a variety of photos I like. No theme to them really, just a mix of different kinds of graffiti and street art in some interesting locations. The photos are from the past seven years or so. I was interested—a moment ago you mentioned that you took pictures of whatever was appealing to you, and that in a sense is pure. I mean, it doesn’t really make a difference whether it’s “good” or “bad” graffiti in the eyes of others, it’s just what you like. Right. So how often does that play in to your work today vs. you’re shooting this guy because he’s popular at this point in time? I think it’s a mix of both. It’s not always completely clear to me why I shoot certain things and why I don’t shoot others because I’m very aware at this point of what is appealing to most people and, of course, I have my own biases built up over a lot of years of seeing graffiti. I mostly try to shoot stuff just because I like it and I think it’s safe to say I usually don’t post stuff unless I think it’s worthwhile in some way. In general, I think most people in the graffiti world would agree that the writers I post are respected and considered talented, or people who bomb especially well, or who are very creative. I don’t post something just because I know it’s popular, but I do probably have a lot of the same biases as other people in the graffiti world do. So I probably see the same writers that others do as “good”, or “not as good”. Bottom line is that I post stuff I like and the stuff I like tends to be appealing to a lot of other people too. Yeah, that’s interesting to me because I receive similar comments from people when soliciting photographs for the magazine, they’ll ask “Why are you using this picture when I’ve got these pictures over here?” and it’s more or less because I’ve got a style that I’m going with and that’s what I identify as and everybody differs… Sure. If you look around on Flickr there are graffiti photographers who tend to specialize in bombing and throw-ups more than pieces, which is cool. My taste leans more toward pieces. I think I’ve always been more attracted to the more “artistic” side of graffiti rather than the straight up vandalism or bombing. I like bombing; I always have. But for a number of reasons I don’t post quite as much of it as I did in the past. Part of it is there’s just not as much of it around, at least in the city. It used to be that in San Francisco there were these rooftop pieces everywhere and there all around the west. So that was an amazing trip and I don’t know that I would have taken it if I didn’t have photography in my life. And then, of course, the graffiti thing was a completely unexpected chapter in my life. I mean, I never in a million years would’ve thought that I were all kinds of tunnels full and legal pieces. would be the guy who’d go out Where has photography taken of stuff, parking lots were and document the Bay Area’s that you never would have gone graffiti scene and do two books crushed and there were tagged doors everywhere. otherwise? about it. So there again, phoThere was a lot more street Lots of places! I think photogtography took me to places that raphy was a major motivation for I never would have predicted bombing going on, colorme to take a pretty amazing trip like abandoned buildings, grimy ful street bombing. There in 1996—going way back. I decid- tunnels, sewer pipes, back alwere illegal pieces on the ed to buy a hippy Westfalia VW street that would show up leys and into dealing with some van and I took four months off all the time by people like shady people. [laughs] So yeah, Jeloe, Jenks, Abno and lots from work… it’s taken me to some pretty of others. That just doesn’t Good for you! amazing places. exist anymore. Yeah! I took four months off Now you’ve got a couple books from work and traveled around So, you out (San Francisco Street Art know, these the Western United States and Bay Area Graffiti), what taking photographs every day of motivated you to make ‘em? days I tend National Parks, State Parks and to shoot a Well, it was a process. It’s not National Forests. I was out in na- like I set out to make them. lot more chill spot ture every day for four months But after three to four years of shooting graffiti every day and posting photos online, there were a lot of people bugging me to make a book out of all the photos. I had already made a lot of connections in the Bay Area graffiti world at that point, so I ON PAGE 78 and has honed my ability to find beauty in anything. I feel fortunate that I can earn a living by pursuing my passion. Why create? Why destroy? What up Bálint! Is there a difference? I do things. I’m good, how are you? Awesome, thanks. What’s going on in Whether it’s creation or destruction is entirely subjective. Budapest these days? Do things to raise questions Lots of sun, biking and partying. and provoke thoughts in yourWho are you really? self and others. The mere act That’s what I’ve been trying to of doing—giving yourself to the figure out for the past twenty-seven process entirely and making your years. Mostly an introvert. Sometimes tools or instruments an infinite impulsive. A bit of a hedonist. Casual cyextension of your thoughts—is just clist. I think too much and do too little. When did you get your start in graphic beautiful. What is it about design? Professionally, very recently. I lost my creation and destrucprevious (boring) job at the end of tion that ‘09 and suddenly had lots of time, enthralls so I started focusing on what reyou? ally interests me. Before that I was I like to doing stuff for friends mostly. I’ve expernever had any formal training in the field, iment. so progress is slow, but steady. I’m always How has it impacted your life? Making a career of my hobby is a blessing looking for a new and a curse—I can never really switch off and rest. On the other hand, it’s liberating aesthetic within the set of boundaries I’m working in. I like to trick the mind, make it do a double take and question its senses. Also, I usually start working on something when I want to express certain thoughts or emotions that I don’t have words for. In a way, drawing is like a pillow to scream into. How would you describe your work? I guess it’s a constantly changing blend of geometric abstraction, minimalism, op art and sometimes typography. I’m a fan of repetition, optical illusions, saturated colors, gradients and basic geometric shapes. I like instant gratification. I’m a sucker for tools that make the creation of brightly colored geometric shapes quick and painless. What direction do you see yourself taking in the future with your design? I’d like to delve deeper into typography and type design and get a proper education. I also want to learn screen printing and some more traditional techniques—maybe even painting. There’s not a whole lot I’ve done outside of clicking things on a computer and I’d like to experiment with something tangible for a change. When do you get a chance to design? fWhen I have a vision or an idea, I feel an uncontrollable urge to sketch it down so that I don’t lose it—it keeps me up at night. How does your professional design work differ from your personal design work? Even when doing design for a client I try to be emotionally involved with the project, so the result is a lot more authentic than tackling it with a purely analytical approach. That being said, you have to make compromises for the sake of the client’s business and by extension, your own. When I work for myself it’s a lot less inhibited, controlled and conscious of trends and more forgiving of technical errors. Do they both pay? Professionally, I do alright—I don’t normally expect my personal work to yield a profit. What’s your position at Luminoso? Luminoso is a small studio I co-own with my friends Betti and Balázs. Balázs does our photography, Betti helps with copywriting and administration and I’m responsible for design. How do you like it? We’re good friends and they’re great people to work with—it’s been lots of fun so far! Where else have you worked? I’ve mostly had technical jobs. First I was operating cameras and doing video editing for a small local TV channel, then I did boring stuff behind computers and audio mixers at a conference center. What else have you done? Wasted time on video games, rode bikes and daydreamed about girls. When do you find that you’re most creative? For personal work, at night, under the influence of a storm of emotions that I can’t handle. Professionally, under the influence of caffeine. Do you have a ritual towards design? It’s interesting because I don’t think I have a set ritual for my work, but I do love rituals when it comes to anything else. Good music and coffee are often part of the process. Why did you choose these particular pieces for your feature? Most of them are dear to me because they spawn from raw emotion, but they can also make an impact if you just take them at face value and let your mind wander. How do you feel about mankind? We won’t be around for too long and that’s okay! …Our place in the universe? Look around, take it in, have fun and let others have their fun. What motivates you? Self-expression, smiles, confused faces, curious glances and nods of understanding. Who inspires you? People who are honest with themselves and those around them, my mother, my brother, Salvador Dalí, Josef Müller-Brockmann, Erik Spiekermann, Victor Vasarely, M.C. Escher, Woody Allen, Jim Morrison, Matthew Dear, Trent Reznor—I could go on. Where would you like to go? Everywhere! There are so many places I’ve yet to see on this planet, I feel like I’ve been missing out. Do you have any upcoming shows or exhibitions? No, but I’m open to anything! Where can we go to purchase your work? You can find prints of my work on Society6 at http:/ /society6.com/balintmagyar Are you anywhere else on the web? http:/ /c.ntr.st is my main outlet for personal work. My humble portfolio can be found on Behance at http:/ /be.net/mbalint What’s next? I’d love to make a typeface and I have plans to start a photography blog. I’m also in a band with a couple of friends right now—we’ve been throwing around some ideas for an album. Have I missed anything? Cats are fucking awesome. Any shout-outs? I’m really grateful for all the support I get from my friends and family. Thanks for everything Mom, MB., Edit, Nóri, Misi, Betti, Gábor, Balázs, Daniella, Lana, Évi, Linda, Timi, Sanyi, Zoli, Ati, Laci, Gabi, Zsani and Dávid. Thanks! Dave! What up man? Just sitting at this desk—as per usual. How’s Portland? Portland is tight as fuck, I love this town! What brought you out to Portland? Friends and PNW powder days. Does it rain there all summer too? Nope! Summers are the best time of year. It’s the time to turn off the indoor activities and dust off the desk legs. When’d you get your start in design? I’ve been doing this thing for over thirteen years. How would you describe your style? Well, my personal work I’d describe as “espionage”, and my client based work as “appropriate”. Does it fluctuate according to gig? Yeah, for sure. I try to implement the ultimate solution in my commercial work, but still try to get away with something personal in there every now and again. Did you find design or did design find you? A little of both I think. It all stemmed from my skating and snowboarding. It’s always seemed like a natural fit for me. Has your work in design helped you to develop as a person? Absolutely. It’s allowed me to grow in a very positive way— seeing parts of the whole through many different scenarios. What are you currently working on? Salomon Snowboard’s board graphics for ‘13/14. Does music help? Music is always an inspiration— no matter what. How’s it working with all these awesome brands? It’s sick man! It’s a dream-case scenario. Project requests these days are usually like, “Make us something that you think is cool.” I couldn’t ask for anything better. I feel really fucking lucky—there’s no way around it. Who have you yet to work with that you’re looking forward to? That’s a tough one, for sure. I’m a huge junk food addict, so designing packaging for that stuff and cereal would be rad! Did you pull those prints in your shop yourself? Damn straight! I’m a one-dude operation. Every single one of those prints come from my hands. Nice, when are we gonna see those on some tees? I might do a small run soon. T-shirts are a fickle product. Everyone likes different fitting tees these days and it’s a lot of overhead for a one-man operation. I’ve designed so many t-shirts in my career that they just seem disposable. They end up sitting in a closet or a second-hand shop. For art prints all I need is paper. I feel like people take a little more pride in owning a print. You try not to crease the corners when you get it, then you spend time framing it. You get to walk by and look at it every day when it’s on your wall. When art is on your tee only other people get to look at it. Art prints are way more gratifying to me. Are you an active guy yourself? I try to be, for sure. I ride my bicycle more than my car. I get tons of snowboarding in during the winter and camp a ton in the summer. Of your entire body of work which is your personal fav? Currently a snowboard graphic that I did for Salomon, called “The Villain”. It just came out this season. I’m stoked on the end result and I’ve been more stoked to ride it this past season. How often do you get chance to work on your personal projects? Pretty often really, I try to balance my time to keep that a priority. Is there any real difference between doing your personal stuff vs. a hired gig, or do you enjoy them both equally? I enjoy both equally, but I’m definitely more stoked when a client requests direction based on my personal work. Have you ever had to bust out a design that you just don’t really wanna do, but have to for the gig? For sure! I gotta keep the lights on. Everyone has to pay their dues—it’s not always milkshakes and sushi. Do you have a motto? “Creeps Are Tight”—A lot of us are on the Internet these days creep’n around for whatever reason anonymously. Steve Buscemi is a total creep in most of his movie roles and he is pretty tight. Fight or flight? Flight. Violence is for douche bags and power hungry warmongers. Violence is funny in cartoons and music. Stay sneaky. Have you been hitting Burnside? Ohh, the “Thunder Dome”… Yeah right, that spot is too rugged for this bag of bones. …Mount Hood? All the time! It’s a tight zone to cruise around in. How about biking? Yup, I’ve always loved bicycles. Park your car and ride a bicycle. You always have door-to-door parking and you can’t do wheelies driving a car. Plus it’s just plain fun and always a quick getaway. Me and my bicycle crew “Pizza Sword” roll deep. Do I detect a lil’ bit graf in your past? Maybe, maybe not—homies get raided. Who makes you smile? She knows who she is. Your radness factor is definitely at a solid ten, but how can we crank this baby to eleven? More shows and more schemes. I want to make an animated series some day that has its own cereal. Do you have any upcoming shows or exhibitions? Stay tuned. Where can we go to purchase your work? Check out http:/ /venomthunder.bigcartel.com and http:/ /venomthunder.com or just Google “Creeps Are Tight”. Are you anywhere else on the web? http:/ /venomthunder.tumblr.com What’s next? I need a slice of pepperoni. Have I missed anything? Don’t think so man. Thanks for the opportunity. A piece of advice to you kids coming up, never turn down a job—never. And don’t let fools burn you—you can’t polish a turd and know when to fold them. Any shout-outs? Mom, Dad, Matt, all my tight friends and any client that has given me opportunity. decided it was feasible and worthwhile to do. I can’t remember exactly when, but at some point I just decided to go for it. The motivation was just that I had collected enough material to do it and there were no other Bay Area graffiti books around. There was nothing published about the Bay Area scene, even though there were a lot of books featuring LA, New York, London and other cities from all around the world. So, even though we had this amazing scene here in the Bay Area for many years, nobody had ever really done a large, serious book about it. I just felt that it was the right moment and I had the material, so I decided to do it. Do you write? Be honest… [laughs] I do not write and that is an honest answer. You’re lying. [laughs] The funny thing is people have assumed that I write for as long as I’ve been taking photos of graffiti, but I’ve never even done a single tag, which I’m not proud of or anything, but it’s the truth. 90s SF graf vs. today’s... Go! The first thing to say is that there’s hardly any San Francisco graffiti anymore, so there’s really no comparison. We could do—if you want—Bay Area graffiti as opposed to SF graffiti. And even in that sense, it’s just very hard to compete with what was going on in San Francisco in the 90s. Yeah, that was probably one of the largest influences for me graffiti-wise was going to San Francisco in the late 90s and seeing these tremendous pieces done by Giant, Grey, Twist, Amaze, Cycle etc.— these guys were running the streets, it was everywhere and it was well done. But what really made the impact with me was how everywhere it was and how well done it was. Yeah, I just don’t think today can compare. I mean, there are obviously some amazing writers in the Bay Area today, Jurne and so many others. It’s just a different sort of scene today than it was then and I think there was probably a higher level of originality and overall crushed-ness then, as you pointed out. Video cameras and cell phones changed everything. Yeah, yeah, I agree, definitely a big part of it. Cloud 9 and Krime were crushing a bit… It’s all cool. It just depends on what you like. My sense looking at photos of 90s SF graf is that obviously a lot of it was illegal bombing, but it was piecing, a lot of it was piecing on the street, which I really like. In Oakland, a lot of what’s going up is throwups, tagging and basic bombing, which is cool, but different. I think that is, in effect, what has changed with technology, I don’t know— maybe that’s just the style of today. I think that part of it is that today the young people getting into to graffiti don’t have the experience of seeing street piecing the way it was going on in the 90s and the early 00s in San Francisco. There’s not a real-world reference point for them, really, so they’re mainly doing what they know. Hard to say for sure— it’s just a different scene. Have you had any professional training with photography? None at all. What’s the most rewarding aspect of your work in photography? Ummm, there are so many… Part of it for me—maybe the biggest part—is it gets me out of the house and doing things that I wouldn’t ordinarily do. Some of the things I love about shooting graffiti are the adventures of finding the locations of where graffiti exists, shooting with friends and seeing the art. So there’s the adventure of getting to places that aren’t always so easy to get to or into or to find, getting some decent shots and then sharing the photos. You know, that’s… What was your original question? [laughs] I’m not sure I answered it, but… What rewarding aspects… Yeah, yeah, so that stuff and then it’s just artistically creative, which I enjoy. There’s the process of trying to get a good shot, processing it well (cropping, color intensity, etc.) and what sort of setup you use to get the shot. All of those are creative decisions that I find to be stimulating and fun. It’s my belief that through graffiti you really get a chance to learn whatever city you’re in in a way that you never would otherwise. Absolutely, I totally agree. I think that in doing the graffiti photography that I’ve done, I learned the Bay Area in a way that I never would of otherwise. I’ve seen parts of it that I nev- er would have seen. When I drive around now, I have this map in my mind of graffiti locations and no matter where I go in the Bay Area— within a few miles I always know where to find graffiti. So yeah, it’s a funny thing. I understand you just got your high school teaching credential. How exciting is that? I think the question is how crazy is that? Yeah, certainly again it’s one of those things that I never expected to be doing at this point in my life. I’m approaching fifty and it’s funny, because in a strange way, I have graffiti to thank for sending me in this direction. I worked in radio most of my life and after radio I got into the graffiti thing and did the two books. In the process of documenting graffiti and doing the books, I was constantly dealing with teenagers and young people in a way that I never had before. I had so much fun connecting with that subculture and community that I was ultimately inspired to go into teaching. It’s interesting… My dad was a teacher and for some reason I thought that I would never be a teacher, but here I am. The acorn never falls too far from the tree, I guess. Anyhow, over the last few years I’ve moved in that direction. I’ve worked in several high schools now in various ways and I was a student teacher last year. Now I’m looking to find a job as a full-time high school teacher. [laughs] Yeah, it feels a little strange, but in a good way. So you worked in radio and this being a telephone interview—you do have the voice—what did you do exactly? I worked in public radio for much of my life, although I did also do some commercial radio. I was a jazz DJ for about fifteen years, in Minneapolis and here in the Bay Area on KJAZ. So jazz was the big musical thing that I did on radio. Other than that, I was a news announcer and a radio anchorperson at a few stations. My longest job was here in the Bay Area at KQED, which is the Bay Area’s biggest NPR station. I worked there from 1988 to 2004, a long time. I was the overnight announcer. I worked from midnight to six A.M. for sixteen years. It was an odd life in some ways during that period. Going back to your teaching, now that you’ve gotten your feet wet, how would you explain the experience? I really enjoy it, but mainly I went into this career for the high salary and easy work—just kidding. [laughs] It’s actually an enormous amount of work for very low pay. The real upside for me is how rewarding it is to teach, plus it’s a lot of fun. I love working with the kids, I seem to relate to them well and they seem to dig me. I hope to find creative ways to present the material and to try to motivate them. I just enjoy it. Talk to me in ten years and I may have a whole different point of view. [laughs] Yeah, that’s what I got next—how you gonna whip those whipper-snappers into shape? [laughs] Yeah, I gotta say, maybe I’ve just been lucky. But in the schools where I’ve worked or volunteered the last few years… I have a theory based on this—and again it may just be random luck—but my theory is that kids today are actually nicer than when I was when I was a teenager. I don’t know what’s changed. Maybe the Internet has something to do with it? Maybe we’re a more decent and sensitive culture than we used to be in some ways? Whatever the reason, my experience is that the kids I’ve worked with have been genuinely nice. I’ve had no serious problems with students acting out or being jerks. Mostly I find that kids are pleasant and easy to get along with. Are you doing what you love? Not yet because I haven’t found a teaching job and looking for a job is not what I love. But when I was doing the graffiti photography, I absolutely loved it. I will always look back at it as one of the best times of my life. I enjoyed it every day. I was passionate about it and even though I didn’t make any money at it, I loved it. And teaching, we’ll see… I’m told your first year of teaching is sort of a nightmare, so I’m excited about the challenge, but a little nervous. Do you have any upcoming shows or exhibitions? I don’t. I did several with my landscape photography in the 90s and I did one with my graffiti photography, but it’s just something that I haven’t really done that much. Where can we go to purchase your work? You don’t have to go anywhere to purchase my work. You can go online and see it all for free. I have always posted almost all my good shots on Flickr. Actually, I think all the photos in my books are available on my Flickr, so if you don’t want to spend any money, you don’t have to. It’s available for free on Flickr, about ten thousand photos. If you want to check out the books, they’re available on Amazon and at bookstores and libraries. The hardcover of Bay Area Graffiti is out of print for now, I’m sorry to say. So if you’ve got a hardcover copy, it’s worth a little more than it used to be. The paperback is still available on Amazon and elsewhere, but it’s hard to say for how much longer. So if you’re interested in getting the books, I wouldn’t wait much longer, especially for Bay Area Graffiti. San Francisco Street Art is still available in its original form. What’s next? Well, what’s next is trying to find a teaching job and being a social studies high school teacher, hopefully somewhere in the Bay Area. Any shout-outs? I’d like to shout-out to the buddies that I usually shoot with, when I do shoot: my good friend Dan Carlson (petalum on Flickr) and Aaron Durand (everydaydude). Those are the guys I shoot with the most. And also, of course, all the writers in the Bay Area who constantly inspire me with their talent, creativity and amazing work. They’re the reason I get out and shoot.