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BIZARRE BEYOND BELIEF

MAGAZINE

ARTS + CULTURE

ISSUE #24 APRIL

2017

ERNEST DOTY • DEE SKULLS JEFF MANCILLA • MEDIAH BIP • sHOK • SASHA BLOT SABEK • MEAR ONE

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Dedicated to the brilliant, beautiful and bizarre. Whimsical tales, visuals and various odds and ends about obscure and misunderstood sub-cultures. Bizarre Beyond Belief is a bi-monthly digital publication & daily updated blog with an online shop. Disclaimer: Some of the content on this site may contain offensive nature. BBB does not condone or promote the activities portrayed, it is merely documentation of said sub-cultures. All requests and inquiries to: contact@bizarrebeyondbelief.com

Cover: Mear One | Back Cover: MEDIAH Website www.bizarrebeyondbelief.com Shop: www.bizarrebeyondbelief.storenvy.com SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS: Instagram: @bizarrebeyondbelief Facebook: www.facebook.com/bizarrebeyondbeliefmagazine Twitter: @bbbmagazine Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/bbbmagazine Tumblr: www.bizarrebeyondbelief.tumblr.com

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MAGAZINE

ARTS + CULTURE

ISSUE #24 APRIL

2017

CONTENTS

TABLE OF

BIZARRE BEYOND BELIEF

INTERVIEWS ERNEST DOTY DYLAN SKULLS MEDIAH SHOK MEAR ONE

PAGE. 4 Page. 26 Page. 52 page. 80 page. 116

IMAGE FEATUREs SASHA BLOT BIP JEFF MANCILLA SABEK NONSENSE

page. 14 PAGE. 38 PAGE. 66 PAGE. 96


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ERNEST DOTY Ernest Doty is another incredible artist that we found through the wonders of social media and we’re super thankful for it. Not only only is Doty a brilliant artist working hard in the streets and representing some of the most impressive crews around the globe, but he is also a highly skilled urban explorer, whose videos show him doing some of those most impressive climbing on our feed. With a personality that is larger than life and a unique aesthetic, Doty is a name known well beyond just his hometown. We have been working on this feature for a little while now and we are extremely excited to finally lock down a feature with the man and we have no doubt, you’ll enjoy it just as much as we do.

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“We really want to democratize street art by making it accessible to all.”

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Bizarre Beyond Belief: When did you first begin painting graffiti and have you always gone under the moniker you go by now? Ernest Doty: I originally started doing graffiti in 1992 and have had a few names since the beginning, but pretty much just go by “Doty” these days. BBB: Can you tell us about what the scene is like in out in the Bay Area? ED: The scene here in the Bay Area is probably one of the most active scenes I’ve seen in the world and I am honored to be a part of it. BBB: You run with some of the most prolific crews in the United States, can you tell us a little bit about their origins and how you came to rock with them? ED: Lords Crew was originally founded in San Jose, California in 1986 and like CBS crew, is one of the oldest

and largest international graffiti crews in the world. CBS Crew was also founded in 1986 in Los Angeles, California. I originally started painting and hanging out with CBS about 10 or 11 years ago.   BBB: How do you feel these crews have helped shape your painting aesthetic today? ED: Everybody in both crews I consider family and have helped shape my style immensely. I learned a lot from growing up watching the older guys in the crews paint  and I’m definitely honored to be part of the family. BBB: Your style generally contains figurative and portrait elements, what led you to these instead of painting traditional letter graffiti? ED: My productions typically contain figurative and portrait elements instead of traditional letters because I feel it allows me to tell a broader, more detailed story and as well allows me to connect with a larger audience. 

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BBB: There often times is a divide between the two fields, how do you feel each one plays off one another and does one have more credibility that its counterpart? ED: There is definitely a divide between letters and characters but I think each is equally important and influences the other. BBB: You incorporate many animal characters to your pieces, what is the significance of the animal world and do you feel a connection to it? ED: The animals I incorporate into my pieces are just meant to represent the nature that we stripped from our surroundings. I paint a lot of birds because to me, they represent freedom and  an ability to venture into the psychedelic realm. I definitely feel a connection to them as we are all one with nature whether we choose to accept and recognize it or not.

in a plane both separate and connected to the one we call reality and exist in now. BBB: You’re also at the helm of the hilarious Graffiti Petey videos, how did this come about and what led you to make it more than just a laugh with some friends? ED: Graffiti Petey was pretty much an accident. I found an old ventriloquist dummy in a trash pile here in West Oakland who was broken and in many pieces. I rebuilt it repainted it and had it for a while before doing anything with it. The videos pretty much birthed from a drunken night with friends and has just become something we do for fun in hopes of making a few people laugh and just being ridiculous altogether.  BBB: Do you think there will ever be a full length feature film or television series based on the character?

BBB: There also tends to be many surreal aspects to your work which seem almost narrative, do you feel as if you are telling a story through each image you paint and if so, what might they be?

ED: We would love to do a full length movie parity at some point in the future we are working on a few mockumentaries at the moment and hopefully will get them done within the year.

ED: There is most definitely a surreal aspect to my work and definitely a narrative what they are supposed to represent is. I feel that we as a species humans have the ability for great potential and I think one day we will reach a point of enlightenment but I think it will be too late and come at a cost, that is why my characters tend to be malformed. They’re supposed to represent us in the far future and are supposed to be holy and shamanistic - representing the reconnection with nature and self but in this future nature is all but almost gone and we exist

BBB: With 2017 underway, what can our readers expect from Ernest Doty in the coming months? ED: As far as 2017 goes, I am getting ready to do some painting in Costa Rica and then I’m planning a trip to Japan, Bangkok and a few other places. My goal for this year is to get in as much traveling and paint as many large scale pieces as possible. I would like to go bigger this year than I’ve gone in previous years and I am extremely excited to kick it all into gear.

instagram: @ernestdoty

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SASHA BLOT Sasha Blot is a Russia-based artist who creates unbelievable character inspired multidisciplinary work. Rooted in street-art and graffiti, Blot creates work beyond the streets and from canvases to illustration, graphic design to sculpture. Though Blot creates brilliant work in almost every medium, we are focusing here on a selection of his incredible and interactive public art pieces. With a unique technique and aesthetic Blot uses the surroundings of the surface he chosses to paint to dictate the viewers relationship to the piece. An undoubtedly hard-working and inspiring artist, we can easily say he’s become one of our favourite new artsits and we’re stoked to share his work with our readers.

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website: www.sashablot.com | instagram: @sashablot

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DEE SKULLS We’ve had the absolute privilege of knowing Skulls since as long as we can remember and it’s an honour to have him grace the pages of our magazine. Dee Skulls is a creative individual in all aspects of the phrase. From street art to illustration, from sculpture to music, this boy has got it all, and it’s all done well. With an all-systems-go attitude to every aspect of his life, Skulls is an extremely eccentric and capable individual that’s just waiting to blow up. From his whimsical creatures to his dark and disturb portrait figures, Skulls has an aresenal of talent that serves a purpose for every occasion. With all that being said, we’ll quit the chitter-chatter and let the man’s work do the rest of the talking.

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Bizarre Beyond Belief: We know that you started painting graffiti a number of years ago, can you tell us about your origins as a graffiti artist? Dylan Skulls: I started painting graffiti when I was around 13 or 14 years old. My buddy and I started to notice it around the neighborhood we grew up in, but it wasn’t until we met a guy in math class that was a writer until I actually went out. Since then, I fell in love with it and have been painting on and off ever since.   BBB: Your style has changed quite dramatically since then, can you describe what sparked this new method of creating work out on the street?   DS: I used to be scared to do the things I wanted to do because I wasn’t confident in my illustrations and myself as an artist. I started seeing guys like Neckface doing these insane walls  and got really into accomplished illustrators like Alexander Heir. It made me want to try new things. It also made me realize that if you can paint and draw in a sketchy way and do whatever you want, and it will come out amazing. Over the years I focused on developing the style that I work in now. It’s always

morphing and changing - in a constant state of flux.   BBB: As a Toronto based artist, how does your style fit in amongst the scene there?    DS: There are not a ton of people doing what I’m doing in Toronto. That being said, I wouldn’t say that my stuff has never been done before or that it’s super original. I try to do my own thing and ignore what people really think. If you get caught up in the smoke show that is Toronto you will drown in a sea of backwards idiots who have this commercial idea of what they think art should be. Best to keep out of the scene, put your head down, and produce.   BBB: With that being said, how would you classify your work - graffiti or street art?   DS: I guess I would fall under the street artist category, even though I don’t like that title. I don’t paint with any “street artists” and tend not to like most street art. I don’t blast letters like most writers so I’m not really a graffiti artist. I guess I fall somewhere in the middle.   BBB: You also took a hiatus from for a number of

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years, can you tell us a little bit about that and what inspired you to come back full force? DS: I was really into drugs and booze from a young age And for years that fuelled my art and my painting. It gave me confidence and made me feel invincible , but after a while it all caught up with me. I was homeless and a mess for a few years. I stopped painting and drawing and basically gave up on it. It wasn’t until I sobered up for a while that I really got back into my art. I had a few friends that helped me get my feet wet again. As for painting, it came back when I was on a trip to Montreal. I was out with my buddy for dinner he was bitching me out for not painting anymore and one thing led to another. That was the first night, we grabbed a couple of cans and I did a skull. It all came back to me the rush and the satisfaction

of painting and I have been painting steady since. BBB: We know that you’ve been collaborating quite a bit with a collective named “Chiller Vibes”, can you tells us about the group’s origins and its methodology?   DS: My bud Getso and I had been talking for ages and wanted to collaborate on a project. We almost went down the zine route but that really didn’t pan out. Then finally we just got together with our pal Stonr and crushed a monochromatic piece all just free form not thinking about the end result and just having fun. It turned out cool as fuck. From there we brought in Dethrock and we started coming up with concepts for “murals”, which are just random ideas and showing up to the wall and blasting them out. Everyone just goes wild and paints over of each

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other, connecting images and icons almost like an insane collage of ideas. It’s a fucking blast. BBB: Outside of the street you also create a number of incredible works such as illustrations and paintings, how do you feel your work differs from outdoors to indoors?   DS: With my work on paper and in the studio I tend to get way more sucked into what I’m doing and over think things a lot. I’m usually working on a million paintings, drawings, comics and posters at the same time. More often than not most projects get lost in the wash. With my outdoor work, I like to be more free with it and not think about it, just go out and paint.   BBB: Can you describe your conceptual process in creating work both indoors and out?   DS: When I’m working in the studio or outside, anything that comes into my mind, I play with. I like to try and follow through with every idea I have from stupid comics to large scale murals. it gives me a lot of material and mediums to work with, keeps me busy, out of trouble and always doing something different. It’s good for me because I can get bored of a project or end up thinking I hate something pretty quickly.    BBB: Do you feel as if the two can help innovate the other or do you feel it’s best to keep them separate?

DS: I think they play off each other in every way now. I’ll be doodling and that can turn into a wall, or a paint a skeleton on a train and that will end up as a shirt idea. Its all one big cluster fuck of ideas and stupid shit.    BBB: You are also a musician as well, can you tell us a little bit about your musical endeavours and how that helps or hinders your artistic career?   DS: I’ve been playing in bands in Toronto for years, most of which not worth mentioning. I currently have a project called Bad Zeppelin and should have a record out this year. I work with a guy called Marvelous Mark. He basically is the reason I get anything done with my music. I really think it helps my career as an artist because it gives me a lot of bands to work with doing posters or album art. Its a huge bulk of the commission work I get.    BBB: If you were left with a decision to only choose one (music or art), which one would it be and why?   DS: Nope   BBB: With spring approaching in Toronto, what can our readers expect from Dylan Skulls in the coming months?   DS: A shit ton of walls/trains/comics/posters/shirts/ collaborations/zines and some music too. And weed.

instagram: @badksulls

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BIP BIP, also known as BIP Graffiti, is an anonymous artist who creates extraordinary mural work. With little information accessible about the artist, it makes us here at BBB really enjoy the work that much more. There is something not only admirable but alluring about an artist who is adamant about anonymity. BIP’s work ranges from clever pop-culture interventions to hyperrealistic portraits and figures. Beyond the content itself, BIP has knack for utilizing the space and the surface to best of their abilities. One thing that we do know for certain is that BIP is well known for the beautifying the landscape of the Bay Area. If you haven’t heard of BIP yet, we can guarantee you he’ll be one of your new favourite artists, as he has been one of ours for a while now.

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WEBSITE: www.bipgraffiti.com | INSTAGRAM: @BIP_GRAFFITI

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MEDIAH MEDIAH has been a staple of the graffiti scene in Toronto for as long as we can remember, so it goes without saying that we are without words to describe how thrilled we are to have him in our publication. MEDIAH has easily been one of the most innovative and forward thinking writers in Canada with a style that is completely original and entirely out of this world. Beyond painting walls, MEDIAH has immersed himself in the art community around the globe with some of the most breath-taking and intricate work that can be seen in person or on the internet. We were absolutely blessed to commondeer some time out of MEDIAH’s busy schedule for a chat about his work, practice and vision for the future.

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Bizarre Beyond Belief: You’ve been working under the pseudonym MEDIAH for over two decades now, can you tell us how you came up with this alias and its significance to your and/or your practice? MEDIAH: I chose the name because at the time I could create graffiti using any medium on any media so I first started writing MEDIA before I added the H on the end. The H was added because the old testament prophets had an IAH on the end of their names. Also because in Jamaica people would greet me with “Yes Iyah’ which in Patois is a greeting that means ‘Give thanks to the Most High’. The name MEDIAH really describes my artistic approach, my culture and my faith all in one. BBB: You now publicize your “government name” along with your work, what is your take on anonymity and why have you decided to relinquish it?

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MEDIAH :Yeah, the older I became the greater the risk involved with being a black writer and doing illegal pieces. While the other writers would get a slap on the wrist if caught bombing, for me it was either years of imprisonment, a life crippling beating or even death by police. It wasn’t worth the risk. Secondly, I wanted to push my work on a very professional level so I wanted to be transparent as possible and allow the public to know who I am. It was something that I needed in order to go where I am going. BBB: You’ve been working as a graffiti artist in Toronto for the same amount of time, can you tell us what the scene was like when you first began? MEDIAH: My experience coming up in Toronto may be quite a bit different from other peoples. The scene was a lot more competitive and required for you to ‘pay your dues’ before hitting the streets with pieces. I had


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difficulty when I first came up because of the amount of effort required to make a name for yourself in the scene. It wasn’t like how it is today where writers can just start writing. You needed to be introduced or affiliated with established writers before breaking out and painting in the known legal or illegal spots. I made some mistakes that pissed some people off and my reaction to these people was immature and irrational. To everybody I pissed off or dissed way back then - I SINCERELY APOLOGIZE! BBB: With many artists now turning to the fine art realm, did you ever see yourself developing in this way since the time of your origins? MEDIAH: I think so. There was always a draw to exhibit my work in a professional setting and expose my art to people beyond the ‘graffiti’ scene. As I began to be inspired by digital media, fine art, graphic design and animation my whole modus operandi changed dramatically. Instead of being primarily concerned about ‘fame’ and ‘getting up’ my focus turned to ‘cause and effect’ above everything else. That means that in everything I do my art must uplift, inspire and give something to the viewer on a spiritual level. At least that

is my intent. Since then my paintings and hybrid artworks have given me the freedom and flexibility to experiment and display my work in galleries, exhibitions and create artwork for diverse clientele. Its a blessing BBB: How do you feel the mentality of graffiti artists have changed since you began and what do you think helped push this transformation? MEDIAH: Hmmm. Well I think that the new set of graffiti writers (at least in Toronto) are less concerned about artistic quality and have turned their attention to the ‘grittyness’ of bombing and making a name for themselves. The mentality has changed quite a bit. The level of respect that was once established in the scene has been replaced with new rules that those of us from the 90’s don’t quite understand (at least I don’t). Pioneers and foundational giants of the scene can easily be crossed out, dissed or sloppily covered if they aren’t careful and it never used to be this way. I respect the level of risk and the intensity the new writers have but I will continue to abide by my philosophy of RBD- Respect by default. I try not to paint over anybody whether toy or king...I just find my own walls and push my art on my own.

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BBB: We often hear the term “post-graffiti” used by many artists, including yourself, how would you define this term and what makes it so powerful in this day and age? MEDIAH: Once again my definition of post-graffiti may be quite different from someone else’s. For me ‘postgraffiti’ means that my work stems from graffiti culture in its foundation, but the ‘post’ means that it has evolved away from or branched out into something entirely different. My work has almost completely abandoned text. My fine artwork NEVER says MEDIAH in anyway shape or form. Some of my wall pieces are built from the name MEDIAH but contain obliterated components of the word to make something with its own personality. I cant justify writing my name all the time while people are starving in South Sudan or being kidnapped and sold into human trafficking. It’s too self absorbed for me. Often times people ask me “What does it say?” I always ask them back How does it make you feel? Or what do you see when you look at it? The ability to transcend a definition for one’s art is powerful because it breaks the limits of the definition when you branch out. BBB: You also refer to your practice as “dynamic abstract”, how would you describe this term and what are its origins? MEDIAH: I would say its origins lie with the Italian Futurists, Marcel Duchamp and Constructivism out of early 20th century Russia. My work is much different in terms of its core ideology but the genius of the Futurists was in their artistic approach not their ‘fascism’. My work is all about movement, pressure, force and sudden changes in speed and tempo. It’s meant to take you on a journey and alter your perspective depending on your unique human filter and your life experiences. My Dynamic Abstraction is intended to be completely experiential. Your experience with it will be entirely different from someone else’s. The Spirit that is behind my work is living and active, cutting between bone and marrow. It’s not for everyone, but those whom are drawn to it will most likely continue to be, while it may grow on those that hate it or don’t understand it.  BBB: You also cite engineering, avionics and schematics as inspirations of your work, what is it about these fields that help push your artistic

developments? MEDIAH: All three of these fields are about innovation and technology. I want to take the same approach in my artwork by constantly innovating and pushing the boundaries of the norm. Since I was really little I was always obsessed with computers, building robots and the insides of electronics. I grew up watching Voltron, and the first series of Transformers: Robots in Disguise (the 1983/84 version). All of these things shaped me into being an artistic computer nerd with social skills. Even now, I can build a PC in a heartbeat and use complicated software and digital media techniques for my art. I enjoy looking at blueprints, plans and mechanical wireframes. It just gets me going. My father was a brilliant draftsman in the early 1970’s and he gave me the foundation of technical drawing and introduced me to the tools of the trade. In return, I taught him quite a bit about computers. He’s an incredible influence to me. BBB: Your work is extremely powerful and meticulous, can you tell us about your creative process from concept to completion? MEDIAH: Okay, this is complicated and difficult to articulate. My process is very unusual and it differs from piece to piece. Most of the time my pieces require a certain amount of submission. It’s as if I’m instructed on how to create the piece step by step and often times arguments ensue between me and the Spirit behind my artwork. Everything I paint nowadays consists of multiple drawings composited together to make a whole. Nothing I do is one element but rather multiple elements connected together to make the ‘sum of the whole’. Once the multiple drawings are assembled, the real work begins. I follow the basic structure of the assembly and then I’m instructed step by step as to what new components need to be added or what existing ones need to be taken away. Often times when I’m painting a mural I have to stop, place my hand on the wall and pray for further instruction. My pieces are spiritually draining. They require total concentration and commitment to be done in the right way. Most of the time I’m left dissatisfied or unimpressed but its not about me or what I feel. It’s all about cause and effect. BBB: You represent the infamous CBS (Can’t Be Stopped) Crew, what is the crew’s origins and how did

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you come to join?

at http://cantbestoppedthemovie.com/

MEDIAH: CBS and MEDIAH was always destiny. KYM CBS started the process and ANGER CBS completed it with the recommendation of ROVE CBS and AFEX CBS from the Canadian chapter. The connection started way back in 2000 at the Wall Street Meeting in Wiesbaden, Germany. I met some key members there and again in 2004 during the Meeting of Styles jam in Los Angeles. The crew just released an incredible documentary about the crew’s origins and legacy. You can check it out

BBB: With spring well underway now in Toronto, what can our readers expect from MEDIAH throughout the rest 2017 and onward? MEDIAH: I’m working a on a major solo exhibition for October of this year and I’m putting my all into it. I’ll be painting numerous murals and releasing a brand new inventory of hybrid pieces in the coming months. Lot’s of new work to come....God willing.

www.mediahstudio.com | instagram: @mediah

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JEFF MANCILLA Jeff Mancilla is a total beast behind the lense, taking by far some of the most brilliant photos we’ve seen to date. Mancilla totally immerses himself with the graffiti culture, which not only lends itself to being extremely respected as a photographer of the craft, but also snapping some of the most candid and raw photos in the game. There are many graffiti photographers out there these days and we can say without question, few people do it half as well as Mr. Mancilla. His composition, subject matter and vision far surpasses what the majority of us can fathom with using a camera. With a well deserved extensive feature on Mancilla’s work, we’ll let the master take it from here. B

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SHOK As a publication that is deeply rooted in Canadian graffiti, it goes without saying that SHOK is one of the most well known and iconic figures in the east coast scene. We’ve been dying for months to get him to bless our magazine and we’re ecstatic to interview him, as it truly is a dream come true. With one of the most fresh, vibrant and recognizable styles in the game, SHOK hasn’t missed his mark on a burner over the duration of his two decade career. SHOK’s letter structure is second to none and always manages some of the most extremely clever mural concepts with his crew, he is without a doubt one of the most influential writers on the east coast. We’re honoured to have a feature with the beast from La Belle Province, and hyped to showcase some of his recent work that are sure to please both legal and illegal graffiti artists alike.

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Bizarre Beyond Belief: You’ve been a graffiti artist for a number of years, what was your first interaction with the culture and what sparked you to start painting? SHOK: I clearly remember going downtown Montreal when I was real young and noticing bombing. We’re talking early 90’s here so graffiti was pretty much just starting in the city. My Pops is an artist himself, so I was already into drawing and stuff. He had the crazy euro comic album collection and all kinds of drawing pencils and markers he’d let me use when I was around. He’d also bring me and my brother to the museum once in a while, so I know my interest in art comes from him. As a kid, for some reason I was always attracted to letters and would draw Baseball team logos or big cartoon titles, so when I started noticing graff, I saw it as drawing so it automatically caught my attention. I would mostly encounter graffiti around the red light district of the city, where the D.T.C. (Sike, Soak, Santi) and the A.T.C (Ever,

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Asik, Gero, Erock etc.) guys were from. Flow T.A. also had a real strong presence on the roof tops and other strategic spots in the area. By the time I started writing myself, I was about thirteen. Starting to learn and discover about the scene, spots, history etc. I took it all in. This is when J.K.R. (Stack, Maink, Cesk, Dab), S.V.C. (Case, Beam, deStar) and other ill writers like Zeck, Cast or Diske just to name a few, really stood out in my mind. BBB: What was the overall vibe of the scene and culture at the time and how has the public perception shifted since then? SHOK: I guess it used to be a pretty closed scene back then. The older dudes gave a hard time to the younger and nobody was welcome until they’ve put in enough work, which to me always made sense since it’s a competitive “sport”. That’s how natural selection would be made - ha, ha! But all jokes aside, good values were handed down. I think I learned from the best, when style was the priority


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and writers could do it all. All around writers. The fact that it was something underground definitely attracted me. Not everybody on the block was up on it. These days, graffiti is certainly not as underground, but I believe a fraction of it still is, but this is because I don’t consider street-art, mural festivals or spray painting classes a part of the culture I’m in. I’m into abandoned spots and train tracks, painting and having a couple beers with good people. The public perception probably didn’t change much when it comes to that kind of stuff! BBB: You have a strong presence in Montreal but we see you represent Ahuntsic really hard, what would you say the difference between the locations are? SHOK: Ha, ha! It’s part of Montreal. Ahuntsic is just the neighborhood I’m from. It’s located at the north end of the city, all the way up St-Laurent Boulevard. I grew up here, left when I was about 19, then came back a couple years ago and settled down. I never stopped reppin’ it though!

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Only a handful of writers come from here, which is a good thing because we have the spots all for ourselves. Cats are too lazy to come up here to paint! BBB: With many graffiti artists still holding true to graffiti roots like racking and illegal spots, what is your take on these things? SHOK: Whatever floats your boat man, these are things that are definitely part of the game. This culture will teach you street smarts, and ways to get in and out of places or situations. Just don’t let it slow you down in whatever else you’re trying to achieve in life. If keeping it real only gets you a free gore-tex jacket and pending court cases, then you’re fucking up. My outlook on graff changed in the last couple of years, getting older and having more and more responsibilities. I can’t be running around all night wildin’ because I have to go to work in the morning, but I’m still out there painting a whole lot and I can afford all the paint I want, travel, go on road trips etc. Don’t get me


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wrong, painting illegally is what I love most, I just go for the safer spots now! BBB: Do you feel that graffiti artists can display in galleries and work with big companies and retain their credibility? SHOK: Sure, if that’s how you earn a living and you enjoy it than why not. Just don’t call it graffiti because its not. People seem to get real confused about this. Graffiti, street-art and fine art are 3 complete different things, belonging to different places. Some of my boys do art as a full-time job and they enjoy it, so good for them! Personally, I chose not go down that path because painting canvases is no fun to me. I’m into painting

concrete, brick, with new textures and new environment’s surrounding it. As for commercial murals, I didn’t want my professional life to be a derivative of my passion, so unless it’s a quick easy money gig, I’ll slide it to one of my boys. When it comes to credibility, I don’t think you can take away the (graffiti) work somebody’s done in their career because of their day job. The stats stay the same! BBB: You also represent the infamous SIK (So Ill Kids) Crew, can you tell us how that formed and you have seen it expand over the years? SHOK: So this year marks the 20th anniversary of the crew. Me and a friend started it when we were just beginning back in 1997. At some point, none of us were

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reppin’ it anymore, some of the members stopped writing altogether, me and Dock (rip) went on to be a part of H.Y.H. and Kers was now part of N.M.E. Then after that, I was just solo for a while. And I’m not into old crews with 150 members that don’t know each other, because it loses all it’s sense. So here I am years later, reppin’ S.I.K. by myself, and SKOR (Which is one of the OG member from ‘97) makes a comeback after stopping for like 10 years! This is around the time me and Narc started painting together a lot, and I was also kickin’ it with my homie Tuna from around the way. So we’re chillin the 4 of us all the time now, painting too, it was only natural that Narc & Tuna become part of the crew. Skor is the motivator, he’s always down for whatever. Week night missions, road trips, travels, you name it. And he comes prepared as fuck, always trying to step it up a notch. Narc is the one with the ill ideas & concepts, opening my mind making me try new shit when we’re painting. And Tuna, he has that pure, real clean style with a strong structure to it. He makes it look real easy. I couldn’t ask for more, this is truly a family. BBB: Like many graffiti artists, you’ve painted in various cities around North America and elsewhere,

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can you tell us what your favorite places to paint are and why? SHOK: Wow there are so many places. I enjoy painting anywhere in the world. Going to a new country, new city, new spots, meeting great people who share the same interests, painting/partying with them and getting to learn about their culture is all I ask for! One of the perks of writing graffiti is definitely developing a network of people around the world who will welcome you when you’ll visit. We’ve always been well received wherever we went, so we return the favor when it’s their turn to come visit us. Recently the whole crew flew to Miami during Art Basel to enjoy the warm weather and paint a couple pieces. I also just came back from a crazy trip to Puerto Rico and kicked it with the A.D.M. fam. We go on a lot of road trips driving distance from Montreal like Quebec city, Ottawa or Sherbrooke as well. I’m planning trips to NYC and Toronto this spring, and then Berlin and Barcelona this summer. It’s all about painting new locations. I’d rather not paint than always end up at the same shitty spots where everybody goes! BBB: Have you ever traveled to a city or even just a


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spot that you found too sketchy to rock?

healthy balance in my life.

Many, many times. But hey, not every mission is successful. Lots of energy is spent on finding new locations and most of them end up being too sketchy. But scoping spots, clearing bushes, scraping walls and even cutting trees down is part of this game. If I’m out of town I’ll usually trust the local cats on what’s safe and what’s not. There are huge gaps on how “regular” people perceive graff around the world. Many countries have way bigger social issues they have to deal with, so they don’t see graffiti as a negative thing like in North America. It makes it easier to get away with much more painting in these places.

BBB: With that being said, how does your creative process compare and contrast between the fields?

BBB: As a practicing designer, how do you balance work and spraying in your everyday life? SHOK: I basically work a full time week job as a graphic designer now, so my schedule is pretty steady. The formula is simple: we mostly paint every single Saturdays until it’s too cold to do so. We’ve been doing this for years now, so we don’t need much planning. We choose a spot and who’ll get the primer but that’s pretty much it, we keep it simple. No crazy concepts with ladders and shit - pure classic graffiti! So instead of playing golf on weekends, we go painting. I don’t want to call it an escape, but this is something I definitely need to keep that

SHOK: I work in the fashion industry so it involves doing research to see what’s trending out there. I guess I’m aware of the color trends or design trends, but I don’t think it influences my graffiti side that much. Like I said I see my job and my passion as two complete different things. I don’t mix them up so one’s not really gonna influence the other. To some extent I think that popular culture influences my work, especially the 80’s and 90’s aesthetic you could find in cartoons, ads or baseball cards for example. Both fields involves creativity which I love, but the process is not the same. BBB: With spring almost upon us, what can our readers expect from SHOK in the coming months? Steady rocking! I’m ready to go, geared up and everything! I have a little more time to devote to my craft this year, so I plan on putting in more work and step it up a level. So bigger and better pieces to come! I will also travel as much as I possibly can, livin’ it up and burning the candle at both ends while I still can! Thank you BBB! Keep it up!!

instagram: @__SHOKEY__

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SABEK SABEK has been an artist we’ve been watching for quite some time now and we can’t believe it’s taken this long to get him in our publication. An artist who truly has unlimited potential and displays that everyday, he truly deserves all of the accolades he receives. SABEK’s surreal and graphic murals are some of the most beautiful pieces of art our there in the world. With a style that makes it incredibly easy to merely glance and enjoy, there are so many layers to each piece that it truly takes the viewer a lot of time and intellect to fully comprehend the work. We’d like to extend a huge thank you to SABEK for lending his photos to us to share with our readers - this is definitely a must-see feature.

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MEAR ONE There’s few things we can say that you probably haven’t heard about MEAR ONE before - he’s an absolute legend. As a pioneer of the Los Angeles graffiti scene he’s been a household graffiti name for decades and continues to raise the bar every time he goes to work. Beyond an extensive career in the streets, MEAR ONE has worked making installations and sculptures for some of the biggest and brightest names in various industries and has easily transcended a number of different artistic mediums. This interview has been a little while in the making but we can honestly say it’s been well worth the wait. We can’t even express what a privilege it is to have him lend his words of wisdom and let us present one of favourite features we have ever published.

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Bizarre Beyond Belief: As an artist pioneering the graffiti and mural culture in LA decades ago, what was the culture like at this time? MEAR ONE: Back when I first started tagging and doing graffiti LA was a wild west in the modern sense. I rode buses across the LA urban sprawl in pursuit of vandalism and adventure. We stole our Krylon spray paint and used the alleyways to practice piecing and wild style lettering. This was prior to the 1992 LA Riots and the attitude and behavior of the Angeleno youth at that time was defined by gang and graffiti culture, creating a massive youth social uprising - half of it was fueled by creativity while the other half was enraged by the lack of accountability this system had to offer. My crew and I would spend entire nights walking the streets of LA, getting our tags and throw-ups up, sharpening our style, looking to get

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away with it. Graffiti is the voice of the dissatisfied soul and we made sure it was heard. BBB: How has the community and scene of this culture transformed since you began creating? M1: The beginnings of this scene was very pure and defined by the singular desire to rebel. Nowadays, however, it seems kids get into this art form to increase their social media hype and fame for profit. Sometime in the new millennium, graffiti became co-opted by these parasitic market principles and diverged into what we now know today as street art. The current street art scene feels kinda sick and incestuous and submits to popularity all too easily, compared to the early days of graffiti when vandalism and pioneering these art forms for the sake and enjoyment of it was the order of the day. Graffiti


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had a very positive impact on me because it provided unique training grounds to help build a certain strength of character, showing me what and how I am an individual distinct from the homogenized “safety” art scene. I realized back then a certain wisdom that still holds true for me today, which is that I create conscious art for conscious people. This awakening, so to speak, cut me away from the herd mentality to where now I’m able to critically and objectively view the world at large without the popular filter.  BBB: Do you feel the public reception of the culture has swayed or changed? M1: I think the public reception of the culture mirrors culture itself in that it is splintered in multiple ways. Currently, I see a stark divide between the awoken and the asleep masses, distinguished by one’s ability and desire to discern fact from fiction, that which is real versus the fake and fleeting. The public is a wild beast to

interpret right now cut across all lines of politics, race, class, gender, borders, freedom, privacy, it is confused, its identity is lost. Many seem to be paralyzed in their own soma of cognitive dissonance. However, something is brewing. More and more people are growing impatient and I do notice a vast number of people opening up to more conscious living and figuring out what the fuck is going on around here. Most exciting is the number of people who have woken up to my art. After 9/11, I seemed to suffer a decade of struggle, disassociation, and abandonment from some friends and work colleagues. People thought I was either being too extreme or simply a conspiracy nut. It was around 2011 though, after a decade of healing from previous years, that I decided to put my dog back in the fight and started creating murals on the street that mimicked my studio work, carrying the same value, message, and thought to inspire the enlightenment of everyone viewing. I was pushing heavy subject matter, everything from the chemtrails we see in our skies to the bankster cartels ruling our lives and how the big pharma

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companies are profiting off poisonous foods like GMOs, so this was my stab at waking people up. Of course, the grand irony is that what was once conspiracy has now been proven true, an open secret to the initiated, and while it’s great to see the public reception of my contribution to this culture of truth, protest, and rebellion gradually waking up, I’m also left dumfounded as to where everyone was a decade or two decades ago, where did everybody go? BBB: How would you describe the similarities and differences between graffiti art and fine art? M1: I always thought there was a difference between fine-art and graffiti art until I came to understand the bigger picture coalescing in the age of graffiti. It started out back in the 1970s when economic depression and environmental degradation ran rampant through Our streets. We were becoming a ghetto all across America

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and like I stated earlier, “graffiti is the voice of the dissatisfied soul”. Simultaneously, I had been observing the hi-brow art scene becoming very bland and shi shi; the Soul of the World was desiring more. I believe Art as an entity decided to invest Her time in the Hood and allow Youth - young black and latinos, asian immigrants, along with poor white kids - their space to shine, giving them the key to creativity for the first time in art history. History would be defined by the under dog and its time was now. It manifested itself right where the rich and privileged would not go. It took nearly 30 years of underground culture to penetrate the American household and take hold of all its young. So now we have street art and social media and everything is hunky-dory, right? Not quite. There is a repercussion to this retroism, which is that anytime you copy or take from the original source you’re bound to lack the integrity of its original content and meaning. In a nutshell, this new remake of an older art form has no balls, no pun intended. It’s like a sad,


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cute teddy bear sliding down a melting rainbow kind of reality that these mindless replicants have constructed, but they forgot to open their eyes, their mind’s eye, to become critical and present. I can’t see much authenticity in the scene right now, no motivations of a real-lived experience, unlike us graffiti kids had, to create art that depicts or inspires a conversation about the true nature and quality of our lives and where we have come from as a human race, where are we now, where are we headed. So is there a difference between graffiti art and fine art? The only difference I see in these art forms is the artist, is he/she awake? BBB: Do each respective field feed off of each other or do they remain their own separate beast in your practice? M1: For any artist, working in any field or medium, I suppose I always ask: where are you coming from, what do you have to say? If their response is worthy of conversation then I don’t see why any divisions should exist in the first place. In many respects art for me is a penetrating study into the history of ideas. Right now there’s a lot of misdirection about said ideas, and that trickles down to the substance and quality of the art that is produced.

BBB: How would you describe graffiti art’s significance in your development not only as an artist, but as an individual? M1: Graffiti is an act of Anarchy and it has helped me to grow as my own man by teaching me how not to follow anyone but my own inspiration. The want to express one’s own unique brand of freedom and ideas is the spirit of graffiti and as I grew as a studio painter I continued on with that philosophy, from vandalizing the public space to vandalizing the mind and traditional ideologies with my paintings. That might be a stretch for some, but reality is subjective and how you describe it is key in understanding how you function in it. Graffiti showed me how to think for myself and that I don’t need to ask for permission from anyone, no so-called expert nor self-proclaimed purveyor of the scene, it is all within my own free right to do as I may. If it resonates with some, great. If it resonates with a larger some, even better. Now, my actions are a different story and require a deeper level of respect for life to be a true artist. What do I mean by that. Well, if the act of creating is a relationship between thought and action then what is required is love and insight to translate the ideas in your mind into their truest form, to become something wondrous, objective, sublime, and free of value judgements. I feel that the generation I grew up

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in valued freedom and art over the superficial and I still define my life by these principles.

BBB: Symbolism plays a large role in your work, what is the major significance of this imagery?

BBB: With extremely well rendered and detailed work on the street, what led you to painting figurative and surreal work as opposed to lettering generally associated with traditional graffiti?

M1: I believe symbols are part and parcel of an ancient language that spread across the planet many millennia ago. The idea that we may have been an advanced global culture fascinates me to no end and through my independent studies and psychedelic journeys I have witnessed countless moments of powerful symbolism and meaning downloading into my consciousness, leaving me energized to interpret these meanings through words and paint. These symbols are ways of compacting vast amounts of information into a glyph that is associated with many other components of visual language to communicate a new level of understanding and universal truth. If you think about it, the parameters and shape of our alphabet are exactly that, albeit a more primitive version; it gives form to recognizable icons in our consciousness that encapsulates the resonant meaning in

M1: I eventually grew out of the consistent repetition my peers were manifesting as graffiti artists when I began seeing a much wider spectrum of vision, which letters could not express. I still love to trick my pieces, but when I can tell a narrative or show a view people are missing in their everyday lives that brings me greater joy. I had to evolve beyond what I started out doing though. It’s like a kid growing up in the city, never having travelled his whole life, whether physically or mentally, and so is left only knowing a narrow perspective stuck within the same horizon, the same plane of existence. 

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our lives. Symbols have the ability to encompass an entire conversation, they are ideas that connect us to power - knowledge is power, symbols are knowledge. And so what we have is this idea that language can be understood as an advanced design, an art form in itself derived from a higher order whose symmetry and beauty are undeniable. BBB: As an American artist who incorporates modern politics in your work, what is your take on the current political landscape in your country? M1: The politics of this country have shown themselves to be a complete flop and failure on every level. I liken it to the worst, most brute display of sportsmanship and competition you can imagine and if you’re into that kind of shit it will make you go mad. The left wing is attached to the right wing by a body full of shit with no head, no brain, a mindless puppet sellout to the highest bidder. The co-option is real and big right now, and it’s happening

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through every mainstream media source out there. I have chosen to follow people on the internet I personally have learned to trust and receive my news from and find myself left of left politically; in fact, I don’t subscribe to political parties any longer because I see that they are all full of, well, shit. As a political artist I’m metaphorically painting a red X over ideas that I feel are important as well worthy of conversation and have decided that it is more important to understand our world, to decipher and re-examine the facts before running off and supporting one sport team over another. But being political and subscribing to politics are two different things and knowing and understanding terms and words like freedom are essential to our survival. Recently, I have been deepening my philosophical thinking on the anarchist, agorist, voluntarist movements of the counterculture era, as well my own spiritual development so that I might help others too. But first we need to fix ourselves before we can help someone else. 


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BBB: What is your philosophy on juxtaposing these ideologies with the surreal and supernatural in your work?

BBB: With many successful years under your belt, what can readers and fans expect from Mear One in the upcoming years?

M1: The surreal and supernatural are ways of expressing a kind of fractal even though the way I express them may not always be in a repetitious, geometrical form. It may be in a visionary sense based in a narrative, but the process is a derivative of some underlying truth about, for example, our political structure and those who rule over us, similar to an avatar or archetype. Patterns and myth intertwine to express what still life cannot and it is this multiplicity of life I’m trying to capture in my work. I always see situations on a plethora of levels and hope to recreate this mental vision and leave the viewer informed as well interested and engaged.

M1: I’m working on a follow up body of work to my previous series of paintings, Cognitive Dissonance, that I released in 2015 called Cognitive Resonance. It is exploring the deep myth of our roots of civilization, interpreting through paint the mythological stories we humans wrote, and the connection I feel in my life through these various myth and archetype with relationship to the universe. Who am I and what am I doing here?  Where could our future take us with this new hindsight, a perspective methodologically backed by reinterpreting our past without the obfuscation and oppression of fact by the institutional elite aka Quackademics. Along with that I’m compiling my first monograph chronicilizing my art lineage and other writings, all informed by my current obsession in obtaining firsthand experience, through travel and psychedelic journeys of the mind, of these various mysteries, confronting the corruption of the ruling systems, all while reconnecting the hidden human experience. This journey of mine started out by trying to describe what was the rarest, deepest source of knowledge that has sustained, been retained throughout time, finding causation and connection to the current problems in our political realm, reminiscent of an era when magic and science were one in the same. This alchemical pursuit brings a metaphysical energy source into one’s life, promoting the idea that our current leadership doesn’t know shit and that what they do know is top secret and not extended to us for our interpretation; ever calling out the charlatans and searching for that inner-magician, describing the unspoken and unseen aspects of an artist’s life. 

BBB: As an artist who’s created work for massive musical artists, how does working with different creative types affect your creative process? Working with extremely talented people is one of the high moments in life because it is a space in which you get to expand your view and sometimes redefine it through positive building between two creative individuals. It also is an affirmation that all the hard work is paying off. Music is one of the fundamental keys to enjoying life; all the years working with hip-hop and the LA underground to mega bands like Guns N Roses only adds richness and perspective to my process. I have been connecting recently with people I’ve been interested in for decades now in the field of physics, philosophy, politics. archeology, spirituality, and anarchy all in the desire to grow through the wisdoms these wonderful humans have to impart. I’m just glad my circle of inspiration is widening. 

www.mearone.com | instagram: @mearone

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Bizarre Beyond Belief Magazine Issue #24  

Bizarre Beyond Belief Magazine issue #24 includes image features from Jeff Mancilla, BIP, Sasha Blot, Sabek and interviews with Ernest Doty,...

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