As One is a old school Scottish writer who is now living over in Australia. He has a new website up and running which includes a whole load of tasty flicks. Do yourself a favour, go check it out over at www.styledepth.com. I asked him if he would be up for answering some questions and he kindly obliged. Enjoy!
Give me your name, crew(s), and how long have you been painting?
i write As One or sometimes spelt Az one, previously I was in fck along with Mak, Sqan, Tuez, Dice, Dose, Aztek, Insa, Stik, Sumo, Epos and a whole bunch of other European guys. I have been "crewless" by choice since the days of FCK but am now writing with ASH Crew from Sydney Australia (A Shocking Hobby - with Yoke and Stryke). Been writing for 19 years.
What was it that made you get into graffiti and made you feel "I need to do that"?
i used to have this French pal from Paris who came to stay at with us during his school holidays in the late 80s early 90s, one summer he came he was really into hip hop, like I was at the time, but I was just really into rap like Public Enemy and hadn't been exposed to anything else. He showed me how to tag - it went from there really. After I'd been to Paris and seen the tracksides I was hooked. I loved the idea of big pieces but I started off being really into tagging, I probably had about 10 different tags I used to write - I just liked the style of the tags and the reason I had 10 was cos I wanted to smash where I lived in tags. My mate also wrote a bunch of different things and it got to the stage that everywhere you went in my town you'd see tags if you were looking for them, this was all pre me moving to Glasgow.
Who were your early influences and who/what influences you now?
This is a hard one, when I first started i was into stuff in the Spraycan Art book, then I liked writers like Shok 1, when I started doing 3D stuff Daim was an influence as well as Mak and Tuez who I was painting with. Nowadays my influences come from everywhere - Daim remains an influence, MSK crew, the Ironlak team in Australia, Saturno and Okuda from Spain spring to mind. I think I'm more influenced by graphic design and illustration though, I love digital art, and especially abstract digital art - I constantly trawl the art and design blogs looking for inspiration that i can mix with graffiti. I'm also influenced by organic matter and chemical reactions
Is there any distinct differences in the scene since you started painting?
Yeah, tons. First of all the paint: When I first started it was all done in Car Plan and Halfords own brand shitty auto paint, there were no special caps, it dribbled everywhere and you couldn't get pinks and purples - then hycote came along and it was like it was sent by God, we had to mix colours by putting one in the freezer and cutting a special mixing straw from the inside of a biro pen. Secondly was access to graf: There were hardly any graf mags, it was about 4 or 5 years before the Internet revolution and there weren't many writers. A "tag" was something that had a price on it attached to an item of clothing. Nowadays everything is handed to us on a silver plate with a smiling stewardess going "would you like a range of caps with your different shades of purple sir?" Which is cool cos it means the materials are better and you can go further with your art, but also means things become more "throwaway" if you know what I mean
The amount of people into it now is a lot more, which means more development and unique styles comin through. Also though it means there are toys everywhere and they're all bitching and scoring each other like babies in a sandpit kicking over each others sand castles
Your website states that you "specialize in Interior design, exteriors, graphic design, graffiti, illustration and identity and branding". Have these different aspects made a direct impact on your style and how you approach a piece?
Yeah totally. I've become anal as fuck about my graf! But I think in a good way. Everything has to be tight, and everything has to be better than the last one I did. I guess since being self employed over the last 6 years it's made me more competitive and always wanting to push the envelope - as I am now in the mind set of it's how I'm going to pay my rent and put food on my table. This spills into all my personal graf, which is making me grow not just with art but as a person. Also like I said before the influences of the graphic design world and digital illustration are really making an impression on how I paint, the can techniques I use and what I end up painting. I am even planning a few abstract walls, something I'd never have considered before I got into doing this as a job
Talking of the internet, it wasnt really around when you first started painting. How do you feel it has impacted on the graff scene?
lol this makes me feel really old, being pre internet, kinda like a beta video recorder, but yeah I kinda touched on this before - it's made everything easy. Style, supplies, hook ups, learning, even places to paint. I think it's a good thing and i think it has definitely made more people get into painting, it's all about evolution I guess - it's opening doors like never before. An example is when I was in Scotland before i went traveling: I hooked up with these Colombian writers on myspace, and when I went over there it was just a case of a few emails and I was standing in the capital city of Bogota painting with them. How amazing is that?
Your living over in Australia now, whats the graff scene like there in comparison to what you left behind in Scotland?
The scene here is really good. It's thriving, you'll see tags, dubs and big productions everywhere. I recently went up the coast on the train to Queensland and there wasn't one stretch of track that didn't have something on it. Way out in the country between cities if there was a wall it had something on it grafwise. There are stacks of really talented writers over here, and some Aussies knock the scene but I think it's really good. Part of that is because of the sunshine, it just means you can paint a lot more - but it's also the culture - normal people like productions so it's easier to get walls. Sometimes it's just a case of approaching a house that's got tags on it and showing the owners some photos and they'll let you paint if they like the stuff.
Compared to Scotland, well first of all the weather is an obvious factor, secondly though there's less "pigeon holing" amongst the youth. There's tons of wee guys in Scotland who go "aw that graffiti's aw that fuckin pure mosher shite". They don't know what they're talking about and in most other countries those same people would probably be writing graf. Also graffiti for some reason has never really taken off in Scotland like it has in other parts of the world, even compared to just south of the border in England. I used to live in Sheffield and it was way smaller than Glasgow but probably had 10 times more graffiti to look at, why is that? On the positive side though, cos Scotland has a small scene it means everybody knows each other which is good for organizing jams etc. Also I' think Scottish writers have to fight harder for spots, painting conditions etc so it probably increases their dedication. I also see a lot of style variation in Scotland compared to somewhere like Sydney, which is mainly New York influenced, and there are some really styling writers in the homeland.
I think my recent stuff is my best work cos it's a constant logical progression for me. Flat stuff, I did one in Sydney recently with the letter 'A' 3D, red and all disintegrating off to the left, and 3D wise the last 3D thing I did which I think might be first on my website.
What are your goals for 2011 (onwards) graffiti wise?
Graf wise I want to continue growing, I want to not just continue 3D but also I want to do as much flat stuff and abstract stuff. I want to perfect my current style, then might completely change it, I dunno. I have T shirts and all kinds of shit planned. On a bigger scale I want to go to the Americas again, I want to go to NY and LA and do some design and painting, then want to head back to Latin America. I really want to paint Brazil. I was there in 2008 but never painted - this time I want to make connections. I've been planning all this for ages, it's going to piss my girlfriend off something rotten but it's something that I have to do lol. I also am coming back to Scotland for a bit and want to get some big productions organized, be amazing to see everybody again
Like me you're no spring chicken. Do you still see yourself painting in ten years time?
Definitely. I've made this my life, maybe I won't paint as regularly as I do now cos I hope to be running a design studio somewhere, but I'll still paint. I was born to do this and was given the ability to paint so would never do anything else.
Every writer has a story that they like to tell whether its the time they met and painted with someone in particular, some beef or a chase story. What's yours?
Myself, Mak and Sqan went to New York and painted with Ces, Yes 2 and Cap on a Bronx trackside and I had to go over a big Seen thing which is all memorable enough considering the names, but the next day was a belter - we went down to get pics of the work and it was during the day and we ran onto the tracks in the morning to get photos. Anyway, it was an overground subway and interstate line and we saw this subway car coming along the line. Can't remember where Mak went but me and Sqan weren't fast enough to get off the tracks and so had to hide behind this trackside bush. There was two lines, one on a bank behind and above us and one down below in front of us - we were sitting there hiding waiting for the train to go below us, and the fucking thing must've changed tracks at the last minute and it was quiet, then all we heard from a meter behind us was this hissing noise, and it rolled past us slowly, packed with New York commuters ALL staring at us, especially since we had our fucking backs turned, crouching, and never realized they were there until they were actually going past us! I felt like a total fanny lol and I'm sure Sqan did too, it was like something out of a comedy film.
Any last words?
Want to give a shout out to Estum, Mak, Akme and all the rest of the ER, Gazmac, Elph and writers in all cities in Scotland. Also shouts to Yoke and Stryke from Sydney. Worldwide peace and fuck the NWO!