- AWR, HM, MSK, The Seventh Letter
I am currently a painter, illustrator and graffiti artist – and a future music producer, filmmaker and vegan chef.
I love traveling, horror movie t-shirts, The Packers, Bollywood movies and Volvos.
I hate nationalism, patriotism, mediocre chain restaurants, being broke and police.
Your government lies to you.
An interview with EWOK MSK HM AWR.
Questions by Luke Shirlaw for Ironlak.com
For those who don’t know, it’s always best to start at the beginning. Tell us how, and when, you first got involved in graffiti – what attracted you to the movement?
EWOK MSK: I started screwing around with Magnum 44 markers doing horrible, contrived tags — thinking I was doing graffiti — when I was 16 or 17 years old. I didn’t have much exposure to real graffiti while growing up. There were a few things I saw here and there, on trips to Chicago or New York. Occasionally I’d see it on TV; like during the opening credits of Welcome Back Kotter. I had a Run-D.M.C. vinyl 45 where they were standing in front of a wall with some hollow throw-ups etc. I was always into art so this just seemed like the perfect combination of creativity and doing rebellious illegal stuff, that was so appealing to me as a teenager.
Let’s get situational. Describe your ideal graffiti scenario? What’s your fave painting environment/surface?
Anywhere overseas, places I’ve never been before, especially places that do not already have an established graffiti scene. Preferably somewhere warm. I like painting on anything old and fucked up, rusty or in a scenic environment. I like abandoned stuff or places where you can stretch out, go nuts and experiment. Freight trains are the best as far as the time investment to enjoyment ratio.
It’s time for some name dropping. Who is producing creative work that gets you excited? Who’s really pushing it?
Music: Prince, 2 Chainz, Frank Ocean, Run the Jewels, Gorillaz, Interpol, Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd
Graffiti: Aside from my peoples in AWR/MSK, HM and the Ironlak Squad; I’m really Feeling Yes2, Ces, Mast, Soviet, Horfe, Kash, Kosem, Rage, Seb, Dems, the Non Stop Future Rock crew, Jukebox Cowboys, FMK. Too many others to think of all at once…
Painters and illustrators: Aaron Horkey, Rockin’ Jellybean, Jorge Gonzalez Camarena, George Tooker, Thomas Hart Benton and Robert Williams.
Photographers: Patrick Hoelck, Van Styles, Willie T and Estevan Oriol
“I like abandoned stuff or places where you can stretch out, go nuts and experiment. Freight trains are the best as far as the time investment to enjoyment ratio.”
You’ve been down with Ironlak for a minute. What year did you get down?
Ironlak is dope. It’s constantly improving, and innovating. And they actually take suggestions and feedback from the team seriously. I like the way the paint handles; it allows me to have a solid foundation for developing different effects and techniques.
What is the current direction of your artwork? How do you want to be remembered (what’s written on your tomb stone)?
Graffiti-wise: continue to develop fundamentals of classic graffiti styles and push them in new directions. I want to bring back some of my older organic and abstract styles and incorporate them into a classic graffiti aesthetic. On a broader level for doing more large scale pieces and murals that pay more attention to composition and have multiple layers of appeal on a graff/ non-graff level.
Fine art-wise: Get back into more oil paintings and mixed media works. Start concepting installations and bodies of work for gallery shows.
Travel is crucial these days. Where have you visited that had some kind of impact on you?
Auckland, Tokyo, Seoul, Paris, Bogota, Mexico City. Pretty much every place I’ve been outside of the United States has made an impact on me. As an American, we are made to believe, that culturally, the US is the center of everything worthwhile in the world. I have had that notion proved wrong, time and time again. It has been a real blessing to have had opportunities to explore the world and learn a little bit about other cultures.
Favourite city to paint in?
Show me the best piece you’ve ever painted.
This one was, at one point. (Circa 1997-ish):
Now, show me one of your favourite pieces of artwork that another human created.
It’s impossible to narrow it down. Here’s some of my faves:
When you’re lurking around places you shouldn’t be, it’s inevitable to run into interesting characters or some kind of trouble. Tell me a story of something ridiculous that’s happened to you, while painting, over the years.
“Not wanting to get hacked to death, we promptly left.”
After painting, several years ago, me and Mber ran into this guy in the parking lot of White Castle. He was a crazy homeless dude, who was living in his car. After showing us various items, from the mountain of junk he had accumulated, and saying a bunch of random nonsensical shit, he pulled out a giant butcher knife and hacked it into his dashboard. Not wanting to get hacked to death, we promptly left. As we scooted away he called out to me at the top of his lungs; “COME BACK MY CHOCOLATE BABY!!!, COME BACK MY CHOCOLATE BABYYYY!!!…”
E, or K.
What’s bumping in your headphones/ studio speakers at the moment?
2 Chainz, Outkast, Run the Jewels and Wheeler Walker Jr.
We’ve all got “Damn Daniel distracting you on Instagram”, what YouTube clip have you obsessed over lately?
Dead or alive, who is the historical figure that you most admire?
Nikola Tesla – he was a genius inventor 200 years ahead of his time. Most of his work was stolen and/or suppressed by the government.
David Choe – total maniac, talented artist, does everything he wants to do – always. Does not give a fuck.
Aaron Horkey – best illustrator on earth.
Allen Iverson — underdog hero. Loved watching him play basketball.
Who shot Tupac?
Probably that off-duty cop with the purple car at the behest of Suge.
Action Bronson or Ghostface?
Ghost. I like Action though.
We’re at a bar and I’m buying. What you drinking?
A smoothie from Jamba Juice across the street, (or a vodka and pineapple juice).
What’s the last movie you watched, or book you read?
Movie: Buffalo 66
Okay, nearly done! Give some advice to the kids. What do you know now, that you wish you knew then?
“Don’t get anybody pregnant until you’ve been to five other countries – then maybe…”
Do graffiti for yourself first and foremost. Use social media for inspiration, not for validation. Learn the fundamentals: start with simple letters, get a good throw-up, good handstyle etc. Strip down everything to the bare essentials and make sure that is good before you go reinvent the wheel. Be humble and open to learning from others. Apply all of the adjectives that you like in others’ work to your own. Don’t get anybody pregnant until you’ve been to five other countries – then maybe…
How do you push through creative blocks – whatchudo when you C.B.F (can’t be bothered)?
Listen to good music; Prince, Black Sabbath or Pink Floyd works great.
“Fuck the police.”
What can we expect from you in 2016 and beyond?
More of the same shit, but hopefully much better. ?
To keep up with EWOK, find him on Instagram: @ewokmskhm and keep an eye on this profile page for regular photo bombs. Or find him chillin’ on a couch near you, watching Ancient Aliens.
You could also bounce on over to The Seventh Letter and peep some of EWOK’s latest TSL t-shirt designs.
Re-up. Get up. Get fame.
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