Interview with Skill UTI

How long have you been doing graffiti?
Since 1977, when I would draw things in pencil on my classroom desk and walls. I started hip-hop graff in 1985 as a lookout for a Burbank/North Hollywood oldschool graff hero, “JSKI”. I started getting up in 1986 as “SKILL”, with my dogg SNAP.

What have both been up to since your return into the scene?
I’ve been doing what i’ve always done, meeting people and paint spontaneously, as the need arises. Been trying to be a positive influence to those around me, building together, doing what we can to make peace. Doing my best to help others.

What was the reason to have this show?
To avoid wasting our talent, we felt a need to prepare for the future. Because of the life we live, in the spiritual realms and dimensions, as well as in community outreach and youth work, we realize we may not be around very much longer. We may be called to go work in some other area in some other capacity that would not allow us to paint as much as we would like to. Right now we were both in a kind of transitional period, so if we were going to build a body of work, this would be an ideal time. We are compiling a limited body of work, some for this show and some hidden from the public. Which will be encapsulated in time, and not be seen for another 20 years from now. Since we did not take a common career path, we will be leaving those for our children and loved ones. So this show will be an opportunity for people to acquire a piece of graffiti art ,history, to meet us to get our signatures and take pics together. I do not see us doing too many shows together down the road.

Speaking for me, this show is also a way to crack open the door for other local greats from many different crews that are often overlooked and underrated. Those that deserve to be celebrated, because they have paid the dues, but don’t because of the fact that most writers that go into the gallery realm, seem to look out only for number one. They get new “friends” and forget the peeps that were there for them since day one. We take EACH relationship seriously, we value PEOPLE, not fame or technique.

Your names were coming up here and there in the streets. Folks were saying new pieces were popping in LA like bread crumbs. Was that build up for this show?
No. This show was not offered until some time after we started painting again. Again, I state that we started painting in the streets; so if we were going to paint again, we would paint in the way that comes natural; meeting people, hooking up with old friends, painting out in the public, intermingling with the community, cracking jokes, trying to make a person smile. We both walk on a road that often, things get lined up for us; we deal with and strive to be aligned with a higher power, who we call our God, the creator of all. We call him by his earthly name, Jesus.

What’s the biggest misconception about your work that people have?
Never had a problem with that, because I did graff or me and the everyday folks. We were convinced the artistic and communicative value of public art from the gate. My work has always been pretty straightforward. What you see is what you get.

Have any advice for those young and up and coming writers?
Aim your goals high. Keep your pride low. Complete what you start. Have your work be solid as far as the layout and the use of positive and negative spaces; learned that from Genius DTK.

Hows the LA graffiti scene doing in your opinion? What do you like or do not like about it.
It’s always been dope, and always will be. That’s because the spirit of LA is to go ALL OUT. And LA writers will always figure out new and better ways to accomplish their goals. That’s what’s cool about LA, it brings out the “shine” in you!

Old photos from back in day show off great productions from crews that were just mind blowing. Do you think that type of work can be accomplished in LA again? If not why?
It still is. And those days are not over. The best is yet to come!

What is your opinion of the “street art” movement as of recent years in LA?
A shout out to our LA pioneers in street art that put it down before the art schools got to it… SHADOW MAN, CHAZ, KILROY WAS HERE, K2S had stencils all around Pico Union, MINER WC, The “HELLO MY NAME IS” stickers from the BUS MOBBERS, and of course… THE KTL BUS BENCHES… KISER 187 and SATEN! (Who remembers those?) :)

After the show, what should our LATACO readers be looking for from you? Any projects in works?
Look for a solid production from Hex and I. We never really rocked as fresh as we could have together; also an art show featuring artwork and stickers from the oldschool UTI’s with an “S”…. SKILL SNAP SMURF SELTICK SWAN. Deejayed by our very own SNAP and SWAN, who happen to be very fresh house and hip hop dj’s! I’ll be launching a web page for LETTER conesiours called “Style Maniuplators”. We will showcase and explore the boundaries of letter forms, featuring the styles of the best lettermen from throughout the world. I will also open an online store, where I will sell cool custom graff stuff that I make. And I would also LOVE to open a CHURCH one day, that is available for prayer and study for writers, artists, and musicians, photographers, actors, and poets, where we can worship God together, and support one another to live a positive and constructive life. Peace!

Photos by Joelfilms©2012 and Erwin Recinos. Thank you to Luna George at Crewest Gallery for making this interview possible.

BBoys to BMen – Closing Reception
September 29th 7-10pm
Crewest Gallery
110 Winston Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013

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