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What Color Is Your Soul?- Graff 2

Graffiti.  Love it or hate it, it is an art form that has been around for quite some time.  Graffiti art has been a barometer of the counter culture movement of the art world for decades.  It has definitive styles, techniques and continues to morph with the rythms of pop culture.  Scape Martinez is an established author and authority on the subject, having written “Graff-the art and technique of Graffiti” (Impact books).  His work has been commissioned for public art projects by the city of San Jose, California where he also resides.  In addition to his writing and his art he works with youth conducting workshops on graffiti that instruct young artists on the techniques as well as appropriate venues for creating their art.  He is currently awaiting the release of his second book- “Graff 2- next level Graffiti techniques” and  I recently had the opportunity to speak with him on the subjects of his books, graffiti and the world of art. 

Why did you choose to write books on graffiti?-  “There was a great need for them to be written.  I am always confronted by people as to where does it (graffiti) come from.  I’m the kind of person who likes to share, so why not share.  Writing the books happened to be a good fit. ‘Graff -is for individuals who are just starting on their graffiti journey.  Beginners, what I call the old testament.  Graff 2 is more for intermediate level graff writers who want to take their art to another level- the new testament.” 

How do you respond to those who say graffiti cannot be taught?- “I don’t respond.  It’s a fallacy, the real issue isn’t whether it can be taught or not, alot of those voices want to protect the mystique of graffiti.  They want to keep it underground and nebulous.  If I’m not the guy to have this conversation them someone else will because the time is now.  The time is long overdue.”

What do you want people to take away from your books?- “First I would like to broaden their minds.  Second I want the books to touch their hearts and third, I want to break stereotypes.” 

What kind of stereotypes?- “Stereotypes that graffiti is exclusively vandalism and that graffiti art doesn’t have a place in the fine art world because it does. Graffiti is not just a bunch of mindless kids scrawling on walls.  It is a billion dollar industry.  It’s a billion dollar industry on two levels- if you trace the life cycle of a typical street graffiti artist and how much he spends on paint, markers, caps, etc.  Spray paint is $10.00 a can, when I made my pieces for the books I literally spent thousands of dollars on paint.  On another level, Pop culture incorporates graffiti on clothing, surfboards, skateboards, advertising.  Marc Ecco was a street artist before he developed his million dollar clothing line.  I tell young adults, why do something on the street for free when the rest of the world is getting paid for it.” 

What other advice do you give young graff artists?- “I tell them to listen to themselves and not their so called friends.” 

What do you see for the future of graffiti art?- “In its own unique way, graffiti art is going to take over the world- not to mean that there will be tagging on every street corner, but it will flow in cycles.  It will be popular, then fall out of vogue, then come back.  I think now it is the most popular that it has ever been.”  

Even more popular than the 1960’s?- “Yes.  I think graffiti is the new ‘Pop Art’.  Like Pop Art, graffiti is about a brazen use of color and it is a uniquely American art form like jazz.  It connects to pop culture.”   

What part do you see yourself playing in the future of graffiti?- “If I play any part at all, I will be happy.” 

And your next book?- “Scape Martinez 2.0- Create, inspire, share.  I’m a big fan of technology- the whole internet thing speaks to me.  In my next book I want to combine the thinking process about art and technology and just share it.” 

 “Graff 2- next level Graffiti techniques” will be on bookshelves next month.  It is a volume of “how to” techniques, with cutting edge styles and pieces.  It explodes with breathtaking color and the passion of the artist who wrote it.  The book not only educates, but continually asks provocative questions designed to inspire the creative soul. On the last page of the book Martinez writes, “ Graffiti is a vehicle for honest artwork and sincere statements in an increasingly less than honest world.  It is a reflection of truth, even if that truth is simply to say that you exist.  People know what is real and sincere when it’s placed in front of them, so much so that now authenticity is the benchmark for value. This is why I believe it’s important to continually work to expand the possibilities of the art form and keep pushing its boundaries, both aesthetically and philosophically.” Whatever the future of graffiti, it is certain that Scape Martinez will play a great role.

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