Pose is a legendary graffiti artist from the MSK crew. The same way he approaches breaking down letter structure is the same way he approaches his illustrations. Pose and his piers are known for pushing the boundaries of what words can look like. When we look at a Pose piece, It feels like you're walking down a busy city street. Lights flashing and a thousand different sounds from all directions. Sensory overload.
It must be a weird feeling being the thin you love most in life is illegal, ust to find you get rewarded for it at the end of the road.
When did you start writing?
It's so fuzzy. I have pictures from 1990 with my brother and his buddies and their tags and everything. So I know It was around that time, my best friend convinced me to start drawing bubble letters instead of comics and army kids blowing each other up, He was like “Oh, you got talent, you should start doing these bubble letters”. Cause we could trade them for candy and also girls dig it if you write their name.
So it was really innocent, I like to draw, but now my crazy buddy has me drawing graffiti. Then we were going into his older brother's black books to try to learn about it but their black books were a lot more like gang-related. We came across Subway Art in '92 and that’s when I got like the bug got real, you know, I was like, this is amazing., what is this? It was pure, pure, pure addiction from there. Like the first time we tried to go paint and got chased and got away, it was like, this is it. This is what I want for the rest of my life, you know?
That first moment where it's a close call and you make it out alive, you're like,
It's like it's your first time getting super high, and the rest from there you're just chasing the dragon.
And when you're a kid, it can kind of teach you things that you don't even realize that you're learning.
10,000%. Fortunately, I've been through like so many revolutions of what graffiti has given or what me giving my life to graffiti brought. Even all the way into adulthood you realize, wow I learned that when I was like 13. I'm such an advocate for your graffiti. I feel like it completely, gave me everything, it totally saved so many people. Perseverance, self-discipline totally, these amazing things. I had a goal, I was able to accomplish it. I got self-empowered, I got a voice.
"I remember the first time I was trying to really quit painting, I felt like just all the power had been just suctioned out of me"
It's probably like a scary line to walk being a criminal your whole life. And then suddenly having the chance to like make a profession out of it. Do you miss having to look over your shoulder all the time?
I want to be doing it all. The one kicker is that I've had to figure out how to squash that addiction, because its been a lifetime. That's what I've had my whole life, finding a parallel to that is almost impossible. Especially when you've lived with it since you were like 12. I can get super high from art. I can get super high from all these different aspects of the life I have now. But nothing like living a graffiti purist lifestyle.
When I was like really young, Daredevil was maybe one of my favorite comics. He's this quintessential anti-hero, a blind lawler, addicted to pills, but a superhero. That's like what was so enticing about graffiti, you're this totally omnipresent being. There's nothing that can replace that feeling of riding a subway train and all the kids from school are like looking out the window and talk about your name, but you're sitting right there and they have no idea it you.
I think it overpowers that constant knot in your stomach. from getting your house raided or having to hide flicks in some stash for five years. Doing shit like that makes you feel so powerful though. I think that at least for me, there's that chronic paranoia but it's also exhilarating at the same time. I remember the first time I was trying to really quit painting, I felt like just all the power had been just suctioned out of me. Who am I? I'm a normal person. I'm not a superhero anymore.
The one thing I was happy to give up was racking shit. It was such a necessity of the career. Before you could get sponsored or anything, racking was just essential. I was never morally super into it. I am a bit of an anarchist, but I'm too much of a humanitarian. I actually really have a deep connection to people, I inherently want the best for people.
Whats the biggest difference between a paint brush and a paint can?
It's so funny. It's quite literally the hardest transition ever, it couldn't be more different, Transitioning from a spray paint to a brush was probably for me that quite literally the most frustrating and awkward thing ever.
Spray paint is so fluid. There's a different muscle memory that your body's using, there's different rhythm and fluidity.. Its funny, you spend all these years trying to figure out how to spray paint and how to make what you want, get the scale right in these really extreme conditions. It becomes so incredibly intuitive that it's like this other language that your body taps into where everything is clicking . It's honesty one of my favorite parts, the rhythm and harmony.
The brush is It's like the polar opposite, this tiny little surface, you gotta keep dipping and loading your brush. We're used to making things so immediate, so large scale. To go the opposite way, things are so painstaking, That said, I think one of the most richest experiences in my life was forcing myself to figure that out. It was literally some Mr Miyagi shit. You get alert, force your body and your mind to do it. It was completely therapeutic. Now it's probably one of my favorite things to do is paint line work.
Your work reminds me a lot of Kandinsky. Your style plays a lot with basic shapes and lines that are very cleverly composed.
I will say this, although like my paintings have absolutely no representation of any abstraction in general. To me the approach to painting is very much like expressionistic and even it's in a letter form. I'm trying to interject to something intuitive, tapped in on a subconscious level. Shapes begin to have a different meaning and rhythm, I feel like there's such power in there.
I think the one thing that i really have been given by graffiti and into art, realizing that nothing is more fulfilling in life then that search to create.
I feel like graffiti is almost completely expressionistic, Letters are only lines, the only way to differentiate one line from the other is throwing expression and exaggeration in it. You can’t just look at an apple or a model or something that exists in the physical world. Graffiti is whatever you mind comes up with.
Dude you're making me want to go paint so bad. So in the latter years because I have no time anymore. If I get up at five I only have from roughly seven to eight in the morning to go somewhere and paint something real quick.
I'm dying for the opportunity to do a little bit more with my kids. My oldest is almost 10 when she's like 11 I'll probably start taking her with me.
What's the best part of your day?
I'm a dad of two beautiful little girls. So hanging with them when it's just us and we're talking shit, that's my favorite for sure. Letting them be them and them letting me be me. Their big thing for the past couple of years is they want to hear crazy stories from when I was their age and they think it's all funny.
I think about what I was doing when I was nine, ten and most of the stories, I can't tell my daughter. So time with them is the best thing ever. I do truly believe in the power of our imagination and our ability to control the concepts that our brains have, which directly affects our life experience. So I definitely try to give myself daydreaming time and that's always a real sweet spot.
What are your goals? Not only in art, but just life in general.
You know, if you asked me two years ago what I wanted from art, I would have given you all these really not that important answers. “Oh, I want to do more museum shows. I want to be taken more seriously as an actual living American artist and not some post graffiti cut out street art oddity". But from here on out. It's really just about my personal pursuit and my pursuit with my peers. I want to stay progressing and pushing as much as possible. I just want to enjoy every second of it and remember how lucky I am to be doing it. I guess have a little more fun. My kids are getting older, I want to have more fun with them..You got me like super fired up to figure out how to go paint some quick graffiti here and there when I can.
There's obviously like grandiose things that I want to see happen, but I'm not a politician, nor do I really want or care to be. But I do want to see or try to be a part of some dramatic shift that pulls us out of our current insane state and how anti humanitarian it is. The American American capitalist system is dog eat dog and its killing people.
I have these things that I have to do, not say, but actually do to try to change it to some extent because I can't just sit my anymore and like not watch or be idealistic. I just want more honesty, you know? Definitely trying to be less a part of the problem.
I feel like that's a mentality most of us should have. Most of us who have opinions on politics and the current state of things, are just sitting behind screens voicing our opinions and don't actually take any real steps to actually bring forth change. It takes those certain people who are radical enough to follow through with what needs to be done. Instead of just complaining about it.
You're nailing it, my wife's been talking about it all the time. To actually hold our tongue a little bit. We're trying really hard to like to figure out how to hold your tongue and figure out how to act instead of speaking.