Ewok talks about New York graffiti, Vaughn Bode, copyrights, KD crew, canvases and comics.
FC: Where are you from Ewok? Tell us about your beginnings and your discovery of graffiti.
Jersey born, NY State raised, NYC trained. Got into graffiti through various influences from "Subway Art" Book, to Skateboard Graphics like SHUT NYC around 90' 91, and early visits through NYC taking pictures. Relocated to Brooklyn in 1996.
FC: What's the meaning of your name, how did you find it?
Was a 4 letter name that was random... something no one would have, and most of all the letters where a challenge.
What crews do you rep? How did you enter the KD crew?
I first met Cope in 1994 in Patterson N.J. and again in like 97 or 98 at a Rock Steady Anniversary, stayed in touch since then, KD the first time we painted. Then I think around 2003 was put down with G.O.D. and before you know it, its 2009. We've seen a lot of stragglers come around us and either show true colors of insecurity and jealousy and end up getting cut off or just fading to black all on their own. I dunno, I'm in the center of the "media" tornado so I can say first hand all the gossip you may hear about Cope is 100% bullshit. If you show Cope respect and treat him as an equal, you'll always get it in return. It's when I see people pop shit to him for wahtever reasons, only then is when he makes it his business to crush you. Haha Cope is the real deal, and people just can't fathom how he's so open about what he does. But the truth today is simple, a real lawyer will get you out of trouble, and public pretender won't do shit for you. It's unfortunate but this is the way the system is set up, so words of wisdom, if you do dirt, you better have money for a real lawyer or don't complain when your writing letters from Rikers.
As for other crews I rep, it's different links to different groups of people for me. IMOK/DF, 5MH, IF, YKKMS, MCI, SKMZ, just a few off the top. I try to rep mostly the people who I consider friends over the crew itself but it gets tough with all the crews. I try to spread the love equally. I've met a lot of great people over the years as well as a few frauds that I've cut all ties to. Sometimes you gotta go through your friend list and do spring cleaning.
FC: How would you define your work and what inspires you?
I like to think of myself as the by product of the 90's. And as much I enjoy growth and breaking down walls within my own limitations, I try to keep the look of yesteryear in everything I do. The things that inspire me lately are leaders, genius, purety....anyone who can be defined as a one man army.
FC: What is the role of Graffiti in your life?
For me graffiti is a love/hate relationship. I made a decision to keep graffiti out of the paintings I sell. It may seem "graffiti"-ish but that's just who I am I suppose. But I don't do letters or any of that anymore as I don't think a person who can write a check deserves the thing that has brought me so much hardship as well as joy in my life, they don't deserve what it is that I keep close to my heart. And with the quality of graffiti around me these days deminishing yearly, I keep the experience graffiti brings me personal and private for myself and the people I rock with. The same way I wouldn't take pictures of my wife and sell them to someone just 'cuz they got money and I need to pay my rent. I rather be broke then shit on my wife like that.... does that make any sense? When it's time for me to go do graffiti, it's something personal for me that no one else gets to feel, other then the after product of it that I leave behind.
FC: What’s your taste in movies and books?
Stanley Kubrick, Mark Romanek( "Closer" NIN Video) and Chris Cuningham ( "Window Licker", Aphex Twin videos) Ren& Stimpy and Aqua Teen Hunger Force.
FC: Do you read comics? What do you think about the influence of comics on graffiti?
It's a good place to start developing your artisitic abilities, but you shouldn't stop there, it's a place to begin, not to peak at, I see writers painting over 25 yrs, still copying comic characters because they never developed their own artwork style. To me that amature, and will always be amature.. no matter how big an ego this or that one has, unless you're purely doing a wall out of homage to a specific artist, and there's no mistaking it.... like i did for Simon Bisley once which was because to me he's a one of a kind. artists like that don't come around often. I think his work would be great to see on a wall HUGE. I think in the same way people still do the Cheech Wizard today, I don't think it's because people can't draw, I think it's purely out of respect for Vaugh Bode's legacy, he was another one of a kind entity.I recently caught a 45 minute interview of him on Youtube, the guy was a genius years ahead of the game... Anyway, my point is this.. If you're copying images from Stock photos or using fantasy books or comic books to do all your walls, it will never matter how big you paint it, or how many expensive cans of paint get emptied, or how many people you have fly into town from Pluto to get down, it can never stand up to a one man wall created fully from my imagination.... that's what makes people Like Sub, Mode2, Ghost,Totem2 top notch and greats of their time... It's a whole other league that's unfuckwitable. But now lettering? That's another can of worms I won't open right now.... Don't get me started..
FC: Ok, next time! Name an artist (or many) whose work you respect and admire.
Ah man, the names can mean different things for different reasons, Sento, Revok, Ghost, Futura 2000, Simon Bisley, Sam Keith, Kool Keith, Perry Farrell, Will Ferrel, Pharrel Williams, Bruce Lee, Clint Eastwood, Marlon Brando, Takashi Murakami, the Rubix Cube guy, Jim Morrison, Benicio Del Toro, the first guy to ever do a flip.
Style and Flow:
FC: When we came to your studio, you showed us some canvases. We were very surprised to see what type of things you put in. It's not just paint... Can you explain how it starts, and what it is?
I build a story or surrounding for my final content, which is the foreground usually. My paintings sometimes incorporated with collage work, or have no relation to the collage elements at all. Depends solely on the piece and the message I working towards.
FC: Tell us about your work for clothes brands?
I've done a few bids with a few brands to pay my bills. That's just another spoke in the wheel. Once you understand art is a language, you can use it to tell whatever it is you want people to listen to, and how loud you want to say it. Some things are a wisper, some things are yelled. Sometimes you don't say anything loud enough for people to hear because you don't want the attention. Everything has a purpose.
FC: We heard that you had some Copyright problems when a firm stole your design...
Basically I get ripped off a lot, if it's another artist it's a disgrace, but if it's a big corporate company, I believe you should take legal action and publically humiliate them by making an example out of them, to set a standard that you will get your file pulled and you will fork over 10k per infringement. It's unfortunate when it happens, but I take my creations and property very seriously and I ain't to be fucked with. That's all I can really say on the issue currently as one case has been concluded and another is still active. I just hope other artists never have to go through these problems on their own. I recommend Legalzoom.com if you can't afford a real lawyer or if you need to register things.
FC: Tell us about Yak Ballz and your collab.
Yak is the homey, we work well together, and I'm in his corner whenever he needs anything, that's just that. I just did a new summer Tee with him you can check out here.
FC: You got mad characters, do you plan to make a comics or something like this?
Hmmm, I dont think I see myself ever doing comics, it seems to time consuming and a never ending calendar chase. I could however see myself doing cover pieces like an old friend of mine does now James Jean, another incredible talent of our time.
FC:What kind of reaction do you want your art to evoke?
Well, I would hope people can see it as something special, and timeless. Aside from that I hope it can be an inspirational fuel for anyone on a path of their own personal success, whatever it is. I know this is my purpose now and that's what I strive to do with my time on this earth. It's a revolving exchange of energy to create, from those who inspired me, to those I inspire.
FC: Did your views on Graffiti change over time?
I think so, I now cherrish the foundation and history of NYC history. In terms of the actual mechanics of graffiti, I think everyones pieces got cleaner ,tighter ,smaller and chissled over the past decade and ultimately WACK...... I don't enjoy about 96% of graffiti today unfortunately, the soul is lost, the grittyness is gone, everything is all pretty and friendly to everyone, and most everyone is a shameless copy cat now.
FC: Who’s the owner of the street?
To me? JA and VFR is the King of the street. Before them JOZ and EASY. But you don't need me to tell you that, it's obvious to anyone who doesn't have their own head up their ass.
FC:What's coming up in the next few months? Show etc…
FC: haha What's your real goal?
FC:Any words of wisdom?
Don't listen to a word I say, just let me lead by example...
MR. EWOKONE, NEW YORK CITY 2008
Thank you Ewok