Alright so thanks for taking the time out to do this interview, can you give us a brief introduction to who you are, what your history is in the graffiti game and what crew do you rep?
I’m Stuk One, born and raised in Rockford, Illinois currently residing in Chicago. I started doing graffiti in 97/98 about freshman year of high school. Currently repping AIR, OHB and TCE crews.
You recently posted a awesome called “living on the edge” and in the description you say” As a full time artist I often feel like I’m living right on the edge of failure or success. It varies constantly. When i turn on the news or read a headline it also feels like the whole world is in the same shoes I am”. For me being an artist as well I can really relate to this! how long have you been a full time artist and what do you do to keep yourself going?
I’ve been doing art full time for 9 years. I was living in Black Mountain, North Carolina working in a kitchen and feeling completely unfulfilled. My twenties were ending and I needed a change, I knew I had the skill set so I decided to relocate back to the midwest and dive in head first. Chicago was the best option for me and closest market to my hometown so I touched down here and hit the ground running. It started out with my homie Revise CMW plugging me with menu board work and various event gigs and quickly started taking off. Since then there have been many peaks and valleys but overall i’d say what keeps me going is that feeling of creating something from your own head with your own hands. Also every time I spray I learn something new.
With that in mind when was the most difficult time in your career, and what kind of work life balance do you have? Doing something creative for a living can really require you to jump all in and give your balls to it doesnt it!
One of the most difficult times for me was catching a case shortly after moving here, the legal expenses really applied pressure to step it up on the work side of things to keep afloat. I began taking on everything that came my way, jumping in every group show, painting with as many new people as possible to help build up a network and hopefully create more opportunities. But it worked, I was able to keep my head above water and eventually had some great opportunities open up for me.
What is your favorite documentary or book that covers the history or major players of graffiti and why?
-Favorite book is definitely Subway Art. Its the first book I ever saw and eventually owned. Blew my mind as a kid and I still have my original copy to this day. Dondi Style Master General is also a favorite and a major inspiration to me. As for favorite documentary there are so many early on Forgotten City was a big one for me s/o to Saga 3FK. Later on Infamy I thought was amazing. The inside look and stories from arguably some of the best at that time doing it was sick to me. The city i grew up in is pretty small comparably to major metropolitan areas so it was super interesting to me to see behind the curtain a bit.
There are some common themes in your work such as “this too shall pass” and “steps of gratitude” can you tell us alittle about how your art and your spiritual understanding intersect, if at all?
I feel like there are stories behind these pieces that could be explored.
Not to be corny or cliche here but the older I get the more I realize you need to focus on the positives. So a lot of my paintings are reflections of how I was feeling in the moment. I often call them “notes to self”. So when I’m stressing out I’ll think “This too shall pass” and then I’ll think hey, thats a good quote to paint. I like they idea of producing something beautiful out of an ugly situation it helps me see the silver linings.
One of my other favorite posts of yours is the piece you did for battle for the city, can you tell us how that piece went down and what it is like jamming with so many creative artists?
Yeah so Momentum Art tech a local graff shop out here and Btec organize and put on the battle. 2k cash prize 2k in paint. You get 8 hours to paint your best effort. They’ve had 3 of them so far. I really enjoy the competition aspect, its cool that its a skill based battle. They always have 5 veteran judges. Its a little intense cranking out the pieces but I always make it fun, I love talking shit and cracking jokes with everyone as the day goes on. And its always an honor to compete along side great writers. Salute to all the champions so far!
Speaking of other creative artists, Who do you think is an underrated graff artists in graffiti’s history that you think changed it for everyone or just someone local to your scene?
Gotta be my brother from another Amuse126. Ive known him for quite awhile but we became close shortly after i moved to Chicago. He’s a constant source of inspiration for me and his overall approach to graffiti is unique as I see it. From his take on letters to color play and overall composition he does it differently than everyone else. He has a can do attitude with everything and always gets it done. Hats off to you bro!
Where did you get your education from? Are you self taught and if so was there any practice in particular that helped you as an artist?
Besides public school art classes i’m self taught. Early on my homie Werk1 was mentoring me and showed me the fundamentals but honestly just painting as much as possible helped me the most. I always wanted to be great so I just focused on styles or affects i wanted to learn and practiced as much as i possibly could until i felt I had them nailed.
For people trying to go down the same road as you, what advice do you have for them?
Decide what it is you want to accomplish, create a plan and list some goals and start checking the off one by one. it’ll be a bumpy ride but if you hang on tight it’ll be a rewarding ride too.
Any crazy jam or travel stories you can share?
My first jam was in my hometown called Grills and skills, I was a shorty painting off to the side from all the big dogs. fast forward a couple decades and I call them all friends and paint along side them now. I guess thats not a crazy story but its cool to think if you put your mind to it you can get exactly where you want to be eventually.
Any shout outs you would like to give? Where can people follow you?
I wanna give a big shout out to my boy Oilrig! miss ya bro. To all my AIR crew brothers, the OHB’s and TCE’s. Salute to Neen, Joos, Narow, Heal and Zeye. RIP Sjae RIP Sone.
You can follow me on Instagram @Stuk.one and can check out my worklife at www.companyinq.com
Thanks a million