Back in the Day
Few who know me now but didn’t know me then would guess that I have street cred. But it’s true. Back in the day, when I was a teenager with really baggy pants and a pager, I was all city.
If you don’t know what that is, it means that I’d written my name across the city – from suburb to suburb, from top to bottom, and everywhere in between. I had a map, I would plot out routes beforehand, and I would set out for the night.
This is all years ago, mostly before I attended art school. As far as I know there is actually only one piece still up, which isn’t surprising considering the nature of graf wherein some pieces might not even last the week before being painted over. I did it for the love of it, I did it to have a voice, I did it because I was an alienated youth in a city of millions. I don’t think I’ll ever feel as famous as I did back in the Toronto graffiti scene days of the early/mid nineties. I don’t need that outlet anymore though; largely thanks to graffiti I found my way into art school and into other ways of having a voice. Still, if I ever get a tattoo it will be of my graf name, Szuks2, across my back.
The other day while I was cleaning up my studio and organizing the painting storage rack I’d just built I happened across a shoebox of old photos and I guess it got me to reminiscing of the late nights and alleyways where I came from.
Here are some shots of work done with the more-legal name I used to write towards the end. I’ll keep the bombing name out of this, not for legal worries, but because the tag was ugly.
Graf has changed very little over the years. Sure, some people have brought new and innovative approaches to it but they are the rarities, for the most part it’s remained locked in traditions established thirty years ago. If you can date me through these photos it’s only in that they place me in the range of being someone involved in third-wave graffiti, while also being someone who used a non-digital camera – creating dusty photographs taped together to make panoramics stored in a shoebox to stumble across while cleaning up his studio after building new painting racks.
Sometimes I still think about hanging up all the other forms of artwork and just going back to the alleys.