South Florida is in no short supply of street art, urban muralists, and graffiti artists. Some stand out more than others and some carry heavy followings. Graffiti has been instrumental in the revamping of Wynwood and lifting South Florida's international art profile. That it continues to hold an illegal stigma is just part of the retarding nature of certain societal mores. In a few days, the art world will descend upon Miami once again for Art Basel and the city's graff will become part of the backdrop of many a magazine/website's photographic spreads.
One figure, key in the turning days of graff jumping from walls and into galleries, has been KOMIK28. With Art Basel Miami Beach lurking, we had a chance to catch up with him after his lengthy absence from Miami walls to discuss his work, comings and goings, how he got back in the game, and how he'll be "staying against the establishment fully" during the art festival this time around.
New Times: You've been away from the street art scene for a bit, what have you been up to and what led you back to it?
KOMIK28: I stopped painting back in 2001. I began to focus more on my music again. It's always been a passion of mine. And it always seemed when I wasn't playing music I was painting and vice versa. I started a few music projects while away from the art scene. Underpaid, Kill LeJeune and Hit Play, which we are about to release a 13 song LP in a month or so.
Back in 2011 my friend ATOMIK came by my job one day to grab a bite to eat and we caught up on old times. He asked if had been painting and I replied that I hadn't painted in over ten years. He passed by again one day and left me with a grip of different green scrap spray paint cans and said, "We should paint one day." And we did. That was my first introduction back into to the graffiti scene, as well as Art Basel.
Since, then I have painted more than I have my entire life.
How did you come up with Komik and what crew(s) are you affiliated with?
A buddy named Ryan taught me during class on the fundamentals of graff. He wrote COMIK MTB Crew. Ryan was going away for a while and suggested I write COMIK. I wrote Comik several different ways throughout the '90s and early '00s. I now write KOMIK28 (TSC) (28). These are the crews I represent. And they are my brethren.
What is the most gratifying aspect of doing street art/graffiti?
I'm leaving my mark on society. Kind of like leaving a legacy behind. Where people see destruction, grit and grime, I see a place that needs a little color. When my dad died, he did a lot for the community and he never got to leave his mark on society. I'm gonna make my stamp.
How would you compare your approaches to visual art and music?
Well, I think they're very similar. We have our formats for songwriting. There are steps that I take just like I would when I record a song. You'd start recording drums, then bass, guitar and vocals.
When I paint, I walk the wall, count my steps, figure out where the middle point is, I start my sketch, I throw my fills, I throw my background cloud, I throw my outline, highlights, etc... There's a format for painting too. Everyone has their own way.
And speaking of which, how's the music coming along? Anything planned for the immediate future?
The music is coming out great. The album's done. We're just working on the artwork for the album. We tracked it with Ryan Haft. He's done a ton of local bands, like Torche. We had it mixed by Pennywise and Epitaph Records' Darian Rundall. Mastering was done at the Blasting Room by Jason Livermore. We felt this might be the last record we would do all together since Rich the drummer moved to Arizona, Danny, the singer, moved back to Tampa and Raf, guitarist, is moving to Orlando by the new year. So we wanted to go all out. We're about to start booking the CD release show in Miami and in Tampa.
Here's a link of a couple of songs off of our upcoming album. It very well seems like a break up celebration of sorts, but we can't tell the future of the band just yet.
At the artistic level, what challenges have you set for yourself now that you are back at it?
In the past few years, I've had the opportunity to express myself on canvas. I enjoy people buying my art and hanging it in their house. I enjoy it because they get it. When it comes down to it, I wouldn't want to mention what's to come. It should always be a surprise. Ultimately, I wanna build my portfolio as well as my BigCartel website.
Any place in particular you'd like to work on?
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More commissioned pieces. Nothing in particular. Just more.
What would be the most unusual place you've done a piece on?
Several dumpsters found in various places. One man's trash is another man's treasure.