Speed and efficiency have always been components of graffiti that shaped the art form -- artists frequently risked vandalism charges, so it was critical that murals be painted as quickly as possible during fly-by-night operations. That led to some of the key elements of graffiti such as long lines and letters that flow into each other. But now that street art has found legitimate space on commissioned spaces and even gallery walls, it's interesting to see what graffiti artists are capable of when they have all the time in the world.
Case in point: Tes-One, a Florida artist who mixes traditional techniques with graphic design in large-scale works that contrast nature and technology. New Times spoke to the artist, exhibiting this weekend at "The Pop Up," a retrospective of Graffiti Gone Global's annual show to be displayed at ArtCenter's Lincoln Road Gallery.
New Times: Tell me about your work and your crew.
Tes-One: My work is a constant exploration in merging traditional art
techniques and graphic design. I enjoy working in various creative
disciplines and finding new ways to make them co-exist.
I'm part of a group of artists called Contra (including: Bask, Tristan
Eaton, Mr. Jago, How & Nosm, Ron English, Tom Thewes, Trusto Corp,
Dalek & D*Face). While each of us have roots in graffiti art,
individually we have pushed past the standards that define any
particular art movement.
Which of your pieces will be on display at "The Pop Up?"
I'll be exhibiting all new work for "The Pop Up" show: five new paintings dealing with internal and external discovery.
How did you get started doing graffiti and graphic art?
I got into graffiti in 1992, after looking at a friend of mine's black
book with pieces he intended to paint. From that point on, I was hooked.
The idea of creating art in the public, illegally, was a big
responsibility to me -- in that I wanted the work to be something that
others would connect with, property owners would rather keep than paint
over. Around '97 or so, I became interested in graphic design. While a
lot of writers I knew at that time shunned any form of computer art
(many still do), I embraced the medium. My work has involved multiple
disciplines ever since.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I would say a lot of my inspiration comes from the contrast found in
everyday life: nature and technology, grime and grace. I've always been
fascinated with where the balance lies in opposing forces. It's what I
think about when I'm creating my work.
Who are your artistic influences?
My homie Bask (also exhibiting at Pop Up) is a constant inspiration to
me. Other members of Contra, Saul Bass, and Robert Motherwell to name a
You've grown up in Florida all your life. How has the state influenced
your art? And how do you think the graffiti scene here differs from
Florida is such a diverse state and has some pockets of immensely
creative areas. Where I'm from (Tampa / St. Pete area), is one that has a
lot of native creativity. I personally enjoy creating here and
traveling to other more prominent art communities, rather then living in
The South Florida art scene is the best in the state. The work Primary
Flight has done alone for Miami has turned the city into one of the best
graffiti / street art destinations in the world.
"The Pop Up," Graffiti Gone Global's satellite retrospective, opens this
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Friday from noon to 11 p.m. at ArtCenter/South Florida (800 Lincoln
Rd., Miami Beach). The exhibit runs through August 21 and it's free.
Call 305-674-8278 or visit artcentersf.org.