I guess people probably know me for my characters if anything at all. In 1985, i had a nice Al Capone-type character that I found in the local paper. I was getting ready to put up this character, but my mum saw it and her attitude was that it was shit to copy someone elses drawing. At the time, being a moody teenager, I thought that I knew better. But the more I thought about it the more I thought that she was right. It seems strange to me that many writers attitude to biting stops at the boundaries of what they call our art. Like that debate in Subway Art with Kid Panama and Seen about who used the eyeball characters first? That seemed like a strange debate to me. It was neither of theirs to start off with...

"Orgy" 1996

"Big Head" 1997

"Rackin" Bristol 98

Once I started checking the London scene regularly in '85, the pieces in Westbourne and crews like TCA and NonStop reinforced my idea of trying to make my own images and not take from elsewhere.

There is another popular debate about whether or not characters are an important part of graff which raises some interesting points. Firstly, I wouldn't be happy only being able to do characters, not because I would be concerned about other writers thinking i'm not "real" (which means exactly what?) but because my gameplan has always been to try my best to shine in all aspects... Letters, colours, backgrounds, characters. Which is hard because you are spreading your creative energies and time much more thinly. I don't think its hard to find individual personality in one aspect if you put some time and dedication into it and avoid being brainwashed by all the "style gestapo" out there (it must be this, it must be that... shut it!).Like most writers, I've never been one for authority, so why would I listen to a bunch of writers telling me what I should be doing? Fuck off, I choose my own rules, mate! Another thing that occurred to me is how "character writers" letter styles are viewed. Like Mode. I think that some of his letters are nice and have more personality than a lot of writers who only have letters. But many slag off his letterstyle. Maybe this attitude comes from the fact that hiphop people and especially writers always look at everything in terms of confrontation. What actually happens is that people make the person's characters battle their letters and the letters get made to look bad in comparison..

Another point is to ask why the charcters are even there in the first place. One thing I notice looking at a lot of the stuff that I see is that many people have good technical ability to paint the characters and handle stuff like lighting, shading and all that. But when you strip away all the fancy technical stuff, what you have is a drawing without much individuality or meaning... Why is it there? As a demonstration of technique? I think they are the human aspect of writing, the face behind the abstraction. Sure, mainstream people like them more than letters which makes the natural rebellion in the hearts of most writers dislike them (I mean, oursiders like them? Fuck 'em then!) I just think if they're going to take up space then they should convey something more. For me they are a way of expressing emotion. I get told that mine look like me- I think they pull faces like I do and come off in ways that I do.. Thats a subconscious thing though- its not like I look at myself in the mirror while I draw.. Almost everything I put up is out of my head- I've never been very good at preparation. I sketch quite a bit but that is more a process sorting shit out in my head than making a blueprint to work from.

SIN Crew Germany 1998

Sticker Design for Westwood

Some people seem to think that b-boy characters are out of fashion or something? I am a b-boy at heart. Thats where I've come from and spent all my adult years immersed in. I'm 29 and i got into hiphop in 84. So thats 15 years out of 29 in the culture. And to be honest, all you are concerned about before that age is usually stuff that doesn't follow into your adult life. So thats basically all of my life...

I understand that some people see that as something from their youth and maybe get caught up in trivialising something very deep and powerful because the commercialism in the 80's made it look so toy. Apart from that, one way of looking at it is that it almost doesn't matter what kind of person you are representing. The point being, does anyone look at the Rennaissance artists and say, yeah, nice style but all they did was nudes and landscapes? They painted what they saw around them, but above that painting those objects was a means to demonstrate technique, finesse use of colour- all the same attributes that make up a good piece. Its just a testing ground to demonstrate your skills, same way as it is with letters. In fact, its probably harder to do something different with something thats been done so many times by so many people. Like T-Kid was saying that the challenge for him was to keep doing something different with the same 4 letters after all the years..

5 x 5ft Canvas "S" 1999

The flipside is that its also good to represent other shit too. To me, one of the most underrated artists for this is No.6 from Paris. When I look at Toast's characters (which I rate for their sickness and ugliness) it looks a lot like 6's style and technique (maybe coincidence?). But then again, the first person I ever saw doing that dark-to-light, cutting back method (which is basically an oil painting technique) was Slick from Hawaii who many seem to have forgotten in favour of Hex (Slick was nicer in my opinion but I suppose he did less). I tried to do it in the early 80's looking at comic book stuff by people like Frank Franzetta and Simon Bisley. Couldn't make it work back then because we were using Japlacs and stuff (this is a brand that, like original Rustoleums, reacts with most other brands and can't be gone over. It also oversprays like fuck unless you run most of the pressure out of the can). I brought the technique back into my own shit after we went to Germany and painted with the CNS boys (Seak, Neck etc)- they are all into that technique.

"They're Here" poltergeist piece in Nottingham 1999

Letters can convey emotion- Dreph used to say he would get vibes from different styles. Like Skore's stuff looks really evil and disturbing (like Skore!).. Petro has that kind of happy Old school party bounce.. Characters should support that. They are also the means to put ideas and actions across that you might have problems with using only letters. Images proceeded letters in the vocabulary of mankind- they're more direct in some respects, avoiding barriers such as language. As we head towards the millennium, I find myself thinking that maybe we should be striving for something more than just self-promotion which is what the name is basically about.