It’s always nice to come across a female graffiti artist playing around in the male-dominated game, so when we stumbled on the work of GypsyOne, we needed to find out more. Turns out the Japanese-Hawai’ian-Puerto Rican artist is many things: model, photographer, graffer and lover of weed, tatts and LV. Recently in France for the Toulouse Graffiti Jam, we caught up with GypsyOne to talk Hawai’i, female graffers, Instagram and sunlight…
You’re a model, photographer and graffiti artist. What came first?
Photography first, then graffiti, and I’m not really a model. My passion for photography began about five years ago. It’s my favorite thing to do.
When people ask you what you do for a living, what do you tell them?
I tell them that I am a photographer. My shoots are my first priority and I am constantly building my portfolio using mostly my friends (because they’re so beautiful!). I help out with my boyfriend’s business when I can and I’m always working on little side projects.
Your hometown is in Hawaii. What was it like growing up there?
Being born in Hawaii and growing up on the North Shore of Oahu was the best thing I could have ever asked for. There is not a place in the world more beautiful than my hometown. Hawaii is so laid-back and easy going. The weather is always nice and so are the people.
How has growing up in Hawaii influenced your work?
Growing up in Hawaii has influenced the style in which I take my photos. It has also allowed me to work with many beautiful women of mixed ethnicities. Most of the girls I work with are from Hawaii and look very exotic. It has taught me that the definition of a “perfect woman” is not only limited to the pages of a magazine.
Are you also part-Japanese? Does that also have an impact on your work?
Yes, I am part Japanese. Not so much of an impact on my work.
Graff artists normally have great stories as to how they started, whether it was through the skate scene or hanging out with ‘the wrong crowd’. How did you get into graff? What was it that drew you to the form?
Actually, my ex-boyfriend of a few years ago first got me into graffiti. Believe it or not the graffiti scene is pretty big. Not necessarily good graffiti, but there are quite a few people doing it. Started off with drawings, then stickers, then tags, bombs, pieces…..you know the rest. I loved writing on things and this was a great outlet for me.
There are very few female graffiti artists, in comparison to your male counterparts. How is it being a girl in a very male dominated scene? Does your work ever get categorised as being typically girly?
I don’t mind being a girl in a male dominated scene. I learn a lot from the guys around me because really they are the best. Also, men have a lot less drama in their lives than women, so I usually hang out with guys instead of girls anyways. As far as my graffiti goes, I think it pretty much looks like a girl did it. I’d like to think it looks typically girly, I don’t really care if anybody categorises as that.
You’ve also worked as a model – do you find this helps or hinders your creative pursuits?
I have mixed feelings about being a model but I’m not completely against it as you see. I feel like it may confuse people as to whether I’m a model or photographer, but I try to make it clear that photography is what I do and modelling is just something I do sometimes.
Where does the inspiration for your aesthetic come from? Your tumblr is quite a fascinating insight into your life and relationships. How much of your everyday life inspires your creativity?
The inspiration for my aesthetic comes from natural sunlight. I believe that it is the most beautiful thing and so I try to shoot most of my pictures using the sun as my light source.
My life is very crazy so I try to photograph anything and everything. I try to post on my tumblr often so it shows everyone a little bit about what my life is like.
Tell us a bit about your painting — do you spend a lot of time doing it? Many street artists and graffers tend to explore forms other than graff. Is that on the cards for you, or are you strictly graff-only?
I try to paint as often as I can. I usually just paint until there is no more left. I haven’t really tried exploring other mediums of art. I’ve only been painting with spray paint for about two years and I definitely haven’t mastered it yet. So maybe down the road I will pick something else up, but nothing on the cards for now.
Do you have a favourite artist?
I cant pick right now. Theres too many good ones to narrow it down but basically everyone from MSK AWR is the shit.
You’ve painted in various locations across the States, do you have a favourite place to paint?
My favorite place to paint is in Hawaii. Detroit coming in at a close second.
Tell us about some of the locations in general — ie under a bridge, a wall next to a beach…how important is the location? Is it something you think about in depth?
I kind of try to paint in an area that will look good in a picture. Depending on what kind of painting you’re doing, you want your graffiti to be very visible in general. There’s a lot of differences in painting illegal and legal graffiti, so it all depends on the circumstances.
There’s been a bit of a debate on the whole Instagram thing — many think it’s just an opportunity for ‘everyone to be a photographer’ and that using a filter on the app doesn’t equate to good photography. Being both a photographer and and Instagrammer yourself, what are your own thoughts on the debate?
I love Instagram but I don’t like when people use photos that weren’t taken with their phone. Just a personal opinion. I think the app brings out a more creative side in some people that they never knew they had. I enjoy seeing people make an effort to try and take a good picture.
You have only recently returned from a trip around America. Do you know where your next big excursion will take you? Do you travel much?
Yes, the roadtrip across America was a great experience. I recently went to France for the Toulouse Graffiti Jam with my boyfriend, Norm. France was sick, I loved it. And I am writing this interview in New York right now so yes, I try to travel as much as I can.
Probably going to Japan this summer as well as a trip back home for Hawaii’s first tattoo convention in August.
What’s coming up for you for the rest of the year? Any projects you can let us in on?
I can’t say much, I made promises :) but keep an eye out, I have a lot planned.
See much more of GypsyOne, her photography and her friends at her tumblr.