Ironlak and MSK crew member, Augor, has the roll call of friends and family that most artists could only dream of. Mentored by the likes of REVOK, POSE and SABER (to name just a few), the LA-based artist recently shifted his focus away from the street to the gallery to open his solo show, the noir-esque Terrors of Crenshaw. With his strong work ethic (the dude doesn’t stop…ever), right now he’s all about being himself and creating deeply personal work. Augor happily took a moment out of his schedule to catch up with ACCLAIM to talk work, MSK and why he ‘put the candy and comics down’ and picked up a spray can instead…
Many graffiti artists have a similar beginning in the culture: there’s that element of rebellion, of “being lost” or just trying to find a place, that starts many artists on their path. What about your own beginnings? Why graffiti?
All stories have an origin. Mine begins fresh out of elementary school at the age of eleven during summer. My friends and I spent our days collecting Warhead candy tattoos, eating ice cream and reading comics. Since we’d be stealing the last two items of that sentence I could already tell criminal acts would grow in my future.
Once skateboarding entered the equation, stoner culture, music culture, and of course graffiti were soon to follow. At that time MEAR ONE had just done the cover to Limp Bizkit, and life was simple.
I got talked into checking out a deserted part of the city’s water canals, hearing that it was a good spot to session for skating, and at that point saw my first pieces. I got obsessed with the lack of rules graffiti had. “What? I can go as big as I want?! Wherever I want?!!!” I put the candy and comics down and haven’t been the same since.
Your style is quite distinctive: you have a tendency to blend traditional forms of letters with your own twist on typography, adding graphic, cartoon-like elements. Do you find you’re constantly honing your style?
I work as a commercial illustrator so flipping and studying different line work, genres of art and artists is an obligation in order to nail certain projects.
With my graffiti, it’s all about what mood I’m in. Right now I’m going back to the same styles that were strong in LA in 2000 through 2003. Dark fills and very technical, almost cyborg hybrid letters. People like ZES PYSA and REVOK’s work during those years are prime examples of what gets me in the mood to paint graffiti these days.
What do you think about critics who suggest the culture has become oversaturated, or that there’s a lot of bad graff out there?
The cultures always seemed “ bigger than us’’ meaning it’s a culture, it existed before and will exist after. And if I’m correct the word “toy’’ was invented in the ‘80s, I think, if anything, it’s easier to see everything for what it is. There’s always gonna be ballers and there’s always gonna be broke ass niggaz. And our economy’s in a crunch, but if you’ve always been broke, you don’t really got a “oh the good old days” feeling about anything.
I think to many viewers who don’t have that ‘eye’, it’s easy enough for us to think “Oh, it kinda just all looks the same…” Thoughts on that?
When there are four people painting next to each other, of course the work blends. Standing out has always been about size and selecting where to incorporate your work.
Meshing the balls it takes to beast a spot, with the brains it takes to paint significant art, makes for the most prominent graffiti.
Tell us a bit about your history with the MSK crew. How did you guys end up together?
MSK has been the collective of artists that I followed since picking up a can. Retna, Revok, Dame, Eklips, Nekst, Pose, Chunk, Pysa, Zes Rime and Saber have all been strong mentors, family and friends. Helping me grow as an artist and grown man that is able to support himself off of his gift. When you find like-minded people it’s almost impossible to not get shit done together. That’s what a crew is: Make Shit Krack.
Do you work together much?
All the time.
What kind of impact does being a part of MSK have on your solo output?
The biggest of any. Without them I’d probably be sneaking rum shots working the rides at Six Flags.
Your exhibition, Terrors of Crenshaw, has just opened. Tell us a bit about the show.
It’s the first show that I took the chains off being a tight-handed illustrator, to just releasing the paint and ink without second-guessing. The works are all monochrome (greyscale) with a Noir ghostly lighting.
I wanted to approach a more timeless quality that I can’t achieve in doing commercial work. Sometimes as an artist for hire you get lost in a ‘gigs’ look and overlook your own personal tastes. This is me getting back to that.
You’ve had quite a long, colourful background on the streets and have shifted towards gallery work and fine art in the last few years. How has that change been for you?
Certain areas of my art are more publicly viewable than others these days. But that’s how I like it. I’m just doing me.
What would stop you from working on the streets?
I hope I never find out.
Terrors of Crenshaw is inspired by film and cinema. Aside from that, where do you draw inspiration?
Terrors body of work exhibits the first collection of non-conventional art pieces I’ve publicly shown. The painting style is loose and natural. The work’s tone is dark and erotic, sometimes unsensable. I see it as the start of something fun for me to produce on a regular basis, so for now im running with it.
What’s on your table right now?
Right now this week, I have some skateboards to design, some comics to ink, and some more apparel to design. All I can say for now…