Interview with Tiki Jay
I've made several posts about his beautiful work before and I recently had the opportunity to ask him a few questions. Here we go:
How did you get into creating art? How long have you been doing it?
I have always done art since I can remember. My father wanted me to be a musician but he pushed me to hard to the point that I didn’t even want to touch another instrument, so art was where I could enforce my own control of my creative skill. I started off by copying cartoon characters; comic book characters anything that I could see as a drawing I was imitating. Urban Landscaping came about through break dancing which led me into the world of graffiti…I wrote graffiti for more than 10 years and I wanted to do something new, I wanted to try an approach to the world of street art…something I could call my own.
How did you get into putting your art in public places?
I was a Graff artist that wanted to bring something else to the table. When I started doing urban landscaping which I consider using as many mediums as possible to promote your work in the city, I was noticing that LA had a graffiti mentality to everything, everyone wanted to paint Graff murals and do Graff bombs. I was thinking that there has to be something else, there were a few poster artist then and even fewer stencil artists, and I don’t think anyone in LA was doing any kind of 3-dimensional structure at the time either. Guerilla style anyway…it was my mission at that point to start making the city look pretty, treat the city as an urban gallery not a place to exploit the art form for money.
What motivates you to create?
Females, seeing an awesome trick on a skateboard, the sound of tumbling locks, the sound of stiletto heels clicking their way down on a hardwood floor. I just need to be doing creative things whether it’s in my studio or bombing the streets. I don’t feel right if I am not out there bombing the street or doing something that involves and illegal activity with the work that we do. I am an urban landscape specialist interested in making the city look pretty with Graff pieces, bombs, posters stencils and concrete sculpture…you best believe there is more to come.
Tell us about some of your characters.
My Moai heads are inspired by the tiki heads . I feel the moai heads reflect my personality. On Easter Island the Moai heads that managed to make it to the beach front are all facing away from the ocean. To the people of Easter Island this symbolized that they didn’t care what happened on the other side of the water. Of course the people of Easter Island welcomed outsiders to their Island , at the same time they were content to stay where they are. I identified with this, that’s why I like working by myself I don’t want to recycle other peoples work I don’t want to unconsciously put other peoples work in mine. The tiki heads on Easter Island are original pieces…and that is what I want to convey when people see my work a signature …my signature.
Where is your favorite location or type of location to put your pieces? Do you have a picture?
I like getting poles, high spots, spots that interlink the work that is done. Something of a sight specific nature, But really I love bombing the city that is my favorite location. I sure do love the coastal community I feel it fits appropriately with the tiki styled icon I use as my signature.
What is the most interesting experience you have had while putting your stuff up in public places?
One of the most interesting experiences I have had lately comes from the time I was in New York down on Elizabeth and Church. I was painting a stencil and this little couple comes walking by and they noticed what I was doing and the guy asked me if I would paint a stencil on his shirt so I did. You can see the whole thing on a film made by Knox you can see it here:
Another time was when my friend(dot com) was supposed to go with me one night I was going to watch his back while he got a billboard and he was supposed to watch as I paint a 8ftx8ft piece with two 2-tone stencils for the wall in Venice the green one. So I called up dotcom and he was like man I’m too tired. So tried to go back to sleep but I couldn’t because I wanted someone to watch my back so I could get this spot. So I said fuck it and I loaded my vehicle and I said I’m going to get the spot anyway. As I was driving there I saw about 6 cops but by this point I didn’t care what the cost I was going to rock it. I got to the place and started to unload as I was setting up to start painting I ran into 2 cops driving by one of them was stuck at the light then he just pulled away the other one drove straight behind me and just kept going. So figured I knew where cop one and two were I should just finish. I got about halfway into my piece and then this guy came up to me while I was painting and he was like that’s cool man. He asked me if I needed any help so I asked if he would watch out for cops for me, he was like yeah dude. So I finished up and he asked me if he could have a can of paint so he could catch tags on his way home.
What is your favorite time to bomb?
When is your favorite time of day or night to go put your stuff up around the city? I love all times to bomb day night I feel of course there are something that will play you for certain mediums but like the day cuz I can actually see cops coming then. I love bombing in the day as much as possible. I feel like I can look out for cops a lot easier.
Have you ever been caught?
I’ve only been caught once knock on wood that was back in the L.A. riots first time in County jail supposed to do 2 months and 800 hours community service, funny thing that happened to judge Willet, I read in the newspaper that he got busted for using the city of Redondo beach money to make a garage space for himself on the side of the court house. He claimed it was for his files but it was for his car any way it went to jury trial the cops lied on the stand yes folks cops commit purgery. So I did 23 days locked up for graff and I finished the community service on time.
Who are your favorite artists?
Hajime Sorayama, Tex Avery, Richard Pryor, Mike Judge , Bruno Bernard, Hogarth, coop, Robert Williams, the Pizz, skewville, celso, endless love crew, van arno, sailor jerry , project rabbit, branded Varga, Fremantle, Hao, Titiki, REPENT ONE, guerilla girls, Beverly Bledsoe, Ikea, Maus, sub, Michael de feo, mass distraction, Billy Knows, and of course I can forget the man Tiki Jay One.
Any final comments? Artist's Statement - “By not limiting oneself to any single medium one is left with an open mind and room for growth. Being an artist means taking risks, this manifests itself in the process by which urban landscaping is conducted. The urban landscapist risks physical injury, and personal freedom in the line of duty. Most believe there is an art war on the urban streets, but I disagree. The city is an urban gallery for creating and displaying art without the need of traditional Western-European standards of art. The end result should be work untouched by the “buff” due to the public acceptance gained by the artist’s efforts.” And th-th-th-that’s all folks big ups to LA and Brooklyn.