Apr 09

“There’s No Playing Around In The Graff Game, Even If You’re A Trixter”



Graph design and street art. Spray paint, stencils, ladders, various other equipment. It’s all coming together. Some might call it a cluster. Some might call it a hodge-podge. It’s an inevitable step in our “traditionally-shadowed” art scene. The “underground” now has sponsors. Some people manage to blend between both worlds, from ducking cops in subway cars to bringing their craft front-and-center to such illustrious events as Insomniac Event’s EDC Las Vegas and Art Basel in Miami. A name synonymous with the “Wonderland” Series, goes by the moniker Mr. Trixter. You can define him however you like because he’s not going to fit whatever mold you put him in. Raised in Cali and doing it the only way he knows how. Music has definitely been a large part of his life but has, above-all, embraced the nouveau-samurai code of the spray can.


Tell us about your name. What marked the beginning of Trixter?

I always wrote different things, even after I started writing Trixter I’d always experiment with different names and letters.  Originally, the name  just seemed to stick because of my mischievousness as a kid and interest in skateboarding. I liked the X in the middle,  the symmetry of the name and the flow of the letters. I thought of changing my name a few times. Some people thought it had a negative connotation, like someone who’s devious and used trickery. I always thought of the Trixter as someone using skilled techniques, and tricks or like a mythical character with magical powers.


Who are you? How many years have you been in the game and how did you get started?

Mr. Trixter WCA RF FSC UTI TPS. Started in 1990-91. As a kid I was already into art being son of a sculptor/painter. Like many trouble making youth, I was into skateboarding. I was a mischievous kid that liked writing on things before I was really conscious of the culture and subcultures of graffiti. It was something that just came naturally. At the time my older sister had a bunch of friends that were writers and she had tags covering the walls of her room. Dudes like Xpres, Wes, Aero, Lens, Blue and Vane (Evidence) were a few of my early influences. A few years later I linked with my long time graff partner Joe Joe (Joex2) who came to L.A. from Philly with his friend Adam (DJ AM) and we started TPS (The Prime Suspects) in 92 , and the rest is history. TPS was a dynamic crew from West L.A. that wrote a page or two of history for Los Angeles graffiti in the 90’s. At the time, DJ AM, who went by AMG for (Adam Michael Goldstein), and JoJoe, who wrote DESR back then, had a crew called “Stoned Weight.” This brought a musical element to the crew with DJ and rapping sessions in my garage. TPS was The Phresh Shit, The Phunk Style, The Private Sector, The Prime Suspects , etc.. The crew was a mix DJ’s, b-boys, graffiti writers and artists. Its was myself, JoJoe (Joex2) , Dj Hier, DJ Sony, DJ Edski, Kofie One, Kure, Gacha, Afect, Gone61, Jerm and a few others that joined later. Eventually the crew was closed in 1996 when we started an allstar graffiti crew called RF (Rapid Fire).


What are you currently listening to?

I’m always listening to different genres and looking for stuff to add to my record collection.  As a DJ, I try to keep up on current music and continually dig for old stuff .  Most of my collection is Soul, Funk, R&B , Blues, Jazz,  Breaks, Hip-Hop, Roots, Reggae, Ska, Dancehall, House, Electro, Freestyle, 80’s, Punk ,Rock, Classic Rock and World Music.


What were your inspirations for the first characters and tags?

The first characters and tags were all skateboard graphics. Dogtown, SMA, Natas, Powell Peralta, The Bones Brigade, Eric Dressen, Stussy, LA, Bronx… These were all icons, logos, tags. The dogtown cross. The silly S logo out to pairs of 3 lines! lol.. I had a few different tags before one stuck. I wrote Fear, Bask, Xplore, Iron then Tricks then Trixter.


Favorite thing to paint (surface, tags, throwies, productions, whatever)?

That’s a hard one, The Tag, The Throw-Up and Pieces are art forms in themselves. I think it’s essential to the aesthetic of graffiti to do all three. It’s really two totally different worlds, piecing and bombing (illegal graffiti) , it’s the balance of the 2 that I think makes a well rounded writer. As far as surfaces I like painting on trains and trucks. There’s something really gratifying about having your pieces mobile and going around the city.


Who are your favorite writers worldwide?

Aww man, there are a lot of great writers all over the world. Too many to name. Old school and new school, from originators to innovators. I love graffiti, from the grimiest of the grimy to the super clean burners and productions. To me it’s not always about the “best” but more so the style and character behind the name. It’s about longevity,style, respect and the right mentality of a writer. One thing I’ve learned is some of the biggest toys can have can control and do “good” graffiti. To me, a dope writer is as much about style, technique, and productivity as it is about mentality, character and knowledge of the culture.


What is your favorite city to paint and why?

From my experience so far I like the Bay Area and parts of Italy. The Bay, at least while I was there, seemed easier to get up in the city and had a lot of different places to paint from tunnels to yards to train yards. Italy because of the trains and how long they run.


How does the LA scene compare to other cities you’ve been to?

Long before the emergence of NY style subway graffiti L.A. had a rich history of gang writing and placas dating back to the 1940’s that is still evident today on the walls and in the hand styles. The L.A. graffiti scene has gone in waves though. There will be generations of writers getting up and influencing each other and then periods where it’s more stagnant. Right now there aren’t too many heads getting up and really killing shit on the streets. L.A. seems like it’s really coming up on the global art scene though. It’s weird how Graffiti and Street Art have meshed in the eyes of the public and become more popular in recent years. It’s kind of an oxymoron though, as much acceptance of the culture that’s here there are still gang injunctions issued on graffiti crews and property owners being fined if they have a graff style mural on their building. Despite the city loving and hating it , L.A. is still home to some of the best artists in the world.



Plenty, Regardless of skill level there were always obstacles and still are. As a kid, first it was: sneaking out of the house, the cops, gangsters, heroes, cameras, not to mention rivalries with other crews. In LA, gangs didn’t like graffiti writers and the whole tag-banging thing was crazy. People were getting killed over writing. The legal consequences have gotten a lot worse. If you were caught back int he day it was a slap on the wrist and these days it’s a felony in California which makes no sense at all.


Would you say that writing is hip-hop?

Yeah, it’s definitely hip-hop but it’s also punk rock!


With Graff having been a fixture in the hip-hop world, where do you see it going in this electro-centric world?

I see it as a resurgence kinda. Except this time Electro is working it’s way into almost every genre. Hip-Hop was electric. Afrika Bambaataa and the Soul Sonic Force, Newcleus, Freestyle music, that 80’s electro sound was the shit. Now it’s EDM, trap, dubstep etc. Back in the day though, graff was more than usually an element at the warehouses parties and raves. After all these years it seems that graffiti art is getting more accepted by the masses as a legitimate art form / art movement. There’s no telling where it could go from here.


How have your contemporaries affected your style?

Yeah, I definitely get influences from the people I paint with. It depends on the situation. I think it comes down to two approaches , taking it seriously or just getting loose and having fun. I like the balance of a little of both. I do find that I vibe with different artists and often try to adapt styles to give an overall cohesiveness to the overall piece. I get influences from other types of art as well. I look at something and think…damn, that would look better on a wall.


Do you feel you have a responsibility to seek out new talent to keep the progression moving forward?

Definitely, it’s essential to the longevity of the culture to find young talent and pass the torch to the next generation.


With technology’s presence everywhere, what is being done to preserve aspects of “the underground,” instead of it being wholly assimilated by “the mainstream?

Graffiti is alive in the streets. Keeping it there will insure that the roots of it always stay underground.


What has been your greatest personal achievement thus far?

As far as achievements, I consider all the little achievements to equal to a great achievement. I think the greatest achievement is my consistency and longevity. It says a lot to have 20+ years specializing in one thing and I feel blessed to have made it this far.


What would you still like to accomplish in your career?

A top to bottom passenger train.


Any projects or concepts that you’re working on now that you can talk about?

I’m always juggling projects between my graphic design, fine art and commercial artwork. I’ve been doing art and scenic design for movies , commercials and music videos. I recently did some work for Jordan and Nike. I’ve always worked in fashion so I’m starting to do collaborations with different clothing lines etc. This past year I’ve had the opportunity to do some live painting with a company called Insomniac. I’ve been going to different cities to paint for their event called EDC or Electric Daisy Carnival.  It’s definitely exposed my art to a lot of people. Some of the shows I’ve been to have more than 100K people attending each day for a 3 day show. 2014 should be interesting, I’m looking forward to a productive year.


Do you feel there is a distinction between “capitalizing” and “selling out?

I think that when it comes to graffiti there is no selling out. Graffiti exists in the streets and is done illegally. There’s no cheating, it’s either there or it’s not.  If your doing art that was influenced by graffiti then more power to you but it’s merely graffiti influenced art,  not real graffiti.  Graffiti writers write there name in the streets, artists paint canvases. Writers are now capitalizing on their street fame and the recent popularity of street art and using it to their advantage, I don’t really consider that selling out. I see it as opportunistic.


What is your philosophy on writing?

As inhabitants of the city we are bombarded all day by advertisements every where we look. Writers are just taking the space back and putting their name up. For me it’s artistic freedom and a mix of sport, self promotion, expression, creativity,fun, community, brotherhood, art and pushing yourself as an artist. With that, here is my shameless self promotion >>> WWW.MRTRIXTER.COM PeacE!


Some people are quick to judge and knock something because it’s not “normal,” it doesn’t fit their style, and, according to them, it doesn’t belong there. Art is art. It’s open to interpretation. If you can see that passion, skill, and craft mastery were all utilized in harmony, what you have is something of beauty and something of worth. Value, whether it be intrinsic or ascribed by specific societal and community economic norms, remains subjective because of this spectrum. There is no overriding reason to maintain a position of being delightfully obtuse on the subject, especially in the presence of all of those bright colors. What can’t be denied is the love that was put into its creation. In-depth and intense, my man Trixter is laying it down. As long as you can hear the “shink shink shink” noise of a can being shaken up, you know he’s ready to rock.