12 questions with FISHEFISHE has been a fixture in the Los Angeles graffiti scene since the mid 90’s when he joined the legendary crews of KOG(killers of giants) and LTS(last to serve). His work can be all over Los Angeles and around the world from Mexico City to Egypt. He is a graf fan favorite for his unique style and intricate collaborations with his crew brothers VERSUS and DREYE. He recently showed his work at The Well Gallery in Downtown LA as part of the REFRACTION art show. I sat down with FISHE for a quick 12 question interview and got to learn a lot about his history and his perspective of growing up in the LA graffiti scene. Here is his story;
Whats your graf name?
FISHE pronounced fish the E is silent
Where r u from? What part roughly?
Los Angeles I have been here since i was one so I consider myself an Angelino , more specifically I am from the Hollywood section
What crews do u write for?
KOG and LTS
Give me your first memory of graffiti?
I remember being in 3rd grade at a bus stop at Western and 2nd and seeing a kid run out of a market and handing his friend what now i know to be a Griffin MOP. Then they just bombed the shit out of the bus stop and the building behind me and they did the whole area in like 30 seconds. And I was just sitting there with my mom and we both astonished, not even understanding what we were seeing.That was my first exposure to it but I was really young then. Also when I was in 7th grade a friend showed me a copy of CAN CONTROL Magazine, that was the first time I saw how widespread the scene was , it showed the whole east coast and west coast scenes and it really opened me up to how many people were involved in it.
Were there other writers that influenced your development early on?
I really started paying attention to graffiti in the early 1990’s so some of the earliest names that stick out in my head are writers like WISK, CHAKA and SLEEZ but because of were I grew up, CBS crew was the first stuff I saw that was really elaborate and was a major early influence. Also early on writers like Tolse and Oiler and there respective bombing partners were up everywhere and showed me what being all city meant. These guys were hard core savages and really stand out in my memory of LA graffiti. My early Piecing style were influenced by wild style stuff from writers Krush AWR (LA) and DARE TWS which I was exposed to via graffiti magazines. A little later, GKAE and SABER were the first guys I saw push color schemes and spot selection to what was really unprecedented level. But the guys that were really my major influence during high school were my peers. I was hanging out with dudes like JROCK, AYER, KYLE, BRAIL, JIEC, JESK, ELMOE, DUNE, THAI, RETNA, and SINER. SINER, was older but he respected us as peers. These guys the KOG/LTS crews were very much challenging a lot if the status quo by painting with roller paint, intentionally dripping and infusing all kinds of influence from cholo writing to abstract funk into the style. They also really stepped up the bombing scene, by doing full color pieces all over rooftops in downtown LA, mid city, south central, and freeway signs like had never been done before.
Were you good from the jump or did it take time for your style to develop?
For me I went through developmental phases as a writer. The first phase was really my creative phase. I started developing all my different styles then. It wasn’t until I started writing FISHE that i really stripped down my style and reinvented myself. I started off simple again and then gradually got more complex as time went on. I really felt at that time that I had to step my game up and put in on the street or quit.
When did u get into KOG LTS?
KOG comes from LTS. LTS is an LA crew from the mid 1980s writers like SINER, MARK 7, JIMER, CRE 8, Dr.OOP, etc… repping from way back when. Then in the mid 1990’s it had a come back when guys like VERSE, RETNA and BRAIL, were put on LTS, and in order to recruit potential new members into LTS, KOG was created. In about 1995-6 Me, AYER, JROCK, KYLE, THAI, FOSIC, JIEC, etc… had all already been from a crew or 2 together and were all at Fairfax High. Around this time RETNA came to Fairfax and began recruiting guys from UCLA, FAC,SM and 29C and to form the earliest version of KOG. KLEAN, ELMO, ZES, BRAIL, either never went to school or didn’t attend Fairfax but managed to end up there frequently enough so the early version of the new LTS and KOG was born… I was lucky enough to be down from pretty early on. It had been a bumpy road but I am glad we are still here. KOG was at some point the underdog little brother version of LTS but at this point KOG has grown into its shoes and carries and equal amount of weight. Also at this point most of the members rep both as the affiliation is pretty deep.
What is the most memorable place writing has taken you?
I have been really fortunate to go and travel and paint a lot of places. I guess one of the places that really stands out is Egypt, only because it was so chaotic and crazy and it felt like there were no laws and no order, I felt like I was gonna get in trouble but at the same time everyone around me was out of control to and it just was a crazy feeling to do it there.
How do you see the graf scene in LA now?
Historically to me the scene has been amazing and motivating due to high risk locations people paint from freeways to rooftops to billboards and everything and the high calibre level of work that included full 10 color burners creating really beautiful pieces in really hairy locations and I loved that about it. I still love that there are writers like that, like I want to give AGOD a shout for that, he has been dropping so many beautiful pieces like that in the last few months, but that is something not too many people are doing anymore. There are young writers out there that are pushing themselves, but it seems the trend now is quantity over quality, bubble letters and single color fill ins.I like doing that stuff as well but not as much as I love intricate full color burners and I kind of wish more writers were still doing that. I feel like its starting to change but I just hope it returns so LA continues to be a location that influences other writers everywhere.
How long did it take to prepare for your Refraction show?
The Refraction show came about as a result of the momentum of the SURVIVE art campaign that we did last year. The SURVIVE campaign happened as a result of a group/crew trip to Miami for Art Basel. We showed up with no expectations or hook ups. But we were blown away by what we saw, we ended up painting and partying like rock stars and knew we had to come back. James Whitcomb Riley was with us at Art Basel and he really saw the potential that we had and he saw the hunger in the art world that we could feed. So he masterminded this SURVIVE campaign he served as creative director and curator for it. The campaign consisted of a tour that went all over the country doing pop-up art shows and painting murals as we went. We collaborated with local artists in some cities and transformed alternative locations into temporary art spaces. It was a collective process with many members being instrumental in making it happen including Norman Senn, Oliver Lukacs, Damian Esteem, Noe Argueta, and artists Nathan Smith, Kyle Thomas, Dreye, Siner, myself and Zeser contributing art. We finalized the tour Art Basel 2013. Out there I was able to connect with some guys from LA who really loved what we were doing and asked if we could do a show at their facility, The Well LA because they wanted to start being involved in the art world. It basically manifested itself in a month and in that month 2 murals were painted and were able to show some new and old work and create yet another cohesive show, but this time in LA where friends and family could see what we have been working on.It was our experience and hard work with SURVIVE that made it possible for us to covert the space, create murals and get the word it out and still make the show look proper in such a short amount of time. So far I am very grateful for the warm reception the show has received.
Is there a theme to your work in the show?
I guess i kind of drew from all my influences over the years. Early when i got into fine arts I started doing a lot of collage work, but I got criticized a lot for no being artistic enough so I kind of crdated a new way to give a collage effect but also including elements of sacred geometry and graffiti, and not making graffiti the focal point but using it to create a texture and layers to the painting and work together.
Was it a challenge to transition from the wall to canvas?
Very much so, I think the canvas was very intimidating to me and when i first tried to attack them I really couldn’t because I was afraid of damaging the surface and it wasn’t tip my boy JROCK told me I need to fuck the canvas up and tag on it and make it gritty to create texture and then you do the art on top of that texture and in a way its now like I am fixing that image. The art i do is from the street and its grimy and I don’t think I should be moving to far away from that. Just because i am transitioning mediums doesn’t mean I should give up everything that built me as an artist.
Any future plans?walls or shows?
We will be doing shows and installations this year outside of LA but I can’t announce anything just yet.