12ozProphet Exclusive: Asend One Paints Chicago
“I was always breaking my neck to catch a glimpse of a rooftop or train.”
Though Chicago-based graffiti artist Asend One has made his mark on plenty of walls, rarely is the intricate process behind each of his pieces captured. 12oz crew member and photographer, Acid_dropz recently had the privilege of capturing Asend doing what he does best: graffiti. Asend started painting in the late 90s. His name was derived from the word “ascend,” and his preference for each of the letters. Asend’s graffiti arsenal is supplemented by 16 years of experience, and with that experience comes the kind of street-smart wisdom necessary to stay relevant and up.
With nearly two decades of painting under his belt, in addition to several gallery shows, and with firsthand experience, Asend can accurately report that the extraordinarily separate worlds of graffiti and proper street art do not collide. He believes they are “two different planets,” but dismisses neither.
The piece featured in these photographs juxtaposes light blue with blood red, and black with white. With his work, this particular alleyway has become an attraction. His name is perfectly legible and includes Asend’s flare and stylistic additions.
As evidenced by the photographs of Asend at work [and play], his mural and wall productions are intricate, efficient and clean. While Asend paints, he seems to envision a set of blueprints for each layer. He begins with an outline much like an architect begins with a blueprint, and then comes the coverage. When in progress, the paint acquires a semblance of watercolor-like texture. Even devoid of shading and hard outer lines, his name sprayed in fluorescent, bright colors is a work of admiration.
The process itself is quite incredibly calculated. Working much like a machine would solve a mathematical equation, his works follow his unique, planned process. This process lacks only the monotony of calculation, as it differs each time. By painting in abandoned urban settings and zones that are also heavily policed, he has learned to paint large pieces in record time with the ongoing distractions of the rare pedestrian and the occasional warning siren. And with both the speed and skill necessary to complete these massive murals, Asend has made his name and style easily recognizable.
He is devoted to his roots and to the streets that provided his art a vehicle for viewing. And though he appreciates a degree of graffiti anonymity and has many ties to the city streets, he certainly understands technology’s lasting effect on his art of choice, its extended visibility and the recognition that it lends to his pieces.
“The internet changed the way we’re exposed to graffiti. It has also globalized graffiti to parts you’d never think. For example, I recently visited Tahiti and was surprised to see so much graff all over an island in the middle of the Pacific. It’s taken an underground world to every corner of the earth.”
Culture, style, originality and dedication have given Asend One a lasting place in the graffiti world, a feat of extreme proportions considering the temporary nature of the art. 12ozProphet will be teaming up with Asend this spring and summer to bring you more beautiful graffiti mastery from Chicago. Stay tuned for some up-close-and-personal insight into this artist’s painting process and world.
You can keep an eye on his work by following Asend One on Instagram.
Photographs by Jeff Mancilla
Words by Taylor Michelle Gerard