12ozProphet X QUIRK: The Complete Collection
Over the past week we have been highlighting QUIRK, an ambitious writer from Miami. The coverage included A video from Bazooka Films, a 12 Questions Interview and a whole gallery of his work. In case you missed them originally, here they are all in one place. Take a look and sound off in the Forum.
Even in January, the nights are warm in Miami, Florida. Warm enough to walk around with your jacket unbuttoned, with no gloves or hat, just a bag of cans and time to kill. As we strolled around the city with QUIRK DME we remarked that while we were enjoying the occasional cool breeze, the rest of the country was preparing for the winter storm of the decade. What a time to be alive we thought, as QUIRK busted out tag after tag and led us on a tour of a new Miami we hardly recognized.
In recent years Miami has become quite the destination for writers and street artists. As home to Art Basel, the city has opened it’s arms to artists, inviting them to redefine entire neighborhoods as their own. In many ways it has help to revitalize the cultural life blood of a city stuck in the past. The Wynwood neighborhood in particular has become the place to go to see murals from some of the biggest names in graffiti. Huge, intricate and multi-colored murals fill the Wynwood walls, a beautiful collection of styles, but far from what we remember Miami, and graffiti for that matter, to be.
QUIRK gets it. Though much younger, he too came up at a time in Miami when piecing and even fill ins were a rarity. As he and his friends began to attack the city people were surprised they would catch fills and rock burners in the city, it just wasn’t worth it to everyone else. One of the few walls QUIRK remembers being pieced out is the one below, found on Oakland Park Blvd. and rocked by early members of the DME crew. That wall, QUIRK says, inspired a lot of kids coming up in the area, and that crew, would eventually adopt him as one of their own.
Few people realize, or remember at this point, that 12ozProphet called Miami home for many of our early years. Before we moved up to New York City, we published the magazine and operated a mail order business out of Miami, the city many of us grew up in. We have strong ties to the graffiti scene there, it shaped not only our style, but also our outlook on the scene. In those days the city was all about bombing, and so that’s what we came to value most.
That was nearly a decade before QUIRK would hit the scene, but something about the way he paints recalls that mentality. Maybe it’s his disdain for the Wynwood area, or that he didn’t take us to rock a piece, or maybe again it was just being back home and out on the streets, but in that moment we were transported back to the 12ozProphet of yesteryear.
As we watched QUIRK catch tag after tag it reminded us of a different era. It reminded us of people grilling I-95 with tags, then throws, and then this massive wall by CROOK and CHROME. It reminded us that Miami is more than just bougie brand parties, stuffy galleries and technicolor piecing. It reminded us that hope isn’t lost for those who appreciate bombing, because people like QUIRK are still out there putting in work, paying dues and trying once again to redefine what graffiti means to Miami.
1. QUIRK is a pretty unique name. How did you come up with it?
Honestly there’s not really much to it. I wrote like 500 different names before this. One day I was bored looking through the dictionary just writing anything that looked interesting and came across it, I sucked at writing it as opposed to a name with more commonly used letters and I liked that. The challenge is what got me, it wound up choosing me.
2. Who were your biggest influences coming up?
I started noticing graffiti at a really young age, like before 10 years old. I’m not sure where I was first exposed to it but it was probably through skateboarding. My family would go in and out of periods where we had a vehicle and didn’t, so we were taking the buses in Broward a lot. I was inspired mainly by the BCT (Broward County Transit) tagging and the city tagging that was going on in the early 2000s.
3. Tell me about the Miami Style. I heard SKEM talk about how it has many elements of New York City styles, you think that’s true?
Let me start by saying that I’m from Broward and it wasn’t until I was properly schooled by my mentor Siner that I had a better grasp on what was really true Miami style. There’s not a single graffiti scene in America that didn’t pull influence from New York. From what I was told, New York style was so different that it was called “city style” locally here in Miami and the very early pioneers of Miami graffiti tried their hardest to make our style separate from New York and separate from everything else. Miami is a melting pot of all ethnicities and our graffiti has reflected that for years. Miami graffiti is rich with history and at one point our style was nearly lost. I’m in a crew called WBB which has an expansive history all it’s own and traditions that have been passed down from people like Snair(RIP) in the 1980s to us through mentoring. Stuff like flat top tags. Crazy extensions and whips on the hand. Small to large handstyles. Hialeah slants and crazy swirly fill ins on your pieces. That’s Miami style to me. I suggest anyone who may have not seen that Skem video to watch it. Tubs covers our local influences pretty thoroughly in his interview as well. In my opinion, and there might be some who will object to this, Miami style whether it be tagging or piecing is whatever you make of it once you have learned the basics. To back this I’d say for instance, Clear and Kvee are vastly different stylistically although they are both hugely responsible for pushing and developing the Broward/Miami style. Don’t let instagram fool you, there’s still people out here trying to keep the styles alive and if you come here and leave wynwood you’ll see what I mean.
4. What’s up with the DME crew? What are some of the things you stand for?
Growing up in south Florida I always viewed DME as the elite of the elites. It’s the crew your favorite writer dreamed of being a part of whether they admitted to it or not. Being DME is embracing the Don’t Make Excuses lifestyle to the fullest. It’s about being a boss in graffiti and out of graffiti. Straight up no chaser hustlers and savs who make shit happen. There’s a very rigorous proving period which takes years before you’re able to get down and there’s an initiation. Also to clarify, WBB is a bit more selective of a crew which is pushed mainly because it’s part of DME’s lineage and FUKQ is a crew that everyone in DME is inherently down in. Really though, it’s all the same people. It’s the true definition of family and that mentality is shared in my other crew TMI.
5. What are your favorite spots (types or areas) to hit in Miami?
I’ll paint anything that I feel is challenging. South Florida’s layout isn’t all that exciting and there’s a lot of recycled spots that people do over and over. I’m a real junkie for executing technical spots so I don’t discriminate as long as they push me and are really banging. I’d say my favorite is anything that pushes the envelop and hasn’t been done before.
6. Who are your favorite writers to paint with and why?
For the most part, I try not to stray away from painting with crew. Anyone I’ve painted with outside of the circle has been introduced and vouched for by someone I know. You guys know who you are and I thank you for everything.
7. What Miami writers should we be looking at right now?
I think that collectively as a city we’re moving in a positive direction. South Florida graffiti has really big ups and downs and huge periods of stagnation. There’s a lot of vandalism happening and a lot of new names popping up daily. That’s what matters to me.
8. Who are your favorite writers outside of Miami?
I am honestly too disconnected to pay attention to anyone that isn’t crew or associated crew. Shout out to all of my homies in Peru and across the map. Respect to everyone out there doing illegal graffiti no matter who you are.
9. Would you like to explain to our readers outside of Miami what a “penit” is and what it means to Miami’s graffiti scene?
Haha this is a funny one. There’s an awesome page http://miamigraffiti.com/penit.php that will go into greater depth on this subject and it’s worth checking out if you’re interested. A penit is basically just an abandoned building or structure that everyone goes to and paints. It’s so ingrained in our local vernacular that sometimes it’ll slip in front of out of towners and they’ll look at you like what the fuck did you just say? There’s usually a few penits up at one time and almost all of them end up getting renovated or demolished. Before the prevalence of instagram, and I’m sure the internet as a whole, as young kids growing up in south Florida we’d spend a whole day taking buses and trains to a penit to see what was going on. Some penits like the Hialeah penit were absolutely fundamental in building Miami style. The Hialeah penit was knocked down sometime in the early 2000s and is now a Walmart.
10. I saw this article about how Crome and Crook got a lot of heat from the courts back in the day. Are they still pretty harsh these days?
They got off lucky. Also I’m not sure why they are always brought up and people like GB and the STV crew aren’t in the same sentence. By no means am I discrediting them, but GB(RIP) did those runs way more thoroughly in the 80s and received next to no shine for it. Same with the STVs in the 90s. Just being honest. As I said before, south Florida has major ups and downs. I’ve been interrogated for hours on end, been in countless chases with helicopters and tons of other shit. I’ve never had a real job and I’ve sacrificed almost everything just so I can continue painting graffiti consistently. That’s the name of the game. The cops don’t fuck around especially in Broward. They have like 5 TV shows about Broward cops. At one point there was a notorious railroad cop named J Burke who essentially turned our local gang unit into a vandal squad and hunted down writers. The guy made it a mission to destroy writers lives. The courts are a lot more savage in Broward and if you have priors they’ll easily slap you with multiple felonies and give you a year for painting a spot, I’ve seen it happen. In one year Miami cops killed two writers. Graffiti in general will fuck you up but it’s all part of the game and if you’re not ready to accept these consequences then don’t write.
11. Miami has become a place different since bombing ruled in the 90s. Street art has become well accepted in areas like Wynwood. How do you feel about this acceptance/rise of legal street art?
I think if you paid your dues and spent countless years in the streets, if you want to take a legal route then so be it. I like to see real writers make that money. It’s not for me but I didn’t grow up rich so I don’t knock hustle. Personally I think wynwood is cool if you want to get drunk and have hookers throw your name up on the sidewalk with meanstreaks. Bombing there doesn’t count and those in the know understand why. Legal graffiti to me is cancerous. Keep graffiti illegal and let the sheep have their tire art owls and yarn bombing. Fuck it.
12. What is in store for Quirk in the future?
The best part about graffiti for me growing up was the mystery. Hopefully I can carry on that tradition.
Tremendous thanks to Siner and Skem for helping make me a better person and writer. Shout out to Bazookafilms and 12oz for being interested in me and all of TMI and DME.
RIP Lit101 Pock167 and Davo