Interview: AJAR DCM VTS from Seattle
Seattle has consistently been stepping up its control of graffiti within the city. With tools like a Graffiti Report Line, online forms and events such as Paint Out, the amount of time that something runs in the city is even more limited. This past summer Seattle hired its first full-time graffiti investigator to follow up on all these submissions as well. Once a property has been identified as a “nuisance”, property owners are sent a letter about how to remove the graffiti and offered resources such as free paint to remove the graffiti within 10 days or be subject to potential fines of up to $100 per day. Despite all theses measures, prosecuting graffiti is still a challenge for the city. Graffiti vandals must be caught in the act to be prosecuted and a felony charge requires $750 in damage, which is difficult to prove, which leaves most cases ending up as misdemeanors. I reached out to one of Seattle’s notorious bombers, AJAR, and got some insight into the world of Seattle’s graffiti scene.
Where you from and what do you write?
Young Ajar born and raised in Seattle’s central district neighborhood 23rd & Jackson get ya muhfuckin card pulled!!
How did you start vandalizing and what compels you to continue?
I started doing my first tags at school, during class back in 7th and 8th grade after seeing some of my older homies doing sharpie tags in their notebooks. After that I could never shake the habit of constantly practicing handstyles, outlines, pieces and just doodling on a day to day basis.
How would you describe your style?
Destructive, ugly, a big mess for someone else to clean up.
Have you always wrote…
Gotta keep smashing… Fuck probation, fuck jail, fuck cops… gotta have revenge in the end, cuz I’m gonna be painting, with fingers cut off and all…
What made you agree to this interview ?
I don’t know…. im too high to argue this question.
Who were you influenced by when you started out?
Dudes that had a lot of tags around Seattle, like Zeb, Kruks, WWL, BTM, Seed, Myth, Jeans, Bikes, Jay Dub, Ini, Hick, Floe, Hornboy, Snide, Adek, Kerse RIP, Kato lots of old school stuff I can’t remember right now.
What writers influence you today?
Today i am influenced by tons of people, too many too list… Anyone doing new, never done before styles and putting in real work.
What makes a writer stand out to you?
Anyone that is painting progressive style and pushing new crazy shit with wild color schemes that just makes you stare and drool.
Have you ever caught a charge for painting?
Yeah, I’ve gotten fucked over by the long arm of the law a couple times, fuckin’ bullshit….. smh ACAB!! ALL COPS ARE BASTARDS!
What are you most known for/what do you want to be remembered for?
I would say I’m better known for doing lots of fill-ins and tags, but I would like to be remembered for going all city, destroying Seattle and having spots painted around the world.
Has your reason for writing changed at all?
Well I used to look at magazines and watch graff videos and I only wanted to paint trains and do crazy huge pieces at cutty walls and stuff like that, but in the past 5 years or so I have really just wanted to destroy abandoned buildings and hit high profile spots, kilz tags on everything, from windows to bricks.
Where’s the most interesting place you’ve painted and why?
I have painted a lot of crazy places, I would say I’ve been in about 40 to 50 weird, haunted, pitch black warehouses, factories, houses, farms and other broken down structures. There is an old grain mill in Seattle that is my favorite, its 26 stories and it has the best sunset blunt view ever.
What’s been the biggest influence on your work over the last year?
My biggest influence the past year has been working with new tools to get over. Rollers, extinguishers, scribes and anything else you can use to put paint on walls with.
Weirdest thing that has happened when out painting?
Damn a lot of really weird shit has happened out painting. Fuck I’ve seen it all. Junkies dying in doorways, working girl getting beat down by her pimp watching from a roof, drug deals gone bad 6 guys pull out burners and start shooting at each other, 4 get shot, 2 run off, drunken bums beating the shit out of each other. All sorts of weird shit going on with crazy seattle. Bums and junkies, cops picking up hookers. Found tons of weird things…. Cases of beer, a big fish out of water like it fell from the sky, bikes, bags of food, money, nice clothes/jackets, hooked up with sexy random drunk girls while out wandering around tagging… Ahh its a great life!
Do you find you do better pieces depending on who you’re painting with?
Yeah, I definitely try to paint super good and clean if I’m with a bunch of people, if I’m by myself I’ll take forever and just do a bunch of stupid shit.
Amsterdam, Barcelona, Rome, San Francisco, New York, Seattle, I really want to go back to Europe and go to Paris, Europe is fuckin’ great!
What do you think about the commercialization of graffiti?
Graffiti has turned into a fucking scene, it’s thrown in with hip hop and skateboarding, the internet has ruined a lot of things and blown up really good secret spots…. Its a damn shame…
Any upcoming collaborations/releases people should be watching for?
Keep your eyes peeled for new works from VTS and DCM! Lurk Hard!!
Top 5 interviews you want to see
R, E, T, A, L, W, Z, M, K, O, S, F, C, H
Mexican food, Teriyaki, Hamburgers, I eat anything good.
Any graff-related injuries?
Gotten cut up by fences many times, fallen off shit, fallen thru roofs into scary attics and weird dark buildings had to break windows to get out, police chases thru woods all the shit…
What plans do you have for the future?
Lots of new stuff, new money, new everything!
Give some shouts
Shout out to my goons putting in work all over!! don’t stop till the paints all gone or your dead in a box.