Interview: STORI KBT from Detroit
It’s hard not to see the impact America’s declining economy has had on a city like Detroit. With the decline in automotive manufacturing, most of the industrious city has been abandoned with no immediate plans to recover itself. With thousands of warehouses and miles of vacant city blocks, writers from all over the world have gathered here to get in on the action and lay claim to the city’s walls. When writers like Revok, Dmote, Smash137, and TomCat19 started hitting the streets of Detroit, it became apparent to me that Detroit must have a lot to offer. I got in touch with a local writer, Stori, and asked some general questions about coming up as a writer in Detroit.
Where you from and what do you write?
Detroit, Stori EPC KBT TST
What got you into writing and what compels you to continue?
I got into graffiti through skateboarding pretty much. When i was 15 or so it was something I just noticed rolling around downtown and when driving to spots in the city. Also at the same time noticing it on freights that i could see from my work. Even crappy gang graffiti. There was something about it that really intrigued me. I started kinda late in the game compared to most people i know. It wasn’t until i was about 19 or 20 when i started to take it real serious. For a while i was just driving around taking tons of photos and drawing a lot. I started out painting solo for the most part at the Eastern Market Yard (a pretty famous piecing spot in Detroit) and taught myself through trial and error. It got to be really addicting. I remember it was really important for me to get at least decent before i started bombing. Even though when i see old stuff that I’ve painted i cringe and look the other way! What keeps me going these days are all the writers I’ve always looked up to still progressing and pushing it. That and i love seeing my name when i drive around.
How would you describe your style?
I guess I have more of an organic approach to piecing. As lame as that probably sounds. I’ve never really been conceptual but I’m trying to work on that for the sake of making something fresh and interesting each time i paint. I try not to ever get too unnecessarily technical. I like for my stuff to be somewhat readable and ‘loose’ looking and stretched out. The finished product sometimes reflects the mood I’m in. If it looks terrible I probably did it after the bar.
What makes a writer stand out?
Someone that has their game down and picks good interesting spots and is able to pull off something ridiculous. Spots that I’ll drive by a thousand times and never notice until someone paints it. I like seeing that. I like seeing somebody blaze a piece in black and white and have it stand up to a full color piece. Blatant in your face graffiti always looks good to me too. And someone that’s out there crushing by themselves.
Who influenced you when you started?
Justo, Dibs, Game, Sekt, Esau, Malt, Coupe, Tead, Iges, Fohr, Army, Sehv, Kosek, Gram, Dubl, Screw, Heist RIP, and Jaunt RIP. All those dudes wether i knew them personally or not were a huge influence on me. I also picked up some Scribble and 12oz mags early on and that gave me an idea of what was going on around the country.
What writers influence you today?
First and foremost all of my friends and crew. Other than them: Revok, Rime, Setup, Ether, Kuma, Raels, Horfe, Much, Wyse, Pose, Ewok, Dont, Vizie, Nekst, Twist, Amaze, Jurne, Hert, Huge, Geso, Oiler RIP….i could go on forever, there’s so many good people out there!
Has your reason for writing changed at all?
I think it changes for anyone that paints graffiti long enough. When you first start out you want people to know who you are in your city. I started out trying to do pieces and learned graffiti TOTALLY backwards hahaha. These days I still get the same kicks from it like i did when i first started. It’s a huge stress reliever. At the same time it can cause some unwanted stress.
Big roller filled block letters!
Nothing too serious. Split my finger from my nail to my palm on a barbed wire fence while getting rolled on.
Have you ever caught a charge for painting?
What are you most known for?
Not sure about that one. Hopefully I’ve cemented my name in Detroit’s graffiti history. Other than that probably nothing!
Where’s the most interesting place you’ve painted and why?
I’ve painted a few cities over the years but Detroit definitely takes the cake on that one. Everyone that comes here says the same thing. There’s more abandoned buildings here than anywhere.
What’s been the biggest influence on your work?
All my friends out there that are crushing way harder than me.
One thing that has happened when out painting?
Getting shot at.
Do you find you do better pieces depending on who you painting with?
Yes. Tead and I have always worked pretty well together. He’s always got fresh ideas and techniques. Painting with someone new always pushes me too.
Chicago, Miami, Philly, and Cleveland’s always been a fun place to visit.
What do you think about the commercialization of graffiti?
It’s pretty weird seeing people put themselves out there on videos for everyone in the world to see and still painting a lot illegally. There’s also a lot of people trying to cash in that don’t deserve it. Then there’s kids around for a minute trying to be graffiti superstars, blogging every bowel movement they have and do graffiti art shows without putting in years of real street work. It’s gay. It’s like people expect to be rewarded automatically for writing graffiti now. Kinda weird. On the other hand some people that have been painting 20+ years and have interesting gallery or commercial work that deserve it all day. Better them then the toys. Hopefully it goes away soon!
TOP 5 Favorite Pieces?
What plans do you have for the future?
I’d like to paint more and travel more often. Also keep working on my art and hopefully get my stuff out there.
Any upcoming collaborations/releases people should be watching for?
Not really. I’m always working on paintings/drawings at home but who knows if anyone will ever see them.
Give some shouts
All of KBT and EPC!, Suga, Gamble, Tead, Yeah, Gloe, Malt, Deco, Paid, Coup…