12ozProphet Exclusive Interview: Risk and the Skid Row Freewalls Project

This article was posted by Birdman 2 years, 5 days, 18 hours, 21 minutes ago.

With a career spanning longer than most graffiti artists have been alive, Risk is without a doubt one of the most legendary and influential graffiti writers in Los Angeles. After participating in gallery exhibitions around the world Risk has been focused on making an impact in his hometown, add color to the drab streets. Through projects created by LALA Gallery owner Daniel Lahoda, Risk has had the opportunity to do just that while also continuing to leave his mark on the LA landscape.

Recently, Lahoda’s LA Freewalls has fathered Skidrow Freewalls, a collaboration between the Skid Row Housing Trust and LALA Arts with the goal of bringing beauty and uplifting the residents in the area. Starting the series of murals the Trust asked if RISK would like to become the initial artist. The first property tackled for the Project was the Hotel La Americas. In a thorough process, Lahoda and RISK visited the residence and held a community meeting with the case workers and manager then with the residents. After hearing the stories of the people living in the property, Risk related their experiences to songs from Led Zeppelin, the lyrics of which are sprawled across the mural titled ‘Ye Sun.’

Stripped away from the lettering of his infamous work, the walls are left with an abstract piece filled with vibrant reds, oranges and yellows and punctuated with calming shades of blues. The mural’s bright colors contrasts with the gray and neutral environment. It both works with the building but rebels against the drab coloring of the surroundings into what he is calling the “Beautifully Destroyed” series.

12ozProphet photographer Birdman was there documenting the project with Todd Mazer for a video with MOCAtv, the LA Museum of Contemporary Art’s YouTube channel. We got to sit down and talk with Risk about his process and some highlighted moments of the mural captured in photos.

12oz: Tell us about your process in throwing paint at the wall and how it relates to your graffiti.

Risk: The actual art of throwing paint is working really well. Because to me everything about graffiti is motion. I can look at lettering and tell if a graffiti artist does illegal pieces or has never done an illegal piece. By how fluid or choppy their pieces are. My pieces are always like dancing or fighting and they’re fluid and that’s because as a kid painting I was always looking over my shoulder. And everything had to be one line and quick. So I think motion plays a big part in graffiti and I’m trying to invoke the same motion with these walls. Throwing the paint creates energy. Some gets washed away, but there’s still a lot of motion and energy.

12oz: Are those song lyrics inside the sun rays?

Risk: I really love Led Zeppelin and when I talked to the Skid Row people a lot of the guys talked about heart break. Not hard times, but girls that left them. Then of course drugs and all of the stuff you expect them to talk about.  So the first thing that came to mind was Led Zeppelin ‘Good Times/Bad Times’ And I started thinking about themes of Led Zeppelin songs for the mural. And then I started thinking like damn some of the lyrics hit home. To me it’s important to not only work with the environment, but also be respectful.

Continue reading 12ozProphet’s Interview with Risk on Page 2…

LA Freewalls,
Skid Row Freewalls,
Los Angeles,

© Birdman & 12ozProphet - Sunday January 20, 2013 at 05:01 AM

There are 1 comments...

ethersock on 12ozProphet

Great interview, even better photos.

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