When you’ve been painting as long as Seen you’ve earned the right to say and do whatever you want. You’ve been there, done that, and history documented it whether you liked it or not. Where many graffiti writers are considered old skool because they started painting in the 1980’s, Seen was colouring walls in New York during the 1970’s and already showing his work in the early eighties. Thus the writer is hailed as one of the founding fathers of a movement still going strong today even though most would say the essence was lost decades ago. Seen is very forthright when discussing the moment the scene morphed into a concocted mash up of graffiti, break dancing and hip hop. Neither Seen or any of his crew even like hip hop music or dancing in the streets. The mere mention of the word annoys the writer which if you can imagine is said quite often to him by members of the press or public. ‘Hip hop ruins my life by being tied in’ Seen told me on a recent visit to London for a solo show at the Opera Gallery. Moving on then! I inquired about the equipment he used in those early days…
‘Back in the day, the paint cans that we used was solely created for painting your patio furniture or your lawn mower, nothing more. During that time, the paint cans that we used didn’t have special caps designed for graffiti, we had to search for caps out of other house hold cleaners, such as jiff foam oven cleaner, Niagara spray starch or we used to take a pin and pin the cap that the spray can came with, to give us a wider spray. These cans were not designed for graffiti at all, like they are today. Now, it’s handed to everyone to use on a silver platter, which makes it way too easy for anyone to become a graffiti writer.
Markers were hand made, we took a Ban roll-on under-arm deodorant and break the ball off the top, you stole a chalk eraser from school, take a strip out of it, fold it in half, push it into the roll-on container and flooded with flow master ink, and that’s what they call a Pilot marker today. Also, we used to take the chalk eraser, cut it to the side you wanted, wrap it in tin foil then take duct tape or black electrical tape, wrap it around the tin foil, create a housing for the eraser to be fueled by ink.’
Decades later we have dozens of colours, different caps for varied effects when painting and specialised markers for writing or producing art. Europeans came into the picture during the 1980s ‘I’ve been traveling in Europe since the 70’s, showing my work since early 80’s, watching my work find its way to Europe. And i painted with most of those writers that are famous today, since the early days.’
Given Seen has been painting at the highest level for decades i wondered if he ever thought about stopping. ‘In anyone’s life, there’s a time when you don’t want to do it no more, but you still keep going for the cause.’ I asked whether he ever envisioned selling his art in the most prestigious galleries on the planet ‘It was never intended’ Seen isn’t a fan of computers or the Facebook generation ‘ i pulled my own website down because i don’t believe in computers’ and says ‘sad to say but i see the future of graffiti computer generated’ I asked if he had anything else he’d like to say to our readers ‘Like my pop always told me, stay in school and become a doctor or a lawyer’
SEEN has been showing his work at the Opera Gallery in London since June 20th but the show finishes tomorrow July 4th. So if you would like to see the legends work hanging on a wall then you best get yourself down to the Opera Gallery ASAP…Thanks to Seen and Florie-Anne for the access…
The Boys 😉 PHOTOS ABOVE © 2014 Paul Hampartsoumian
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