Ah to be thirteen and to be let loose on the streets with a spray can. Take a name like caliber44 or realkillaz join a crew like Can’t Be Stopped or On The Run or Kill to Succeed or (if your religiously inclined) Only God Knows. Pull your hoodie down and cover your face with your hand, and there, in the shadows, post your photo on Instagram. They won’t know who you are, but there you are anyway. Now, go ahead, start writing your name all over town.
You’ll call yourself a villain, or a vandal, you’ll “do” rooftops, or alleys, or billboards. At first they will all be “illegals”. You’ll have a probation officer, he’ll check your index finger for blue spraypaint, you’ll start wearing gloves or you’ll stop. Or you won’t. You won’t carry sharpies. You’ll find a place to paint “legals”.
You will post endless photos of girls with big tits, of you exhaling smoke, of 420 jokes, of automatic weapons and hunting knives. You are thirteen and so is everyone you know.
You will have your own language, you will say “mad respect” and “dope”; your own drugs, buses (large street Xanax in four parts), You’ll call your friends “G”.
Then there are the misfits, they have names like mostgiftedandmosthated, they listen to Punk Rock, they will be headed to college soon, they will do their sketches on their ipad. They too will post photos of cases of beer and jumbo sized bottles of vodka, maybe a girl in a thong in front of a graffiti wall.
There will be forks in your road, maybe get a girl, maybe get arrested, maybe make serious “bank” and impress the “hoes”, maybe deal, maybe use, maybe do time, maybe join a gang. Or, who knows, you may have never seen “the streets” at all. Maybe you’re in your room, playing your guitar, dreaming of badness and street cred.
Or maybe, there will be an arc to your career, a tag, a sketch in a black book, a cartoon character, a “piece” on a wall, maybe art school, maybe graduate to street art and paint in Miami’s Wynwood District, maybe switch to canvas and have a show. You will build your brand.
You will look back and hear them calling your work “street art” and spitting on the ground. You may hear them saying “I wanted to be you when I was a kid”. You will be loved or hated or forgotten.