ASKEW : TMD SUK
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I write Askew One, I am a member of TMD crew and Stick Up Kids. I started dabbling with graffiti in 1993 during my first year of high school, although I would say, growing up in the area of central Auckland I did, graffiti was a big part of my subconscious psyche from an early age. I was lucky enough to see many of the early Auckland walls in the flesh from crews like Smooth Inc, USP and old school legend Fly. Many of the key Hip Hop pioneers of my city lived on my street and I grew up fairly immersed in that whole scene and vibe. I am the oldest of 6 kids, originally from Palmerston North in the lower north island. My parents were punk rock teenagers when they had me and I grew up in flats thinking I was one of the gang. I would say I had a happy but pretty poor upbringing, coming from a long line of working class people and seeing my very young parents brave it and build a life for themselves from nothing. Graffiti offered the perfect vehicle for my expression because of the rebellious spirit and the fact it didn't require expensive equipment etc. The do it yourself attitude and sense of adventure appealed to a young kid that grew up without all the fancy things some of my friends had.
How did you choose your tag, any special meaning?
I chose my name based on the balance of the letters and potential for symmetry. The "A" mirrors the "W" the "S" mirrors the "E" and the "K" can sit happily in the middle. I get frustrated with that arrangement at times but honestly I have all good letters in my name.
How did you get in to graffiti?
I guess I touched on this in question 1, but I more or less started graffiti because at that time it's what everyone in my neighbourhood did. In fact it was almost like there was no choice, you just did it, like a compulsory part of being young and urban in my neck of the woods. I dabbled as I said for a few years but by 1996 I was what I would consider highly active. Since then there has been no looking back. I would say I've been tagging since 1993, piecing since 96 but graffiti has been part of my life since 1984 when I first came to Auckland.
What is it that you love about graffiti that keeps you writing?
Just the quest to evolve, improve and perfect. I've often said to people when trying to describe the feeling of painting true style that words don't do it justice. The feeling of freedom, the power of line and spontaneous flow are the magic at the heart of writing with good style. It should never be rehearsed or too perfect, it should just feel a certain way. I like other aspects of course, my friends, the adrenaline, forcing yourself to man up and do something against societies ruling. this is my life, I'm so drowned in it sometimes it's hard to think of living another way.
Tell us about your style and how it has developed over the years.
My style is always evolving. I hope that what keeps all the changes together with some sort of cohesion is the fact that it should always look like came from my hand somehow. I'm not fickle or following trends as people have suggested, I'm just questing for that feeling. I like a challenge and I have to feel free and wild with my work too. I dunno, it's hard to describe. I feel I'm pretty well versed in a lot of areas and pretty versatile. I spent a long time going down certain paths with my work, building a rep for that and then just destroying and rebuilding my whole approach. Maybe it comes across insincere but I feel it's for a reason that I instinctively do this. I'm a sucker for punishment.
Who have been your major influences?
Too many to name.. Locally I guess my whole crew, of course Tank and DAF crew were highly influential to my generation. Can2, Atom, Wow, Smash.. these guys speak on style on such a deep level, if you ever engage with them you will think differently about things, it's unavoidable!
Paint brand of choice
Ironlak.. support local made!
Cap of choice
NY Fat, Level 3 gold cap.
What music motivates you to paint?
All music but mainly soul and funk these days.
Memorable mission moment
Every mission is memorable and a story to tell, that's why I keep going back!
Any tips you're willing to share to the next generation of writers?
Just persevere and enjoy being a toy while you can. It's a very important stage and you can get away with anything at that point!
Anything else to add?