HAZE WORLD TOUR UPDATE
June 1, 2006
Haze was born in New York City in 1961. As a member of the influential "Soul Artist" group, he was an essential part of the collective of artists who brought graffiti as an art form into the arena of art galleries and media consideration. Working and showing alongside artists such as Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, Haze played an integral part in the New York underground and hip hop culture that emerged as a definitive theme of popular culture entering the early 80's...
1) Where are you from?
New York City, born and raised on the upper west side of Manhattan.
2) What was your earliest experience with graffiti? Who put you on?
I grew up riding the broadway train line which was probably the first line that graffiti started showing up on in the city. So graffiti was almost like a flower that started growing all around us in the neighborhood and I just knew there was something new and exciting happening that I wanted to be a part of. There were also a lot of great writers that lived and wrote in my neighborhood and I was fortunate enough to meet some of them early on. A couple of the older writers like Malta and Steve 161 put me down with some of my first styles and trips to the train tunnels. I became part of a neighborhood crew called the Soul Artists in 1973.
3) Who did you look up to when you first started writing?
The original broadway style kings like Snake 1, Stay High 149, Phase 2 and Jester, and also LSD 3 who became my real mentor once I began to mature as a writer.
4) How long did it take you to develop your own style?
I started when I was 11 years old, and like most people, I was probably just imitating the great writers of the times for the first few years... I think I had developed some of my own tag and bubble letter styles by the time I was 13 or 14, but it was around 1979 that I began to use the Haze tag style (with the swirling e) that I have been perfecting for almost 2 decades now.
5) Was it hard to move from the graffiti world to the design world to the clothing world?
Yes and no-
Stylewise, it wasn't that hard to make the transition, especially because the streetwear market was still a lot more name and logo driven when I was getting into it. At the time, I approached clothing mainly as a new canvas to apply the same kind of logos and graphic sensability that I had been developing as an art director, including further development of logo and identity samples that I had been developing within my record covers and hip hop graphic design.
However, as a business model it was really different and the whole new learning curves of production, marketing, sales and politics were not so easy... As a graffiti artist or graphic designer you are often much more free to do your thing purely according to your own interests, where to be successful in the clothing game you also have to apply yourself to a lot of business principles that are not especially fun or creative. In many ways, I still find those to be the more challenging parts of that world than the development of design and aethestics.
6) Are there any artists or designers out there you look up to?
Sure, though I'm not sure looking up to is the way to describe it, as I think it's the people who I feel on the same level with inspire me the most... Some of the people like Keith Haring who I did look up to the most are no longer with us. It's current artists like Delta or Ease who I admire these days for staying true to themselves and their own styles in ways that have allowed their work to mature so beautifully over time...
7) What are some of your favorite movies?
I have always been moved more by reality than fantasy in movies... especially epic human dramas. The Scorcese classics like Mean Streets and Raging Bull, Apocalypse Now and Coppola's best, Once Upon a Time in America, Deer Hunter, Drugstore Cowboy... and of course, Clockwork Orange, 2001 and the Kubrick greats too.
8) What music have you been listening to lately?
For all my involvement in hip hop over the years, I am still kind of a rock dude at heart when it comes to music... Hendrix is and will always be #1, and I went back and listened to all my Smashing Pumpkins and Guns N' Roses the other day... and they rocked.
9) Favorite car?
Hmm that's a tough one. I have a lot of favorites over the years (and I own 4 cars now) but at the moment my favorite is the latest one I bought a few months ago:
A 1991 Ford Crown Victoria Undercover Police Interceptor- it was originally a special order by the Connecticut Police Commissioner in a rare dark charcoal paint over grey interior. It is the very last year of the older "box" style which I always loved and is in as close to mint condition as you will ever find a real police model car of any kind.
10) Favorite marker?
Sharpies. It's all about the sharpie for everyday use... (and when it comes to bigger tags, it's the Posca wide tip paint marker from Tokyu hands.)
Haze is part of Stussy's World Tour Project. His tee drops this Saturday, June 3rd along with Futura, Revolt, Ease, Lyons, Elms and Ghost at Stussy stores around the world.
INTERVIEWS: JUNE 06