January 21, 2014.
AK: What do you write? Are you in a crew?
AM: I'm the Almighty Master Of Style AMOS from the FS, DTT & WGE fraternal orders of fresh.
AK: In what city did you start painting in the streets? Do you feel your work has influenced the community in return? If so, how? Is there a relationship between the artist and the community in which they work?
AM: I initially started painting the streets of Miami. As far as my work "influencing" the community, I mean, they're not changing the city logo because of me, but as far as the graff community, I see people using more patterns and prints in their work. Although, I didn’t invent the cheetah or zebra print, that’s God's design, so I can't take all the credit. I just incorporate that into my work. As far as a relationship, everything has a cause and effect. I've seen people walk by my work and take pictures and pose with my pieces and I've seen city employees/ business owners buffing stuff I've done, so, there's that.
AK: Did you go to school or are you self taught?
AM: I didn't go to school for art and there's no school for graffiti. I started "writing" when I was really young. But I consider the actual starting point of my graff career when I started writing AMOS which was 1994. I wasn't necessarily self taught either. I looked to the older more experienced writers in my crew for knowledge. But it wasn't a lot of "how do you do that?" or "what should I do here?" it was more observing what they did and how they did it. Because, for whatever reason, we never helped each other like that. No one ever did my fills or my outline. We always tried to burn one another. It was a kinda sink or swim mentality. We still try to burn each other every time we paint. Its competitive, but I think it brings the best outta people.
AK: How did you get started in the arts and why?
AM: My start into the "art world" was in 2004 when I did my first gallery show. I still have mixed feelings about that event. I was doing graffiti pieces on canvas and weird designs on mirrors and bullshit. I didn't do any "fine art" for the public after that. I just did graffiti canvases once or twice a year for friends mostly. It wasn't until 2012 that I started to do canvases again for the public and for sale.
AK: How long have you been working in the streets?
AM: I consider anything legal or illegal to be putting in work. Marker/paint tags, stickers, fill-ins, rollers, pieces etc., its all work. People who do this usually enjoy their work, but it doesn't mean its not work. All that stuff is a mission and requires time and effort. But to answer your question, officially since 1994.
AK: Who or What inspires you the most?
AM: EVERYTHING, EVERYONE. I look at a cinnamon bun and think "that swirl would be a dope fill." I watch Sponge Bob with my son and think "those colors are fresh together." I see a lady on the bus with a wild pattern on her dress and I think "how can I incorporate that into my work." Nothing is off limits and for me that's fun and liberating. I can do whatever I want, its mine.
AK: What should the general public know about street art? What stereotype about street art/graffiti do you hate the most?
AM: Street art is any art done in the city streets (ie. knitting stop sign poles, hieroglyphics on the side of buildings, graffiti). City landscapes have become the canvas for all types of artist now a days. THAT FACT, can be directly attributed to graffiti. We are the artists that have been doing that and that did it first. Now in saying that I know, for a fact, that some hard core, player, thug types are saying "Maaan, I ain't no muthafucking artist son! I'm a muufucking vandal yo!!" But you're not. You're a fucking artist. You're not going around town, traveling to different cities breaking windows, spray painting dicks on peoples cars, and then taking pictures of it, documenting your breaking windows & dicks on cars career. Be real. You've carefully picked or were given a name, you pick your colors, practice writing it and then risked your freedom to do it. The only reason you're a "vandal" is because it’s illegal to do your art on property that ain't yours. So relax guyyyyy, you're just a rebel artista.
AK: Are you a full time artist? Do you have a day job? Is it best to be full time artist or not worry about it and make your $$$ elsewhere, that way you can paint what and how you want, which one offers a more creative outlook?
AM: I am a full time artist and I have a job. Is it best to be one or the other or both is a personal question for each individual. Because you have a "day job" won't necessarily make you less creative or vis versa. I paint whatever I want. BUT, if you are a full time artist who just paints what people want and not your own flavor, I don't feel that’s a much of a career. It's all about creative freedom, then again, the almighty dollar dictates a lot of peoples motivation, bills, kids, responsibilities, lifestyle... you know?
AK: What are you working on now? (Please provide a photograph)
AM: Since 2013 I've been working on a series called "The American Experiment". Its a collection of canvases painted with spray paint, acrylic and liquid wax. I've extracted elements from my experience with graffiti combined it with a pop-fauvist color palette creating a fun retro futuristic feel. I use a variety of designs and colors and an equal amount space for each to coexist and hopefully compliment each other... like the concept of the social salad bowl that is America.
AK: What do you hope to achieve or accomplish by putting your work in the street?
AM: I use the streets as my personal black book. There isn't a design or character in my canvases that I haven't done on a wall or train first. The street keeps me humble. It reminds me that there is always more to do, more to paint, its never enough. The REAL satisfaction I get from painting in the streets is representing my crews. It's who I truly do it for. Every time we paint we definitely send each other fliks and talk about how lucky the other guy wasn’t there cause he woulda gotten BURNED!
Peace to all my crews and to the culture, and respect to those who show it,
Check out more of AMOS' work on Instagram