Q & A with artist Christopher Maslow
Do you write? Are you in a crew?
Yes and yes, however I'd rather not reveal too much about my graffiti persona on the web. I've been writing since 2003, though the past couple of years my focus has shifted from graffiti to street art and visual art. I rep The Cats Pajamas(TCP) and Vice City Rebels(VCR).
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?
I first discovered graffiti in the early 2000's when I moved from Florida to Los Angeles. Shortly thereafter I started painting in Los Angeles and Orange County with an inspired emphasis on West coast graffiti letter styles and detailed graffiti productions. For years I bombed and painted productions with other artists all throughout California and Florida. The productions specifically started gaining attention and before long I began taking on commission jobs painting murals and signs, both private and public. Later in 2009, I relocated back to Florida and began spending more time making art in the studio. Although, I was still regularly painting graffiti. I began feeling the drive to combine the two approaches to my art making and decided to paint my fine art on a larger scale in some public murals. These public works undoubtedly influenced the community through the communication of my concept and the public's interpretation of my finished work. While painting these murals I formed brief relationships with the local community but after the artwork was completed, I was gone and the artwork remained. The artwork continued to cause reaction within the people in my absence and transformed into a new kind of relationship, one that is purely through the intentions and execution of my artwork and those that experience it visually. This relationship will last through duration of the murals lifetime.
Did you go to school or are you self taught?
I attended school for product development and clothing/graphic design. However I have always been self taught in hands-on-art-making like painting and sculpture. I mostly learn by trial and error or by asking questions of friends in the know. Experience and curiosity can often be the best form of education.
How did you get started in the arts and why?
I was always drawn to the arts and was moderately skilled as a youth. When I was 14 I started painting on surfboards and was offered a part time job doing so. At that moment I was initially introduced to art as a way of making money. As I continued, I realized that I enjoyed painting more than just about anything and at that point it seemed natural to pursue art as a career.
How long have you been working in the streets?
I have been painting graffiti for more than 10 years. I've been painting public street art murals for the past 4 years.
Who or What inspires you the most?
I am inspired by nostalgia, symbolism, and objects of beauty, nature, wildlife, pop culture, and societies social issues. I am interested in duality and re-appropriation. Travel and change also provide me with new perspectives and inspiration. I am drawn to those that possess dedication and strong work ethics in their chosen field and I find appreciation in attention to skill and craftsmanship.
What should the general public know about street art? What stereotype about street art/graffiti do you hate the most?
I believe that the general public has no clear definitive understanding of the difference between street art and graffiti. They simply think it is all the same. Graffiti is an act of vandalism, meaning defacing someone else's property without permission, whether it be a written message, name, or symbol/character. Street art on the contrary is nothing more than public art. It is done with permission and often funded, it is not a criminal act. Since I define street art and graffiti in this manor I don't allow myself to form opinions about the common stereotypes. They are two different things, only overlapping in the tools used and the likelihood that most street artists were at one time or still are graffiti artists.
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?
I am a full time artist, no day job. I'm involved in several aspects of the business, from personal projects, commissioned works, and curating/selling other artists work. The variety helps keep things interesting and provides constant evolution, which I personally prefer. For me this scenario works for well my creative drive.
What are you working on now?
I am currently working in the studio on a new painting series. In the next couple of weeks I will be starting a new mural in downtown Miami, and next month I will be curating a show at Viophilia in Wynwood Arts District with one of Miami's most prolific graffiti artists. Please stay tuned...
What do you hope to achieve or accomplish by putting your work in the street?
The arts are a powerful form of communication. The right piece in the right neighborhood can provoke change, whether that change is a cleaner street corner or an increase in property value. I believe a symbiosis occurs between the artist and the community when a mural or work of art is displayed publicly and I am interested in further exploring the cause and effect of that experiment.
Thanks! Check out more of Christopher's work...