Graffiti: Sketches + Pieces

I drew this in 1997 for my 1st graffiti piece. I used blue and purple pencil crayons for the lettering and yellow paint for the arrows.

I was really into graffiti back when I was in my senior years of high school (’95-’97).  I wasn’t into the tagging crap you see on mailboxes, I was into the full out colourful mural pieces.  Graffiti is generally thought of in a negative light because of the illegal aspects, but for me it was a very empowering art form.  It was a way for me to explore my own creativity because it has no boundaries.  I already had a huge appreciation for artistic and stylized lettering from my Dad who was a Hand Letterer/Sign Writer (I talked about this in a previous post), so being able to express myself through my own lettering was exciting.  However, not everyone was so encouraging.  I’ll never forget the time my high school art teacher exclaimed: “It’s not art if it’s not in the textbook.”.  Can you believe the close mindedness?!  Ugh, it’s insane.  That basically shuts out most art on this planet!  I remember how much her opinion completely frustrated me.  Thankfully my good friend Air33 (who was as much into graffiti as I was), teamed up with me and we went out to paint walls together.  Female graf artists are rare, so we stuck together, but we were usually not taken that seriously by other artists.  We weren’t looking for approval though, we were doing it for the fun of it.

I was heavily influenced by DAIM and LOOMIT, as they were both totally groundbreaking graffiti artists at the time. 3D lettering was sort of just emerging, and that was the style that I loved. Every single one of their pieces was totally mind blowing and inspiring. Each graffiti artist uses a fake name to identify themselves and write with. I chose the name STAR33. Stars are meaningful to me because they symbolize hope and guidance. Graffiti gave me artistic hope and inspiration. 33 is a special number in my family. 🙂


^ This is my very first piece ever! It was my first time spray painting, so I was getting used to using the spray nozzle (as you can see it’s quite messy). I found out fast that it’s hard to use if you don’t have strong hands. :S I had to change my initially planned purple to orange because we couldn’t get any purple spraypaint. 😛


^ I got to paint on this wall because I was chosen (along with 2 other people) as one of the winners of the Scarborough Arts Council Urban Art Mural Competition in 1996. Each of us were given a huge wall to paint in a dilapidated factory area of Scarborough that was visible from the RT line. It took many weekends in very cold weather to get it done. We were mentored by Sady, who was one of the Scarborough Graffiti greats. It was an amazing learning experience.


^ This was drawn for my 3rd graffiti piece. I wanted it to look shredded, and coloured like there were spotlights shining down on it. The very bottom of the letters spell out “MANICAN”, which was my brother’s B-Boy name at the time.


^ Here’s the piece in progress on the Keele wall in Toronto that is visible from the Bloor subway line. That’s AIR33 on the left and me on the right just before the cops showed up and stopped our progress before we could even get 1/2 way!  Haha. :S This pic is from 1997 (man, I feel old!) 😛 [Pic property of Air33]


^ Next up I did this mural for the North Toronto Memorial Community Centre (NTMCC) in 1997. They didn’t allow spraypaint inside the building (due to poor ventilation), so I airbrushed and hand painted the whole thing. I sketched everything out on paper first, then projected my sketches on the wall. Then I outlined the letters and characters with pencil, and from there I painted everything. It took a few months, because I only had a few hours to go there after school. My Dad helped me out tons on this project from letting me use his airbrush, projector, scaffolding and of course a few mural painting tips. Thanks Dad! 🙂


^Here are some of the (super shiney looking) characters. They’re supposed to look sporty since the mural is in a Community Centre. If you notice in the pic of me above, I’m wearing the same red shorts as my mural. LOL. I haven’t been back to NTMCC in years, so I don’t even know if this mural is there anymore. 😛

When I got into College I didn’t have any time left to do extra art on the side (they worked us like dogs!), so I stopped doing graffiti altogether.  :\  But I still totally love and appreciate the art form to this day!  If you want to see Toronto Graffiti (’96-’97) from lots of amazing artists, check out my photo gallery here.  My girl Air33 is producing a photography book called T.Oldskool, all about old school Toronto graffiti.  Keep an eye on her site because the book will be available soon! 🙂

Etsy: MOAR Mohawk’d Plush Deer in the shop!

It’s an invasion!  More yummy flavours of Mohawk’d Plush Deer are now available in my Etsy shop!

[On the far left] Blueberry Lime Fizz currently has the #1 single on the music charts in Deerville! She writes & sings her own music and loves to make sparkly costumes for her live shows.
[On the far right] Blueberry Grape Tartelette works for a decorating magazine as the lead designer. She has a good eye for sleek, modern and trendy design. The chic magazine you just read was probably designed by her! 😉
[In the middle] Strawberry Cupcake Deer works in a French Confectionery that makes the best sweets available in Deerville. When she’s not selling sugary treats, she likes to browse the local antique shops for treasures and afterward enjoys an afternoon tea at her favourite local cafe.

[On the left] Starlight Soda Deer runs the local observatory in Deerville. She is an astronomer and gazes out into the stars every night. She has discovered new galaxy’s and still wishes on shooting stars.
[On the right] Grape Tangerine Twist loves to go out dancing at Deerville’s hottest nightclub “The Roxy” and meet all the cute Does who are waiting for a dashing young Stag to ask them to dance. He loves to impress the ladies with all the hottest new dance moves.

In Progress: Deer + Kalua Moola + Etsy Shop Feature

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Thanks to everyone who entered my plush deer giveaway hosted on TokyoBunnie’s blog!  This giveaway set a new record on TB’s blog with 127 entries!!! Congrats to donelleohio who gets to take home a new deer. I plan on having a few more giveaways in the future, so stay tuned! 🙂
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Here are a few in progress pics of things I’ve been working on lately.  After spending weeks painting the Kalua Moola custom, I wanted to do some sewing again.  I’ve been working on 10 plush deer, and some of them will be hitting my Etsy shop tomorrow.  But for now, here are some in progress pics.

Body parts waiting to be sewn…

After hours of work, the deer are all sewn up. Now I decide colours for noses, eyelids and dots…

Lucky is unsure about the growing deer herd…

Here’s an in progress pic of my Kalua Moola custom.  I had just put sealer on his lower body which is why he’s drying upside down. 😉

And last but not least, I was super pleased to discover I was featured on Plastic + Plush’s Etsy Wednesday blog feature (09/09/09)!  Yay for little brown Ghostie!

Photos: Shooting with a 35mm Disposable Camera

These photos were meant to be in the A Million Little Pictures project, but I got sick and wasn’t able to get them in on time. 😦 The goal was to take 24 photos of a day in our life using a 35mm disposable camera, develop them, and send them off to the show. Even though I won’t be participating in the project, I’m still going to feature these pics on my blog anyways! 😛

{Alley way in Marina Del Rey} This is a typical street/alley through Marina Del Rey. You generally see surfers walking around in their wetsuits with their boards, bicyclists, and people walking their purse dogs around this area. The Venice Canals and the Pacific Ocean are both just around the corner.

{Urban Self-Portrait} I wanted to take a pic of myself in this urban landscape. I thought this would be perfect -- me surrounded by concrete and barely visible through the dirty glass and graffiti.

The project goal for AMLP was to take 24 photos of our life in one day. I had a ton of ideas for themes I wanted to do, but with the clock ticking I settled for taking photos around my neighbourhood. I decided to capture the things about where I live that is uniquely LA (or Californian) from my perspective. I’m originally from Toronto, Canada, and even though I’ve been living in California for almost 3 years now, everything still feels very “new” and “different” to me (isn’t that kinda silly?).

{Marina Market & Liquor} The signs in LA have such a retro charm with the type of fonts they use. I love the orange/blue/yellow/green in this pic. Someone had tied those balloons to the newspaper boxes (just out of the frame). I also want to point out that alcohol is sold in grocery stores here in the States (it isn't in Canada).

{Looking North on the beach in Marina Del Rey} Usually the smog is so thick that you can't even see the mountains. It's been exceptionally clear lately.

The camera that AMLP provided me with was a crappy disposable camera with regular 35mm film (and a piece of fuzz showed up on every pic — ugh).  Back in the day I used to shoot with film all the time.  In fact, I used to feel like I was practically the last person to convert to a digital camera!  lol.  But now that I’m so used to digital, going back to regular film was almost a strange experience for me. I like that digital cameras let me instantly check the photo I just took to see if it’s framed properly, what the lighting is like, etc, so I know if I need to re-take the shot again.  And I can take like a million pics with my 8gb card without fearing that I might run out of space. With regular film you get one chance… that’s it. Even pressing the shutter was so non-eventful. No sound at all.  Actually, I thought the camera was broken at first, lol!

{Shadows} It's so sunny here all the time that it tends to wash all the colours out.

{Trees in Hermosa Beach}

My friend Emud Mokhberi who is an amazing photographer insists on shooting with regular film. He let me shoot with his Leica MP once (with a Noctilux lens… ohh so awesome), and although it was a wonderful experience to shoot with such a gorgeous high-end camera + lens, I just can’t get past not being able to immediately see what my photos look like.  I guess I’m spoiled.  There is a lot of trust when you take pictures with regular film. You are forced to give the camera 100% of your trust that it will turn out just right. You’ll never know what your photos really look like until you get them back from the developers.  I found myself being way more picky about what I took a photo of, and feeling disappointed when I would see a great photo op, but my film had already run out.  And then the disappointment when film doesn’t turn out after all that work!  :S Despite my hang-ups, I still had a lot of fun taking these photos, and I’m glad I did, even if they won’t be on display with all the other participants at the Art House Gallery in Atlanta, GA. 😛

{Gate} I love some of the architecture here in LA, it's got such an awesome Mexican/Spanish vibe that we don't have back in Canada. That's a skull above the doorway!

{Pathway to home... for now.} This is where I live -- for the moment. I've moved around so much in the past 3yrs that this is just another glimpse of "home", for now.