Q & A with 'Ache', a local graffiti artistPosted: December 10, 2009
Have you seen a large “ache” around the city? I am not talking about some etching, haphazardly spraypainted word, or a sticker, but a fairly large “ache”. They pop up on bridges, train cars, but mostly roofs- places highly visible by el riders. I sat down with the street artist behind this word recently for an interview. As far as graffiti artists go, Ache is a relative newcomer just shy of two years under his belt.
Why did you get into graffiti?
Well I hate the world we’re in today, I guess you could say it’s my way of voicing my opinion against being… normal? And doing what everyone else says we should do. Go to school, go to college, get a degree, get a job, put on a suit, and I hate all that. I am choosing to do otherwise.
So your graffiti is a protest?
In some way, definitely.
Why do you prefer doing rooftops?
I like doing rooftops off the train lines because I feel like the commuters definitely need something cool to look at, something interesting, that they’re not used to, something in your face that you can’t look past. I’d rather do the train lines than anything.
Why do you prefer spraying graffiti, to say sticker or paste art?
It’s bigger for me, and it’s definitely more noticeable than a sticker on a sign. Taking up a whole wall, people are going to walk by and really notice it, and it’s going to effect them, how they’re thinking about things. I want to change people’s thoughts just for one second. If they notice something for one or two seconds of the day, then I’ve done my job.
How long does it take you to write?
It depends on if it’s streetside, or a rooftop- If it’s on a streetside, I can do an outline and a fill in about a minute, a minute and a half, for something moderately sized. You have to be fast if you’re doing it on the street.
Do you have a favorite color you like to use?
Chrome. It’s really popular with writers, actually. It’s easier to fill with. It seems to spray a bit differently than a lot of other colors. If you’re trying to get it done as quick as you can, chrome is the way to go I’d say.
Has anyone influenced your style?
As much as people want to say they weren’t influenced and they came up with their own style, all style is from something or someone. My influences are T-REX, Morgan, Wyse and Temper. Looking at their stuff makes me want to do something with mine, and change the way it looks. All those guys are pretty big, really talented artists, and I definitely look up to them a lot and I strive to be as good as them.
Are you in a crew?
I am not in a crew, but I would like to be in one in the near future. Right now I am looking to see where I fit in, since I haven’t been doing it that long. I’m doing my thing and waiting to get noticed by other crews. I have friends in different crews, and I had a smaller crew with a couple of friends. It was small and we made it up, it wasn’t anything important and it died shortly, but it was the Acid Trip Vandals.
Are there any challenges or dangers in doing graffiti, besides the obvious?
It’s very dangerous to go into any neighborhood in the city and just start spraypainting. You don’t know who’s not going to like it, going to do something about you doing something to their property. It’s a giant risk. I used to live in a really bad neighborhood on the west side and painting graffiti around there is very difficult. You could get shot at any given time, any random time. You get run up on, jumped. It’s not a good thought, but you gotta clear your mind when you’re doing it.
Have you had any rows with other street artists?
No. I have a lot of respect for other artists. There are set rules about going over other people’s stuff and I try to follow them. I don’t want to start any beef. I know there’s some kid going around lining out stickers with a sharpie marker. Lining out thousands of stickers with a sharpie marker. That is not acceptable, and he needs to face his punishment.
Have you ever gotten caught, or had a close call?
One time, after painting the roof of the Logan Square mega mall on Milwaukee, I was climbing down with one of my friends, off of some electrical pole, and the security guard comes out of his little box house, and he started to chase us. We didn’t know there was a security guard at all. Where he was at he was in clear view of where we climbed up and what we were doing, but apparently he must have been sleeping or something, and as soon as we got off the roof he started to chase us. He chased us for 2 blocks, and he was a heavyset man, so it was really no match. That’s one of the closest calls I’ve come across. I’ve never really been messed with coming down from a roof. If you play it right, you just walk away and nothing will happen. I try to avoid running because it tends to draw attention and people will want to know, they’re nosy, ‘why is that kid running? I’m going to watch, and follow him.” But in some circumstances running is necessary, and the only way to get away.
Do you have a particular neighborhood you like to tag?
The neighborhoods you do it in tells a lot. Someone can look at it and be like, oh, this particular writer is from this neighborhood, just because you see a lot of them in that neighborhood. Right now I am working on getting up all over the city, basically, so everyone has a chance to look at it. Whether it’s in Pilsen or Logan Square, or in the worst neighborhoods on the west side, they’re all the same. They’re all brick walls. They’re all flat rooftops. It doesn’t affect my decision over whether I want to paint this particular roof or not.
What are your thoughts on Chicago’s buffing program?
I see it as graffiti in and of itself. They’re going around applying paint to a brick wall. It may have already been defaced, but they’re doing graffiti just as much as we are.