If you've spent any amount of time at all in East London, then you’re no doubt familiar with graffiti artist Tek33’s chunky, spray painted pitchforks. Asked what motivates the artist to “throw-up”, he explains that he does it for the buzz, that he has a passion for spray painting walls and not to getting caught, and that he has a deep love of graffiti art circa 1980's New York.
Recently, Londonist corresponded with the notoriously prolific Tek33. Here's our interview.
When did you first start making graffiti and how did you get into it?
I was a breaker in 85 (aged 11) and discovered graff through that, spraying “Break” and “Hip Hop” on my local fences. For my 12th Birthday on a Friday in 1986, I got a second edition press of Subway Art (by Martha Cooper and Henry Chalfant), and that was it: addicted for 21 years since.
"Tek33" mean anything?
My first tag was Jester. At the start of 1987, I chose Tech One. Then, I started one of my first crews, MWW (Mad Wild-Style Writers) consisting of Sketch (Mark Cheeseman RIP, I will never forget him) Idea, Shox and Scream. I used to visit the writers bench at Covent Garden in 1987 and got really inspired after meeting Robbo, Fura and Doze of WRH, also Set3.
In 1991, I started to spell Tek with the “K”. In 1995, I quit writing suddenly and unexpectedly until the autumn of 1999, when I thought ‘Why deny this urge and passion? Life’s too short. I am going to return to do one of the things I have always loved most in life - illegal writing.’ When I came back strong on the Northeast London streets for the year 2000, I wrote the number “33” and became known as Tek33.
What's up with those pitchfork/trident things that you paint?
Regarding the Trident/pitch forks, Eine had his Saba "S" throw-ups all over the West End/Soho in ‘89 and I was obsessed with them. I used to sit at home doodling replica Eine throw-ups. When I came back in 2000, I was looking at an old Cliff NYC subway panel and it had pitch forks like the trident but with a floaty Philip Guston feel. I developed my Trident symbol from that. Then I hit them up all over Northeast London, a touch of south but not really west.
Did you ever get caught or have any close encounters that you'd like to share?
Never been caught. But in 1993, a police officer grabbed me at Royal Oak, jumping out an unmarked car after spotting me tagging. He said ‘too late lad’ holding me, but I grabbed the road side rail, jumped up, ripping off my pocket as he fell over. I bolted fast down the canal and came out safe at Queens Park, minus my pocket on my parker.
Learn more about Tek33 at BeforeChrome.com
Photography appears courtesy of Tek33.