Interview with Graffiti Artist: Opi

1.    How long have you done graffiti?

About five years.

2.    Do you have an artist name? Why that name?

Opi. It’s a long story, but I got that nickname in sixth grade and it just stuck. It was based off a person that would smile a lot, and since I do, my friends called me that.

3.    Why do you do graffiti?

Well, I always thought it was cool looking. I started in eighth grade, but I gave up after a while because it was too difficult for me. Then in ninth grade I took an art class, which got me doing it again. I really enjoy doing it, it’s a great way to express yourself.

4.    Where do you get inspiration?

Good question. I’d have to say surrounding artists, music for sure (rock and alternative mainly), and it’s hard to explain that I also get random times of inspiration as well that just pop into my head. I’d have to say my main source of inspiration is from other artists because it challenges me to want to outdo their work.

5.    Have you ever done it on public property? Why/why not?

No, unless you want to call the side of my shed public property. I find spray paint to be incredibly difficult to work with since it drips a lot and it has its own technique. I can do an outline of a piece of art in spray paint, but doing the actual shading is extremely difficult. Plus it’s a much bigger canvas to work with.

6.    Where’s your favorite place to do graffiti?

I enjoy doing it most in my room, specifically on my art desk.

7.    Are there any unique places you do graffiti on? Why do you do it there?

I do it on canvases, shoes, and backpacks, but mainly on shoes. It’s fun to do it on these kinds of objects, plus it’s quick and unique. Shoes I enjoy the most since I can incorporate a lot of different little things on such a small canvas, but when I put it on a bigger canvas, it doesn’t look nearly as cool. I like the idea of people being able to wear a type of artwork, not just seeing it on walls.

8.    Do you have a special trademark in your graffiti—like a certain style—that makes it different from the others?

Well, apparently some other people do this, but I consider myself to have a specific style to it when I use a lot of colors. I also like putting a lot of a realistic touch to it.

9.    Is the graffiti you do symbolic in any way?

I wouldn’t say it’s symbolic, I just think artwork is a way to express yourself without saying words. I’m sure people that see graffiti art can find a kind of symbolism in it, but I don’t purposely put it in there.

10. What’s your favorite medium to work with? Why?

Tough question. I like working with black pen, but my favorite thing to use are paint pens. There are these certain paint pens that are designed specifically for artists, and I enjoy the brand molotow the most. It has a variety of colors and sizes, made of acrylic paint, doesn’t bleed or run, and it enables me to make finer details in my graffiti.

11. Do you consider certain types of graffiti (perhaps tagging) an insult to the type of graffiti you do?

No, not really. I think people just express themselves in different ways, so graffiti like tagging is just a different way of expressing it; it doesn’t really make a difference to me.

12. Why do you think some people don’t consider graffiti an art?

Well, I think nowadays graffiti has become more of a mainstream kind of art, so I think people are more accepting of it.

But I did this report just recently on graffiti, and I found out that in the 80’s in New York, graffiti was used more for social and political protests. In the past twenty years, though, it’s been adopted in a type of art form.

13. Do you do other types of artwork?

Sure, but it still has a graffiti-type feel to it. I’d have to say the things I do outside of graffiti that I enjoy are painting things like space, clocks, and I really enjoy including the earth the most. Around sophomore through junior year of high school I started incorporating a mix of realism in my graffiti, and ever since then I’ve enjoyed mixing those together.

14. Do you imagine art always being in your life?

Of course. I plan to start my own company of merchandise with things like shirts, shoes, snowboards, backpacks, and things like that.

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