I have some EXCITING NEWS!!
The Girls on Top (the UK’s first all-female graffiti crew) are coming to NYC for group exhibition at bob bar this MAY (see bob bar page)!!! So, to hype you all up for the show, I thought I’d share an interview I did with Chock—one of the crew’s founders—in April. So, enjoy your reading and get to know the girls (or, ya know, one of them!) before they get here!! Hope to see you for the opening reception on Tuesday, May 21st, 2013 at 7PM!!
Jess: How’d you choose “Chock” for a tagname? And what crews do you rep?
Chock: I chose it as I wanted a feminine name, but I really liked chocolate! I always used to paint the O as a heart. GOT THC BRS and United Artists thanks to Duster.
Jess: Care to share your 9-5?
Chock: I’m a full time artist. I teach workshops and paint commission mainly. I am also into public sculpture and hope to get that underway with regards to commissions this year. My workshops are in schools and other community centres. My company is called Paint My Panda.
Jess: Writing for how long and how did you get started?
Chock: 15 years. I was a skater as a kid and always saw graff a lot didn’t think to do it until I went interailing with my boyfriend of the time and the whole continent was smashed! Thought I have to do some of that and got on with it at the age of 17 . ~I was a rubbish skater anyway.
Jess: When did you get down with GOT and how did it happen?
Chock: I started the crew with another girl (NED) in around 2000 cos we were both bored of being the only girls, it was just for fun and she stopped writing, I kept it on because it is boring being the only girl and most of the male writers I have met are not gentlemen!
Jess: What particular aesthetic do you bring to the table and how does that differ from the rest of the crew (if it does)?
Chock: My style is usually very bold and colourful. I lack on the finer details like Cry can bring with her portraits cos my eyesight is shit! I used to have to get people to tell me if anyone was coming in yards, I swear I see fuck all without my glasses! I like to paint cartoons and silly animals too and take pride in my letters. Sabe paints tattoo styles, luna is illustration, cry is photorealistic portraits and 80s style letters, pixie paints cartoony stuff, punish paints calligraphy styles and neo nita paints crazy neon monsters J
Jess: Do you think there is a relationship between hip hop and graffiti?
Chock: There is deffo a relationship. I love hip-hop music I also love loads of other music. We try to post dope females in art music and dance on our blog along with our own work.
Jess: What is hip hop?
Chock: A way of life, a subculture, a style of music, dance and art
Jess: What new trends or types of graffiti are you seeing?
Chock: Photorealism has been around for ages now over here, I see the fine art styles coming through more deffo in my work also as I did study it graduating in fine art sculpture in 2001.
Jess: What do you think about graffiti culture being online, does it change anything?
Chock: It helps people all over the world communicate, it’s a good thing but don’t put your train stuff up cos its hot! You can get famous quickly from all that but also get busted. Over here so many people go to prison for it and that type of stuff is used as evidence against them- don’t boast on the net! I spend a lot of time on here as I work as an artist as use it as a promotion tool, Facebook and other sites have helped me get work and be known for the projects I run over here.
Jess: Tell me what you know about women in graffiti history.
Chock: err…Barbara and eva 62, lady pink, mickey…Martha coopers pics… we are under represented in the main but maybe because we are unique. Not many girls can do what we do due to family pressures or no desire to get so dirty and poor!
Jess: Do you think graffiti reflects, represents or retools your identity in any way?
Chock: It rebuilt my identity, it allowed me to change things in my life, relationships, jobs, situations I didn’t like and create what I wanted to do and be and allowed me to surround myself with people who inspire me not drag me down.
Jess: Do you think of yourself (and your work with GOT) as feminist? What is feminism?
Chock: For me feminism is just belief in ones self. Not allowing shit you don’t like to happen to you and being proud of who you are as an individual.
Jess: What does the word “community” mean to you?
Chock: The people around me. I do lots of community work and charity painting projects. Everyone’s actions affect each other and it is important to engage with people around you to create a better future for everyone not just yourself. There are many people worse off than you.
Jess: Can you tell me the history of GOT (how has GOT changed over the years?, who are the members?, etc.).
Chock: GOT was started in 2000 by myself and NED in Manchester, we drifted apart as she stopped painting and I carried on in other crews in London. I got on the graff girls site [RIP GraffGirlz.com] and started meeting girl writers (akme, numi) to paint with again which was cool cos I really had been the only girl painting for time, there is no one in my area at all who does it! I met up with a mates girlfriend called mira we did some pieces and some bombing together and I put on a jam at stockwell, London in 2007 and put akit, luna, Claudia de sabe and lyns in the crew too; did more jams in 2009, 2011 and 2012 and have now got a nice 7 person line up of Chock, Luna, Sabe, Pixie, Punish, Cry and Neo Nita. The jams are a cool chance for us to get together and jam basically, its not a sexist thing cos we want some boys come down too but its mainly for us girls cos we need support we don’t get from lads. Not all of us have great boyfriends!
Jess: GOT is a “Female graffiti crew started in 2000 to help unite the females in graff world” according to Facebook…can you elaborate on what prompted this? What it means to you? Why it is important?
Chock: As I said its just about friendship really and a love of graff, life is dull on your own
Jess: Do you work collaboratively with other crews/collectives, magazines, or websites?
Chock: Not so much yet the crew is looking to do more of that this year and onwards really we have done a few bits with COP and put the jams on so we can all meet up with other girl writers but the scene is not massively strong over here still its very much in the minority, there are many female artists and illustrators but they don’t love the can so much.