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After a great trip to Paris, I am back in the 206. While the focus of the vacation was not on photography I was able to snag some pictures of what France has to offer. While what I saw was consistently interesting and of a high quality, I found it to be a little underwhelming. It was not at all the mecca of street art that I had prepared myself for and seemed to be more concerned with its status regarding “high art” than more accesible forms of art like graffiti.
About a year ago we hit up local writer EXILER in the hopes of getting an interview. A year later we opened up our Flickr mail to find the reply…
I write Exiler Oner, Exiles, Exilious, De Uno Xeezy. I’ve represented TFS, MLR, TNK, BHL and MUL/H2O crew out of Chicago. I started writing in 1996 under a different alias and changed to Exile in 2001 after getting caught. I grew up around a dope collection of older writers in the Seattle area during arguably the best period of graffiti in the Northwest, back when DVS TITS BTM TFS KYT DTC 4DC and INI ran shit.
I was born in Indiana, raised in the 206. I went back to the Indianapolis/Chicago area for about 7 years and painted a lot of freights and transit during that time. Now I’ve been back in the Northwest for almost 3 years. I love it out here. I love it anywhere though. Everywhere I’ve gone. I’ve written graffiti. You can find clues of my presence from Key West to Miami. From Jacksonville to Atlanta, to Nashville, Chicago, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Portland and of course Seattle/Tacoma area.
Originally I was influenced by my friends and by my crewmates. SNORE was a big influence over the initial early years of bombing for me. I got a lot of my throw up ideas and original tag styles from him. I still look at his shit today and trip out on it like, wow. Kids are just NOW trying to emulate what he was doing back in like 2002-2003. Kread taught me the rules of the game (how not to get caught) and opened my eyes to piecing and also later to looking beyond the graffiti. Seds will always be one of my biggest influences and all around heroes whenever I think about how graffiti should be. You know, versus the bullshit it’s become today. Painting for yourself, for your friends, because that’s what we love to do. Paint, and break the law, and have fun with this shit. Not because it’s cool and it goes well with that MTV skater/Hipster hip-hop counter culture. In later years my MUL homies really got me beyond a stagnant period in my growth and development, introducing me to transit, and taught me a more militant style of bombing and executing real high profile spots. TOKEO and GREVE brought me up in the later years on piecing and character work. MERC was my GOTO guy in Chicago …and ETHER got me hooked up into the subway game down in places like Atlanta and all that. But I’d have to say ESAY MUL was my truest bombing partner around the early to mid 2000’s. LOSTER TFS has always been down to ride too. If anyone were ever really in the car with me, I’d have to say it was them two. Lately DEAL TNK TITS has been a good friend and proven himself to be the truth over the years when it comes to being a good person to paint with and all around solid artist. Overall right now I’d have to say REN ONE TNK TFS BHL is my truest partner in crime. I’ve gotten a lot of love from dope artists around the world, but everyone just hates. Everyone else is still standing in that long long line that wraps around the block and never seems moves an inch. Just waiting for their chance to hate on X for the fame or just something to do I guess. Jealously or boredom? You decide. Hahaha.
As far as who I see coming up? I think Ether/Utah have been setting the bar again and again for the world standard. I like seeing Hindu freights when I’m out benching, which I’ve been known to do. Chaos out of Detroit is looking good right now. Umm, Vizie’s always nice to see. But as far as younger writers I don’t really pay too much attention. I’ve seen em come and go thousands of times over the years. You know. What impresses me most is dedication. Over many years. If I’ve seen you up since before 2003 you’re ok with me. Also if I see you everywhere. And not just all-city or state, but if you got fillins in major cities from coast to coast AND lil scribes at rest areas in Wyoming. And then freights and subways too. YOU HAVE TO HAVE SUBWAYS or you’re not a REAL graffiti artist. There I said it. haha. Northwest it’s harder to find good transit though so I’m not as critical up here. Oh, and cats who can get loose with it and have fun doing shit other people might be scared to do because its not trendy enough at the time or takes too much thought and everyone needs to STOP biting SNORE! Please. lol
Legal walls are cute. Haha. Naw legal murals are a big part of graffiti, and some of them are out of fucking control with style, but as much as I love permission spots, which I’ve done from coast to coast, it ain’t graffiti. Sorry. As for the police, they’re just the biggest haters, you know. But they can’t stop graffiti. No one can. There will always be legal and illegal public art. RETNA is dope and good friends with my boy KREAD. Damn shame if police are shitting on walls like that. Shit is history to me, just as much as an OZE 108 fill in on a delivery truck in the Bronx is. Or an ESC outline in a subway Tunnel in Chicago.
I don’t believe in this graffiti writers can’t have success bullshit either. If they sell out and its corny, like COPE2 making it in the galleries and then turning around and cutting his own throat, in a manor of speaking, by dissing ‘E’ and Utah on the internet and dropping government names because he’s jealous of the new kings, then its over. But who said some one who does graffiti has to only do hardcore illegal shit, and cant get some legitement recognition for what they do. Graffiti writers are people, with lives and families, just like everyone else. We all want to make money. We all want success. If you don’t you’re probably lying to yourself. Think beyond the graffiti. That’s what Kread told me once. You can go around getting up everywhere, for a couple years, get into some “dope” crews and feel all cool like yea yea, but then what?? You know. Everything I’ve done with graffiti has been a stepping-stone to something else. Hopefully something that betters me, my family, my outlook on life, and eventually maybe even my career. Jails only fun for so long, you know. Shit gets old. Getting up for the sake of getting up never gets old, and in some ways it does. Feel me.
So good for the Seventh Letter. Good for Ether and Utah. Good For Seen. Etc etc..Get that money hall o famers! Haha.
I paint because I love to paint. I love to rack paint and I love to buy paint. I love to walk or drive around finding spots to hit and then gather my cans up and go execute my plan. I love the process of painting itself. It’s my therapy. Aaaand inhaling all those fumes I’ve been breathing in over the past 15 years may partially be the root cause of my need for therapy in the first place, hahaha. So it’s a vicious cycle I guess. I like to hit the hall o famer spots, but more over I like hitting spots no ones ever hit, and I like pioneering spots. I’ve just been getting sick of spot jockers lately. Since when is cool to see my shit riding safely for months and then get it buffed with YOUR slop? Oh well, right. If it were meant to be there forever it wouldn’t be graffiti. So in finishing I’d like to say buff me, diss me, go over me, or side bust me, I’m still out here, painting because that’s what I love to do, and I’m not going anywhere. I’m not going to stop doing this shit anytime soon. OK?! Haha Hollar at everyone I respect in the game; SNORE KREAD ROAR SOLAR LOSTER RUNES SYE 5 DEAL ROLER NOBLE REN ONE ESAY ACERO KAVIS GREVE MERC C3P0 ETHER BEAST SILOUETTE PRICE GOTUE METUE TAHOE YOSHI SEEDR TOKEO MALVO READ MORE BOOKS, AND TO EVERYONE ELSE I FORGOT ALONG THE WAY…RIP SEDS RIP PLUS ONE RIP HEIST RIP ESC!
Thanks again to EXILER for this and for his work along the Left Coast.