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In a scene that’s littered with ego, clashes and beef, meeting an artist who is so ridiculously humble, thoughtful and passionate about everything he does is a refreshing reminder that most artists are truly inspiring. But other artists aren’t quite like Pose: he belongs to one of the most influential graff crews in the world; his close friends are some of the biggest painters on the planet and he himself is one the most admired artists today. Meet Pose: artist, illustrator, graphic designer, creative director, filmmaker and badass dad…

I had a chat with Augor the other day, who told me that from a young age, he knew he would end up doing illegal shit for a living. What’s your deal?

Nice, yeah Augs is the fuckin man!

I hear that and probably felt sort of similar in that way, but mainly I just knew from a young age that I was sort of an alien and with no hope at being normal. Basically, I knew I was in for a ride and there was no use fighting who I was, just run with it.

Please describe your style in five words.

Aggressive. Ridiculous. Urgent. Experimental. Unapologetic. .

With so many artists in the scene, how do you differentiate your work?

Yeah that’s a tough one.  To be honest, I try never to think of it and just do me.  As long as I’m following my gut, motivated to get up in the morning and passionate about what I do, I know I’m winning already.  Competition in graffiti can be a really good thing and can push you to pull off insane shit in your formative years.

In my opinion, it can also act as a trap as you mature. For instance, I want my work and motivation to be coming out more from my experience, point of view and soul these days, rather than being a competitive response to what someone else is doing. I try not to get too hung up on another artist’s work at the moment, a current movement, or trend.  I just don’t want my work to be too influenced or driven by anything outside of myself. Also if I paid to much attention to what everyone else was doing, I’d probably end up wanting to jump off a bridge!

There are so many insanely talented and hyper productive artists out there now cranking out heat, it’s bananas. It would probably be paralysing to truly assess the competition. With that said, I am truly lucky and grateful that the majority of artists that I draw inspiration from, who I feel are pushing the movement to new plateaus, are in my crews and are my close friends.

Tell us about the hairiest moment you’ve had out there on the streets.

I don’t know if one stands out over the other. I will say that actively and competitively painting graffiti in the ‘90s in Chicago created an ENDLESS supply of hairy moments.  It was day in and day out.  Whether it was almost getting electrified by the third rail, getting chased through trains at knife point, jumping off 20 ft of elevated tracks at 7:30 in the morning on the way to school, getting shot at, getting hand cuffed and beaten by my city’s finest, falling through a four storey fire escape, etc, etc.  It was intense and constant to the point that it’s hard to choose the exact “hairiest”. Needless to say, the ‘90s as a whole trumped any chase, beef, cell, or raid I have been through since.

Can you tell us something about the graff culture that outsiders wouldn’t know?

I feel like graff is one of those things that can never fully be realised in theory, it’s only understood and theories are manifested through lots of action/participation.  Although it’s frustrating to give someone a full dissertation before they can understand, and they still don’t grasp a basic element or concept of graff, that’s also part of the inherent beauty of it.  It’s only obtainable if you put in your work and become a part of it. Most people who try to theorise, or toys who wave a graff flag but never painted, will never really get it.

You’ve travelled all over the world – do you have a favourite place to paint? Do you find some cities are more accepting of what you do than others?

Here are a couple of really fun ones in no particular order: Detroit, New Orleans, Barcelona, Florence, Kansas City, Montreal, New Jersey, Mexico City, Miami, Seoul.

Every city is more accepting than Chicago.

Where’s one place in the world that you’d love to paint, but haven’t been able to as yet?

I feel like far Eastern Europe, Russia and Brazil would be a lot of fun.

If you could live a day in the life of any other artist, living or dead, who would that be?

Probably James Brown, so I could wear a cape, dance my ass off and listen to myself sing all day but maybe on one of his days off, not sure if he ever took one, and also pre-crack.

Tell us about your recent exhibition, Whitewash. What’s the story?

For me it’s a timeless story about a kid, his city, his love affair with graffiti and his struggle with keeping it alive. But more to the point, it’s about the buff and the general public/authorities need to fear and suppress unsanctioned human expression.

I think people are always gonna be up in arms when it comes to graffiti and street art – it’s the sort of debate that will never die…and stuff like LA’s mural moratorium just adds fuel to the fire. What are your own thoughts on the debate?

I think as world citizens, we should be able to paint whatever the fuck we want on our property, other people’s property that want us to, and also people are going to paint on city property or property that they don’t have permission for. It’s self-expression, it’s human nature and it’s a necessary vital part of life.

Don’t get me wrong, in no way shape or form am I saying that graffiti is art or should be legal. Graffiti is graffiti and it being illegal is what makes it fun and powerful.  I simply feel like growing up in a world that is completely (white, brown or grey) void of any human expression is bleak and uninspiring. And will probably breed a bunch of bland, shitty, angry, boring people with less of an outlet to express themselves, not to mention that as if they pay taxes they are also paying millions of dollars a year for this “service” of eradication.

Basically, people should chill the fuck out, loosen up, stop being haters and let kids have fun. The world would be a better place and they would save a little money in the meantime. Instead we live in a physical and psychological police state.

What’s the best thing about KC Ortiz?

Contrary to the rest of the world, he is a man of very few words so when he does drop science you know it’s important.

And the worst?

Same as above, I am a compulsive talker, especially on road trips (it makes a trip from Chi to NY seem like a cross-town commute). A good conversation for me is like speed to a trucker, keeps you awake and makes the trip fly. Road trips with KC are brutal.  He’s perfected the art of one-word answers.

How do your art practices complement one another?

The funny thing is in practical terms, they probably don’t at all.  I still paint graffiti, or spend way too many hours in a studio, working on paintings or illustrations. He travels all over the world sneaking into countries, risking his life and having to eat rats and tree bark just to document peoples’ struggles.

In theory though, we both have been down some really crazy paths and struggled a lot to be doing what we are doing, so there is a commonality and mutual support in striving for our goals.

You’ve been described before as being a Jack-Of-All-Trades. What else can you do, apart from being awesome at painting walls?

Thanks! I think the “Jack-Of-All-Trades” thing pertains to adapting technically or stylistically to different creative challenges that present themselves. Whether it be with graphic design, illustration, film, graffiti, creative directing, painting, etc. But I’m also a badass father, and pretty righteous husband.

We Are Supervision is your creative agency, is that right? What do you guys do?

We do anything and everything creatively in order to fund our personal art careers, maintain a certain level of freedom, work with friends and above all never have a real day job.

It must be difficult to focus solely on one project at a time. How’s the balancing act for you?

I work with a great team and we’re sort of a family operation so everybody helps out to make sure we get everything handled. That said it’s always tough and there’s never enough time in a day or in a lifetime even, so the best thing to do is make sure you love what your doing, that way although you may be working all the time you’re never really “working.”

If you weren’t an artist, what would you be doing right now?

Nothing good.

What’s coming up for you in 2012? Anything you can tell us about?

Hmmm, man I’d love to spill the beans on some of the upcoming projects, but I have to keep it vague. It’s definitely going to be a big year!

More importantly, when are you and the other guys going to visit Australia?

I was supposed to come out a couple years back for the “clash of the titans” battle. I was real geeked for that one, but have lost a little steam on it since it went down hill. Ironlak has sponsored me since around 2008, you would think they would have a master plan to bring me out that way, hint hint.

See more on Pose at Ironlak or head to the We Are Supervision blog. For Pose’s own thoughts on a selection of works from Whitewash, check the slideshow at ArtInfo.

Images via Birdman and Fatcap