29 December 2016

A Discussion With. Trip63 about Philippine Graffiti Scene and Carrot Bombing

Local movements can start their ascend mainly because of artists who garner a big audience. They are the "main individuals" that people look up to. But another vital role in a movement's growth is played by those who move behind the scenes. In terms of street art, these are the people who sell graffiti supplies, organize art shows and events, representing artists, among others. Trip63 falls on the latter, but that is no reason to think lightly of him. His position is a culmination of the stripes he has earned from being a graffiti writer for years. Besides, that is the name of the game, you only gain respect by putting your name up on walls. 

It was in 2008 when Trip63 started doing graffiti, thanks to his fascination for hip-hop music videos, movies, and The Source Magazine. His first tag name was Lextripp, then it became Lextripp63 to represent the Philippines via our int'l dialing code, which later changed to just Trip63. In July of 2010, he decided to put up a graffiti supply store, Carrot Bombing. He started selling Japan-made highly sought after Scotch Valve Caps. Afterwards, he also began importing other spray caps and spray paints from the US. His intent with Carrot Bombing is to make spray caps accessible for his friends, which quite explains his mantra for the store, "The customers are always wrong." 

Aside from Carrot Bombing, Trip63 also lends his hand in organizing events. One of the most notable is ArtBGC, where he handles the logistics for the spray paints, and is also involved in other facets of the said event. He is also the man behind the Philippine leg of Meeting of Styles, a gathering of graffiti artists held internationally once a year. He started handling the event three years ago when his friend who is behind the China leg of MoS offered him to take charge of doing it in the Philippines too. In addition, Trip63 also curates gallery shows, most recently "Letters from Manila." The  exhibit was held at Secret Fresh, Ronac Art Center. It featured 26 local graffiti artists who painted an alphabet letter assigned to them on a 1x1 canvas. To know more about him, check out our quick conversation with Trip63 below about the Philippine graffiti scene and his contributions to the movement.

"In order to grow the scene I have one tip, never stop painting."

Interview by David Villania, Photos by Earl Roxas

Why did you start making graffiti?
I just don't want to do the same thing common people do, I want to do things that are really not the norm. That is one of the many reasons why I paint. 

How do you describe your style?
To be honest, up until now I am still figuring out what my style is, but I think it's a never ending process of learning. I started with painting robot-like characters for the longest time but I got so tired of painting it over and over again. So I switched to painting a three eyed owl every time I don't do letters, and then switched again to painting flowers with eyeballs. I love the concept of overlapping images like how I do it with the feathers of the owl, the petals of the flowers, or the letters I use. I love to play around with the shadows and the highlights. I also love using oranges and blues on my pieces.

Can you share to us graffiti principles you follow? Like what kinds of walls do you paint on and don’t paint on. Do you feel the need for graffiti artists to ask for permission or not?
My only principle is to never stop painting. The best wall for me are walls made of bricks because spray paint looks good on those walls. I hate painting on raw and unfinished walls because spray paint doesn't nicely cover those walls. And about permission, it depends on what you want to do, if you want to do an intricate big production then there's no way you can paint on a huge wall if you don't ask for permission. Other than that I don't think you need to ask for permission.

Where has graffiti brought you?
Not all of the out of the country trips I had are graffiti related except for that invite from the Mural event in China last year. But its dope that I've painted at least once and met up with cool locals in Singapore, USA, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Thailand, and South Korea. There are always cheap budget air fares, so everyone should try and travel once in a while, it's always a good experience going out.

Can you share to us your most memorable graffiti moment?
Meeting and hanging out with the mighty TATS crew in Bronx, NYC.

What’s the hardest part in pursuing a career in art, in particular, street art or graffiti?
I don't know how to answer that question because I don't think I have a decent career on art, for me I just love what I do, and I was never affected on what the art scene is all about. I love being part of gallery exhibits with my friends, and also curating art shows for graffiti artists. But when it comes to graffiti in general, I think the hardest part is where to get funds to buy spray paint, haha!

What made you decide to pursue Carrot Bombing, and how do you think did it influence the local graffiti culture?
For me it's more of a playground, and at the time I created Carrot Bombing the first graffiti store – Blackbook, in Manila has already closed. So for me, I thought I had to step up so there will be someone who will supply graffiti supplies again. I'm like the armament of most of the guys from Pilipinas Street Plan – supplying paints for Egg Fiasco, Exld, Kookoo, etc. I was never a big influence in the local scene because Carrot Bombing was notorious for bashing customers over Facebook because I never gave a fuck if they want to buy from me or not. It was not all about the money for me with Carrot Bombing. It was more of helping my friends and the real graffiti-heads.

You have a shop in Ronac Arts Center, can you share to us its story? What do you look forward to now that Carrot Bombing has a physical space?
Back in 2012, I think me, Egg Fiasco and Quiccs decided to put up a store that sells graffiti supplies, has a tattoo shop, and is an art toy shop as well. Then it just so happened there was an available space at the basement of Ronac Arts Center, so we immediately grabbed the opportunity. It was cool seeing all these colorful paints on the shelf, it was so dope to realize that we have our own store already. I literally felt like, "wow, this is legit," haha!

You have lend your hand in organizing events such as ArtBGC and Meeting of Styles. Based on your experience, what are the improvements that you are looking forward to?
For Meeting of Styles I want to make it better and bigger each year. More organized, more free goods, and hopefully free paint for everyone.

Any other foreign artists that you wish to invite on future events?
There are so many talented artists from North America and Europe, but for me, I really want to invite all my Asian friends to come down to Manila and paint. The Asian graffiti scene is really tight, It would be dope if they can go here and paint in Manila.

Who do you think are the local artists today that are pushing the art form out here? Can you share to us some names we should keep an eye on?
There's always two sides of graffiti, the destruction side and the being creative side. When it comes to bombing and those illegal pieces, hands down to Nuno, Gnjr, Oust, Leak, Enjoy, Drone, Graver and MGR for holding it down, and not so new cats like Things, Daga, and Pagx are pushing it too. I give props to Bek in Cebu for holding it down for the Queen City. Then when it comes to ill handstyle, I give props to the boys of LHB crew. And when it comes to great complicated letter pieces, Xzyle, Sink, Nyce, and Dope will always be on the top of my list. For characters and crazy murals, Egg Fiasco and Exld are the best.

Do you think being with other graffiti and street artists is vital in growing your own art and craft? What advantages does one get in being part of a community of artists?
When I started painting, it never crossed my mind that I will be doing gallery exhibits, get commissioned projects, or create big murals. All I wanted to do back then was just to paint because it's fun, I didn't care how fucked up and ugly my pieces were. Being around with my close friends gave direction on what I do now, you can get a lot of tips from different artists that can help you progress. I am not as good as them but I'm trying my best to keep up, at the same time I learn a lot from them too.

Even with events such as Meeting of the Styles and ArtBGC, it is still quite hard for most people to accept graffiti as an art form. What else do you think should we do to grow the scene?
It's okay if it is not widely accepted, where's the fun in it if it will be the norm. In order to grow the scene I have one tip, never stop painting.

Lastly, how different is the current graffiti and street art scene nowadays compared to when you started?
I was not part of the first generation of graffiti writers, I was not even part of the second wave , I'm like 2.5th wave of artists. When I started there are so few people doing graffiti and we knew each and everyone by name and face, now there are so many writers. A lot developed their styles over the years – more complicated details, sick handstyles, dope throw-ups and writers are hitting sicker spots. So while the scene grew bigger, it also grew stronger now, which is really exciting. 


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