With Codak nothing is clear about the writing on the wall. â€œItâ€™s stretched and constricted, subtle and bold, structured and loose, organic and graphic, and open to interpretation,â€ says the 19-year street art vet of his work.
In an art form that relies on destruction for creation, contradictions are a given. Codak is no exception. He refuses to fit nicely into one category.
â€œSimply put, I am an artist,â€ says the man whoâ€™s left his mark on urban landscapes from Portland OR to Memphis, TN. â€œWhen people call me a graffiti artist I think, yes I am, but there is so much more that I do.â€
A product of artistic parents and a formal education in graphic design, Codak has his hand in many mediums. â€œMy whole life Iâ€™ve been around art, from modern art, design, illustration and finally to graffiti,â€ he explains. He categorizes his works into street, canvas, illustration, and design. The latter â€œputs the most food in [his] stomachâ€ but they each carry their own appeal.
For Codak itâ€™s all interrelated anyway. â€œI totally think design is extendible to street art. We can already see it happening. Graffiti plays greatly upon the notion of color, composition and placement which are some of the key factors in good design. I went from thinking how to compose my letterforms on a wall to how to compose text on a page.â€
As for his wall compositions, the writing may be angular and structured but the process is dynamic. â€œAlmost all of my art determines itself in the process; the structure side comes to me as I go.â€ While some of it comes from past sketches heâ€™s done, much of it flows from the environment heâ€™s in. â€œIf itâ€™s laid back my stuff ends up more flowing and colorful. If itâ€™s tense and time sensitive it ends up more dark and sharp.â€
Codak comes up with titles for his work in the same way he defines himself as an artist. He doesnâ€™t. â€œI find every time I try to predetermine a title the work never ends up filling its shoes. It will give me a title when Iâ€™m done with it.â€
Integrity and intensity are how he qualifies his art and himself as an artist. But Codakâ€™s art also has to pay the bills. With the growing demand for graffiti in the commercial world, he has learned to tread cautiously.
â€œItâ€™s always going to be a conflicted question with most artists. To a degree I want to keep myself open to the idea of working on projects for major companies. However there has to be a balance, you have to find a way to make the money and reinvest it into yourself/your work and be able to maintain your artistic integrity.â€
Codak is trying find that balance in his upcoming project L*E*A*P*F*R*A*W*G, a clothing line starring his trademark Dart frog. â€œIâ€™m just seeing what I can do to help promote my work and make clothes that people would want to wear,â€ he says, bridging the gap between consumerism and art.
The Dart frog is fitting. The amphibianâ€™s contradictory characteristics are what appeal to Codak. â€œI was struck by the simple delicate nature of this little frog,â€ he says of the image he came across while researching another project several years ago â€œAlthough brightly colored and beautiful, the Dart frogâ€™s skin secrets one the most venomous toxins in the world.â€