In 1987, ten year-old Revok boosted a can of red spray paint from his neighborâ€™s garage, traced the â€œThrasherâ€ logo, and created for himself a new after-school activity.
â€œI took it with me every day after school and sprayed these little â€˜Thrasherâ€™ logos at all the cool banks and curbs I could find in the area,â€ says the now thirty year-old Revok. â€œI had no idea what I was doing, why I was doing it… or what it would lead to eventually, for that matter.â€
â€œSomehow, through hard work and dedication to my craft, I have turned painting graffiti into a career â€“ go fucking figure. Anything is possible.â€
Itâ€™s unlikely that anyone could have predicted what would come of Revokâ€™s early penchant for spray paint. As a teenager in L.A. in the nineties, the now legendary artist only knew that the world heâ€™d stepped into offered excitement, and the feeling that to be part of the graffiti movement was to be bigger than oneself. He remarks, â€œThe nineties were fucking insane! It was a much bigger movement â€“ it seemed that everyone during that era wrote. And kids had much more heart. Stuff used to run for much longer and a lot hadnâ€™t been done yet, so everything was new and therefore seemed much more exciting.â€ At the same time, Revok negates the common notion that the nineties were something of a Golden Era of Graffiti. He notes, â€œThe standards for, and the means of getting up were not nearly as high [as they are now]. As a reaction to the constant progression of style and the efforts of the city to eradicate graffiti, graffiti has evolved tremendously.â€
Today, Revok is perhaps best known for his ability to paint high profile, hard to reach spots. Famous billboards, high buildings â€“ no location seems to be out of reach. However, getting up on a tricky spot means next to nothing if the work isnâ€™t worth looking at. Aside from his undeniable technical ability, Revok can count on the help of his crew â€“ the hugely talented AWR â€“ that includes the likes of Saber and Retna among other significant West Coast street artists to ensure works well worth looking at, however high above our heads they may well be.
Aside from the thrill that covering Murakami billboards must offer, graffiti gives Revok another form of satisfaction; the belief that passion and dedication make anything possible. â€œI suppose I represent something that is much bigger than graffiti, potential. Kids donâ€™t realize the power of self. Look at me; I am a high school drop out from a very modest background who has dedicated the majority of his life to writing his name on walls. I donâ€™t have a job, yet I live good â€“ real good, actually. Somehow, through hard work and dedication to my craft, I have turned painting graffiti into a career â€“go fucking figure. Anything is possible.â€
Anything must be possible, because the graffiti world today is immeasurably different than that of its beginnings. It has gradually become accepted by the mainstream as a legitimate art form. This fact, however, has not altered Revokâ€™s view of his medium. Of galleries welcoming graffiti he says, â€œHonestly, I am not so into the gallery experience, at least not at this point of my life. When I step up to a canvas or panel, my motivation to paint seldom steps alongside me. It is really a struggle for me to get in the zone when painting something that is not going to be part of the city. I get far more satisfaction from a billboard or a rooftop that runs a few weeks than a painting I spend a few weeks working on that lasts forever.â€
Clearly, this is one artist who will never sell out to the commercial art world: â€œGraffiti is my life. I breathe, eat, sleep, fuck, and shit graffiti. Iâ€™ve done ten times as much, ten times better than 99% of the people throwing stones… and you know what? Iâ€™m still doing it, with every intention of doing it to the grave.â€