SKAM is a versatile artist that hails from Toronto, a.k.a. the Screwface capital. He represents the old school ethics of the city, having fully embraced the rawness of graffiti writing since early days in high school, circa 1990. Â After over 15 years in the game as a writer, SKAM has hosted numerous solo art shows, has been a member of the internationally recognized B-Boy crew “Bag Of Trix” and often works in the film industry adding his throw ups and murals to movie sets.Â Heâ€™s also opened up a Toronto branch of the very fine Vancouver based custom-sneaker and street-wear shop known as Livestock.
â€œwhen I entered college my portfolio was strong enough for me to skip right in to second year Graphic Design, when I was only 17 years old!â€
Format: Iâ€™ve seen Scam with a C and Skam, with a K. Whatâ€™s going on?
SKAM: I had the name Scam/Skam even before graffiti. In 1997 I decided to change things up and rock a few pieces with a “K” in my name. The letter “K” just has better dynamics in the letter form than in a “C.” I have painted thousands of “SCAM” and “SKAM pieces in the last 17 years!
Format: What do you love about writing?
SKAM: I love everything about writing, all the aspects, from bombing to piecing to large productions. I’m into a lot of different things, but nothing compares to graffiti writing. Itâ€™s the rawness and the realness about graffiti that Iâ€™m in love with. We do art with non-conventional mediums and we do it illegally at times. I also love the history behind graffiti writing and the hip hop culture that stems from it.
Format: Do you still do any illegal writing? Do you worry that youâ€™re work is too recognizable for that?
SKAM: I occasionally do illegal work, mainly when I’m in a different city, or when writers visit from another city. Itâ€™s always fun doing “silvers” under bridges or trackside spots. In the early to mid 90’s you couldn’t go to Toronto without seeing my tag, I was all city. I had so many tags and throw ups back in the day!
Format: How do you feel about doing commissioned work? Is there a line that sometimes that should not be crossed?
SKAM: I do commissioned work as long as I have artistic freedom and the company or person I do work for is legit. Commissioned work is great. Itâ€™s always dope to get paid for what you love to do!
Format: Do you have any favorite fonts?
SKAM: Helvetica is my favorite font. I come from the pre-computer era, when I was studying graphic design in college from 1990-1993. We had to do everything by hand , the real way. I learned a lot about typography from a book called Designing with Type. Every O.G. designer knows about that book.
Format: You have a good handle on rendering and shading and your wall murals often have a painterly essence to them. Did you study art formally at any time in your life?
SKAM: Iâ€™ve been in art school all my life. My high school (Central Tech) had the best art school in town. It was so advanced and I learned so much, that when I entered college my portfolio was strong enough for me to skip right in to second year Graphic Design, when I was only 17 years old! Art school really helped me in my graffiti.
Format: What kind of things are on your mind these days?
SKAM: Well I think about the relationship between streetwear and graffiti these days. Streetwear is huge nowadays, and I have been in the streetwear industry for the last 12 years as a buyer and most recently opened my own boutique called “Livestock” in Toronto. Also painting graffiti murals for music videos and movies.
Format: Whatâ€™s Livestock all about?
SKAM: Livestock is a sneaker/streetwear boutique that originally opened five years ago in Vancouver. I opened Livestock in Toronto almost two years ago. We are a very diverse crew with passion not only for sneakers and fashion but also skate, snowboard, BMX, fixed bikes, graffiti, B-boy, art, and design.Â You can check out our site at www.deadstock.ca.
Format: How do you feel about hip hop these days?
SKAM: Real hip hop is dead these days and wack hip hop is making millions. Itâ€™s really sad.
Format: What do you like about graff right now? Anything you donâ€™t like?
SKAM: I like how I can get good paint in Canada now! I’m talking about Montana GOLD, MTN, Belton etc. It was really hard for us to get good quality paint and colors here. I also like that I can make a living off of what I love to do. What I don’t like is how a lot of new school writers don’t know their history, some even write famous names.
Format: You have so many fans out there on the streets. What is your advice to new up and comers?
SKAM: Respect the old school, know your history. You should master a straight letter before you try doing connections in your letters or wild style. Above all else, be true to the game.
More Info: www.skam.net