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3D Graffiti

First of all, let me just say, yes, I am the originator of the popular 3D style of graffiti. Graffiti artists were always trying to get their pieces to literally “bounce” from the walls. Most every piece ever done up until mine in 1993 had similar formulas. The fill or fill-in, an outline and then some type of either frame, or framing background color. Shadow, usually a directional drop shadow that would give the outline of the piece more weight to appear more dominant and lastly a 3D which would also be a directional, usually 45 or 90 or 180 degree angles. These 3Ds were usually in another color from the actual piece, meaning they made the piece take more paint as well as time to do but all still were to give the entire piece the feeling of more weight.  

My original concept was to integrate the 3D, which had never been done before with the fill, to have both aspects of the piece compete for visual supremacy. No longer would my pieces be simply determined by fill and background, now background and dimension would attack into the fill ins.

Pre-3D Style Sample

I thought to achieve this I knew the first thing to go was the outline. To create depth I knew I could only achieve that with shading and highlighting and the outline of any piece was the single most important aspect. Its where you tighten everything. Its where you separate letters from backgrounds and so forth. So getting rid of the outline was my first “drastic” decision.

Next I had to draw the new outlines which for me, being old school and such begins always with pen/pencil on paper, (I didn’t get into computer aided graphics until the late 90s), next from the first drawing would come a series of vellum/tracing paper “revisions” where I would space the drawings out and give artistic graffiti life to the 3D. Meaning I had to consider the piece no longer as a flat surface with its own depth and dimension, but that the 3D, which again had always just represented that depth of the piece, would now, it certain areas actually become the piece.

So my letters would not be only surface level anymore, each letter would jump into the main foreground then slip or bounce back into the background and then other letters would weave through, each bounding from background to foreground simultaneously.

To me it seemed quite simple, a natural progression of the letter, to paint something that appeared to the viewer that was more real than other graffiti.

1993. the first 3D styled piece.

When I was painting trains (allegedly) I realized that style, skill, bravado, nothing mattered more than actually painting a train. Once people saw my name, frequently on the system, I kind of symbolically became a member of a different society of graffiti artists. I was shown a new “respect” lets say that I wasn’t afforded before any laws were broken(allegedly). I realized that you had to actually break laws to be part of a different grouping of people and once you were in, the feeling was intoxicating but sadly I came in at the graffiti hey day and watched it all fade away in just a few short years. That mentality permeates me as an artist still to this day and so while I was living very comfortably in Hollywood, painting murals on sets for the CBS series the Flash the idea of painting any free walls was already gone from my description. I was the first graffiti artist in the LA scenic artist union and my murals could be spotted just about anywhere on the Warner Bros. lot. It was an amazing and fun time for sure. Then I met a local graffiti artist, let’s call him Frame.

3D-style-samples

We became friends and the first thing he insisted I do in LA was paint a 3D piece. I had shown him the drawings, I had been playing with this style for a couple years already but had no desire to actually go paint one outdoors, in the heat of the downtown LA sun no less. (if you know LA you know downtown in 1993 was not what it is today, sometimes gentrification can be a very good thing) So my new friend “twisted” my arm and I only relented when he said, “you HAVE to paint this” and I remembered all my graffiti past again. He was right, it meant nothing if I had thousands of drawings of fabulous style! You had to execute it for it to be real and so there I was, on my day off, in the hot downtown LA sun painting a wall for free for the first time in years! My mood was probably somewhere between miserable to cantankerous so I must have been a joy to paint with but as always, once I get into a painting, I give my all, its in my nature. If I’m going to do anything in this life, I will give it my all, even if theres no pay, even if its hot, even if I think nothing will ever come of it. Well, something came from it. Today when I google 3D graffiti image thousands of magnificent paintings grid on up to my eyes and the more I scroll, the more proud I become that here is something I began, you cant even scroll down far enough to find any of my pieces and I did many because the graffiti culture, I found out later on was starving for something new, something to break the restraints graffiti style had put on itself!

3D-style-samples

Graffiti had become predictable, which is pretty crazy because it began out of sheer chaos! Artist would “collaborate” on walls together, meaning they would all share the same backgrounds but just like in Ghostbusters, never cross the streams! Graffiti became collaboratively territorial. That “I do my piece here and you do yours there and don’t bring your piece too close to mine” became the way of painting, I found it boring and was just about to turn my back on the entire genre, until 1993, downtown LA and a local artist, lets call him Frame, presented this opportunity to shake the game up again, just like the old days!

15/10/2014
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Miami
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He may be best known for his development of the 3D graffiti style that has influenced thousands worldwide to follow his technique; however, Vales, has a portfolio reaching far beyond what might be expected from a graffiti artist. Now a creative powerhouse, Vales has completed many successful projects ranging from large-scale murals, to art directing films and videos, fashion, photography to restaurant and nightclub interior design worldwide. His collaborations have placed him in the heart of Google’s NYC office and the surreal world of photographer David LaChapelle. He has also worked closely with video director Hype Williams, spanning his art across all mediums.

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