For this month’s artist spotlight, Duboski Art Collab sat down to speak with graffiti writer, ISSUE, to talk about his style, inspiration, and the Los Angeles graffiti scene.
By Monica Duboski
June 21, 2020
A native Los Angeles graffiti writer, ISSUE has had a consistent presence on the LA landscape since the late 1980s. As a member of multiple graffiti and DJ crews including GOMD, ETB, The Rolling Sevens, The Mad Inch Crew, and Uptown Boogie, ISSUE, now a family man in his early 40s, tells us that he started writing because it was a natural extension of the hip hop, punk, and boogie music that he loved. He tells us, it was “cool and fun” and “just part of the culture.”
In fact, he reveals that his signature style and the colors he uses are “one hundred percent” an homage to the boogie/funk iconography of the 70s and 80s, as he regularly employs heavy doses of neon pink, purple, blue, and yellow in his work. As a passionate vinyl record collector and DJ, ISSUE regards his turntablism and graffiti aesthetic as his personal contribution to the greater LA hip hop music culture. He says that while he may not be musical in the traditional sense, this is his way of adding to the unique, yet ever evolving, body of hip hop.
When it comes to his preferred canvas (so to speak), ISSUE says there is nothing better than catching trains and going to work. He states, “I like to know that it keeps moving. If you’re lucky enough to not get your worked buffed, it can last so long… it’s such validation.” He shares that the idea he loves the most is that not only does his train work have the potential to span the entire country, but that its visual impact is greater today than it ever was, largely in part to social media platforms. For ISSUE, seeing his artwork on a train is the ultimate way of saying, “I am here, I was here, you know what I mean?” But now, when others see his work benched in faraway cities and towns, they can snap, post, and hashtag, strengthening and broadening both the physical and virtual space of graffiti writing.
Humble, unassuming, and easy to speak to, ISSUE tells us that he continues to find inspiration from his entire GOMD crew, including KIZ One, Syne, Hero, and Oinx. When it comes to other writers, he tells us, “There is no time to beef.” While he acknowledges that there is a certain amount of grit and competition, especially among younger writers, for ISSUE, its all about being part of a community and connecting with friends. Whether one is a novice or master, ISSUE welcomes the comradery of fellow artists. He tells us that the graffiti culture in LA today is alive and thriving. “In a lot of ways, it feels like the early 90s,” he says, “people are getting out, [graffiti writing] is still heavy.”
For ISSUE, however, more than anything, graffiti writing is the ultimate therapy session. In the early morning hours, stress melts away as the solitude and meditative motions of the spray paint can help to relieve pressure and provide an outlet for daily life. Any moment not devoted to being a good husband, father, or provider is dedicated to his graffiti and DJ craft. Most importantly, he says, “At the end of the day, I’m still having fun. The moment it stops being fun, that’s when I’ll retire.”