SKORE interviewed by Fista

1. How long have you been writing and how did it all begin for you?

I started around 1984 when people like Malcolm McLaren and the Rock Steady crew brought  Hip Hop and graffiti to Europe. I was already into lettering, band logos, comic strips, calligraphy, fairground art and so on when Hip Hop hit our shores and so the graffiti backdrops immediately grabbed my attention. I was already attempting my first pieces by the time the book 'Subway Art' hit and blew our minds in the summer of 1984.

2. What influenced you when you started writing and throughout your career?

My first influence was Doze from the Rock Steady crew.  His characters and lettering styles were classic b-boy and still to this day amongst the best. Then came the book 'Subway Art', Seen, Lee, Blade, Sab Kaze and the whole incredible New York scene... I can't begin to explain what that book means to European writers. Every single image from that book is burnt into my brain for life.

3. How did you get your name?

It took me a couple of years writing to settle on the name Skore. I'm not sure why it was the one which stuck but it's kind of nicely balanced: the S to the E, the K to the R, and the O in the middle.  Whatever the reason, it's stayed with me for 20 years now so I'm stuck with it.
I was hugely influenced by South East London kings like Cash, Scarf, Form63.  I guess I saw the name Skore (or Score as it was at first) as something that could hopefully sit amongst kings like that. Back then, the name spoke volumes; until you met the person behind it, it was all you had on them.

4. What places have you painted?

I must have painted over 1000 pieces by now and so it's more a case of what I haven't painted. Most of my work these days is done in semi-legal graffiti spots in and around London. I've painted things as diverse as buses, trains, lorries, cars, bikes, jackets, t-shirts, shoes, offices, fairground rides, offices, youth clubs, recording studios, stage scenery, night clubs, bars, TV studios, billboards, train stations, train tracks, the list is endless...

5. What's your favourite form of "canvas" to paint on nowadays and also in the 80s and 90s?

In the 80s it was all about the trains. I was young, wild, a bundle of energy but a few court cases later it was a case of three strikes, chances over. When you're starting out, the train is the ultimate canvas, and the whole process from staying out all night, to breaking into the yard, to painting the piece under the pressure of the constant pressure or being spotted, and the next morning of returning for photos and seeing the piece in daylight for the first time on what seems such a huge object as a train carriage... it is such a magical thing, spiritual even - and only another person who has spent some time living that lifestyle will understand.
In the 90s it was all about painting everywhere, bigger, better, more Hall of fames, spreading the name, developing the style. Meeting new people and putting your name up amongst the kings of London. Challenging them, dealing with the jealousies, threats, terms like 'bumpkin', 'white-boy', 'pussy' (lol)... and winning through. Rising like cream as others fell away and eventually gaining the respect and notoriety only a handful of writers in London really get.
Now, in the present day, it's a weekend sport shoe-horned in between a whole host of other commitments but still my living, breathing passion (my girlfriend would say obsession!). I'm an old fart but I'm still there. I haven't disappeared into an art gallery or an orgy of 3D analism... I'm still there, still painting on the streets, still being real to the artform I fell for all those years ago for what that's worth.

6. What is your opinion on  graff to day? Do you find it too commercialised like some? Or has it lost something it had when you started painting? What are the pros and cons of graff these days?

Graffiti has changed so much over the years. When I started it was a complete mystery. Until the book 'Subway Art' came out, we didn't even know the process of sketch up, fill-in, final outline that was a revelation. From then on, it was discovery after discovery but hip hop was like that those days: everything was very secretive, from where you bought a belt buckle to how the hell you got hold of an inch wide marker.
Paint was pretty much 1970s watery cans of duplicolor or carplan with inconsistent pressure. Buntlack was the only alternative and a closely guarded secret. Buntlack plots were, if found, not shared especially with some of Covent Garden's killer rackers. You never for example showed 'Tuf Arts' your Bunt plots.
Today graffiti comes too easily to kids so I feel that they don't feel the same way that we felt about it when we were growing up. For today's kids graffiti has always been there, there is no mystery. You can find out how to do it, buy the paint and copy someone's style all on one website. There is no history,  no sense of being part of a long standing history... it is disposable.

7. Tell us about your experiences you've had whilst writing? What was the best time for painting in your opinion?

I think every writer enjoys their formative years the most, when everything is a world of discovery, a quest. You spend your days just looking at graffiti and imagining the kings behind the names on the wall. Walking in their footsteps, admiring their burners, being blown away by their style. The nearer you get to the top of the tree, the less fun it is in many ways then it's all about moving forward, improving, maintaining the whole thing changes when you get to where you wanted to be.  

8. What is your primary objective in graff? What are your aims? What is the meaning  behind it in how you see it?

For me today it's about improving piece by piece. Continuing to push boundaries and yet stay within my style, have a mappable progression. Strive to stay away from trends... Graffiti records my life, it is a visual diary of my inspirations, moods, trains of thought, place in this journey we call life. Graffiti is me, it defines me. In many ways I see myself only through my graffiti. Sometimes it seems all encompassing, a disease.

9. Where do you see graff going in the future? And what about your artwork? Where do see your stuff heading in the future?

Who knows? As we plunge deeper and deeper into totalitarian big-brother control, graffiti will become more and more important in society. The UK, for example, has one fifth of the worlds CCTV cameras. There is a camera for every 14 people in the UK. So much of our lives are controlled these days that graffiti writing may well become one of the last bastions of freedom if it isn't already.

10. Any last words and shout outs ?

To all the kings of London that came before me and influenced me so much with the stroke of a pen or the arcs of their spraypainted lines. To Henry Chalfont and Martha Cooper for bringing the New York legends to our young and hungry eyes. To all the people who have been along with me for the ride, from my oldest partner in crime Tener, my brother in the book quest Drax, the king of London city Oker, and the hundreds and hundreds of others that have made it all so incredibly rich. Cheers guys.