There are very few graffiti writers that master that craft as well as Vogey. A style monster in his own right, Vogey has transcended the normal levels of producing high-quality pieces that are clean and concise. Not only does he constantly hone his spray techniques, but he leads one of the most prolific crews in the United States. Read below to learn some graffiti 101 facts and ideas from the Mid-West’s Vogey.
VOGEY's Graffiti History:
SprayPlanet: Let’s begin with the very basics: What do you write, how did you come up with it, and how long have you been writing graffiti? Where do you call home? Also, where did your Instagram handle come from?
VOGEY: Hi, I write Vogey with a Y. It started off as Vogues, but as I got deeper into graffiti l learned that there was already “Vogue” TDK in the states (and I think one overseas somewhere)--so I switched it to Vogey. 24 yrs of Rap sprays. I reside in a small town 2hrs outside of Denver, Colorado, US of A. As for my handle, I think my good friend Emit called me Vogeytron once and it stuck, so that’s where I got Vtron.
SprayPlanet: You push a few different crews, but your CREATURES is you main slice of pie, can you give our readers some insight as to the background of your crew? How does the running a crew affect your decision making about walls, who to paint with and where to paint? Is there any type of beef that comes with running a crew as significant as CREATURES? Are there any additional stressors that come along with this responsibility?
VOGEY: I believe the Creatures crew has 19 years in now. We started as most probably did in that (pre internet) day, just a small local group of writers; eventually we grew to have members in Denver then ended up with guys from all over. Who, what, when really just depends on who’s coming to town and what spots we have that will accommodate the lineup, that or sometimes we will just team up with a plan and get to it, really there’s no major formula. Ah Beef! It seems there’s always some kind of issue, with someone. But as a whole we give respect to the true heads and in return it’s always reciprocated. Toy ass hoes will always be around but that’s life I suppose SMH. I feel like our crew mates stand out alone in their drive and skills, no one depends on the crew to carry them, instead we all keep it moving, inspire each other and bring our individual drive to push the crew, that being said the crew just goes pretty much stress free.
SprayPlanet: This leads us into the next question: How did you begin your life as a graffiti writer? Can you recall that very first moment that sparked your interest in becoming a graffiti writer? What compelled you to continue in writing graff and did you ever think that you’d be where you are now? Please feel free to elaborate. What were they doing or what did they do that pushed you to explore lettering?
VOGEY: I caught the graffiti bug in ‘95. I was getting back into skateboarding and seeing “Network FR” up in the city with the dopest fatcap tags, they blew my mind; I had no idea that you can switch out a nozzle and get such a look. There was also a dude named “Germo 23 SBG” hitting streaker tags, Germ was/is a punk rock skater guy whose tags were nice and grimy, I was hooked. I got a name “Estreya”, came across a fat cap of my very own (back then a guy couldn’t get them by the bucket, so when you had one, you cherished it), and started writing on the city. Later on I copped a few 12oz. Mags, met a talented guy named “Cash SMI”, who’s bigger brother “Toon SIN” was doing stuff in Denver with Tuke and Jher, and started really exploring Letters and letter structure as opposed to Tags only. Move forward a few years and I met Ikon who was such an individual and very outgoing, one day in maybe 2000 he had invited Jher and Emit to come paint a wall in our city. They absolutely murdered it, shortly after we all started becoming friends, and that was pure fuel to get serious and try taking things to the next level with my stuff. As far as where I am now, I don’t consider myself all too far now than from where I was then. I blame my drive on OCD. I think that applies to 90% of all writers, maybe more.
SprayPlanet: Different writers have different influences and, more directly, different individuals that may not necessarily be graffiti writers but have a significant persuasion in how they view and create art, is there anyone like this in your life? How did that individual influence your art or processes?
VOGEY: The big OG East and young OG Emit. East is an amazing writer and a top notch teacher, he and Emit really lead by example, and to witness it really is invaluable. My Vogue pieces were super influenced by Emit’s flow, and I’ve always admired the way East makes his letters move and dance (kinda like him).
Style, Progression and What's Next:
SprayPlanet: If you’re talking to a bystander or someone who doesn’t write graffiti, how would you explain your style to them? Do you call it anything specific? Can you explain your process and how you attack a wall? Is it methodical or sporadic?
VOGEY: I would call my style “contemporary computer rock with a twist of euro” HAHA! Most of my stuff is pre-drawn and my secret approach is to start with an outline color, and build around that, I know, super complex.
SprayPlanet: Over the past decade, a lot of writers seem to want to push the envelope with piece size, color combos, and the use of different aesthetic attributes. Most traditional graffiti writers say that, in order to prove you’re a solid writer, that you need to have solid letters if all the blends and color distractions are removed, what’s your opinion about letter structure in graffiti? Also, in the eyes of Vogey, what makes a solid burner? Is there a magic formula or something else? Has there been very much diversity or challenges that you’ve had to overcome in order to get where you are?
VOGEY: Letters above all! Lately I’ve been trying to use fewer colors, but making sure to use aesthetically pleasing ones. In burners, the sexier, the better. I really like to see when people step outside of the box, not that I always do it, but it’s something that I really appreciate and strive for. I get off on some traditional with a modern twist, l love when people create completely different takes on letters but stay true to structure. I feel it adds a certain type of energy and I think it’s pretty hot. Graff has a ton of shit to overcome, obviously you can have legal issues, if you have a family you’re away from them from time to time, gotta buy all your supplies, but it all pays back in its own ways.
SprayPlanet: Your Instagram account has quite a lot of followers! We know that you have been around a lot longer than social media, has this type of notoriety changed how you operate on an artistic level? Is there any added pressure with having a high-visibility social media account? Do ever come across negative comments? How do you handle them?
VOGEY: I feel social media has no doubt changed the game, I mean now you can chat with your peers around the world and see what they’re up to on a daily, it’s great juice. I also feel that we are all babies in it, and trying to figure out how we will live in this world of the wide web. As far as changing my day to day ops, I barely remember a time before social media, Lol, when I first started my Instagram account it was on an iPod touch because I didn’t have an iPhone and back then it was mandatory. My how times have changed! But seriously, I feel that if a person has followers, then there’s a certain responsibility to show what that individual is doing. Some people struggle with that, me included, but again, we are still navigating this shit.
SprayPlanet: What’s your opinion about the use of social media as a platform solely on the reason to become “famous” for graffiti? Any suggestions as far as “do’s” and “don’t do’s” for younger writers who want to post illegal work, but may be doing it wrong or in a manner that could get them found out?
VOGEY: Luckily, I think notoriety in Graff still comes the old fashioned way: hard work and dedication. The net can be a means of “getting up” but we all know there’s more to it. Kids, keep your profile private till you get sick of playing detective to every Tom Dick and Hank who wants to follow you. After that, you won the internet, for now.
SprayPlanet: Speaking of younger generations, in your opinion, how has the graffiti culture changed? Is there a significant difference between your generation of graffiti writers and the new generation that is being raised on Instagram and Twitter? How can your generation help to move younger graffiti writers forward in a positive way and set aside the differences that may be arising? Can you share some positive feedback to our younger generation of writers that may be useful to their graffiti careers?
VOGEY: Don’t get me started on the next generation. LOL. Jokes! Seriously though, I really don’t pay too much attention to “how the game has changed” and I try not to complain about this generation or that one. If you’re dope, and a cool human then let’s rock. As far as advice to the youth, I’d just say, no one owes you anything in graff. Show respect to the craft! That means if you love doing it, it’s because there were people before you working ten times harder to do it. Throws over tags, burners over throws, if you can’t burn it, don’t touch it. Basic Graff: 101.
SprayPlanet: As you move forward in life, looking back on your past, where are some places that your travels have taken you? Which have been the most memorable or impressionable? Why? What are some places that you haven’t been that you’d love to travel to and paint? Do you have a “dream” list of writers that you would like to paint with and check off your bucket list? As artists, we all have our favorites, have you ever had a fanboy moment?
VOGEY: Graff has taken me around, I have yet to travel outside of the states, but my current faves were Memphis and Brooklyn. Southern hospitality is real in Memphis and Bushwick Brooklyn is insane, it’s like standing inside your favorite graff mag, your favorite writers and their favorite writers all day. I hope to make a Euro trip sometime soon, I need to sip lean with my main man Vodka and do a train with Zenof. Maple, Stae2, Mast, Kid Kash, Xaust, I’m a huge fan of all these guys, but really my list of people who I’d like to paint with goes on and on, cool dudes only. I’d love to geek with all the awesome people that have come thru in the past too once again (you all know who you are).
SprayPlanet: In discussing the future, do you have a vision as to where you want your artwork to be in the next few years? Are there any future plans for art shows, gallery work, or major events that will showcase your work? How can our readers and your fans help to get your work out there even more and some dollars in your pocket? What’s the best way for other artists and collectors to get in contact with you? Lastly, is there anything else you’d like to put out there or plug?
VOGEY: Uh, we will be doing a Creatures Reunion soon, hopefully some traveling, and basically just keep it moving. Instagram is the only Social media that you’ll see me on, so all inquiries will be handled in my DM. I’d love to give a huge thanks to all the documentarians out there especially my good friends, @dave_foto, @theartofstyle and @Signedrussbug. A Huge “thanks” to my family for putting up with my all nighters and time away! Love to all my crew mates, The Creatures, DF, RTD’s, everyone who follows my work, anyone who has paid me for artwork (I truly appreciate your support), and thank you Kasm and Sprayplanet for the opportunity.
Vogey’s work can be found on Instagram: @v_tron
Interviewed by: Kasm (on Instagram: @kasm78)