MYSTIK is a graffiti writer from Brisbane. He started writing in the early 2000's and was quickly hooked. You can tell from his pieces that he is a very talented artist and he has now made the transition from writer to tattoo artist. If you check out Mystiks Instagramyou'll see the graffiti influence shine through in his custom scripts. We caught up to find out a bit more about him and asked for his favourite five flicks.
1. What got you into graffiti?
My first proper recollection of getting into graffiti was buying my first “the source” magazine. In that issue there was a dedication the dream TDK from Oakland (r.i.p) Being from a small bayside town I never actually saw graffiti in the streets and didn’t live near a train line. Not knowing any better I thought my only option at the time was stealing plywood sheets from a construction site and painting on them at the back of my house. Not long after I met a guy who took me for my first trackside piece with export paint for fills and outline and a $15 Krylon can for key line. Like most writers I was hooked from that moment.
2. What was it like growing up as a young writer in Brisbane?
I was lucky in the era I grew up in. From 2002 onwards. The buff hadn’t come into play yet, the internet really started to take off and every writer and crew were really trying to push themselves to the best of their ability whether on a legal wall or a panel.
I started to catch the train just to go to butter beats and mitre 10 in the city and the whole c-line was painted from Cleveland all the way through to the valley. No buff just pieces, chromies, big stompers and on the odd occasion full on illegal productions with characters. It was around 2004 I really started to take graff seriously, and was lucky to be able to see crews like DTS, WTCS and TFH to name a few, were really taking shit to a new level and pioneering the classic Brisbane cutback style. This was the inspiring shit that then got me wanting to start my crew OTP with my brother Gimiks in 2005. I feel like we built a solid crew with a good bunch of dudes that were respected by everyone for what we did as writers but most importantly the people were are and the attitude we had towards graff. We weren’t your type of crew that tried to smash every line and go all city. We couldn’t be bothered trying to cause beef or rivalry between other crews, we just enjoyed painting and hanging out with like minded writers or crews. I’m glad looking back we're all still mates to this day and although as a crew were not crazily active, though we are all doing our thing and trying to make it on our own individual platforms which I’m really proud of. Shouts to Gimiks, Turms, Baoks, Yours, Werse, Cekios, Erus.
3. Do you have a good chase story?
Ive never been a hard out illegal type of writer. OTP stood for over the politics, our mentality was graffiti for graffiti sake, if you wanna paint legally cool, if you wanna bomb the streets and paint tracksides sick or if you wanna do panels sweet. for me I liked a bit of everything but by no means were panels or crazy missions on the top of my list. So my craziest chase will seem dull to most but by far the most hectic one was my first time painting in Sydney. I had dislocated my shoulder only a few days before and I was being picked up by some writers that I had never met but only spoke with via myspace. I arrived around 7:30am, shoulder in a sling and Eves and Tame from VSC crew picked me up. At this stage I hadn’t done too many panels maybe 8-10 max and all of them at night time and being layups or backjumps. The minute I got in the car the guys said were gunna take you straight to do a panel in a yard in the western suburbs. Naturally I was nervous, first day time panel in a yard at 9am in the morning whilst in a sling. Long story short we got in started painting and after around 5 mins a security guard comes around and starts running towards us. Tame tells me to not stop painting and runs at the guard and staunches him over.
He comes back and we keep painting with the guard watching on the phone for another couple minutes until another 3 or 4 guards show up. We had to bail. We jumped out of the hole we cut in to the yard. jumped a fence and ran through the back of someone’s house then through a back street with people watching. Continued on which lead us across a golf coarse with people playing and driving past us in their buggy’s yelling shit. This is all happening with us still in balaclavas. We get across the golf coarse and sirens were starting to sound from a few places. We jump into a drain and get into a different shirt and stash all our shit. We then wait for a bus to pull up at a stop a 100m run from the drain. We run up to it which is on a main road and get on then not long after cops are then driving past us clearly looking for us.
No armed guards, Interpol or dogs but for me at the time being new to the ‘galve’ game and in a sling was a pretty intense day.
4. It looks like tattooing has opened up a lot of doors for you and you're doing a lot of working & travelling, do you ever get burnt out from this lifestyle?
Tattooing has definitely changed my life. Im grateful and humbled that I now get to do a job day in day out that I thoroughly enjoy and it has taken me around the world and back again. along the way i've been able to meet some amazing tattooists and artists which has only helped me grow individually whilst creating a good living for myself and my family. I tell a lot of people, travelling as a tattooist is exactly like being a travelling writer. The only difference is that I don’t have to watch my back and run the risk of being put in jail for painting shit. A huge plus side is that I’m fortunate that I can stay in a reasonably nice hotel and eat good food instead of camping out and racking. I burn myself out with this job because I treat it like graff. Along with trying to improve my tattooing on each piece I do, I look at it in a way with every tattoo I do finish there is one piece more that out there running and that it won’t be getting buffed. I still have that ‘near adrenaline’ feeling being able to produce letters every day on the road and I want to get up as much as possible in that sense. Advantages compared to graff is I’m getting paid for it and I’m now not just doing it for myself, my crew or to impress some other vandal, I’m doing it for my client. Although there is a lot of stress and importance of marking someones body for the rest of their life with your letters, there is a true satisfaction and rewarding end to each piece.
5. What motivates you to keep painting?
I honestly don’t paint that much anymore. When I’m on the road I might try and fit in a piece here in there. Whether it be a wall, trackside or recently painting some trains with my bro Cekios in Berlin. I’m lucky to paint 10 times a year which has been like that for the last 3 years. Just the same when you dedicate your self to graff, I treat tattooing exactly the same. Every second of my life is put into my work. Instead of painting a piece during the day I’m tattooing, at night instead of doing a mission or subbing a spot, I’m either tattooing or preparing for the next days tattoos. Like graffiti if you want to make a name for yourself you can’t half step anything, you have to dedicate whole heartily to your craft. I still feel I’m a writer at heart. I miss graff and every time I get to have a jam those same feelings of back in the day come straight back. When I travel the world I map my surrounding by different tags or pieces etc. graffiti will always be apart of me but for now and who knows until when it has been put on the back burner for a while. I’m hoping within time maybe all this hard work I’m putting in now towards my tattooing will allow me to explore my graffiti avenue later in life. Until then i'm just going to keep focused on this stage of my career and my family.