Stet is a writer from Sydney who has been painting since 1987. His pieces have a classic sydney flavour to them. When we saw the dope oldschool flicks on his Instagram we had to catch up for a quick chat to hear about past adventures and what keeps him going.
1. What got you into graffiti?
Watching Beat Street and all of the break dancing films in the mid '80s was what initially got me interested in graffiti. Then seeing all of the first generation pieces along the lines every time I travelled up to the Blue Mountains, which I used to do with a friend almost every school holiday from 1984 to 1986 (to stay with his grandmother in Wentworth Falls), or checking out the 'Hip Hop' piece at Bronte Beach (by Paze?) every time I went there with my family.
Then, after dabbling with some mega toy tags in the lanes and parks around Balmain and being in a very amateur break dancing crew for a year or so I lost interest in graffiti. However, when I arrived at Balmain High in 1987 the school was full of illegal pieces and tags and I was hooked. Although they weren't the greatest pieces (compared to the better stuff around Sydney at the time) it was still inspirational walking past full colour pieces every day going from class to class.
Most of the desks and chairs had tags and all of the stair wells and toilets were bombed. The place was nailed! The best pieces were on a ledge opposite the main three story building and could be seen from every classroom. I'd sit in class and get distracted by them every day. From left to right it was MIROCK, then there was a Cheech Wizard by MEDIA and then a CARE piece (all FSA crew). I can still remember them perfectly. They lasted for years.
2. How would you describe your style?
I guess you'd call it 'purest'. I've done a few experimental pieces, but for the most part I've always tried to emulate the New York writers of the '80s.
3. What was it like painting trains in the '90s?
That's a tough one for me to answer because I never did many panels. I was lazy when it came to commuter panels because I lived so close to Rozelle freight yard and spent most of my time doing coalies and the flat grain cars. I was also close to Balmain East wharf so jumped the ferry over to Lavendar Bay a number of times and did panels there, but on the whole I stuck to the freight trains.
4. Do you have a good chase story?
I've had lots of close calls, but I don't have any really good chase stories. I've had detectives walk through the train while I was doing a panel at Lavendar Bay, but they were using torches and I spotted them a few carriages away, so just chilled and waited for them to leave the yard.
I was chased out of Rozelle yard by the yard master in his SRA truck and stupidly jumped into my mum's car (she gave me a lift to the yard one day to take flicks of a panel I did the night before). I told her to floor it and she did! He dropped off but took mum's license plate, but being the gem that she is she covered for me when the Jacks visited our house later that day making inquiries. She told them I wasn't home and was just taking pictures and basically sweet talked them with her motherly charm.
I remember a time when I was working at a bakery in Rozelle and would get home at 5am and then head down to the bus terminus at Balmain East Wharf and tag the back of the buses for a few hours before going home to bed. One morning I got spotted by a driver and so scooted off home through the back streets. Later that morning my dad was heading off to work and asked me to accompany him to the bus stop because we hadn't crossed paths for a few days and he wanted to chat.
I didn't even think about whether the bus that he was going to catch would be driven by the driver who spotted me, or that the driver might recognise me, which was pretty stupid, because when dad got on the bus he was bailed up the driver for much longer than it took to show his weekly pass or buy a ticket. I knew what was going on straight away. I didn't want to get my dad in any sh-t so I stood my ground and sure enough dad hopped back off the bus and called me over and told me the driver wanted to speak to me.
Luckily the driver gave me an option to head to Leichhardt depot later that day and clean his bus and he wouldn't call the police. That would've been 1995. Looking back it was so different to now. They didn't give me a hi-vis vest or gloves or even monitor me, they just gave me a bucket of solvent and a brush, pointed me in the direction of the bus and told me to watch out for any moving vehicles.
5. What motivates you to keep painting?
Feeling like I haven't done my best work yet. I probably live in the past a bit when it comes to graffiti, but with so many writers that I grew up with no longer painting I feel that it's important to keep some of the older styles alive, that's another motivator.
Thank you STET for taking the time to talk to us and sharing your flicks.
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