TENFOLD is a graffiti writer from San Diego, California who now lives here in Sydney. Looking at a TenFold piece you can tell he knows his colours & his way around a letter, his use if inner keylines & colours in the 3d make his pieces literally jump off the wall. He stays true to his style and brought a slice of California to Sydney. We caught up to find out more about him and what keeps him motivated today.
1. How and where did you get into graffiti?
I’ve been drawing letters for just about as long as I could draw. My dad did graphic design by hand for over 25 years so I was surrounded by type and hand crafted lettering from a young age. When I was about 8 my family moved to south-east San Diego, California where I remember seeing or at least realizing graffiti for the first time; I knew it was for me. I didn’t even understand what I was looking at but I liked it. In the 2nd grade I remember asking my dad, “how to make a letter look like it was coming out at you?”; I was talking about perspective and “3D” but could hardly explain the concept at my age.
When I was in the 7th grade I met a friend that was keen and we went and painted our first few walls together. Then found a few heads to show us the ropes and it just went from there. I’ve met a lot of good people through graff.
Painted somewhere in Oakland, CA 2005
2. How would you describe your style and who were your influences?
My style is pretty much the product of my biggest influences: Typography and growing up in San Diego.
My style has changed a bit through the years but for the last 10+ it’s been back to my roots, typography. My dad’s work was a big influence and growing up in San Diego was a big influence. San Diego has a rich Chicano culture that comes along with art, lowriders, tattoos and bomb food. Script and “Old English”/black lettering have become an unofficial font for that culture and it’s used a lot, on cars, clothing, tattoos, graffiti, murals; I grew up seeing it everywhere.
Besides that, some influences back then and some now:
Zodak, Tribal Gear, Virus, Mear, Living Legends, Freestyle Fellowship, Aaron Horkey, coffee, loud music, traveling, Eligh, B-Boy Summits, Underground Improv, Kris Kuksi, Japan, Mars, Kaws, FX, DNA, DF, TDK, RTD, DE, NR, BA, 816, EVA, Phobia, Zane, Schwarzmaler, Tools of da Trade, Transcend, Gaslamp Killer, Rollin’ Hard, Loomit, Daim, Can2, Cycle, Geser, DJ Shadow, Can Control, Scribble, Art Crimes, Life Sucks Die, JNCO, Con Art, T2B, Millers Outpost, free sodas, hopping trolleys, $1 slices, Zen(not the cool one)Ten, Amoeba, black lights, old cars, Katch, Hatch, Hex, Quasar, Lango, Gane, Surge, Robsy, Vaqueros, Super Sergios, Onit, Tower Records, Cheekie, Liger, Mexican food, Drama, weed, Haiku d’Etat, Zap Tap, HR. Giger, Third Rail, Stoopid, Bomb The Suburbs, Indiana Jones, The Terminator, Beat Street, Faces of Death and Garbage Pail Kids.
Prime spot off Market street in San Francisco painted in 2005 with Lango, Jibs, Blis, Wars and Jase.
3. Looks like you’ve done a fair bit of travelling, what has been your favourite place to visit and paint so far?
Even though I lived there for awhile, I’d have to say that San Francisco WAS my favorite place to paint. SF is a shithole now and not in a good way, but when I moved there in 2001 it was the SHIT! It was a ton of fun to paint, like a graffiti playground, I cut a lot of teeth there. There were abandos, tunnels, trains, busses, rooftops, heavens, beach spots, alleys, warehouses, industrial factories, bridges, freeway spots, lenient cops, and chill security guards you could bribe with beer. It was also a bit of a destination for writers from around the USA and the world, I saw and met a lot of great writers there. It’s still a great city but it’s just not the place it used to be, like a lot of cool places it got gentrified and became less and less colourful.
Otherwise here in AUS(SYD/Coffs) and Vietnam are my other favorites. Oooooo and Detroit!
Daytime fun in Saigon, VN 2008
4. Do you have a good chase story?
Not quite a chase story but: Long story short, I’m painting Duboce tunnel in San Francisco with Plantrees and 2 others, can’t remember. Two train security workers roll up at the end of the tunnel and spot us, we stash our bags and try to walk out of the tunnel casually. They let us walk by without a word but they head straight for our bags and grab em. We try to talk them into giving them back, got cameras and paint, etc, in the bags. Gets a bit heated then they say, “cops are on the way, stay and get arrested, or leave.”
Walk back to the car debating on what to do, don’t believe cops are on the way but not really trying to fight train security. We drive back to the tunnel and see security truck driving off, we follow. We ended up following these guys across SF for like 15 minutes trying to find a good spot to do whatever it is we were going to do, we had no plan. Finally we pull up to the right side of the security truck at a red light. I sneak out of the back right passenger door and duck down as I crept behind our car and then behind the security truck. I look into the back of the security truck and see our bags. Right then I can see the driver adjusting his rear view mirror and spotting me in the reflection. I immediately grab all 4 bags with both hands just as security is realizing what's happening and hits the gas almost taking me with them. Security skids off then stops, I actually freeze up in the middle of the street for a second and next thing I know my friends are yelling at me to get back in the car, ha! I jump back in, we skid off laughing our asses off and celebrating getting our bags back! That wasn’t the first or last time Plantrees and I triumphed on some random crazy mission, good times.
Painted this "Dark Empire" with Drama on the character in 2009 in San Francisco for our DE crew art show. Del tha Funky Homosapien, Waxsmith and a few others performed.
5. What motivates you to keep painting?
The motivations have changed through the years. It’s been about Hip Hop, fame, notoriety, destruction, venting, expression, excitement, connection, survival, creativity, boredom...
These days it feels good just to get an idea out of my head. I’ve always sketched a lot. I love trying to figure out what I think is a good balance of letters, it’s like a puzzle to me. Once I feel like I have a good solution I can’t wait to paint a wall. But the experience and surroundings are also a bigger motivator these days too. Good people, a fresh wall, nice environment. The experiences have always motivated me, whether it was for a rush or a laid back spray with friends.
I painted this spot, the "Ghost Ship" in Oakland, California in 2014. I've painted some weird places in my days but this place was special and finally, tragic. It was some sort of artists collective/squatter/Burning Man/antique shop/garage sale/labyrinth. I used the bathroom and could hardly find my way out of the place. The building was filled to the ceiling with all kinds of random things creating a maze of couches, mirrors, organs, beds, signs, vending machines, doll houses etc etc and that's how it was intended to be. That maze of a mess was probably one of the main reasons that in 2016, 36 people died there in a fire that broke out during an underground party.