When did you then transition into graffiti?
I started doing graffiti in 1989. It was a roundabout way. For a good part of my youth I skateboarded. I loved everything about skateboarding. From the deck graphics all the way to the graphic shirts the brands were creating. In the late 80’s with the emergence of hip-hop, we started to begin to see a lot of skaters transitioning into that culture. Graffiti was really just an extension of that. Slapping stickers up and putting your name up randomly on walls was already things we had been doing due to skateboarding. When I first got into graffiti I was really just bombing for a year. Gradually I realized that there was another aspect to it. I started to apply what I loved about drawing and transition it into what I was doing on the streets. Skateboarding and Graffiti were two things that in a very real way ended up saving my life in that they gave me something I could do that I loved. Graffiti was just something that made sense to me at the time. It was creative, personal, and unique.
You decided to write ANTCK, explain the meaning behind that name…
When I first started writing I wrote Antic. I liked what the word meant. I gravitated towards it as a name because I felt it really embodied my personality. At one point before that I used to also write ANT and drew ants next to my name. Later it changed to ANTCK, purely for graffiti related reasons. Writing out ANTIC in a decent letter style was pretty hard. For me, the change from ANTIC to ANTCK was about taking the meaning of the word and changing it to something phonetic and applying what was the best versatile aesthetic. I thought it was something completely unique and a lot of the best names had been taken. I remember, as I was getting older that I wanted to get away from the name ANTCK. I didn’t want people to just remember me for the stuff I was doing when I was younger. I wanted people to know my real name, I wanted people to remember what I was doing now, and the work was more relevant and valid. Now, looking back on those memories, ANTCK was who I was, it will always be apart of me, it’s my history. A lot of the stuff I’ve been drawing as of lately has been stuff that played a part in my life growing up.
Who were some of the artists that inspired you growing up?
I’d have to say Keith Haring. What he had done was so unique to me; he was able to develop his own style. Also, Vaughn Bodē was an artist that inspired me. I think growing up in the 70’s with funk and soulful music, his artwork embodied that style and it attracted me. He had a very free flowing and free style. Peter Blume and Slang here in Chicago and Twist on the West coast were other artists that inspired me. I was drawn into anyone who had his or her own unique style.
Do you believe it’s important for young artists to go back and study the history of art?
I do. I think that’s true with anything. I learned that I loved art by seeing other people do it. When you haven’t done much, the way you learn the most is by watching those who have done the most.
Back in 1993 you ended up winning a competition held by the CTA. How big of a moment was this in your career? Did you expect you would win?
Honestly, at that time it was a pretty big deal for a couple of reasons. 1) This contest had never happened before and 2) It attracted a ton of media attention. We ended up winning the contest two years in a row. First year that we won, we were rewarded a year scholarship to the American Academy of Art. The next year we won, three of us were blessed with obtaining scholarships to Columbia College. At that time we thought we had a really good chance of winning and whether it was true or not we felt like we had the strongest work.
-With winning this competition you were able to win a scholarship to Columbia. Was college something you were looking to attend growing up?
No, not at all actually. The way I grew up, nobody cared about the grades I got. The ultimate irony was that I had won a college scholarship without having a high school diploma. I ended up then getting my GED so I could attend Columbia. College just wasn’t something that was discussed in the house growing up, nor did I have any assumption that it was something I was going to actually do.
You ended up graduating from the American Academy of Art with a degree in Graphic Design, would you suggest kids to get a degree/attend college?
I will answer this question in two ways. I don’t necessarily believe that artists need to attend art school, but I also have no problem with an artist looking to go to college and obtain an education. I truly do believe there are good things about art school, such as being able to practice your work on a daily basis and also meeting like minded people. In my opinion, the best thing about art school or just school in general is having that ability to practice consistently and connect with other creative people. If you’re a creative person already, you can figure out that part by yourself if your willing to work at it. The hardest part is the non-creative part, which is going about how to get work, how to market yourself, plan and keep a schedule. What art students need the most is the discipline and structure to bring that out.
January 26th 2015 you decided to start a project called “52 Weeks” where you created and documented the creation and completion of one piece a week for the equivalent of a year. Where did you get this concept? You finished the first year back in January, how did it end up going for you?
I’m always looking to push myself and creating projects over a long period of time was not something I had ever done before. The year before that I did a project called “A drawing a day.” With that project I did a series of daily drawings, which started in the fall of 2013, on my birthday actually, where I would create one drawing a day for 365 days with the goal of exploring a daily creative discipline and using social media as a form of interactive accountability and documentation. After finishing that project, I quickly realized that there wasn’t enough time in a day to tackle what I wanted to do. I thought, let me do this again and do it for a week on a larger scale. Out of necessity and curiosity, I felt like it was something I needed to try. I think the project definitely went better than I thought it would, but I also went into it with no expectations. I really had no idea how it would work out.