1xRun Thru Interview
Guilty Pleasures by Shark Toof
1xRun: Tell us a little bit about each of these pieces, were there originals or were they created just for these prints?
Shark Toof: The name Shark Toof and the original Shark Toof Icon were developed at the same time. With my Graffiti Art roots, I know how important it is to establish and own a tag name, and more importantly an image to remind the viewer of that tag name.
After a good full year of establishing the Shark Toof Icon on the streets, I didn’t quite know where I wanted to move the Icon. It took some isolation to really stand behind my own beliefs without becoming a political artist. Thinking of iconographic shapes, I thought the cigarette pack is an easily identifiable shape which lead me to the idea of “Guilty Pleasures” and the Shark Toof Cigarette Pack. Although, I am not a smoker myself, I support every individual to indulge in whatever pleasures them as long as others aren’t effected.
The Shark Toof Slot Machine was a natural progression as the slot machine is also an iconographic image on its own. The twist on the image is that the jackpot are cigarettes which ties into the Shark Toof Cigarette Pack print. In other words, by indulging in your guilty pleasure, the jackpot will be more guilty pleasures. Overall I am very happy with the outcome of these 3 prints with a glitter finish. They are a proper homage to what reignited my love and roots with graffiti and street art. These 3 Icons continue to be a reminder to new and old fans, and collectors, in the form of stickers and wheatpastes on the street. These 3 icons will always be the most important and dearest to me.
1xRun: Walk us through the early years of your work, describe what that time was like in Los Angeles and how it has changed over the years?
Shark Toof: Los Angeles has become more Hollywood than ever, which has changed the game a bit. Graffiti and street art was the voice of the street, specifically the hood. Now it’s parallel to that of “I am an actor”, “I am a musician”, “I am a model”, “I am a DJ.” I am not saying that it doesn’t have a place, but the work is clearly different. We grew up in the early 80’s with guns and violence, so our tag names and imagery were always more aggressive in nature. Aggressive work is harder for the broader audience to accept, versus that of a more carefree Hollywood type. Although, I am in support of the movement in all of it’s shapes and sizes, it’s a shame that everything falls under one roof “Street Art”. A lot of the early graffiti writers and gang members from around the world who got no love growing up, putting work on the streets, except from their friends or peers, should never be forgotten and thanked whenever possible for opening the doors to this contemporary movement.
1xRun: You recently got back from Art Basel Miami, what were you getting into down there while you were in town?
Shark Toof: Basel is a soup of amazing and disgusting flavors all at once. I’m probably one of the disgusting ingredients that makes you want to spit it out, but I do my best to make you want to dip that bread in it, to the very bottom. Well, Basel and Wynwood. So much to say. Let’s just say things are changing dramatically in Wynwood and it has become very political. I chose to take a step back from the fervor and think in broader terms of wellness, friendships, honesty, and balanced relationships. Otherwise, I say, keep painting so property values can sky rocket there!!! I painted some small jams while in Wynwwod, including the old MTN Airstream trailer that is now owned by Nayib Estefan, and a live piece during Basel Castle. Aside from that madness, I was showing a few pieces at Scope Art Fair with two different galleries, absorbing the most incredible art with the highlight being the new Perez Museum featuring Ai Weiwei. (Photos below courtesy of Joshua Sobel & Shark Toof.)