Similar to when I interviewed DERM last week, KLARK is someone who I have wanted to to interview for a long time. I have always had a respect for the man’s work, and always really enjoyed the complexities of what he is capable of. From the start, many people have requested and encouraged me to interview KLARK, stating that a long-time writer like him would have interesting things to say about Philly graff then and now. KLARK did not disappoint. In addition to being a talented writer, KLARK is also an interesting and generous person, who was an absolute pleasure to interview and get to know a little bit. Therefore, it is my honor to present my interview with the one and only KLARK!
Chris: How long have you been writing graff?
KLARK: [I have]been writing off and on for 31 yrs but i stopped in 1993/94, and came back in 2011 because something was missing in my life! Graff!
Chris: How did you get started writing?
KLARK: My older brother DATA and friends like CZ got me started! We would write on the cardboard we were breakdancing on! El markos were the weapon of choice.
Chris: Who are some writers whom you admire/respect?
KLARK: I admire and respect all writers, but new guys gotta learn some respect for their forefathers in graff. Growing up riding the EL and subway, and meeting other writers were some of my best memories as a young kid!
Chris: What is your best experience and your worst experience writing graff?
KLARK: My best experience is every time I go out there and paint something. My worst experience is that there are too many people in graff with giant egos.
Chris: What do you enjoy most about doing freights (graff on the side of trains)?
KLARK: Freights are my favorite! I love the sounds, the sights, the illegality of it. Mostly, I love the feeling of aliveness! All your senses are heightened and are a peak when you are doing freights! Giant pieces of metal and the shear scale of the train is humbling, man! To me it is best!
Chris: A lot of graffiti writers have at least one crazy story from when they were out writing. Do you have one to share?
KLARK: Too many stories like getting chased by homeless people with icepicks in the tunnels in the early 80’s to being hit with a baseball bat at Berks, and living! Lots and lots of stories like that, but its all about having fun when it comes down to it! I never did drugs or drank. Graff was my high! Racking paint back in those days also had many crazy times as well! Paint falling out of your jacket, pant legs, sleeves, or just pushing carts out of the stores full of paint was a feat in itself! How times have changed!
Chris: You’ve been writing for a long time. What are your current views/opinions on Philadelphia graffiti, and where do you think it is going in the future?
KLARK: I have seen Philly graff decline over the years as far as the piecing side of things go, and only hope that the youth get inspired to push themselves to do better and bigger things! On Philly hands, still cant any city fuck with Philly!
Chris: Do you feel like graffiti and graffiti writers are misunderstood by the general public?
KLARK: The general public will never see graffiti as an art form! Ever! Especially in Philly! It sucks man, because in Europe graff is considered art, and it’s the same thing with a lot of American cities! But here in this city, graff is an epidemic, it always has been! Anti-graffiti fucked it up for Philly, especially with the Mural Arts Program. Ain’t no real writers doing those murals, and if they ever did, they never saw any money or respect from that shit so I hate it and will hate it til I die.
Chris: Is there a particular piece of work you have done that you are particularly fond of? If so, what and why?
KLARK: I really never liked anything I have painted yet, so no! I’m always pushing for myself to do better each time put there!
Chris: Any final thoughts on Philly graff/shoutouts to give?
KLARK: Final thoughts on graff would be to respect each other in this city because the city doesn’t respect what we do with a hard buff. For my oldheads, much love and respect for y’all. For the younger kids, learn about the history but respect those who started this graff in Philly. Learn, respect and keep pushing yourself to do better work, not just the same straight letter or throw ups! Shouts to all Philly writers! All of them! And all my crew mates! TMC, APT, AIA, IYA, Allied Forces, and VS! To all other crews, I see u! Keep doing what you do! Peace and respect! KLARK…and fuck the buff!
I would like to personally thank KLARK for taking the time to do this interview, and for sharing his thoughts about Philadelphia and graffiti in Philadelphia with us. It was really cool getting to talk with him, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to have gotten to know him a little bit.
I’d also like to give special shoutouts to OZ and KEECH for helping me out with the interview, and for their assistance on some of the questions. Thanks fellas, it’s appreciated.
You can see other Philly graff interviews below: