The fine folks over at 12oz Prophet are deeply immersed in the worlds of street art and graffiti. They capture and relay what’s happening today and dig in the crates to educate those who may not know about the artform’s history. They recently sat down with legendary graff writer and photographer Flint who spoke about his days writing and documenting the graffiti scene’s golden days. He ran with The Rebels and hung out with luminaries like Basquiat. This OG knows his shit and has had a hand in pioneering many of the sights we see today. With that in mind, it’s no wonder he and 12oz collaborated to put out a sick line of shirts. Here’s an excerpt from the interview:
12oz. Prophet: Coming of age in the 1960’s before graffiti had become an omnipresent force in society, both on the street and in popular culture like it has today, what motivated you to start writing your name?
Flint: Believe it or not “Kilroy was here.” I had a class in 4th grade, social studies which I loved, and that’s what we talked about. Even in the text book there was a full page on Kilroy. Even the President at the time and Winston Churchill wanted to know who Kilroy was. The guy used to write on all the boxes and bombs that got shipped to all the Army bases. He used to just tag it Kilroy was here. And that was really graffiti. That was probably the first thing that got me thinking along those lines.
But you have to know my history up until that point. I was sort of a loner, not many friends and I had a speech impediment. So you got a kid who is mostly by himself, then he discovers comic books and seeing these guys with super powers and secret identities looking so cool. Then I discovered the movies, James Bond movies, where this guy had a secret identity. Nobody knew his name. He had a code name. Also very cool. Always got the girl, did exactly what he wanted. Broke all the laws. So I thought this is very cool. And little by little I took on a secret identity myself.
My name is not really Flint, but that’s all people know my by. It’s on my credit cards, it’s on everything. I don’t even use my real name anymore. If people call me Robert, I don’t even answer because I don’t think they’re talking to me. All these little things happened because of the culture of the 60s, there was a TV commercial for El Marko, which was a magic marker they were trying to sell. And they used Zoro in the advertisement and instead of using a sword he used the marker. So, a few things like that started me off. I used to write sayings and then I started tagging them Flint, and then the saying. I wanted people to see it, and wonder about it, and be like what is this? Who is this? They don’t know what to make of it. Because this was really before graffiti.
So if you’ve got someone like Joe 182, you’re pretty sure it’s a kid and his block. But what I did, nobody really knew what to make of it. So that’s sort of why I’m in the fringe of graffiti. Then graffiti became aerosol artists and graffiti really took off in a different way. But I was in the forefront using a marker, and that’s what I’m known for.