Waves Apparel and SIGHT1
Growing up in Victoria, BC surrounded by the wonders of nature and a creative family Sight was instantly drawn to art. Doodling and sketching from comic books continuously, and always taking advantage of his mom’s home art studio.
In Eighth grade Sight found some direction for his talents when he found copies of Subway Art and Spraycan Art. Hours upon hours were spent tracing sketching and practicing, taking bits and pieces from the different styles on the pages in front of him. He’d take the book home and straight up copy parts of it.
An avid skateboarder as a kid, he recalls his local skate store ‘Spine Grind’ in Victoria’s Chinatown had recently had their walls painted with graffiti – “I couldn’t even understand it, but I just thought it was so cool. I just wanted hang out in that skateboard shop. I had no idea who the artists were at the time.” He’d often go there with just the intention of studying the artwork.
“I started trying to draw stuff like what I had seen, and I actually ended up meeting the writers years later and we became friends.”
He quickly found himself involved with the small graffiti scene in Victioria which was a natural evolution from his skateboarding.
“There was a link through the skate world to graffiti and I ended up meeting some of Victoria’s first graffiti artists like Hans and Rennie, Rest in Peace Hans, he taught me a lot of stuff in the early days.”
On weekends, he began to take trips with his friends to Vancouver, skating new spots and meeting new people. What became instantly apparent was that the graffiti scene was much larger there, and many years advanced. Guys like Virus, Dedos, AA Crew, Cruz and Take5 became real inspirations.
From Victoria to Toronto
When he graduated high school, along with some friends Sight took a road trip from Vancouver to Montreal with a two week stop in Toronto. He was lucky enough to get to see a bunch of graffiti from the early 90s pieces, guys like; Ren, Hope, Cyber, Kane and Recka and the original TCM Crew. He was visiting a friend who was going to Ontario College of Art and Design at the time and was also writing. During his time here he found himself as a “sheltered hippy kid from Victoria watching A tribe Called Quest in Scarborough.”
“I’m this hippies’ kid from Victoria and the next thing you know I was there and it blew my mind and that was what did it, I fell in love with Toronto. It was summer there was all this crazy stuff going on, I ended up meeting Recka and Kane and Ren and taking loads of photos and being really blown away. After I came back from that road trip, my mission was to move to Toronto.” - It was a move purely motivated by art.
"Sight is short for Insight, it was Insight at first, I was just messing around in my book and I think it started as Inside, and then it just went to insight because it sounded cooler. But that’s a long word to write if you’re trying to tag and get up in a quick motion. I still do Insight pieces now, but to drop the first two letters just makes it quicker."
An Evolution of Focus and Skill
Smart details and clever colour choice are real trademarks of Sights pieces, but it wasn’t always that way. His first piece was born from a trip to the local Army Surplus store where he was able to grab five colours from the camo family; green, dark green, black, white and beige. Once he got his hands on more colours, he was hooked on the California style of bold vibrant colours.
‘’When I started to paint out in Victoria, I thought what made a piece great was having every colour you could imagine in it. But the best advice that I think I’ve ever received came from my friend Joel - he’s a good artist but didn’t completely understand graffiti at the time – he told me loose the million colours, I dare you to do a piece with just two colours and focus on the forms, that was a real lesson for me, and from there I feel I’ve really developed my own formula.’’
“Today, I paint very efficienty, I never have to coat anything twice. I’ve gotten pretty methodic. I like to fill in the background before I do the outline, because that way the outline goes on crisp and you don’t get the dusted mist of overspray from your background after you do your outline. Even though it’s so slight, I get a little obsessed.”
Of the different surfaces there are to paint, Sight’s favourite is hitting a freight train
“I’ve really gotta credit Kwest with introducing me to freights. He really goes big in every sense of graffiti. We lived together for a number of years and have done a tonne of trains together. Hitting freights is a bigger rush than hitting walls by far, and the sense of satisfaction is way better too. If you walk away from a train you have this good feeling that hitting a wall doesn’t give you.”
When asked to compare Toronto’s graffiti scene today versus the early days
“It’s really different… where do I start? When I moved here most people knew each other, the scene was much smaller. I think there was a time in Toronto where I think I had met everyone who was an active writer in the city. We all were into the same hip hop, and went to the same shows. Everyone knew who everyone was, that was the biggest difference to today. Now, it’s impossible to keep up with all these new kids who start up every year. It was definitely harder. It was riskier. Toronto’s a good city now to paint in, I feel like it’s very safe to do nice burners on walls and not be harassed by the police. Back when I first moved here people were getting arrested, cuffed, thrown in jail, it definitely wasn’t as prevalent in the city as it is now. It just took more balls, to do what the average graffiti writer had to do back then took more balls, but in a sense it was also easier because there weren’t cameras everywhere.”
What does the future hold for Sight?
“I’m pretty drawn to typography and calligraphy, I just want to be a typographer I think. I have a bunch of character based work on the go too. I really get a lot of satisfaction out of lettering. I’d love to design a font, I’ve done full alphabets but I’ve never gone ahead and registered a font. Maybe I’ll publish a book or two of fonts and alphabets. I just did a skatepark the other day and the work was graffiti in terms of being aerosol, but the lettering itself looked much more like a font, it didn’t have any of the elements of graffiti like arrows or anything like that.”
“I’d also love to travel more, places in Europe like Greece in particular and Amsterdam, I just want to paint commuter trains and stuff like that. I also plan to return to Puerto Rico every year, I’ve made a nice connection there and that could be a home base for me someday.’
- June 01, 2017
- James Blackmore