Preys UPS probably one of the most unique and original Graff artists painting right now in my opinion. Coming from the states he has become one of my favorite writers who’s work I always look forward to seeing. There is an air of uncomfortability in his work that draws me too it, just when you think you have seen everything and every style. Then you see an artist like Preys and it reminds you that there is something left to find out there, and just maybe everything hasn’t been done already. I have been trying to get more Artist’s on the site from the states and Preys was gracious enough to take the time and answer some questions for us. When I mentioned it to some of the guys behind the scenes I was going to interview Preys and if they had any questions for him, Joker stepped up and actually put together some great questions for him. So here is the interview make sure to check out his flickr also. Like I said before if you haven’t had the privilege of seeing Preys recent walls you have been missing out.

Joker: How do you approach your construction? Meaning… when you put paint to wall, what is the plan? Do you go in knowing where it’s going to go (colors chosen, layout planned, aesthetics…) and how it’s going to finish or do you show up and stare blankly at the wall waiting for “it” to hit you?

Preys: I laughed out loud when I read your question, because it sums up exactly what I think my biggest problem is when it comes to painting. So I would say that 90% of the time I have a pretty good idea in my head of what I am gonna paint. I have a few outlines, and doodles stuffed in my bag as well as some reference material (print outs, photos, whatever I think might work their way into the piece). I also email a lot of these visual ideas to myself, so I can peep at them on the phone when I am feeling lost. So there is almost always a lose plan. Colors, I usually think about them while I am gathering / drawing stuff. Sometimes I write down what colors go where etc, then I either get the colors I need for that or pull my supplies. That being said, the colors situation never really goes that smoothly. Unfortunately I am super attracted to certain colors or color combinations and they always find their way into whatever I am painting, so that is always something to struggle with. The other problem is that I am never that dedicated to (have confidence in) my original scheme so that often changes along the way. I very often reduce the amount of colors I use just because I am struggling with something else, mainly the outline. Or because they looked better on the can than they do on the wall. Then there is the “it” factor. More times than I would like to admit, my original plan has a meltdown, things are not going right, proportions are off, color combinations are shit, caps are clogging, etc. That is when the “it” factor either decides to show up or not. When it does, it’s a fucking party. I know what goes where, it is all worked out in my head and all I have to do is follow the directions that are laying themselves down. When ” it” doesn’t show up, it’s a fucking struggle to get through it. More often than not, “it” shows up in little ways so a few details are cool, but when “it” shows up for the overall, it’s a good day.

Joker: Your actual letters are fairly simple in their design, something I admire and strive for all the time myself, but it’s how you build the letters together and play with the lines that really abstracts them. This idea is really evident in the last year. Is this natural progression?

Preys: Yeah I think that after the first few straight up simple pieces, I just started overlapping letters and playing with negative shapes to try to get some more complex combinations from the original simple letter forms. My natural tendency is to fill up the space, make more lines, etc. So I try to remember to keep the letters simple. So it can be deceptively complex based on simple parts.

Joker: Outside of writing, what do you find inspirational that you find gives you ideas for your paintings?

Preys: Films, videos, animation, and really anything. Unfortunately right now I feel like I’m in a little bit of a creative rut. So I’m looking for some real inspiration. One of the little tricks I used to do (and I am not condoning this to anyone else but me) is sometimes smoke a little weed, just enough to dilate my pupils slightly and just enough to let my mind wander. Then I go look at images that I have either saved on my computer or favorites on a site, watch tv, listen to music whatever etc. The combination of slightly blurred vision and my mind making random connections is often a good place to look for inspiration, new ideas and concepts. At least for me it is. I need to do this tonight.

Joker: Do you consider yourself an abstract writer or just a writer?

Preys: I would consider myself just a writer. My opinion on graffiti is kind of simple. You use spray paint or not, you write a name, you’re a writer. How you want to write it is up to you.

Joker: I see your work as having an almost ‘outsider’ graphic design aesthetic. you absolutely have the sensibility, but it’s so radically unique that I’m not sure if ‘typography’ from the straight laced side of the tracks is even part of your intent. any insight as to graphic design being a motivation to your work?

Preys: I fear I will get shit for this, but the honest answer is this. I’m a designer in the 9-5 world. However it wasn’t what I went to school for, so one of the biggest holes in my design knowledge / education is the proper lessons on typography that one gets from being a graphic design major. I used to think that graffiti was the my ticket to teaching myself the rules of typography. However the rules of type in the print and web world are way different than in the graffiti world. Graffiti is more over all design than straight up typography. In the graffiti world we don’t spend a lot of time on multiple words and their relationship to each other. Just multiple letters and their relationship to each other. All that shit being said, the graffiti I like and strive to do does interesting things with letters.
What I try to do is turn letters into feelings / moods. Try to create a world that the letters live in. Recently it has been a kind of laser future 80’s world. And just writing this makes me want to go way deeper into that world.

Joker: What is your position on technique and special effects as contributors to a person’s style?

Preys: I had a big debate with my friends Jimboe and Kems about this just the other day. We were talking about the differences between design, style, and technique in the world of graffiti. A few years ago I found this poem by Charles Bukowski called Style. Not to sound too much like a douche bag, but this one section pretty much summed up what I think style is all about.
“Style is the answer to everything.
A fresh way to approach a dull or dangerous thing
To do a dull thing with style is preferable to doing a dangerous thing without it
To do a dangerous thing with style is what I call art”
-Charles Bukowski

There are writers that have amazing technique and know all the tricks and special effects, but they lack style. They lack that special hand that makes it look like some other creature from another planet created it. Style seems to be a really hard thing to obtain, especially for myself. I know that some people think my shit lacks style because it seems semi technical, I kind of agree. But really I know I’m on to something good when I feel slightly uncomfortable about what I am painting. That’s the dangerous part of trying to make something new and interesting with style. When a line seems awkward, or a shape wrong, sometimes those are the most successful parts of a piece for me. I have a theory on art / design which is that really groundbreaking stuff should confuse you at first. If you feel comfortable right away with a new piece that means you didn’t push it far enough. It means the visual vocabulary you used is comfortable to the viewer, which means it contains just enough things they have seen before so they can understand it. Real break through shit should make you slightly confused between whether that thing is the newest best thing you have ever seen, or the worst thing you have ever seen. If you have nothing to compare that piece to, then it is something new, something innovative. I am not saying I do this, but I would like to think it is my goal.

Remi Rough: Are you in any way religious? Being that you chose tthe name Preys, or does it have hunting connotations?

Preys: Not religious at all. However I did go to Catholic elementary school and always got into the weird power religious icons had. I thought Preys was a witty play on the word PRAY / PRAISE / PREY. When I started writing for real I wrote Juan, a nickname some kids in school gave me cause they thought I was Spanish. Then I got caught up in some personal and legal shit and ended up trying to make a new start. After desperately trying to come up with a cool name I settled on Preys. All I can say is that it sounded cool at the time. The weird thing about what you write is even though the word’s meaning might be lost to the person writing it, the audience often reads into it – along with how you write it. I don’t think about the meaning of the word as much as I should. In fact, I need to step my shit up and one of the ways I need to do that is by using the literal meanings of my tag more in the concepts for my pieces.

GF: Any final Thoughts or shout outs?

Preys: I just wanted to thank you for contacting me about sharing my work, I sincerely appreciate it and it reminds me that maybe all this painting shit is not in vain.

Catch more of Preys Work at the Links below

His Flickr Page