Posted on 18 Apr, 2013

San Francisco is a city of striking contrasts. You can walk through a busy shopping district full of tourists but only a few blocks away you’ll stumble into run downs neighbourhoods with chronic homelessness problems. If you combined all the colours, the raging diversity and the highs and lows into just one artist then you might find yourself at Chor Boogie’s doorstep. Chor is an undoubtedly gifted artist who’s triumphs and turmoils are laid bare on San Francisco’s walls for all to see. I was blown away when I first saw his work ‘Purgatory’ on the streets of San Fran; you will be too.

Check out this mind-blowing slideshow

Blame it on the Boogie

I got into this lifestyle when I was about 13. I saw some painted aqueducts when I was a kid and all I remember is the crazy colorful letter styles and characters. When it comes to evolution this was my beginning. I chose more imagery as a subject matter over letter forms, since that’s what attracted me the most. It started off plain and simple, just learning how to establish some can control. Over time it comes to you and it clicks.

For can technique I work both ways, with the can the right way up and upside down. As I progressed into a future of Modern Hieroglyphics (what I can this evolving paint culture) I practiced an old school upside down can technique, which gives me the pleasure to bless any creation I do to the finest detail without using curve tools, paint brushes and such. A cat named VOX from LA exposed me to the upside down technique. He showed me and was like “I’m sure if you keep f*cking with this technique you’ll probably change the game since you do characters.” Once you flip the can upside down the pressure moves up to the bottom of the can which is the top now and pushes the paint out even slower, like an airbrush.

The effect is that it helps make my art work look 100% better… crisper… cleaner… and scale-wise I can paint highly detailed imagery, from however large you want to go to as small as around a two-inch square. It’s all about skills: I do murals, canvases and some sculpture.

I only use spray paint… no additives, no preservatives; just all natural flavor! Influences come and go but I’ll say the truest one of them all is PHASE2. He’s not only a brother but also the head of the table and a style originator.

The range of colours I use is one thing I’m known for. I consider it one of the weapons in my arsenal of creativity! So when it comes to this style, basically its colorful design elements that reach further beyond imagination in simple forms.

I started working with so many colours with two great San Fran writers: Apex and Vulcan, who are both color experts. Vulcan in particular has years of experience with colors, years before Apex and I where introduced to it. I felt the style needed some establishment and a meaning so I adopted the term “color therapy” and put my own understandings and meanings to the colors.

I balance painting on the streets and my gallery work. It just depends on what I am focused on at the time. If I want to rock a wall I’ll rock a wall but if I’m busy working for a show or just painting canvas works then that’s goanna be my focus. Also, I can easily let a canvas sit and rest and wait for me to come back so I can rock a wall in the meantime (unless it’s a commission and then there’s timelines).

Painting on the streets can be fun and dangerous at the same time. When it comes to lessons, after painting on the streets for over 20 years the lessons become natural habits. The main lesson that sticks out for me is learning that there are “reasons for everything” on the streets.

My Purgatory series has something to do with my previous drug addiction and some inner expression coming out onto the walls. This is the streets and this is what the streets look like; it’s what the streets are saying. The streets are screaming in a balanced love-hate relationship hence the name Purgatory: the middle ground between heaven and hell. I am grateful for everything that happened in my past because it has shaped and formed today in all aspects, my career and life.

Painting in San Fran is pretty dope but it’s like painting anywhere else. The only difference is the people: when you paint a wall, you paint a wall. When it comes to the audience you have lovers and haters in all games. In my observation I honestly have more lovers than haters, from all around the world. Even authorities love my work; it’s cool when a cop comes up and appreciates the art form. A lot of my audience reacts with “You did all that with a spraycan?”

In 2010 my “Eyes of the Berlin Wall” canvas sold for 500,000 Euros. I was in Germany and some guy was scoping me out painting for three days. He finally came up to me when I started painting some realism; that just flipped him out he asked me if I wanted to paint on the Berlin Wall for an art fair. I thought he was a nut bag until he showed me the walls. Then from there it made the papers and the rest well you know is history.

The international recognition hasn’t changed me at all, well maybe just a little bit! As long as you stay true to your style(s) it’s cool. You can be a hometown hero and still survive as well - ultimately it’s up to you how successful you want to be. There are substantial levels of value when it comes to the art of the streets; it’s even more popular now so it’s making an impact when it comes to making money.

I’m working on a confidential project but I’ll give you a hint - it has to do with the divided state of America.  It’s very political and tells the truth about what’s going on in the society we live in. Look out for it!

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