What Does it Take to Be a Graffiti Artist: An Artful Interview With Man One and Sourdough

Wendy Westgate, Librarian, Exploration & Creativity Department,
Man One and Scott Power

Meet Crewest Studio founders Man One and Scott "Sourdough" Power.

Involved with the Graffiti Art movement since 1987, Man One began his artistic journey on the streets of Los Angeles, tagging and leaving his trademark of bold, colorful aerosol strokes as he searched for his artistic purpose. After completing his B.A. degree in Fine Arts from Loyola Marymount University, his newly inspired passion began to change the way the world interpreted graffiti and urban art.

Scott "Sourdough" Power is a published author and frequent speaker at conferences like FUSE, Foresight & Trends and The San Diego Film Festival. He believes having a robust worldview and respect for diverse cultures is vital for creating lasting value in today’s flat, global marketplace. Scott is now executive director at Crewest, the creative agency and brand consultancy he co-founded in Los Angeles.

Ahead of the exciting Graffiti Artist Panel: Turning the Ephemeral into the Permanent program, we thought we'd ask the Crewest founders some questions to get to know them a bit better before the event at the Taper Auditorium in Central Library. The panel was curated by Man One and Scott "Sourdough" Power and will feature graffiti artists Chaz Bojorquez, Petal, AiseBorn, and Zoueh, who will share their unique experiences and the evolution of their work toward becoming a lasting tradition.

What does it take to be a graffiti artist?

MO: It takes a lot of risk-taking and talent. You have to learn the street rules of the graffiti culture, learn can control, and be original. That includes your name and your style. No biters allowed!

SP: What Man One said. :- )

What book Is currently on your nightstand?

MO: Currently some book a friend gave me on how to become a millionaire or something like that. I'm not going to read it but he meant well, and I feel bad throwing it out.

SP: Campfire Stories by William W. Forgey M.D.

What was your favorite book when you were a child?

MO: Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

SP: The Bible.

What Is a book you've faked reading?

MO: City of Quartz by Mike Davis I read bits and pieces, I figured I got the gist of it then put it down.

SP: Almost every school book I ever had.

Is there a book that changed your life?

MO: Spray Can Art by Henry Chalfant and James Prigoff. This became my bible. It showed me what I can do with my art and ultimately the path to what would be my career choice.

SP: The Bible.

At what age did you discover your artistic talent and in what medium (first)?

MO: I don't remember, I feel I've always been drawing and painting since before I can remember. My mother has stories from pre-school and kindergarten and how impressed teachers were. I don't remember any of that. But my first and favorite medium was pencil and paper.

SP: Age 12. Music. I played alto saxophone for many years.

What did your parents want you to be when you grew up?

MO: They just wanted me to get a college degree and be happy. Secretly maybe they wanted me to be a doctor or lawyer but they never forced anything on me. They thought a degree in anything I wanted to do would be good.

SP: Minister.

What are you passionate about?

MO: Obviously art, but more specifically on how it can be utilized by individuals and communities to overcome negative situations and socio-economic barriers as well. Working with youth to engage them using creativity and self-expression is what I love to do.

SP: Our new podcast: NOT REAL ART.

What is next for you?

MO: I am looking forward to writing and illustrating my own books. Having Illustrated Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix was great but I have a lot of my own stories and lessons I'd like to share. I have discovered how ill-represented Latinos and other POC are in literature especially in children's books, and I think I have things to contribute in this space.

SP: Co-hosting this exciting artist panel with Man One at the Los Angeles Public Library!

What do you see as a new direction on the art scene these days? Have there been any surprises in that regard?

MO: The new direction is digital and virtual. It's about making your work accessible online and worldwide. No longer are artists constrained geographically or economically. Artists can now truly be in control of their own destiny including content and sales. Every artist now has a new challenge which is how to handle their business efforts including marketing, promotions, and sales.

SP: I think the new direction for the art scene moving forward is stoking demand for art ownership among entry-level buyers and collectors using mass media in new entertaining ways.

Is there anything else you would like to share with our library patrons?

MO: Currently, the art world is being disrupted by technology, new business models are emerging every day. This is the best time in history to be a working artist! Get to work and follow your passion!

SP: When it comes to buying art, deal directly with the artist and buy art that makes you feel something and moves you. Buying art you love doesn’t even have to cost more than $100. Just buy art you love. Simple as that. Everything else is B.S.