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Interview with RELAX, Co-Author of The History of Los Angeles Graffiti Art Volumes 1 and 2

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RELAX and WISK are two OG L.A. graffiti artists who collaborated to create what most consider to the be the bible of Los Angeles graffiti history, The History of L.A. Graffiti Art Volume One. Now they have turned to Kickstarter to launch Volume Two, but need your help to make their project a reality. There are only eight days left, so if you're interested in this kind of art, check it out before it's too late. We interviewed co-author Robert "RELAX" Reiling via email to find out more about the project and how it all came together.

Favorite taco spots in LA? 

RELAX - Favorite Taco spot is located on York Blvd by Eagle Rock called Azteca Huarache.

Why is graffiti important to the city of Los Angeles? Why is Los Angeles important to the world of graffiti? 

RELAX - Graffiti has been part of the L.A. landscape since the early 80s.  It's a forbidden rebellious art that has become a common writing on the walls of L.A.  I would say graffiti is important to the community that creates it.   L.A. has always been trend setters for all art.  We tend to create styles and evolve techniques that influence the world.

What inspired you to take on the task of documenting LA graffiti? 

RELAX - Wisk and I were discussing the lack of book publications on L.A. Graffiti back in early 2005.  Wisk wanted to create a book about L.A. Graffiti specific to the "Heavens".  I wanted to create a book about "Belmont Tunnels".  We decided to document the entire history of L.A. Graffiti.

What was the hardest part about getting the first book done? How about the second?

RELAX - Wow.  First book was a major challenge in so many ways.  We had to basically conduct all of the interviews, gather photos, design the book, edit, publish, finance and distribute Volume One.  It's was an impossible project that Wisk and I proudly accomplished for the entire L.A. Graffiti culture.

Volume Two has been a lot more challenging in respect to the financing and publication.  We learned a lot from Volume One and used that to make Volume Two an amazing sequel for an almost impossible project.

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What are some things that may have surprised you when putting these books together?

RELAX - How many times we have edited the book.  Nothing really shocks us as we really went through those phases with Volume One.

Do some writers have features in both books?

RELAX - Writers are only featured in one volume.  Yes they may have images of the work for example in both Volumes but not an exclusive interview in both.

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How would you generally describe the evolution of LA graff between the two eras you've documented so far? 

RELAX - Volume One was our evolution from gang graffiti to New York influenced graffiti.  Volume Two is where we established our own identity with new innovative styles, techniques and methods of bombing/piecing that no one had ever accomplished.

What is the importance the crews in Los Angeles graffiti culture? What are some of the main crews in LA and how would you describe them in terms of artistic styles and general presentation? 

RELAX - Graffiti crews are basically exclusive clubs that you can't join without being part of the culture along with other requirements.  Every crew has it's own style and history.  There are so many, I would be doing a disservice by only mentioning a handful.

How's the Kickstarter going?

RELAX - It could be going better.  It's all about traffic and visibility to the Kickstarter site.  Without that, we can't meet our goal and make Volume Two a reality.  If you look at our average pledge sale of $79, we are doing better than average.  Again, we need more traffic to our kickstarter site.

On a personal level, what have been the most rewarding parts of doing this project? 

RELAX - The exposure I have brought to the L.A. Graffiti culture.

Got any crazy graffiti adventures you'd like to share with our readers?

RELAX - My crazy stories stopped back in the 80s specifically 85/86 when I use to like many other writers bomb illegally.  Probably the times I would stop the RTD buses on Fairfax and Olympic and bomb the entire side panel.    That was crazy.

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