Weed Wolf, “30-ish,” is a prolific graffiti artist—and vandal.
I don’t have a job, and I plan on never having one either. I try to sell things on eBay. That’s a pretty good way to make some money. And, shit, I like to wake up, hang around, try to figure out something to do. Man. What do I even do?
I think a lot of times, simply because of the nature of my extracurricular activities, I’m totally nocturnal. I’ve been trying to enjoy the day more lately—I feel like it gives me superpowers or something that I was unaware of for the longest time. Yeah, if I’m up before noon, that’s pretty crazy.
I wouldn’t call myself a street artist. I like graffiti and tagging and vandalism. You know, sometimes it looks good, but at the same time I understand the term “graffiti” and “tagging” can instantly turn a lot of people off. They associate it with gang activity or some sort of crap like that, so I don’t tell people to not call it street art.
To me art already has its own values, and they’re pretty bougie. And then there’s the street. I feel like it’s condescending—like, “from the art world down to the street”—and I don’t really feel like it’s appropriate a lot of the time. To me a lot of street art looks like wall art. Someone should have been putting it in their basement or something like that. But instead, they wanted to go have fun, and they put it up on a wall outside. No matter how lame or artsy-fartsy it is, I’ll take anything over a poo-brown wall. That’s sort of the irony of graffiti busters: they cover it up with the ugliest color you can imagine.
When it comes to what I enjoy looking at from other people, it’s precisely things like Noteef. I’m like, “Wow! What a catchy name! What clean letters! Huge!” I know my notoriety comes from not only the super legibility that I always write with but also the name itself. I knew full well that anyone who’s exposed to reading “Weed Wolf” where it’s not supposed to be is gonna laugh pretty hard. And I think the name also makes people wonder who it is.
I try not to think of myself as Weed Wolf at all, but that gets hard sometimes. I try to think of it as my work. I go out and spend a lot of time putting it up, but I don’t let people call me that, even my friends. Especially my friends.
I’ve heard a lot of rumors of things that I’ve done, and property that I’ve supposedly destroyed, and most the time they’re exaggerated pretty significantly. I try to avoid people’s own stuff. A lot of the time it’s just a difference of values, I suppose. Like, I don’t really care about some brand-new condo building, so if I tag it and someone decides to get on the Internet and say, “Wah! Someone did graffiti all over my house,” well, you know, they’re calling it their home, but I just see it as some really fancy condo that someone with a lot more money than me gets to go hang out in.
As far as the galleries go, I actually just did a show in Chicago, but that was at the request of some gallery owners and it just so happened that the curator of the show was someone I already knew and trusted, so I went along with it, but it’s not necessarily something that I’m gonna pursue or change my direction or my production to try to invite more of. I just don’t see it as really appropriate. Maybe I would do the gallery stuff under a different name, but I also don’t know if I actually like art very much.
Art just doesn’t have much to do with my day-to-day life—like, pure art, as in this thing that has no utilitarian function. You can’t eat it. It won’t keep you warm at night. That’s why I see a lot of art as totally worthless.
The first thing that makes graffiti a lot different than a gallery is that the gallery is sanctioned. You had to get permission to do it in the first place. Graffiti, to anyone who sees it, regardless of how they feel about it, is like an unequivocal “I don’t need permission and I’m not letting anyone tell me what to do” type of statement, whether that’s aggressive-looking graffiti, or whether that’s some of the more feminine styles that pop up. Even a stencil of a bird on a wall is someone saying that they’re not going to let someone tell them what to fucking do.
It’s also accessible. I don’t know many people that feel too comfortable walking into a gallery show. Except for the one that I just had this last weekend, I hadn’t been to one in years, except to maybe pocket a couple beers and run away. But the street is right there. Anybody can look at it. —As told to Miles Raymer