any shop owner what they think of graffiti, the majority will start
listing complaints from being an eyesore to simply destructive to
demanding those responsible should be locked up with the same who
would assault and rob. Pretty harsh criticism all around. But one
local artist chaning the idea of graff art being a burden, and turning it around into a business.
The man going by the name Burcs has been taking his artwork around town in a very different fashion. Painting commissioned murals ranging from detailed designs all the way down to carefully painted animals. Taking an artform that some view as an urban scourge and transforming it into an operational investment for stores and companies. I got an opportunity to chat with the man himself about his years doing Graff, starting up his own business, the work he's done around the city and his thoughts on the art itself. Along with several pictures of his work for you to see.
Burcs (Photo by Ricco Cordova)
Gavin: Hey Burcs! First off, tell us a bit about yourself.
Burcs: I am an artist, muralist, designer, musician, DJ, and promoter, born and raised in Salt Lake City.
Gavin: What first got you into art, what were some of your early inspirations, how did you get drawn toward Graffiti and how did you first get involved with it?
Burcs: I was always intrigued by the colorful writing on the walls and trains I saw around me as a kid. Once I understood the culture I wanted to get involved, started painting with a small crew of guys and it took off from there.
Gavin: In your experience, is there any real way to learn Graff, or is it more trial and error?
Burcs: Definitely trial and error. Graff is more about personal style than technique for me, and can control can only be gained through experience.
Gavin: When you create pieces, do you put them on paper first or do you work from vision in your mind?
Burcs: In the past I spent a lot of time in the pre-planning phase, trying to layout as much as I could before hand. Now I tend to be more free, I find an idea, photo, or color scheme I want to work with and let the process unfold until I arrive at a product I am happy with. It's more about the process for me now, the actual act of creation, as opposed to the final product.
Gavin: How do you decide where to create a piece and how it will look on that particular site?
Burcs: Most of my work now days is commissioned so much of that is part of my clients needs, and sadly I have very little time to work in the traditional Graff venue. My favorite spots were and still are trains. Metal just has a grit and rawness to it that contrasts so well with the colors and geometry of Graff pieces.
Gavin: What are your thoughts on Graff as a whole in Utah, both good and bad?
Burcs: Utah is an interesting place for all of the subculture scenes, especially Graff. It seems like people here are twice as passionate as most people I meet in other cities. I think it has a lot to do with the undertones of cultural suppression that exist here. People look for an outlet and when they find it they are so relieved they do it to the nth degree. It can be both good and bad, it provides for the amazing wealth of talent we see in the Graff scene, but it also makes for small town ego's that feel like they have something to prove.
Gavin: Does it ever frustrate you that its not really recognized as a major art form here, or do you enjoy that underground status?
Burcs: There is a fine line that exists with Graff. In it's truest form graffiti is graffiti, it's illegal and destructive, period. I love the underground status of true graffiti, it's raw, free, and beautiful. Graffiti ART is the more evolved form, and closer to murals, the public recognition was slow at first (as I think it was often confused with true graffiti) but it has gotten a lot more support in the last few years.
Gavin: Do you ever look over other Graff around the city for what others are doing, or do you concentrate more on your own pieces?
Burcs: Evolving my own personal style is always top priority, but I'm always noticing new work in the city, the internet has really shifted my focus on what others are doing nationally and around the globe.
Gavin: What made you decide to take up design in college?
Burcs: I spent a year at a university after high-school and with no formal art training outside of Graff, it felt like it wasn't the place for me at the time. I transferred schools and found my place in graphic design. There are so many aesthetic parallels drawn between the two (Graff and design) it was a perfect fit.
Gavin: How did the idea come about to start up Urban Denial?
Burcs: I was doing commissioned mural for friends and family so often I decided to start legitimize it as a business and now with the design/art aspect added it has become a full time endeavor and my primary source of income.
Gavin: What was it like for you first starting it up and producing new work for clients?
Burcs: It had it's ups and downs, major learning experience, and going straight to freelance with little industry experience right out of school was a HUGE task.
Gavin: What's the reaction been like from people when they see the artwork you produce?
Burcs: I've been blessed to receive positive feedback from most of the people that view my work.
Gavin: You also offer services for people who have been tagged by destructive Graff or vandalism. What made you decide to start that project, and how has that offer been received?
Burcs: It was something that was geared more toward the messy, ignorant gang graffiti/true vandalism in the public forum that takes away from the community and offers no aesthetic value. It is meant to replace vandalism with public works of art.
Gavin: You also do a lot of design work for businesses like T-shirts, flyers, postcards, etc. What other kind of services do you offer for businesses?
Burcs: Murals (commissioned and original), Art (gallery shows, artist representation, etc.) and Design (any an all graphic design services).
Gavin: Going local for a moment, what's your take on our local art scene, both good and bad?
Burcs: It's slowly growing in to something more, I think like much of Salt Lakes Culture it is in a renaissance.
Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make it more prominent?
Burcs: Much of what I have seen happening in the last year: artist unity, more support from local businesses/galleries and events has helped the scene to grow.
Gavin: What can we expect from both you and Urban Denial the rest of the year?
Burcs: I'm knee deep in new projects and prospects. Urban Denial is growing daily and has already seen a huge addition to the portfolio in the first two months of this year. I just partnered up with a friend to start a production/promotion company and we already have three massive projects on the calender. My music projects have really been taking off as of late with my solo project 19.22.3. And my collaborative effort, The Low End Cartel, which has been booked for five major shows already this year.
Gavin: Aside the obvious, is there anything you'd like to promote or plug?
Burcs: Too many things to mention, best to just keep an eye on these sites for the web, social media, my blog and my music. Also, "Evenings", the weekly Art/Live music show every Friday upstairs at The Hotel Bar & Nightclub at 10PM.