While many settled for the tedium of the nine to five however, Don continued his passion helping to create the street art scene that exists today and drawing a direct line back to it’s underground roots.
We caught up with him for a chat and a look back at his work from over the years…
You started painting in 83 not long after the Holy trinity of hip-hop, breakdancing and graffiti was first born. What attracted you to the scene back? Did it explode in the UK or was it more of an underground thing?
For me it was about adventure, I spent a few years in Brunei (Borneo) and came back to this country in 82 and was looking for something new, brand new and found Hip-Hop – I was 10ish. I was in the early stages of British Hip-Hop, I then jumped in and grabbed the art side of the movement.
We’re seen some of your older pieces of mushrooms. Were you out painting trains like in New York and competing with other artists for place to tag? Do you remember any that you were particularly proud of or nearly got caught doing?
Well it was naughty so whatever you did, you had to make or do the best you could because if you’re going to do it and possibly get caught you want to be pleased when they present it to you in court and say to you, “can you confirm that you did this?” You say “Hell yeah” because it was the best you could do. So do it properly every time or the best you can… good examples of this are Fuel, Seize, Prime, Merc, Coad5, Splat, Phed, Coma, Kast, Cazbee, Mize, Fame, Shoom1, the list goes on. These peps practice what they preach, it’s gotta be good, keep up the standards or it’s a waste of time. Also the guy cleaning should get a buzz and consider, “should I buff this, ‘Fuck the Buff.’”
From illegal graffiti, you’ve moved over the years into street art, even educating kids about this. What’s the state of organised, legal events these days? And what advice do you have for painters starting out of how to get recognised?
Do it illegal to start off with so you get nice pictures, then conform, grow up and try and earn some money. You will get your knuckles slapped to start off with, it does hurt… the Police department have a squad in place so it’s no great secret. The old sayings are genius, do the crime, face the time… or STOP.
All aspects of hip-hop seem to have entered the mainstream today. Has does your background help you in the work you now do in TV and film?
It helps with the like-minded people you meet, it’s explosive, this is why it has grown in strength to strength.
What are your top three place to paint and who would you choose to go there with?
Planes, trains and automobiles (STEEL)… I would go with my crews.
Apart from paint, what three items could you not live without?
My twin, my family and my crews
You favourite pair of old school trainers:
My DON Trainer
Complete the sentence. If I wasn’t doing this:
I would be doing the best I could doing something else!