Daily Archives: September 4, 2012

Cool Ass Mofos

typo canvas1Har Simrit Singh a.k.a. Typo9eR. I’m a graphic designer/painter living in Toledo, Ohio. Born in Chicago & raised in Toledo, I started painting graffiti in 1994 before studying Graphic Design in Pittsburgh & then in Phoenix from 1999 – 2003. I lived in Phoenix for 7 years before returning home to Toledo in 2007 where I currently live, work, & create. Most recent works consist of a blend of spray paint & acrylics to create a graffiti influenced style with heavy graphic design overtones.

Currently I have been keeping busy with mural projects mostly. This last year I linked up with the Higher Level Art team which is a regional collective of graff based mural painters, designers, sign painters, & craftsmen & have been in & out of town working on mural projects that

canvas 2

canvas 2

range from skateparks to music venues to galleries to classrooms & so on. In town I just finished up a mural at the local art based high school here with some of the students from a graffiti techniques class I taught there this past Winter. I am now working on a mural/installation for a local organization that works to ensure fair housing opportunities for folks & to combat discrimination in the housing market. Next is a  smoke shop. After that a historical building that needs a facelift here in downtown Toledo. Plans to open a small gallery space & autonomous learning center next to my studio are in the works for later in 2012. This place is ready for some change. I made the conscious decision this past year to focus primarily on murals, feeling that this is the platform from which my work will reach the broadest audience. I hope to train some people through my classes & put ‘em to work on different projects here in the near future. People here in the Mid-West seem to finally be opening up to the idea that graffiti is a viable artform with the power to reach many. With the support of the larger community now, I hope to see new works come to light all over the area. For a struggling city full of blue collar folks that’s built on industry….I’d have to say….we still got soul.






‘Sweet potatoes aint shit’


“That doesn’t make any sense.  They’re not the same thing.”  Tho Erastus was right, he always popped retorts in as jabs. This time was no different.
The fuck you mean, they aint the same?” Hedgebeard was ticked anytime someone questioned him, but especially after finishing a joke. He felt that even if you didn’t like the joke; just shut the fuck up so others could laugh.
The sun was steady, standing, staring from just over the rooftops, a bit to the north, after a long, hot, dry as dirt, afternoon. It was late June but felt like July.  The group of jobless gents were stationed in the back, each in shorts and shades, by the shed, casually passing a spliff.  The economy had freed up everyones days, yet many of them still preoccupied their time with thinking about and even looking for jobs that were just not there.
Erastus was aware of Hedgebeards stark defensive ways, but given the content and context, he was game for an argument.
“They’re not. Look it up.”
“Yo, I live by the Yam. My moms cooks a bang-up Turkey stuffed dinner every year, peoples all over this country do too and we call sweet potatoes, yams.” He was already tired of the discussion but wasn’t gonna let Erastus ruin his joke.
“Dude, let it go. Everyones wrong. Your joke is cute but it only works because people are culturally naïve and insensitive.” Erastus was letting his arrogance shine through.
Hedge and the other guys standing around listening busted up into laughter. “Ok mr. college dropout, lay it on me…”
“Sweet potatoes aint shit, and yams are a giant part of some African cultures.”
The laughter erupted once again. “You gotta be fucking kidding me.” Hedgebeard was speaking for everyone at this point.
Erastus decides to yuck it up. “Sweet potatoes are the size of your fist; Yams are the size of your leg. Yams are an important part of African culture and history. Yam means ‘to eat’ and is celebrated in numerous places.  People even speak of a ‘Yam civilization’ and it’s used in magic rites. In Tonga, the calendar months names are derived from the yam. So, yeah, theres’ a fucking difference and you’re turkey basting joke only makes sense because people don’t know. “
“Jesus-fucking-pedia…you just finish watching a documentary?” Even if his joke was ruined, Hedgebeard could always keep em laughing. “Pass that shit here…I need to kill off a brain cell or two.”
Even funny people have the random blahzay moments. Hedgebeard nodded to Jase, “you buying any of this shit…?”
The sun finally gave out, scaling back slowly to reflect off of a few dwindling surfaces. Warm gusts of air swept through like stale ghost whispers, encouraging each person to wonder if it felt good.
Jase had a much more collected demeanor and could usually be counted on as a point of reference with any given situation. Typically quite, with a chilled smile and crescent eyes shielded behind female locs,’ his smile stretched and he cracked open, chuckling, “I don’t know man, yams, sweet potatoes, who fucking knows..?”
Erastus had lost his patience like he often did.
“You gotta be fucking kidding me, I do! and I’m telling you guys… if you would like to be in the fucking know, listen up, Yams are not sweet potatoes!” At times he felt cursed to know and care about things. Such a tragedy, he thought. Shaking his head as he over-exaggerated rolling his eyes, he dramatically turns, and walks away.
“You’re a fucking turkey!” Hedgebeard had em laughing again as he clowned Erastus from a reference to his original joke.
He called back, participating, “I am what I Yam!”

Alex Empty Interview by Phil Freedom

Alex Empty

Alex Empty is a tattoo artist ‘subsessed with symbols, shapes, and forms, a cyclist, ice coffee brewer, machinist, and  father of twins. Though I caught him daily on 5th street for a few months, I had to pop in to the  studio to get more than a minute of dialog. He has recently left Golden Rule Tattoo to develop a space with Taylor Ryan, just inside the Coronado.
Are you from phoenix?


nope. I’m from washington dc. i moved to phoenix in 95 to go to MMI.


motorcycle mechanics institute. its the tech school that no one purses a career in field after graduation.

do u have a motorcycle?

i have a 74 150 vespa scooter. i’ve had many motorcycles and scooters over the years, i like clunky old steel stuff.
and you learned to work on them?
hm hmm. yes. that was the last job i did before tattooing…

alright then, how did it transition into you being a tattooer?

well i was going to that school and had been getting tattooed by the same dude for a while at Ace tattoo, Jim. He moved to Tucson and opened a new shop, and while he was building it he gave me the chance to commute to Tucson to be his apprentice. it was a long commute, though i was not there everyday. i would drive down in the afternoons or sleep at the shop and get up early, also i slept there on the weekends. i was finishing mmi while i was finishing my apprenticeship. that was 2002.
i worked around the valley for the first few years and in 2005 i moved to San Francisco.

What was living in sf like?

It was great, that city will always be my other home. it pushed me to really grow and develop as a tattooer. theres a lot of incredible talent there, its not for the timid or unskilled. i got to work in a few great shops with a lot of great artists, their influence was huge. i moved back in the summer of 2009

is the rose mural on the storage bin (arts market/food truck lot 400 block of roosevelt north side) the only public art you have done?

mostly. I’m not a graffiti guy, i messed around in high school and did a bunch of garbage and punk rock tagging, but its not my medium. when i got the can, i realized that i needed to learn a little bit about aerosol if i was going to get the painted parts the way i wanted them. i practiced behind my apartment to get those big black fades we like so much in tattoos. that shit is hard, Graffiti dudes make it look easy but its not. i have plenty of respect for the spray can.

before i did the storage can, i spent a couple months doing small pastes. funny little tattoo-like line drawing with phrases, some with the letters jumbled. its a fun way to make the same kind of expression that is in a tattoo, the same basic concept. like a skull and a small rose with “memento mori” or the like, phrased around it like a tattoo. i hate the verbiage of “tattooing buildings”, but the effect to me is not too dissimilar. finding a spot to not just place the piece, but also to push the narrative in some way. you have to find interesting use of space, it seems good street artists don’t just throw up shit anywhere. just like a tattoo, placement can really hurt the composition. im proud of the street artists here in phoenix, we don’t have that many, but that keeps the copycat bullshit down. i do want to see more though, ill do some too, but i want us to think more about composition and use of space than name or size.
Alex Empty
with the box, the sub-story is on these simple drawings and narratives under the grander one…
a rose… a banner…they tell you what they are…this is a dragon, or panther with a dagger in its head. its whats so great to me about the american tattoo. its self contained and extremely efficient at carrying its message, whatever that may be. with the storage box…all the imagery on there, the actual line drawings wheat pasted on there, theres hundreds of them…there some random shit…a lot is very obviously symbols of impermanence…theres lots of simple skulls and hearts, repeating and using them collectively to create larger narratives. i think this is where stepping away from the medium of a tattoo allows for really interesting compositions.

What other mediums do you work in?

Painting and drawing are my primary. i like to paint with watercolor and liquid acrylic, full body acrylic, i like to use various types of dyes…Taylor introduced me to a lot of different materials.

like at interdependent? yup.

everything we did in that show was a broad chomp. we tried all sorts of wacky shit. like sacrificing animals…we reenacted some illuminati orgy shit…Interdependent was largely an opportunity for the two of us to try different ideas regarding process and production. a majority of the show is collaborative work and in that process we tried a lot of techniques and materials.
I am also a machinist. i build tattoo machines for other professional tattooers. they are hand built and have a very classic aesthetic.

how long have you been painting?

i’ve been painting…the earliest painting i have, my mom has it, its a painting of a little cabin in the woods with pine trees and frozen pond…im pretty sure i was 8 or so.

(he’s digging through a stack of black and white celebrity portraits contemplating being able to do them on this girl that had moved away…) my dad liked to paint landscapes and we would go to this park in DC and set up our easels.

Ship Tattoo
Ship Tattoo

so you feel like you are mostly into classical and traditional artwork and tattooing…?

sure, thats i use the term traditional only because it best describes my tattooing, which has typically bold lines, heavy black shading, classical arrangements. most of the time i  paint the way i draw and i pretty much learned how to draw based on tattooing…but i definitely don’t…i think of it more as like a language than as a style… like strong images…their visual presence, regardless of their message… you can tell what it is from across the street. that being said i draw influence from japanese art and zen buddhism, not in the way talyor does(big japanese flowing tattoos) but in the concepts of composition: efficiency, intention, negative space..these things i see in everything from the silk painting to flower arranging. i just try to understand and borrow from the purposefulness of those moves. and it also has to look like a fucking tattoo. Tattooing isn’t so much about “styles”, its a medium with rules and limitations. it doesn’t take an artist to see when a tattoo isn’t working.

i’m obsessed with impermanence. its quirky, ironic,. its almost comic to me, you know…it mocks us…time, fate. the very certain end of all things that we know…everything is born and dies…
I’m really obsessed with the interplay between the human psyche and it’s imminent demise and how we negotiate the specifics of life in art. the nature of impermanence, is that it allows us to more freely live. its zen. life is only as beautiful as it is because of these factors, because of this constant negotiation with inevitability. we don’t get to keep the blossom.

our show was themed around the concept is that nothing exists without having a cause and effect relationship to everything else, interdependence. nothing truly exists alone. so in putting that into art practice…we started these things within the art process…collaborating, influencing and cross influencing, biting, straight up jacking each other’s work. we really got to see how our two processes worked and worked together. that relationship is the seed for this place (the Bookhouse). in the end we showed 43 pieces of art, most of them directly collaborative.

back tattoo alex empty
back tattoo alex empty

so what the Bookhouse all about?

Well when we open this fall, it will be Taylor Ryan and I’s tattoo studio, art space, machine/work shop and total art compound. we are making a place that best suits our needs and that of our clients. Our space will give us the ability to follow all of our art disciplines under one roof and really cultivate and harness the creative power that exists around us. being able to streamline my creative process is kinda my objective here. i feel like we are building the foundation for our own artistic growth and we want to share and network with people who feel the same.
we will want to participate and maybe even host some art events, not just tattoo stuff and tattoo people, but phoenix and surrounding artists of various media. drawing nights and group projects, critique sessions, fuck man let your imagination run…more art community. basically we wanted to build a repository of creative means where we can thrive as artists and give our clientele 100% of our selves.

so you into the apocalypse?
nope. don’t believe in the apocalypse.

you think any serious changes are on the way?
i love to see people that are thinking .knowing we could grow and adapt their skill set, be it creatively , artistically,….i think thats the answer, being ready. not like militias. but like arming the mind, arming the creative mind. its problem solving. and for me u know its all essentially meaningless and impermanent. my career, my drive as an artist is to make really justified work. it comes from tattooing, i  feel like I’m using this persons skin, putting them in pain, its got to be justified.

do you ride a bike everywhere?

i try to , i have a car too, i use more then i like to. i have twin girls, toddlers..so i have to drive a lot.

do you think automobiles accelerate the inevitable doom we face?

Action Reason
Action Reason

yup. they have an accelerator pedal, no?

doesn’t that make bikes and bike culture revolutionary?
i thoughts bike were vehicles

any parting thoughts?

you can’t be mad at natural selection, i love the city.

send all tattoo and art inquires to

Travis James Interview by Jay Funk


His name is typically accompanied by a curious smile or a partially resisted scowl, his antics and convictions are challenged and critiqued liberally outside of his presence. He seems omnipresent on fb, celebrating ironic graphic memes, small crimes, and black blocs, quickly retorting on threads, playfully taunting friends and arguing semantics. He organizes underground folk punk shows in unusual spaces, as well as band projects, and plays on his own as Travis James. His lyrics are well organized incendiary pieces with catchy, encouraged, sing-a-longs. He has recently released a new album “Not Sorry” that’s available with lyrics as well as explanations to the content. He has also organized urban capture the flags and is now doing Inconsiderate Audio, an Anti-Social Anarchist Radio Show. Since we both share phoenix underground clearance, I snuck out of my routine and tracked him down at his cave.

So why are you so contentious?

Ah, oh geez… A lot of the time with the available information and society its been difficult for me to distinguish between where my contention begins and the naturally occurring aspects of contention in general end… I refuse a lot of the time to distinguish favorably for sources of contention for particular things, and that alone seems to be contentious with the world at large or people in general.

Travis James Album Cover

Travis James Not Sorry

Are you saying that you hate everybody equally?

Contention is a useful moniker for identifying phenomenon that is relative at best…so it’s not that I “hate everything equally,” but that I acknowledge contention as largely attributable to bias rather than an objective source.

So it’s just your attitude?

Yes, or perspective. So I think society at large and people in it give themselves too much credit in how they identify contention.

So whats up with all the wordplay in your songs?

I turn a phrase until, in turn, the phrase is turning you.

Explain that.

I think it’s important to play with words in a way to challenge their definitions for people, but that still preserve and utilize their actual definitions. It illustrates something fundamental to how I think about things, the simultaneously fleeting yet distinguishable nature of phenomena in existence, in as much as it is communicable through language. I think its interesting using words literally in a way that people identify as “wordplay” when essentially by many definitions, words themselves are essentially a form of play.

U think this is funny, huh?


Travis singin with friends

Travis James and the Acrimonious Assembly of Arsonists

Travis James- Let’s Debt Free

So why kill the FBI?

The song is mostly emotionally driven, and expressing my personal experience of dealing with a Joint Terrorism Task Force FBI investigation for a number of years.

That the youtube video?

That video barely scratches the surface, and it’s surprising how many people I know approach me having taken it at face value, as if we suddenly all trust the mainstream media for substantive accounts. As for “killing the FBI,” two phrases come to mind when thinking about this song… Radicals often suggest we “kill the cop in our head,” but also proclaim “ideas are bulletproof.” So it seems to come down to that I would prefer to simply “kill the badge” or the idea of authority and power, but the pesky old cop-person is standing in the way.

So its not another 187 song?

Thats actually what it boils down to, yeah.

I’ve seen you speak and write about promoting violent confrontation with authorities, do you think there’s much success in that?

Inconsiderate Audio

Inconsiderate Audio

I think the mistake there is seeing a literal promotion as opposed to exhibiting a reaction to very real circumstances. Calling it promotion is a mistake, I’m trying to acknowledge and outline that violent confrontation with authority is at our door.

In what way?

The us represents %5 of the world’s population but about ¼ of the world’s prisoners, which is the highest prison population per capita in the world. Also, all samples of statistical data on police violence is overwhelmingly indicative of an epidemic of the systematic monopolization of violence. Police kill 5x as often as they are killed. The reason its seems promotional when I talk about it is that I’m attempting to be a part of war of ideas that sees police so favorably that most people don’t even know that police work doesn’t even make to top 10 list for dangerous occupations. That’s just police… let’s not forget about the role of the U.S. and the direct exploitation and violence necessary to facilitate first-world lifestyle.

Can there be Industrial society on a mass scale without a state?

Industrial society is destined for collapse with or without a state.

U got a n ideal number of residents?

No. I think the managerial attitude that would seek to solve those issue strategically is the same attitude from which these modern conditions arose. I see only a superficial difference in trying to save industrial society from its inevitable end and thinking that a human, humanity, or and the universe itself are salvageable in a similar way.

travis in bus

Travis James and the Terror Bus on Tour

So, humanity is doomed, lets rejoice?

Yes, but I’d prefer to be clever. It’s difficult for others to see “doomed” with less negative connotations.

Were you raised christian? with any kind of religios upbringing?

I was very fortunate to be raised without any influence in any one direction or another.

So would you say you are anti-religious?

I’ve come to be so, yes.

What about jesus?

What about jesus.

Dead, not dead, crosses n shit, u know, christmas?


So whats everybody waiting for?


How do we give them salvation?

Convince them that its impossible. Salvation lies in understanding that it is impossible. What’s left is a full embrace of the entirety of existence where the term “salvation” is essentially meaningless.

So why don’t you play in bars, and venues?

Sometimes I do, but think it reinforces dynamics of mainstream society that can and should be challenged or avoided. I see many similarities between artist and performer dynamics and the government and the governed. I’d like to see every moment more readily perceived as an “event,” and less political podiums and stages alike. Smash the state, smash the stage. As for bars, I prefer all-ages environments.

What the hell happened to Wizard Teeth? That shit was epic.

The actual ending is a boring story…Wizard Teeth was a 7 song saga intended to illustrate revolutionary social and political parallels by utilizing ficticious renditions of the bandmates’ immediate lives. King Morgan moved away from Austania to Flagstaff.

It’s too bad. That shit was fucking incredible. Was it all recorded?

No, there were 5 room recordings and they’re not good.

Not Sorry for anything, huh?

Not sorry for anything, but at the very most, infrequently apologetic.

Yeah, not as catchy. I was taught to throw everything away, too.

There s reason for that. The very human tendency to disregard things in general has only recently come to be facilitated in a way that contributes rapidly to our own large-scale end.

So your not down to go live on the plastic island?

It’s not really an island. If it was I would set up camp there, maybe throw a Wizard Teeth show.

Is “Calling You Out” is about police?

It’s about police in radical circles, and I don’t mean infiltrators. I mean people in the anarchist and radical scenes that have not killed the cops in their head. A lot of well intentioned radicals are less mindful of the similarities between how they want to change their immediate relationships and the very aspects of society that make them want to make change. I’m calling out the “call out” sub-culture.

Do you think art is pointless?


I feel like on your album, you say art and/or life is pointless, but that everything is pointless.

Lately, I bully the concept of “art” itself, which to me even gives it more credit than it deserves. But you’re correct, I don’t intend to admonish art in a particular way that legitimizes its role as something “special” any more than anything else. In most cases, I find myself having a vendetta against what is called “art” and the reverence for it. A woman was recently arrested for entering an art gallery and attempting to urinate an “expressionist” painting worth 3 million dollars. Apparently, “expressionist paintings” are worthy of protection and stupid amounts of money, but actual expressions, like that woman’s, are arrestable offenses.

So punk shows, house shows what role do they play in society?

The reason I involve myself in them is explicity for the aspects that have less of a role in society. Any roles that it might have for society in general, I feel, are the unfortunate aspects. I literally do mean society itself conceptually, and not just this particular society, to clarify.

Whats up with inconsiderate audio?

It’s an anti-social themed internet audio show with anarchist leanings. A friend of mine used the words “crippled by sensitivity” to describe some of the more unfortunate aspects of radical culture, and my intention with the show is to bring people’s contentions out and make a safe-space for fucked up people to hopefully experience some catharsis through expression.

What kind of education do you have?

High school drop out. I eventually got a GED in my early 20s to look better in court for my federal felony charges of depredation of government property. I recently took a couple of easy online college philosophy courses to first pay off the fines for those charges with the grants, and then later used grants to go on a national tour.

What happened with the tour? That bus is sick and you had a whole crew?

We ran into a few snags that reflect on what was mentioned in the “Calling You Out” song. Mostly it was a fucking rad time with 10 crazy kidz. We played in a Walmart parking lot out of the back of our bus and had a show in the bus, we were forcefully stopped by a citizen vigilante that thought we were terrorists because of the big red bomb painted on our bus…(full story online), we did workshops on Anarchist Against The Wall, violent retaliation in response to federal infiltration and not working with liberal groups or NGOs.

Yeah man, the berlin wall was fucked up.

Tear them all down, but we were definitely talking about the Israel/Palestine wall. Hell, I don’t even get a long with walls in general, as Conspire learned when those kidz waltzed through the window during my album release show.

Yeah, after we talked about it…

So what should we cling to when society starts unraveling?


You guys got a garden?

You gonna live and die in phoenix?

How the fuck should I know? I don’t fucking know. I don’t have any plans.

Who’s doing it right?

I address that on my album in “Freedom & Futility.” I say, “What’s right doesn’t work, and what works isn’t right. So nothing works, and nothing’s right. That’s the way that it works, am I right?”


You feelin the Greece autonom


ous region, or



I don’t find value a particular place or event for its specific qualities more than I find value in the specific successes or qualities of an individual or single occurrence. To illustrate, a black bloc that pushes out police and authority from an area is awesome, but no more than individual instances of authority being resisted in any case.

So everywhere, always, but nowhere specific?
Anywhere resistance happens, not a particular movement that does it.

You got any advice?
There’s a lot more people that should be told to fuck off, and that includes yourself.

You mean me?

Pretty sure I’ve told you to fuck off, and I was probably right.

Did you come up with urban capture the flag?

But you helped develop it your hometown and here?


What did you get out of it?

In a way that people usually only speculate about, I saw collaboration between diverse age groups, classes, subcultures, and whatever, in a way that challenged conventional norms. I saw yuppies finding ways to climb buildings and rooftops, and goth kids running around with a team of jocks regardless of traffic to chase punks in the middle of the street at midnight. I’ve seen people of all kinds busting each other out of the figurative jail, and saying things they’d seldom say otherwise, like “we’ve got to bust them out of jail if we’re going to win!” Urban Capture The Flag has been one of my favorite projects because it encourages people to reinvent their relationships with their city, a

nd to challenge the streets being mere paths to and from work and school. In both cities I’ve facilitated Urban Capture The Flag in, people pick it up and keep it going if I start to back out. It’s amazing.

Whats next for mister travis james?

The project that I’m currently working on is doing as little as possible, and im really interested in seeing where it takes me and how people interpret it. So far, it’s some of my best work.

You’re fucking deluded, huh?

Isn’t everything?