1. For those who don't know, what is Lost about?
Lost is a publication I started in 1998 dedicated to documenting graffiti in our city. It started out as a black-and-white photocopied 'zine and has evolved into a full-color journal.
2. What was your motivation for creating Lost?
My most immediate motivations for putting out Lost are graffiti in L.A. and a desire to document what I see all around me.
Inspiration for the form it took originally came from many 'zines from the hardcore and straight-edge scenes, particularly Indecision, No Answers and HeartttaCk. On the graffiti end of things, I really liked IGT in its tabloid newspaper form, Guerilla, Can Control/Ghetto Art, Mike Giant's Huffer, and Big Time, put out by two L.A. graffiti masters, Relic and Tempt.
In fact, an article Tempt wrote about graffiti 'zines and some 'zines he kicked me down with proved that the D.I.Y. approach I saw in hardcore, punk, and straight-edge was applicable to graffiti.
3. How do you decide who to feature in Lost?
I decide to feature writers in Lost who I feel have contributed to building and defining Los Angeles graffiti. I showcase work by writers whose work I respect and admire. Logistically, I do features on writers whose work I have extensively documented or who have provided me with access to their files.
I like featuring work by established pioneers as well as writers from more recent generations. Similarly I feature graffiti ranging from tags to throw-ups to full-on productions, because to me they all are intrinsic elements of this art form.
I also include the works of artists and photographers who are not graffiti writers per se but whose work definitely touches on related themes.
4. How do you decide when to publish a new Lost issue?
I was putting out Lost two or three times a year when it was a simple black and white 'zine, but as its grown it takes much longer to put out an issue. On average now I'm aiming to put one out every year. It takes a combination of hitting the pavement to gather material, burning the midnight oil designing the book, and hustling to make enough funds from one issue to put out the next.
5. Do you think graffiti has to be done illegally to be considered graffiti? Do you consider legal walls or artwork done for galleries graffiti?
I see graffiti as a genre. Whether you paste a photograph on an electrical box or hang it in a museum, it is still photography to me. Likewise, if you do a legal production or a throw-up on a sound barrier, a sketch of your name in a book or a tag on a mailbox, it is still graffiti to me. The legality of it is relative and arbitrary.
As far as galleries, it really depends on what you do and what type of work you show. I don't usually show "graffiti" in galleries. Once in a while I might do a piece, catch a tag on the gallery wall, or do an installation with photos of graff, but for the most part, I show paintings and prints. I feel that graffiti done for galleries is still graffiti, just like if you're a writer and you do a sculpture, it is still considered a sculpture.
That said, I hold the writers out there reclaiming public space for creative expression in the highest regard, and it is they who push the art form to new heights.
6. Los Angeles has recently passed a new law that holds minors that are caught doing graffiti and their parents liable for civil damages. A more recent law that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed requires those convicted of the graffiti to remove their damage and keep the tagged surfaces clean for one year. Do you think these new laws will deter people from doing graffiti?
I think fair punishment for graffiti would be to just have the person caught buff it or clean it off (or in the case of more permanent damage like scribes or etch, have them replace or repair the surface that's damaged.) That's all.
It is ridiculous to send someone to jail for doing it. Pigment on any surface does no harm to anyone or anything. I don't have as much of a problem with these proposals as I do with the draconian laws making graffiti a felony if the perceived "damage" is above $400. If a minor goes on a school shooting rampage, are his or her parents considered liable?
7. I consider the late 80s and early 90s the golden years for Los Angeles graffiti. I believe that it slowed down after that. However, I noticed that in past few years the amount of graffiti has increased again. There is a whole new generation of people that are putting in the work.
Paul Racs, director of the Los Angeles Office of Community Beautification said graffiti was increasing partly because it is celebrated on the internet. Do you think that the internet is largely the reason for the resurgence in LA graffiti?
I don't think the internet is responsible for the resurgence of graffiti. I think graffiti is cyclical and responds to the availability of spaces. I don't think it is a coincidence that a wave of cut backs in art funding, the over-corporatization of the public sphere, and the losing of spaces such as the Belmont Tunnel have pushed creativity to other spots.
Overtly puritanical administrations from D.C. to Sacramento to City Hall that vilify things like art will naturally make it more appealing and spark a curiosity in kids to try it.
GraffHead.com Lost Review
Eye SH Website
Lost Official Website
Lost Sample Pages (PDF)