COURTESY OF AARON MARTIN
A collaborative work by Angry Woebot and Peekaboo.
Tinkerers share off-the-wall creativity
Many people see graffiti as illegible words and odd characters. Aaron Martin sees inspiration.
Martin -- known in the urban art world as Angry Woebot -- grew up in the '80s immersed in a world of imagination. Computers and the Internet were definitely not a distraction.
'Monsters Invade Prototype'
What: Blackbook art contest. Artists should bring their sketchbooks and markers. Judging by Angry Woebot and Peekaboo
When: 5 to 9 p.m. March 11
Where: Prototype, Pearlridge Uptown
He grew up with the typical kid stuff -- G.I. Joe, Legos, Star Wars toys. He built bases, weapons and vehicles for his G.I. Joe dolls instead of buying them at the store. "We didn't have money, so I did what I could."
His parents and grandparents taught him by example to be creative, he says. "They were always building, sewing or doing crafty things instead of buying them. Both my father and grandfather were great artists."
Some of what he learned will be on display at Prototype in Pearlridge Friday and Saturday, along with works by Damon Minaey, better known as Peekaboo. The store, which recently moved from Windward Mall, caters to the skateboard and hip-hop crowd. Both artists will judge an art contest on Saturday and work on an in-store collaboration. Graffiti and urban artists are encouraged to bring sketchbooks and markers.
"We are hoping to work with the up-and-coming kids who are trying to find their way," said Kavet Omo, owner of Prototype. "We want the kids on the street to channel and focus their energy towards a canvas."
Martin was exposed to graffiti as art at an early age. "I was in first grade, and my friend had found a book in the library called 'Spray Can Art' by Henry Chalfant and James Prigroff." The book introduced him to his favorite artist, Mode2 from France. "I spent nights copying his art right from the book."
When he was 11, his family moved to the West Coast. "There is no place in the islands for graffiti, so if I hadn't moved, I would probably not have been doing it."
He started out on the streets as a tagger, but became serious about the art, focusing on characters. "I don't consider myself a graffiti artist, but it definitely inspired me. I move within the urban art scene," he said.
Then came a near-fatal car accident that left him bedridden for more than a year. "I almost lost all function in my left wrist," he said. The recovery process took him to Seattle, where he took up with the tight-knit art community.
He began to dabble in ceramics, wire sculpture, wood, clay, painting, even sewing plush figures and costumes. "It felt like a calling. ... I could just go with the flow." And in Seattle, he met Minaey.
Minaey also was inspired by cartoons, video games, action figures and Legos. He was born in Iran, raised in Chicago, then moved to Billings, Mont. "I was more of a city boy and needed to get out of there," he said. So he ventured off to study graphic design at Seattle Central. "I started painting lots more and expressing myself on the canvas."
He hopes that kids come to the Pearlridge event to express themselves and share with others. "They can always learn new techniques, because everyone does things differently."
Minaey puts all of his work in a sketchbook or on canvas. "I never called myself a graffiti artist. I am too attached to my paintings. I don't want them to be defaced or vandalized."
The two artists are part of Pocket Full of Monsters, a collective of friends in cities from New York City to San Francisco who keep in touch on the Internet.
The artists inspire each other to continue to do what they love, Martin said. "There are no boundaries when it comes to dreams. I live with no regrets, because I feel that everyone has to walk the gauntlet to feel pain, love and loss. It's what you go through that makes everything fall into place."