1xRUN Thru Interview
Icebound by GATS
1xRUN: Tell us how the idea and execution came about?
Gats: This is the first illustration in which I used the third eye on the forehead. In this context I used it as a symbol for reason and reflection. The beard is firm in its stance and is stretching outwards seeking knowledge. The arrows on either side of the head are cryptic IT’s (Illegal Trouble). This piece served as a study for an illegal piece I painted a mile under ground with Imp that we titled “Tunnel Vission”.
1xRUN: Why should people buy this piece?
Gats: Other than the fact that this is the first GATS I’ve drawn with the beard spiking outwards and using the third eye, its more about supporting the next piece of art. The sales from this print are what’s going to fund all the murals I’m going to paint in South East Asia this year.
1xRUN: Describe the print in one gut reaction word.
1xRUN: Tell us a bit about the name Gats, how did it come about?
Gats: A friend in Los Angeles asked me to start writing GATS around 2005. It stood for Graffiti Against The System. Originally it was a political campaign in reaction to Police Chief Bratton’s zero tolerance policies. I just never stopped writing it and took it to a global level. I wrote it so much that that’s just what people started calling me. In 2007 I started doing the character because I wanted a symbol that could cross cultures and not be held back by language barriers. I also wanted a moniker that was uniquely mine since there are still a couple homies that rep GATS in Los Angeles.
1xRUN: You’re constantly traveling, do you remember the first trip you took?
Gats: I’ve traveled up and down the west coast my entire life from the time that I was too young to remember. My first time leaving the country though was Israel. That’s where I started painting the character on a large scale. Some people in Israel believe just the language you choose to write in is choosing a political alliance. In my mind, choosing to paint a face instead of a word was like signing a pledge for people to coexist.
1xRUN: What have some of your recent favorite places been and why?
Gats: My favorite places are the ones no one knows about yet. I’m always trying to stay a step ahead of the game.
1xRUN: Bring us up to speed on how 2013 wrapped up for you?
Gats: I pushed a lot of new territory in 2013. It was my first time painting in the Mid West and the South. I was able to revisit a lot of cities across the country and paint on a larger scale than the past.
East Bay Express, our local paper, awarded me “Best Street Artist” of 2013.” It’s funny to me but flattering. It made the Bay feel like a small pond though, so I’ve been focusing on spreading my work further.
Our crew PTV grew significantly with the addition of Attica Riot, Feral Child, GhostOwl, Grow, Masher, and Old Crow. We released our first crew zine that was all illustrations.
It was pretty much the best year of my life, but I’m feeling optimistic towards 2014.
1xRUN: How is 2014 shaping up for you so far?
Gats: I’m kicking off the year by painting South East Asia, and the West Coast a little. After that more traveling and painting. Where I end up six months in the future is always a surprise to me, but it’s guaranteed to be an adventure.
1xRUN: Any events or shows coming up that you’d like to talk about?
Gats: I’m preparing for a split art show with Jessica Hess at Hashimoto Contemporary in San Francisco that opens May 1st. Hess paints a lot of urban landscapes that pay homage to graffiti as part of our life. Hess’s work has always been relevant to me because graffiti is most interesting in context. I dislike when graffiti is photographed close up and cropped in because it might as well of been painted on a canvas. Hess’s work blurs those lines. It doesn’t feel like graffiti on a canvas to me as much as a moment in time and a place. I build a lot of emotional connections to abandoned buildings and yards. They become such significant cultural hubs for painters and photographers and are always inevitably destroyed. The place was more important than the individual graffiti to me and that’s the feeling Hess’s work gives me. Anyway, I’m excited to show with her.