By Will Guess
Images courtesy of Eyesore
XXXXXXXX, better known as the street artist Eyesore, has been coloring the city of Houston with his drawings for over 10 years. In the art world, graffiti and street art is like the kid who didn’t pay attention in class, the one who never followed the rules, the one who made up their own rules instead. As far as prominent people in the Houston graffiti scene, Eyesore is one of the most well-respected artists in the city. His drawings involve extremely intricate and detailed lines, making it hard not to take a second glance when you see one of his pieces pasted up somewhere around town. Hell, he even took time out of his busy schedule to do the cover art for this very issue. FPH got the rare privilege enough to sit down with Eyesore to talk about his creative process, what makes street art relevant, and his purpose.
Walk me through your creative process.
I am inspired by the beauty of my friends and family, but also by the people that have changed my way of thinking like authors, artists, and musicians. They deserve to be acknowledged and not forgotten. It’s my way of communicating the things I have learned and think are relevant within the community. I also draw nature and animals and the frailty of life [to show how] intricate and amazing this life we have is and that these are the important and serious aspects of my craft. On the other hand, there are the less serious influences with vintage monster comics, Halloween, ‘90s underground death metal, horror movies, and early graffiti and art culture. These were the things I was into growing up, and I thought it would be fun to mash them all together and see what people got out of them when I put them up. Some of these drawings take hours or days to complete. Once I am satisfied with the image, I burn it to a screen and print it on whatever I can find-stickers, posters, shirts, and found objects. Then I send them out into the world for people to enjoy or hate.
What sets you apart from other street artists?
I am very proud of Houston’s street art and graffiti culture, past and present. There are so many diverse styles coming from all sorts of backgrounds, and I am just glad to be a part of it. Give Up, Failure, Chicken Boy, Gonzo, Fukitol, Yar!, VERBS/MEAT, JEWS, JADE, VIZIE, NEKST, and the rest of DTS/GY. In the beginning, these artists just amazed me with their talent and determination for getting up. I truly believe they changed the way Houston thought about graffiti and street art for the better. Today’s street art and graffiti is just as amazing: ACK!, DUAL, ETOMS, Cutthroat, WEAH, Wiley, and 2:12 are all completely original and different in their own ways, and getting to know and work with them is always fun. We all have our own styles, but mine is all drawing and illustration-based. I have loved to draw for as long as I can remember and it’s the medium I feel most comfortable with getting up. The silk screening is the most effective way to transfer my drawings to paper and stickers, then apply them to the streets.
Why is street art relevant?
All art enriches communities and brings color, life, and culture to our city. It’s connected to the people who live there, and it is a unique part of OUR home. My only wish is that it helps inspire creativity and thought. I have met so many great people through what we do that I wouldn’t have met otherwise, and their support and encouragement makes street art relevant.
For you personally, what is the intrinsic value or purpose of putting up art illegally?
I just like adding my images to the city. I don’t worry about the legal issues of what I do. I truly believe that what I am doing is having more of a positive effect on everything.
What emotions, if any, are you trying to provoke when people see your art?
I hope they have a positive reaction. I am not trying to ruin anyone’s day. I guess I’m trying to change their perception of advertising versus graffiti and street art or history versus gentrification. We can’t move forward culturally if we are constantly erasing the past. What is an eyesore to the people of Houston?