I wanted to be a Disney animator when I was younger. I could draw from memory many of the main characters from the early movies. This turned me on to comic books and graphic novels, and when I was in early high school I came into contact with Graffiti Art for the first time. I saw this design on the art folder of an older friend, a skateboarder who I was hanging out with. He showed me that it was actually his name written in crazy letters that he had come up with. Black permanent marker on a cardboard folder, that was the first Graffiti I ever came into contact with. He showed me pictures of European Graffiti writing, everything from DAIMs 3D to CAN 2s retro phat characters and chunky perspective. I became devoted to studying those images.
Remi (the older kid) had a girlfriend, Mel, who had travelled overseas and brought back snap shots of Graffiti she had seen. She gave them to me and I had them on my walls in my room at home for years and years until the day I moved out and got my own place. Mel was also a skater and part of a crew that was a major influence on me and my early connection with hip hop and punk culture.
I was from a small town up the north coast called Empangeni. I went home one weekend, walked to the shopping centre on a saturday, bought a can of black paint and sweated and shook my way through my first “piece”, a dodgy daytime outline that said BONE, the name of a character from a book my dad had bought me for my birthday. BONE was a lost kid who ran away from home trying to find his dad, hooking up with a Rasta, eventually ending up in Jamaica and finding himself before setting off into the sunset as a teenage sailor. The most interesting thing about the book was the authors name, IAIN. It was the first time I had seen my name spelt the same way, the Scottish way. After many years spent explaining the correct spelling of my name to everyone from adults to kids it felt cool to see that someone else had the same spelling, and also that he had written such a cool book. So I started writing BONE.
I was never much into letters or style writing. My ambitions as an animator and cartoonist had me leaning more towards characters when I painted and years later, when I moved to Durban and matriculated and started University studies, I linked up with a group of writers and my character style began to play a part in the prominence of my crew as the first Durban all elements crew, writing rapping and breaking. That was the WHAT KIND? Crew, the crew that would go on to form the foundation of the Bling Free Park Jams, a once a month meeting space for heads outside of the mainstream club scene, a tribute to the original park jams of the late 70s and early 80s New York hip hop scene. The crew would eventually melt apart, with writers leaving and beefing and starting new crews and going solo and eventually manifesting into the old school Durban writers, the heads in a much bigger scene with incredible talent and energy coming through from new generations of Graffiti writers straight out of “Poison City”.
These days I am constantly amazed and inspired by the work of artists from my own town and I love looking back through old photos at the foundation years and believing I played a part in setting the stage for some serious skill to shine. In my time I have written different names, played with different styles and painted plenty, eventually ending up here and now, a professional mural artist with cans as his main medium. I wrote a track on my first solo album with the line “I know where I’m gonna be in twenty years time / still on the mic kicking old man rhymes / or still by the wall with a can in hand…”. I wrote that line 5 or 6 years ago. 15 to go.