My Story (via Creative Quest, WHYY)
I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember. I was always interested in art and learning new techniques and methods. I was very interested in graffiti and graffiti culture in high school and that’s definitely when lettering became my focus. I would draw graffiti and mess around with traditional wildstyle lettering, all in a sketchbook, never trying to paint it. I was accepted to Rutgers University where I studied Marine Science and Ecology. At the same time, I was being pulled towards graffiti in a stronger way, I was seeing it everywhere and a few friends were painting so we all formed a crew and started painting heavily. That was right around 2006, and I was painting graffiti weekly and also working a full time job pertaining to my major.
After graduating college, I was searching desperately for a cool job that fit my degree. I worked a handful of jobs, considering them as stepping stones to a grander career, possibly something in a marine research field or with Fish & Wildlife. These years were my busiest when it came to graffiti. My friends and I had a pretty strict weekly routine of painting freights 3 times a week, and we stuck to that up until recently. These are definitely the years that built my foundation as well as my reputation for being a ‘straight letter’ guy in the national freight graffiti community. For me and my friends, it was more of an excuse to meet up a few times a week, catch up on things, vent about work, enjoy some bar food, and get some work done. After painting for years on end, it just becomes a routine, less of an adrenaline rush and more of an escape from the day to day stresses. Even during these years I remember having a checklist of different techniques I wanted to paint (cracked, slimy, ripped, upside-down, bevel, chrome, etc), probably a bit a foreshadowing of things to come.
While I was working a crappy job and painting graffiti a handful of nights a week, I was also juggling occasional mural jobs. In 2008, I was painting a legal wall in Camden and was asked by a roller rink owner to paint the entire rink floor in a Las Vegas theme. I had never done any murals before this, had no idea how to price it out, what supplies I needed, or how long it would take. This definitely planted the seed and I realized I could quickly make a week’s pay in only a few hours. At this time I was already using Glossblack as a business name, originally with the intention of creating handmade fonts for sale, but that quickly faded away as mural business started to take over. I would promote on Craigslist routinely and mostly directed my skills at daycares and other cartoony jobs. Fast forward to 2015, a client gave me full artistic freedom on an empty corner lot. I painted a large ‘PHILLY’ in an illustrative chrome effect as well as a vibrant letter-based fence surrounding it, right in the heart of Fishtown. After that, I could really tell that things started to snowball and I was painting murals almost weekly, as well as picking up some major corporate clients.
2016 is when everything fell into place. My wife and I were newlyweds, expecting our first child, emptied my savings account and bought a home, bought my wife a much needed new car, and with all of these new financial burdens, I decided to quit my day job! ...and it was absolutely one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. For the longest time, I had wished to be able to support myself (and my family) with my art but I never really imagined how this was possible. I think I always relied on the idea that I would work for someone, maybe painting a movie set or learning faux finish, etc. Looking back, I feel like it was smacking me in the face for years, that spray painting large scale work was my specific strength, and that’s the avenue I should be pursuing. That lettering and the way I approach letter structure/texture is unique to me, and no one else, and that’s what will become my brand or trademark.
Today, I feel so fortunate to be where I am. Some days I say to my wife that ‘I’m glad I’m not cleaning a fish tank right now’ or ‘I’m glad I’m not sitting in traffic right now’, which are both things I was doing daily only two years ago. It still feels a little weird to have this new freedom to a degree and I want to make the most of it. As much fun as it is to work on my own art, I actually enjoy the pressure and challenges of working with a client and their brand image. It’s a great honor to be trusted to that degree, that a major company is willing to collaborate or put their image in my hands. For someone to come to me and request my vision for their brand is the highest form of flattery and also a great reminder that I’m doing something right. Moving forward I want continue to sharpen my skills, test my boundaries, provide a high quality product to my clients, and always stay positive and thankful that I’m doing what I love.
Glossblack LLC Services
I am Philadelphia graffiti artist, a contemporary artist, and mural painter for hire. I am currently focusing on large scale public artwork, with a focus on typography, signage, and collage.
Making the client happy is my number one priority. I have painted a wide variety of establishments including; residential, local businesses, corporate offices, gyms/crossfits, daycares, schools, universities, breweries, roller skating rinks, and the list goes on. I have been commissioned by Gap, Comcast, The Philadelphia 76ers, Under Armour, Reebok, Puma, Lyft, NBAonTNT, Justin Bieber, Pabst, Redbull, Saks Fifth Ave, Bergdorf Goodman, Google and the list goes on.
I look forward to helping you with your project, feel free to send me an email!