Cave is an 11-year-old graffiti writer in San Francisco. He wants to keep his identity secret, just like the graffiti masters.“They don’t want people to know who they are," Cave says. "Sometimes they do illegal stuff, and you know, that could get you into trouble."
Listen to Cave talk about his graffiti habit:
Cave's passion for graffiti started early. It began with signs. “I actually learned how to read through traffic signs, because I used to know what they said by heart, like stop, one way and stuff.” When Cave saw lettering he liked, he would make his parents stop in the street so he could admire it. At home he made copies of the signs and pasted them onto cardboard. He loved signs so much that one Halloween he dressed up as the falling rock sign. There was also a period of time that he wore a reflective construction vest to school everyday.
A love of signage transitioned seamlessly into a love of graffiti. Cave has taken a handful of graffiti classes at school and at 1AM gallery, an urban art organization in San Francisco and Oakland. Cave gives a lot of credit to his teachers for showing him the basics. While Cave’s been working on his lettering for years, he’s only been painting for two years because, he says, his hands were way too small. "It was really awkward and hard to hold a paint can," Cave says.
Right now, Cave mostly practices his art on a wall in his backyard. It’s covered with layers of paint about a centimeter thick. “I’ve probably painted it at least 50 times," Cave says. "I usually draw everyday, but I just paint on the weekends because I've got to do my homework,” he says.
Cave further hones his craft by studying eye-catching murals by experienced artists around the Bay Area. One time, he spotted a painting by the great local graffiti artist Apex on a wall in Chinatown. Then he saw the artist himself. "We stopped and I said, hi, nice to meet you and stuff," Cave says of the experience. "And now I’m going to intern with him.”
Learn the basics of graffiti lettering from graffiti art master Apexer and discover studios around the Bay Area here.