So what sparked your interest in starting graff and how did the name Fester come about?
I got introduced to graff through my earliest childhood friend, Tasq, around 1995/96. We were both about 15 years old at the time and had recently transitioned out of skating. He came for a visit when I was living in Roberts Creek and as soon as we got off the bus on the highway he did this fat tag right on the fire department with a magnum fat tip pen. I was completely hooked from that moment on. Now it’s 2020. Haha.
The name Fester derived from my earlier name ‘Fus’. I wasn’t really feeling the U in Fus so I switched it to an E. That was around 2000 I believe. I was producing beats for a small hip hip collective called Bin1372 with Mentos and others around that time and they started calling me Fester. I gradually began painting more Fester pieces from that point on.
What can you tell us about the scene on the coast when you were first getting your start?
Oh man... those were the golden years. The 90’s were crazy. Basically from that one weekend with Tasq in 95/96 it just exploded from there. I quickly began scrawling all over my high school and everywhere else. Due to the fact there was no internet at that time I was unaware of any other writers except for my other buddies that started with me (Yaro1 and big SE1 you know who you are). But it quickly began to expand, It was almost like a sickness, We really started to multiply. Soon after we all started painting, I was quickly made aware of Mentos who was in grade 11 at the time. We linked up and started painting together. Gibson’s was basically just my friends and Mentos who were writing. However we soon realized there were also a few writers in Sechelt. There was one name in Sechelt that stood out above everyone and that was the OG ‘DEPONE’. He was up everywhere in Sechelt and had a very unique style. His throw-ups were basically bottomless stylized simple letters. They were so inspirational. We all basically started biting his style. I remember meeting him for the first time at a tiny skate shop in Sechelt and we were speechless. He sold us some NY thins and German outlines. So for the next couple of years Gibson’s paid dearly. The whole town was smashed beyond belief. It looked like the inner city. We started to get harassed by teachers and vigilantes at our high school and the cops. I once got pulled over on school hill and the young whipper snapper cop dumped all my cans on the road and they rolled down school hill. Haha.
Anything related to pieces was all exclusively done at the old, now nonexistent, Gibson’s skate park. There were some abandoned washrooms that we did pieces on. Hesk came onto the scene pretty shortly after and he was definitely a huge inspiration back then too. He came from the states so he brought a whole different style none of us had ever seen before. We all ended up getting busted and faced community service and fines. Since we would all get pulled over immediately if we were out at night, we had to switch gears. The mayor of Gibson’s at the time drove around with me and another writer and pleaded with businesses to legalize their walls for painting. I’ll never forget that. When I think back to that I actually really take my hat off to the guy. That was a pretty solid thing to do. Mentos being the smooth talker he is, was able to successfully get the curling rink legalized. So that was officially the second legal wall in Gibson’s which sort of redirected everyone away from bombing and more into piecing. We also managed to get Molly’s Reach legalized shortly after that. And many more legal walls started popping up. We had a pretty solid piecing scene for a while once we had the wall space. We also used to break into the mill and hit freights. That was always an adventure. Semi trucks weren’t safe either. I think a lot of truck companies were very pissed off that they kept getting lit up with fresh burners. Some of my fellow partners in crime at the time were, of course, the one and only Mentos, Yaro1, SE1, Big Etch, Nephew, Hesk, Sel1 (who came onto the scene a little later than the rest) and many more. OSK crew what! DP crew what! One last thing - there was a car parts store on the highway that used to sell us discounted plastikote paint and rusto at decent prices. They were hugely supportive. Prior to that there wasn’t really anywhere to get decent cans at all.
Wow.. you actually just covered so many questions I had, this is crazy to hear. Especially that the mayor used to drive you around to open legal walls. That would never fly nowadays. When you made the move to Vancouver what was it like transitioning into the graff scene there? Were there any notable writers that really stood out to you?
It was quite a transition due to the fact that there were a lot more writers in the city compared to the coast. The presence of trains changed the game too. Ironically enough, the writers that stood out the most were Mentos, Hesk and others because they had also already moved to the city as well. Other notable writers would have been AA crew and some of Kaput and Cameos earlier work.
looking back to when you were starting out, yourself and the writers you were around brought crazy styles to the table and were out of the box thinkers. Would you say that you guys had an impact or influenced the Canadian graffiti scene?
Possibly yes. It’s hard to say. Mentos and Hesk ran a graffiti magazine called full spectrum which showcased a lot of West Coast talent. We all started to get some recognition in the early 2000’s. A lot of what inspired us the most back then was physically going to walls and photo albums. Writers would often trade photos and send them to graffiti magazines hoping to get a feature.
The full spectrum magazines are so good, I just got my hands on the 2nd and 3rd edition. Shout out to Mentos and his parents! Haha. From your travels, where are your favorite places to paint?
Favorite places? Definitely Japan 100%. Japan was so incredibly inspiring to paint on so many different levels. I’d say I created some of my best work in my career in Japan for sure. The Coast as well because we were the scene. There were fewer complications and lot’s of freedom on the coast.
Top 5 writers?
It’s changed over the years but the most consistent would be earlier MSK crew work, Sklawl from Japan, Sauté, Twist, Paser MFK and many more. Those are the names that jump out the most at the moment.
There’s lots of new innovation in graffiti with technology such as Virtual Reality and even drones. Where do you see graffiti going in the next 10-20 years?
Good question. That’s hard to say. I’m gonna say it’ll largely remain the same but digital media may start becoming more and more popular. But as far as painting is concerned I think it’ll remain unchanged for the most part.
Thoughts on today's graff scene and the new styles coming from the younger generations?
Out here? I like the bombing styles. There seems to be a lot of people painting these days.
What motivates you to keep painting and where do you draw your inspiration from now?
At this point I basically motivate myself. I’m not sure what really pushes me to still go and paint specifically. I guess it’s mainly the desire to be creative and force of habit. Since I’ve been painting for so long it’s in my bones. I’ve tried to hang up the cans before but my will to paint always prevails in the end. When I’m painting the world around me just melts away. I lose all concepts of time. It’s very meditative. As for inspirations... I draw a lot of inspiration from the environments that I paint. There are a few writers whose work still inspires me too.
Any last thoughts or shout outs you want to give?
Shout out to all the SDK boys, DSE crew, NBS and everyone else. You know who you are. Thanks again for giving me the opportunity to reminisce about my early years in graffiti. It brought up a lot of unforgettable memories.