AHC: Can you tell us a bit about your process, themes & inspirations?
Al: There is no one specific method or ritual to taking an idea and or thought to fruition. For me it’s just second nature. I am inspired by everyday occurrence, overheard conversations, first hand and peripheral observations of human conduct, preoccupations, etc. I believe that as long as there is a “Human Race”, there is no shortage of inspiration/material.
AHC: What first drew you to art & graffiti?
Al: As far back as I can remember, I have been drawing and attracted to art, music, film and any other form of artistic endeavor. As a toddler I would draw in the air with my finger ( imaginary sketchbook), I decorated my crib with crayon scrawls, I began creating my own comic books in the 3rd or 4th grade. I made dioramas and models in my pre-teen years. for me, creating has always been an innate need.
AHC: Can you tell us a bit about your involvement in the NYC music world?
Al: More specifically I was involved in the music scene that was going on in lower Manhattan during the early 80’s. I had just wrapped up my SAMO©… graffiti project with Jean Michel Basquiat and looking to do something a bit more challenging than writing on walls. I kind of had a pretty good sense of rhythm so I pursued percussion instruments. Congas,Timbales, talking drum, berimbau, wood blocks, home made xylophones and home made vibraphones. I really went head deep into it. I made a lot of my own instruments. I spent a good 4-5 years doing just music. I played & recorded with some very cool bands during that period. KONK, Liquid Liquid, Dog Eat Dog, Elliot Sharp (ISM) Ivan Julian (of Richard Hell & the Voidoids) & Theoretical Girls. I also played the percussion on the iconic hip hop record that JMB produced for Ramellzee & K-Rob, BEAT BOP. The 80’s spun out of control and so did I. The lifestyle took its toll on me and some of my associates.
AHC: Can you tell us about your Wet Paint Series?
Al: In 2009 I began collecting the WET PAINT signs used by MTA thru out the subway system with the intention of “Doing something with them”. I immediately began making anagrams from multiple signs. It would be another 2 years of developing the idea before I actually posted one of my reworked signs back on a subway station wall. Once I started I could not stop. I generated anagram after anagram and began posting them publicly on a weekly basis. The messages ranged from comical to poignant. Some of them just plain absurd. I worked with just the WET PAINT signs for about 3 years when I decided to incorporate the SERVICE CHANGE ALERT posters. I began working with Subway Artist Jilly Ballistic and felt that I had exhausted the possibilities using just the 9 characters (W,E,T,P,A.I.N plus W turned upside down to make M and P reversed to make a d). Jilly’s images required captions and adding the letters and numbers of the subway trains really expanded not only my alphabet but the look of the signs as well. It is still a constrained alphabet. I only have 3 vowels and no H,K,Y,O,V,X or U. I have been very ambitious with my WET PAINT series and shown the work at least 5-6 times in the last year and a half.
AHC: Do you have any upcoming exhibits or projects you’d like to tell people about?
Al: I am currently trying to put together a couple of shows but no fixed date as of yet. My work with Jilly Ballistic is featured in a book by Yoav Litvin about collaborative street art projects entitled “2 CREATE”. The book is slated to be released in October. Other than that I am struggling, hustling, working and trying to get my own indie book of WET PAINT signage printed and published by the end of this year!!
To find more of Al’s work and for further information visit his website at al-diaz.com
Originally posted on Anti-Heroin Chic.