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.

Atlantic Ave Station, B,D,Q,N,R,2,3,4,5 Trains
Atlantic Ave Station, B,D,Q,N,R,2,3,4,5 Trains

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.

Get in Line and Remain Silent!!

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.

Prepare 4 Impending War

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.

All Live Laid 2 Waste

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!!

Please Maintain a Frenzied Pace

An Entire Life's Pilgramage Ended at a Strip Mall...

To find more of Al’s work and for further information visit his website at al-diaz.com

Originally posted on Anti-Heroin Chic.