Exclusive BNR Interview EAST 3 Mural Writer and B-Boy Aerosol Artist
East 3 is a lifelong “Writer” and Hip Hop practitioner from Hawaii since the 1980′s. In 1988, he met and began studying under his mentor, the legendary P.H.A.S.E. 2 (NYC). Currently East 3 works closely with Mighty 4 youth non-profit to help strengthen the youth in numerous states and cities. His breakthrough came when he collaborated with P.H.A.S.E. 2 to create a massive mural in Hawaii, which gained recognition and was featured in a 1994 issue of The Source magazine. East 3 works with various mediums, including acrylic paint, spray paint, markers, pencils, and even clay sculpture.
Q. Big Noise: Your first art memory or experience was?
A. EAST3: My mom was a fashion designer and I recall watching her do her drawings and patterns and I used to doodle on paper. I started out drawing animals. Then as I got older I started copying comic books and just creating different characters. In 1984 I saw the book “HIP HOP” by Steve Hagar and I saw P.H.A.S.E.2’s “Evolution of Style” and I was so inspired by the way he rocked letters and it was a wrap. I never stopped since.
Q. Big Noise: What age where you when you decided to become a full time artist and designer?
A. EAST3: I started my hustle in my teenage years by doing trucker hats and acrylic jackets. From that point I knew that this was the career path for me. I was doing tshirt designs for my first brand “Giants” based off my crew 808 Giants. I learned how to use the computer in 1996 and that’s when I started doing graphics for clients.
Q. Big Noise: How did you breakthrough to become a career artist?
A. EAST3: My national recognition started after I created an opportunity to acquire P.H.A.S.E. 2 to come to Oahu Hawaii in 1993 to paint a 125’w x 10′ h production with me for a Hawaii based record label called MVP & ITM. This mural consisted of 2 massive super burners and a tribute to 70’s Japanese super heroes. This mural and myself was later featured in the July 1994 source magazine review of Hawaii Hip Hop.
Q. Big Noise: What type materials do you like to work with or prefer to use.
A. EAST3: I use all types of mediums. It just depends what the project entails. I use acrylic paint, spray paint, computer for graphics, paint/felt markers and pencils. I’ve even ventured into clay sculpture projects.
Q. Big Noise: How do people react to your work?
A. EAST3: Most people I encounter feel my work and can really appreciate and relate to characters and full productions with time and space values. Most audiences do not know how to value a super burner (piece). I often refer to the art of Arabic calligraphy when explaining what a super burner is. Arabic Calligraphy often shapes their letters into animals and most cannot understand what the word means however everyone can agree that the calligraphy and techniques are beautiful.
Q. Big Noise: Did you start out doing illegal art?
A. EAST3: Yes, I started out tagging and bombin here in Hawaii. Now in the present I am discouraging getting up and emphasizing quality and elevation verse replication to the youth. I’d like to see some ill Hawaii Writers in the future.
Q. Big Noise: Whats your perspective in relation to the writting culture and how so many seem to just go with the flow that the media created?
A. EAST3: I think like anything else repetition and constant reinforcement from the media, meta tags and social media about the improper labeling of the art form is to blame. I think that some like using the G word because It makes them feel like an out law. In this era, most don’t have access to the true history of the art form so they go with what’s popular. The R-Evolution is here and now. There are many who are returning back to the original terminology of Writing/Writers. I just edited a video featuring KRS One for a commercial for a Las Vegas Art movement called Midnight Marauders where KRS speaks on bring back the original terminology. Check it out www.midnightmarauderslv.com
Q. Big Noise: How important do you think knowing the history is and being politically correct as far as knowing what the art/culture is and what it isn’t or never was?
A. EAST3: I have been blessed with the greatest friend and mentor from almost the beginning of my career so learning at a young age about being politically correct and respecting the art form was broken down to me at an early age. It’s really hard to fault people for believing that G’fitti is the proper term there is not a lot of resources available that contain the cultures history online or in books. I think that it’s ok to believe what you want to because I am very dualistic in mentality. If a person has been made aware of the language and still labels the art form G that’s ok. As P.H.A.S.E. 2 would say let them be that it separates “us” from “them”!
Q. Big Noise: If you could paint with one fine artist past or present who would it be?
A. EAST3: One more time with P.H.A.S.E. 2.
Q. Big Noise: What inspires you to move your art in the direction your going now?
A. EAST3: I have gone through a lot of spiritual change in my recent years. I wasn’t a very spiritual person and I’ve just become more in tune with that. Spirituality is now a big part of my art work. I am combining my intentions along with a positive word and wanting to paint it in public places. I think these pieces are healing pieces that can truly help our community.
Q. Big Noise: What do you do when your not doing art, any hobbies?
A. EAST3: I am bball player by heart. I am limited by my injuries from the sport but I can still get down haha! I also like swimming and fishing….straight island life feel me.
Q. Big Noise: Any particular music you listen to when you paint?
A. EAST3: I have a large collection of Hip Hop and breakbeats (from every era) and I just put the iPod on shuffle and go at it. When drawing I really like Coltrane!
Q. Big Noise: Where can we see your works?
A. EAST3: You can check out my website www.east-3.com.
Q. Big Noise: Have any up coming projects we should know about?
A. EAST3: I am painting at Pow Wow Hawaii Feb 11th (which is similar to the Art Basel in Miami) I am also painting another public art movement called Midnight Marauders in Las Vegas on March 1, 2 & 3rd.
Q. Big Noise: Any particular place in the world you’d like to go and paint?
A. EAST3: Mali (West Africa). My Shamans teacher Malidoma Some is from there. There is a connection to be made.
Q. Big Noise: Any last words or advice for those trying to get into your line of work?
A. EAST3: If you want to be a brand designer I say networking and getting out to big conventions (Comicon, ASR, Magic fashion show) and building with business owners is key. If you want to make a career out of Writing I’d say your in it for the wrong reason. It takes a great deal of passion and love to build a style. Stick to your guns and be original verses being a trend follower. Contribute to the art form verse replicating. Advancement! Aloha!
EAST3 Paints The Rza, Dr DRe, J Dilla, Pete Rock, The 45 King & DJ Premier | Video
Published in October 2010: EAST3 Paints The Rza, Dr DRe, J Dilla, Pete Rock, The 45 King & DJ Premier.
Midnight Marauders Art Movement Las Vegas 2013 Feat KRS One | YouTube Video
Published in January 2013: Midnight Marauders Art Movement Las Vegas 2013 feat KRS One.
East 3 is a lifelong “Writer” and Hip Hop practitioner from Hawaii since the 1980s. He began his artistic journey by doodling animals and copying comic books. In 1984, he was inspired by P.H.A.S.E. 2’s lettering style and decided to pursue graffiti art. He started as a teenager, creating designs for trucker hats and jackets, and eventually ventured into graphic design using computer software.
East 3 believes that many artists are influenced by media-created perceptions of graffiti, but he emphasizes the importance of respecting the history and original terminology of the art form. He also incorporates spirituality into his work, creating pieces with positive intentions to heal and help his community. Outside of his art, East 3 enjoys playing basketball, swimming, and fishing. He listens to a wide range of music, including hip hop and Coltrane, while creating art. His works can be seen on his website, and he has upcoming projects at events like Pow Wow Hawaii and Midnight Marauders in Las Vegas.
For aspiring artists, East 3 advises networking, originality, and a genuine passion for the craft, whether in branding or graffiti writing. He encourages contributing to the art form rather than simply replicating trends.