FOUR LITTLE STARS – An Interview With Portlands Anonymous Street Ranter

Four little stays asterisk graffiti.

ENDLESS CANVAS: Over the past year or more everyone in Portland has seen the infamous quotes scrawled around town signed only with four asterisks and wondered who was to credit. Do you have a self proclaimed alias you like to go by?

****: I do not have one specific alias and that was the idea behind using the stars. Many of my quotes were inspired by or even stolen from other people’s songs, art, or mouths. I felt it would be unfair to put a name to my quotes, so i put goofy little nameless stars that could stand for anybody’s alias, because i am affected by everybody around me.

EC: When did you start writing quotes up on the wall? Where you involved with graffiti culture before that?

****: I started writing quotes on peoples property about two years ago. I had a couple friends who wrote graffiti, but i was never any good at it, and didn’t find it enjoyable yet. Then one day, after having the shittiest week ever, i walked into my brothers room and he was drawing with his friend on sticker paper. I had an epiphany. I walked to the post office and burned through countless stickers, just letting out what had been trapped inside of me, writing words to stick on the city, to get torn down, to do again. Adventure From 9 to 5, Abandon Your Ideals, Anger Is A Gift, and all of my other quotes all got their starts on stickers two years ago.

EC: Why do you do this?

****: I do what i do because it is the only way for me to make people take a moment out of their repetitive lifestyles to simply think about something. My main goal with my graffiti is to affect other people in a positive way, or even a negative way, as long as it makes them think outside of whatever box they were in. And i cannot deny the fact that graffiti can be fun as fuck, as long as you do it safely.

EC: Did you write your thoughts down before you got into graffiti?

****: I never really wrote my thoughts down before i got into graffiti, and i think that is another big aspect of graffiti that i find to be really beautiful. It lets me say what i think, feel, or appreciate, without the emptiness of a journal or the moderation of a counselor, all while letting other people hear about it. I’ve gotten feedback from people who have seen something i have written, and they have told me that they felt the exact same way, and that my graffiti was just what they needed to feel better or simply heard.

EC: When we asked you for photos for the interview you said that you don’t photograph your work. Do you feel detached from your work, not comfortable with your photo skills or what’s your view on documenting graffiti in general?

****: I do not photograph my own graffiti for the most part. This is because i feel like if my writing deserves a photograph, somebody else will take the picture. I should not be the judge of my own work, since i put it out there to be judged by anybody and everyone. One of my biggest pet peeves is people self-posting pictures of their graffiti on the internet, its a new aspect of graffiti that i find unfair.

EC: Do you gain any inspiration from artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat? Do you feel like you’re carrying on a long tradition by doing what you’re doing or do you feel like you came upon the activity randomly?

****: I came upon this activity randomly, but i slowly realized that i am carrying something on. I started by myself, but gained inspiration from many random sources along the way. There have been so many fantastic artists going back decades that it is impossible to not be inspired by them, or carry on their ideas.

EC: Your quotes stand out from the rest of the name based graffiti in Portland. What kind of response have you gotten from the rest of the graffiti community in PDX?

****: I have received extremely mixed responses from the graffiti community here in Portland. I am hard to categorize. The traditional writers say i have a terrible hand and no style, and that’s true, but not the point of my writing. A lot of street artist types have criticized me for similar reasons, because my writing is often far from aesthetically pleasing. My most appreciative demographic seems to be people with no connection to graffiti, but that’s fine by me.

EC: Do you write down your quotes before going out or do you come up with them spontaneously on the spot?

****: I plan out some things that i write, and other things are just stream-of-consciousness style writings as i walk down the street. The other day my dad got on my case about my spelling; he had seen a few misspelled quotes and it made me realize that maybe i should put more time into each quote…

EC: We heard a rumor that there was a second person writing quotes in Portland, but signing them with five asterisks instead of four. Is this true and if so is it a friend of yours or a random stranger engaging you in conversation?

****: I think i have seen this. It’s the sticker artist Kanye, he would write quotes and then for one or two of the stars he would include letters from the name Kanye. I’m not sure if he’s trying start beef, or if it’s a third-party’s assumption that I am Kanye, or if it’s a compliment. It’s all very odd to me. If Kanye’s reading this, hit me up somehow…

EC: Were there any quotes that you were particularly proud of?

****: I like most of my quotes the same, but one that other people seemed to get hyped on was “CALL IN SICK” (in quotes). I wrote it above the freeway that a lot of cookie-cutter office workers sit in traffic on. As they rolled at two miles an hour to their dead-end jobs they saw something that hopefully made them think twice. It was running for a few good months, until the spot got blown up.

EC: Anything random you’d like to say… a closing statement?

****: Respect the cops that respect you, but fuck the vandal squad. Fuck Matt Miller. Fuck Tony Zanetti. This is for you guys. You are manipulative, corrupt motherfuckers. You are hated more than any individual writer in our city. Abandon Your Ideals.

EC: Any thanks or shout outs to anyone?

****: A big shout out to my homies, Kyndle, Engine, and my girl Smack. Get up amigos. A giant thank you to my brother, and Endless Canvas for putting this together.

Graffiti Quotes Portland PDX.

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