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When it comes to the legends of graffiti and the international growth of the movement, Chris "DAZE" Ellis is one of the important and vital names of the scene. When it comes to creating a works on paper show, specifically our BEYOND THE STREETS on PAPER show now on view at the Southampton Arts Center, we considered those early pioneers, the sketchbooks they perfected their craft in and thought about how much the medium of paper has meant to culture at large. DAZE's work for BTS on PAPER is a refreshing amalgamation of tags, collage, environment, spray paint and playful nostalgia of the bygone era of graffiti. 

Has the past year impacted or influenced your work in any way? How so? 

Just like everyone else, I too was impacted by pandemic and general unrest that followed. In the beginning I could not get to my studio because of the quarantine. This forced me to work on small scale drawings at home. This was a good thing because doing small, intimate drawings was something that I neglected for a long time. This was turning something negative into a positive. The protests, rioting and looting that followed was crazy. The quarentine was over but now we faced a curfew. To tell you the truth you had to be crazy to be out on the streets during that period. In my opinion the city is still trying to recover.

How has the mood of your most recent work changed or shifted from past work we’ve seen? 
The mood has become more introspective. Sometimes I make paintings about memories from the past. There are times when I'm making paintings as a reaction to something current. I'm still on a journey.

What would you say is the medium that has defined your work as an artist? 
The medium that I am most associated with is spray paint however I paint in all mediums. I typically make paintings that are a combination of oil, spray paint and acrylic. Lately I've decided to put oil paint down for a while and make work that is spray paint and acrylic.

When was the last time you produced works on paper? 
I'm always making works on paper. I have always had a sketchbook for decades now. It's where all my ideas are immediately recorded. They are kind of like diaries in a way. I also work in charcoal. pastel and watercolor. It's whatever mood I'm in at that moment.

What does working on paper look like for you? 
Some works on paper can be very refined. Others can be unfinished and show the process.

It seems like in the past year artists everywhere quite literally went back to the “drawing board.” What was that experience like for you as an artist or an individual? 
It was nice to work on a smaller scale again. It reminded me of when I did not have a studio and always had to work smaller because there was no space. I like to work big when I can but it's very hard to create large scale work that has a sense of intimacy. I don't want to lose track of that.

What does urgency mean to you? 

Urgency means taking things into your own hands. In many ways this defines graffiti as a culture. It's never been about waiting for someone to grant permission or finding a sponsor. It's more about doing it yourself and getting it out there. I would say that in the studio urgency can take on a different meaning. In the studio it can mean created a work without much preparation. Just going for it! 

Has your relationship with time changed at all in regards to creating? 

Depending on the work some paintings can take a few hours and others can take months. Right now I'm working on a large scale painting that I hope to be able to finish in a few months. In the studio I throw the clock out the window and try to concentrate.

What are some new hobbies or skills you cultivated in the past year that you have continued to keep up?
I don't have any new hobbies.

Any playlists or podcasts you listened to while making your works on paper? 
I listen to a variety of things from Jazz, classic rock from the 60's, Brazilian music, soul and classic r&b stuff etc. I rarely listen to hip hop when I'm working though. I like to hear that when I'm outside.

BEYOND THE STREETS on PAPER is on view at the Southampton Arts Center in 
 Southampton, New York through August 28, 2021