ET: I know you’ve probably been asked this question a million times, but how was the name ESTRIA born?
ESTRIA: All the writers were taking words for their names, like Prime, Dream, Dare, etc. Back then when you learned art history was Eurocentric so being in Hawai‘i, names like Michelangelo and Picasso were exotic. I just wanted an original name so I played with the letters for a month until I came up with Estria. I learned later it means stretchmark, which is a symbol of growth and change. It also connects my path to Esoteric.
ET: Before coming out to California in the 80’s what was the graffiti scene like in Hawaii and what was the spark that set you off on your journey to become the artist you are today?
ESTRIA: Hawai’i’s scene was exciting. It was influenced by the usual’s, Subway Art, Style Wars, but it also took an attachment to Brim TATS and Futura. I got into it in '84, not seriously, and I laugh at how much I sucked back then. It wasn't until I moved to San Francisco in '86 and painted with Crayone, Raevyn, Risque and Norm that I realized I sucked. That was my wakeup call that motivated me to improve
ET: California seems to be your home today, but what was it like when you arrived out there for the first time… How did Cali receive you?
ESTRIA: Bam and I moved to the same university and immediately became bombing partners. We were known as the Hawai‘i boys, more noted for characters than letters. We contributed to the scene from the TWS side of town, and were considered New Wave. That was a phrase coined by Ink OTC.
ET: Who inspired you when you first got out there and what was the Cali seen like back then?
ESTRIA: The California scene was huge and amazing. There were so many more writers than
in Honolulu and they were doing huge productions with lots of colors. You definitely had to step up your game to get any sort of recognition. Each city had distinctive styles, and you had to go there to meet the writers and share photos. There was no internet back then. Inspirations were Crayone, Raevyn, Picasso, Risque, Twist, Dream, Slick, Kaos, Deco, Ruel & Shok, Sprayz & Speks, the TMF guys Dug, Bisaro, Rise and the MPC guys Nate, Omen, Orko.
ET: What did you feel you contributed to the whole California Graffiti Scene that made you get noticed?
ESTRIA: I got good at techniques early on, thanks to Slick and Crayone. I think I was known for my characters. That was an easy way to stand out from so many people rocking dope letters. I began to explore color in a way that no one else in the bay area did. I also tried to do everything from realism to cartoon, simple to wildstyle. And I always tried to rock productions to stand out.
ET: You seem to be a very giving and nurturing type of person. What made you want to teach classes, organize graff battles and get involved in nonprofit work?
ESTRIA: I was raised that way, you give back, and you give to the youth because that is our future. The battles started out as something fun to do. It was me calling out some guys to battle me and we had a blast. I got smoked but who cares, 'cuz it was so much fun.
ET: You seem to have done some serious traveling… what was the most memorable location you painted and where was it?
ESTRIA: Painting back home in Hawai‘i has become spiritual and transformative for me. I feel that what I am painting there is more valued by my Hawaiian people and ancestors.
ET: Who inspires you as an artist today?
ESTRIA: Prime, Brook Kapukuniahi Parker, Solomon Enos, Askew, Aroe and the whole HA crew, Brett Cook, Poesia, Defer, Sento, MadC, Os Gemeos, Saner, Mear, Kofie and my kupuna (ancestors).
ET: What advice can you give young writers and the future of graffiti?
ESTRIA: Have fun and don't get caught. Give respect and you shall receive it.
Rule #1: no evidence. Rule #2: no evidence. You know what Rule #3 is? That's right.
ET: When it’s all said and done what would you like to be remembered for and why?
ESTRIA: Inspiring more people to paint, and to paint about their culture. To raise awareness and understanding of art as communication that has the power to change lives. To make change is a cool thing. And for having had tons of fun while doing all this. As I get older, like my grandfather, I'd just like to be a good family person and a man of character.
ET: What can we expect from Estria in the years to come?
ESTRIA: Lots of murals in Hawai‘i.
ET: Well… I want to take this opportunity to say thank you for your time and years of contribution to graffiti culture worldwide. That being said…. Any last words?
ESTRIA: Thank you for this opportunity
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