Much of street art stems from graffiti, highly stylized art that often focuses on lettering and went up on property without the necessary permission of the owners. Quickly hitting trains and walls before getting caught up by authorities was the norm and the tool of choice was none other than the spray can. As graffiti became acknowledged as more of an art over the years by people outside of graffiti culture, commissioned murals began to pop up more and more around cities and choice of mediums began to expand.
Robert (Dytch66) Gomez, a founding member of the CBS graffiti crew, saw these changes around him but still stayed true to honing in his craft with spray paint. As a Los Angeles native, he's had the opportunity to put up murals all over the city from Santa Monica, Huntington Beach, Hollywood and if you're an artist picking up supplies as the Beverly Grove Blick's then you've probably seen him there too. Dytch66's diligence in sharpening his spray paint work over the course of years landed him a spot showing in Art Basel Miami 2014 and he's only grown from there.
When did you begin pursuing art?
Dytch66: I mean as soon as I could hold a pencil, I mean I've been drawing my whole life but I got into graffiti around '84 and I grew up in Los Angeles. I lived up and down the coast my whole life. My family originates from Venice I would always go surfing with my dad and hang out at the beach and kind of people watch. Venice is a very special place the people watch. Yes, I was influenced by breaking and graffiti and just everything you can imagine out there. And at that age too it’s a really good place to be influenced or see that you can be anything you want… as weird as you want or what not.
Do you have artists that inspired you specifically?
I’d say Dali, Salvador Dali ..like a lot of photo realism, surrealism, 3 dimensional art stuff like that.
You're one of the OGs with 3D letters.
Yeah so I'm mostly self-taught but I went and took different Workshops and kind of self taught myself in different classes and what not. I think oil painting is what kind of influence my change from traditional graffiti to more of this modern take on it.
At what age was this evolution?
It was probably late twenties to early thirties. I was just lucky enough to have a teacher that was able to say this is a formula and once you learn how to apply this you can apply to any medium you want and paint with anything you want. My go to is spray paint so I kind of just embodied that from there and it’s just been this pursuit to refine it as clean as possible, paint it as small as possible just to make it more challenging, more of an opponent against anyone else, trying to be competitive in what I do.
Can you expand on when you said you want to paint as small as possible?
Well like a lot of people paint in mixed media because they can’t necessarily refine their skill to do those things that they want at that small of a level but I find it that I'm going to take away from study if I take on another medium. Like if I go to oil painting and then I'm doing spray painting and then I'm doing tattoo like I'm going to be average at everything and not great at anything. I want to be masterful at that one thing that I do.
On the Ewkuks gallery showing:
I haven’t shown in a gallery or anything in over 10 years . I don’t really make my money in that way; I sell murals for the most part. I make my money from commercial advertisement, commissions, murals just anything that has to do with outdoor painting and exterior painting. No one has any access to any of my work so now this is the first time you can actually get something that’s on a wall.
How would you describe your art? If you had to pitch it someone what would you say?
I think this is my take on an old school Wildstyle feel and lettering but this is my modern, techy, kind of biomechanical version. It’s all influence from my uprising; comics, cartoons, all that good stuff. I like messing with textures and contrast. It just feels more interesting that way. The other thing with doing everything spray paint is that I can give the person a perspective of looking at any art piece from 5 feet but then when you go up to it you see that everything is spray everything has spit to it. It’s still like real, still natural, still spray paint.
I want to compare and contrast your studio to your street work. And you said this is your first time in 10 years doing gallery work. How did it feel doing studio work when you’re so used to large murals?
I mean it’s definitely different. It’s a lot harder to paint smaller especially with a spray can because the spray is usually bigger and the surface is bigger so now you’re adjusting to this whole different type of paint and you got to be more strategic and constantly work around drips. You definitely have to have a layering process to do this size or you’ll just trap yourself in a mess.
On prepping for the show:
We planned the show and had basically a month to create all these pieces, paint all these pieces, and do this installation and do my normal job too.
So you have another job?
I have a company and we paint murals.
That’s Blank Canvas LA right?
I’ve taken that upon myself because I’ve been here my whole life. I know a lot of artists all over the world and it kind of turned into this thing where if I had a bigger staff or crew that could help me take on a bigger job I can get more work done. I’m in no competition with anybody, I’m sharing. It’s more unified. We’re creating a market for something that doesn’t exist. There’s no position, I can’t apply for my job, it’s a creative craft. I’m bidding constantly on all different kinds of artwork that’s in spray paint but not necessarily graffiti. I’ll paint anything you give me for the most part. Anything you see on a billboard or any ad I’ll replicate that.
What are your goals as an artist?
My goal is to leave my mark. I’m just trying to take on different ways of graffiti. Not to take away from anything that’s been done, but I’m just trying to find my way, my special thing that I’m trying to do that will make me stand apart from other artists . You need longevity for sure you need to stay present. I mean in my head I’m still battling all the youngsters. Friends with everybody but in my head okay we’re here to work. I’m coming for you, but I mean that keeps me going. At my age it’s the funnest it’s ever been because I think I’m more conscious. I actually can take what’s in my head and fully create it to every extent. I think that’s the most fun part of all of it right now is just that consciousness. That would be the goal for anybody to get to that point. It almost becomes hellish when you have imagined a thing in your head but you can’t project it and get it out. Yeah it’s almost like torture. You’re trapped. So yeah learning how to get that out is the most amazing thing I think.