Interview with Street Artist No Touching Ground

Street Artist No Touching Ground

No Touching Ground has produced some amazing and provocative work throughout Seattle.  Check out his website!  He is greatly influenced by his experiences in Alaska.  Much of his work in Seattle plays with the juxtaposition of natural with urban landscapes.  He was kind enough to conduct this interview with me via email:

(NF) What relationship (if any) do you see you work having to the ubiquitous

graffiti/tagging found throughout the city of Seattle?  What differences?

(NTG) My work is lumped in with graffiti, because in the eyes of the law-

it’s all the same. I don’t consider myself a graffiti artist.

Graffiti is pure destruction. I’m not interested in that. I’m

interested in creating an ephemeral narrative- my work isn’t about

destruction.  At this point in my life I’m looking to make the least

amount of impact on this world as possible. I’m not attempting to

carve a portrait into a mountain.

(NF) Have you been influenced by the concepts and grammar of graffiti, or do

you see graffiti as totally separate type of expression that just happens

to take place where it is visible to the public?  If yes, What similar

purpose does it serve for human expression?

(NTG) My work and the work of graffiti artists are similar only in the fact

that they are unwanted forms of human expression according to the law.

Granted the work exists in the public realm, however, my work focuses

on site specific, disused spaces, and abandoned structures.  Graffiti

artists aren’t nearly as specific; abundance is the name of the game.

(NF) Do you believe that what you and other graffiti artists do should be

considered illegal?  How does the legality of street art contribute to its

meaning?

(NTG) Whether it is legal or not doesn’t really concern me.  I think that

cities should create public space for people to express themselves; it

would at least create an example of democracy in a public space.  It

would offset some of the advertisements were subjected to on a daily

basis.  I, however, don’t see my work going into those places.  Much

like skateboard parks, I’m not interested in participating in these

institutional structures.  I feel like these resemble the reservation

model, set up by the government to contain what they deem as a

problem.  However, I feel like this is my own rhetoric and my

justifications don’t necessarily pertain to the general public.

I do think that the illegality of creating work in the street carries

some weight. When things are permissible then the urgency is lost -

the risk no longer exists. I think graffiti and most works put up in

the street need that edge. Or that edge itself provokes the most raw

or pure human expression.

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