i am; A Beautiful, Powerful, Creative Free Man.
DAESK is my chosen name and moniker I use to create graffiti art. It derives from Daskarone, a childhood nickname given to me by my mother. Having my public moniker established in childhood was fitting as that is when my interest in art began. A high chair, box of crayons and a sketchpad were the only things needed to keep me occupied for hours. This early interest was influenced by many things during childhood but was transformed in 1984 when I saw “Style Wars”. This documentary and graffiti art shifted what was an avenue of escape for me into a passion I have nurtured over three decades.
“Style Wars” highlighted the Hip Hop culture in New York City. This culture of names, colors, energy, artists’ stories, and personal characters spoke to me on a spiritual level. I knew it was something I needed to be a part of. It was not until years later, I realized my desire to be a part of what I had seen drove me to become the first “graffiti artist” in Minneapolis/St. Paul, creating multiple graffiti murals around the region during the summer of 1984 and ’85. Tagging was common, but scaled, mural-styled graffiti was not.
Connecting with others who shared my interests resulted in the first graffiti crews in 1985/86. Crews that quickly became known for painted jean jackets and large-scale, underground mural productions.
By the mid 1990’s, I had graduated from the School of the Arts Institute of Chicago; opened my art studio, House of Daskarone; and founded Juxtaposition Arts, the first arts organization in Minneapolis to interweave graffiti with fine arts instruction. Over 25 years later, I am still a practicing and teaching artist based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. More importantly, I am a father. I have two children – my son, Daesk, (10 years old) and my daughter, Rowan (7 years old). I have joint custody and am fortunate to have them with me at least 50% of the time. Their presence, and the time we spend together, influences my life and work significantly. We spend time watching trains pass by and discuss the artwork we see – both good and bad. Hikes and bikes rides through the city are often done in search of new graffiti murals and where safe to do so, I have taken them to places where I have painted.
During these experiences, we discuss the nature of my work and potential consequences of where I choose to create some of my work. I include examples of graffiti areas I do not agree with, explaining the difference between public and private spaces and that graffiti can harm or it can enhance. Much of my youth and early adult years as an artist were spent trying to express an interest and love for a genre largely seen as glorified vandalism. A genre in which I have thrived and continued to succeed. By being transparent with my children and introducing them to a broad range of art genres, it is my goal to ensure they have the tools needed to stand their ground should anyone challenge their choices or creativity because of ignorance.