From the Outside In

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Pic for interview.jpg

 

Swel is a graffiti artist from the Montreal area who started the hip hop crew T.A. Crew, or Team Autobot Crew. Swel currently works as a career professional who does graffiti on legal walls with other T.A. Crew members. He is a modest artist who is known in the community for being big hearted and an all around great guy.

Swel is away on business, so we conduct our interview over Google Chat. I send him a message that I'm ready on my end. Once he accepts the invitation a window pops up, and there is Swel in sunny California looking worn out from his seven hour flight. I apologize for the noise on my end as my kids are watching television and being noisy. He smiles and says, "That's okay." Swel has a business meeting to attend so I dive right in.

Me: So when did you decide that you needed to move in the direction of a career over graffiti?

He scratches his beard and leans back in his chair.

Swel: I would say that it wasn't really that...I think that one of the things that hampered me, that really slowed me down in graffiti was the fact that got busted for doing it so, that experience kind of, although I still really loved it, it made me not want to do it anymore because I did not want to get caught again, because that experience was not very pleasant at all. That pretty much stopped me from doing graffiti, not one hundred percent, but back in those days there wasn't any legal places to do it, so if you wanted to participate in the culture you had no choice but to do it on illegal walls, where now-a-days I've had plenty of opportunity to do it on legal walls. But from a graffiti artist's standpoint that's kind of controversial because just doing it legally isn't enough, that's what a lot of graffiti artists believe. But it's nice that there is that opportunity to practice and not have to break the law while you get some skills. I would say that concentrating on school was something that I wasn't ever against, it was just I guess I got older and got tired of not being appreciated and working at crappy jobs. And making money to live on you know.

Me: And how did it make you feel to come to that realization? Were you kind of saddened at the thought that you may have to compromise a little bit or to put it on hold and not to improve yourself on your skill?

Swel: Not really because I had already pretty much stopped writing graffiti, at least, a large amount, when long before I decided to go back to school. So it wasn't kind of like an exclusive choice between those two things.

Me: Do you still write and how often?

Swel: In the summer there I tried to get out three or four times to the legal walls, in this year. So, yes I still write.

Me: And who influences you now? Out of the writers out now who do you think, "Ya I really like that style, I'd like to do that." Or makes you think.

Swel: As for how style goes I don't think I get influenced by other writer's styles, I kind of already have my own style, as primitive as it may be. It's kind of like what I do so I'm kind of set in that, but I do see a lot of graffiti art out there that I like, you know like the Crazy Apes Crew, they do a lot of amazing, amazing things. And um, there are a lot of old influences on me too, names like FLOW, big time FLOW and KAS...SIKE.

Me: What is it that makes you want to write still?

He becomes distracted for a moment and says "Did you hear that? It's the Queen Mary." He grabs his laptop and moves over to the window to show me the boat out in the ocean. Than after a few seconds he sets the laptop back down on the desk and we continue the interview.

Swel: Um, the thing about graffiti is, it's kind of, I hesitate to use the word addictive, but it's very, the feeling you get from it is very...it makes you want to improve yourself [art]. And it's like every time you do it you're putting it out there for everyone to see it, it's kind of...I'm trying to think of how to describe it, but it's a feeling you can't really get in a lot of other things. Because you're doing it on your own, but you're also...it's a very public thing that you're doing so.

Me: What do you think of your progression as an artist, from the beginning to what you're able to do now?

Swel: I don't consider myself to be a very, you know, a great graffiti artist, I do it for fun. You know, it goes back to getting up and I don't try to get up anymore. I'm only really competing with myself, it's more like I don't think there's anywhere I can go.

Me: So you don't feel proud of perfecting a certain style, or even having just a piece that you feel proud at having produced.

He begins to lean back in the chair and rock back and forth contemplating the past.

Swel: I don't feel proud, I'm just happy, happy with what I'm able to do now, but it also has a lot to do with the fact that I've improved a lot. When we were first writing I wasn't very...the tools were not great. Like the spray paint was not very good, um it really took a lot of skill to make something look good, where now compare to what you used to get what you can put up on the wall is pretty good.

Me: What frustrates you about graffiti?

Swel: Not a lot.

Me: Not a lot?

Swel: No I mean it's a...it can be political. It can get very political, people can be very short tempered whenever you have something to do with ego. It can get...people can get short tempers.

Me: Okay, so it doesn't frustrate you. So what do you think that your style says about you?

Swel: Nothing.

Swel starts to laugh, and I do too.

Me: Have you ever been in trouble for doing graffiti?

Swel: Yes, like I said before it's one of the reasons I slowed down my graffiti writing.

Me: Would you discourage your children from doing graffiti?

Swel: Yes, illegally definitely.

Me: And how would it make you feel knowing that they're out there doing what you did?

Swell: I don't want to talk about it. I wouldn't like it. It's not really necessary anymore [doing graffiti illegally].

Me: What do you think of when you think about your kids continuing on with T A?

Swel: Well I like it. I think it's something that we can hand down to the kids, a sense of community.

Me: How does it make you feel to think of the end of TA? You know, people getting old and not wanting to do it anymore, being apathetic?

Swel: I don't think it's getting like that. I think, I mean it's always hard to motivate people, it's always been hard to motivate people to do things. Even in TA's hay-day it was hard to motivate people. Because people have other things to do, so to get people together to do something is not easy, no matter how old you are, even in the old days it was hard to motivate people to do things together. You just have to do something that everyone wants to do and hope that the community keeps coming together.

Me: How long do you see yourself doing graffiti?

Swel: Indefinitely.

Me: Do you continue to work on your style?

Swel: To improve it definitely.

I look at my paper and realize we've gone through all the questions.

Me: Well that's all I have for now. Thank you for agreeing to do this with me.

Swel: Thank you for asking me.

I thank Swel for his time, he smiles and signs off with a wave. His image disappears from my screen and I feel like I know a little bit more about Swel and his ideas of community. The Montreal graffiti culture is strong, and from this interview I knowl Swel will be a part of it for a long time, and that he will keep T. A. Crew going as long as he can.

Know Your Graffiti

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Beaux Dégâts

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Graffiti art exhibit at Foufounes Électriques, Wednesday April 24th.

Check it out, https://www.facebook.com/events/311129902349881/

In the Trenches with Max Good

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The Art of Respect

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Thumbnail image for 335374_10150857513120571_217518608_o.jpgRecognizable graffiti artists such as: Banksy, Obey, and Mark Echo, have helped to mainstream graffiti and garner more respect and influence for graffiti artists and art than ever before. Graffiti started as an underground art form, though recently graffiti has become esteemed by movie stars and art critics. Graffiti artists have been out in the dark of night painting walls and rooftops, evading capture, long before the popularity of the art form. Graffiti is illegal and the artists risk their freedom doing what they love to do.

Therefore, due to the legal issues and subject matter, I'll be making a loose description of Swel, the Montreal artist who started TA Crew. Looking at him in his work clothes you wouldn't know that he is a graffiti writer, he looks like an everyday professional. Swel, the founder of TA Crew, has receding dark hair, honest green eyes, an attractive smile and an enigmatic personality. He talks animatedly about the things he loves: family, graffiti, computers and video games.

The Argument for Motion-Picture Film

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By Jordano Aguzzi

JH_OsX.gif Due to the relatively low price of digital video (in comparison to motion-picture film), it democratizes the filmmaking process, opening up new schools of filmmaking based on cutting-edge, alternative methods. Ganz and Khatib also argue that the digital cinema revolution also offers a mode of re-defining what cinema actually is: the space of who can see what is being shot is now open to all eyes on the film set, and shooting a movie is no longer a privilege for the cameraman (21). Despite these arguments, I will use this white paper to argue against the digital cinema revolution and for the pragmatic, realism of celluloid motion-picture film. 

Motion Picture Film and Digital Video

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Screen shot 2012-10-25 at 12.48.03 PM.pngFor years now, filmmakers and critics have been predicting the "death" of celluloid film due to the constantly improving quality of high-definition video. The rise of quality in digital cameras and projectors have been changing the way audiences look at movies on the big screen with very few audiences noticing the difference. On an economic level, shooting digitally would save production and distribution companies thousands, even millions of dollars in the long run, saving on costs for negative development, digital transfers, and printing positives for film reels to be screened at movie theatres.

John Fithian, President of the National Association of Theaters stated in his annual state of the industry address: "For any exhibitor who can hear my voice who hasn't begun your digital transition, I urge you to get moving... Simply put, if you don't make the decision to get on the digital train soon, you will be making the decision to get out of the business" (Dombrowski 235). Truer words could not have been predicted, as on January 19, 2012, Eastman Kodak, the most innovative retailer in both still photography film and motion-picture film over the last century declared bankruptcy (Savitz).

So what's the big deal? Is it just a matter of purists holding on to an obsolete medium, or is there something authentic and "pure" behind shooting on motion-picture film? Furthermore, as digital cinema rises, what are the implications of the death of celluloid film and takeover of HD video? With this backgrounder, I hope to give an objective perspective on both sides of the argument.

Internet Resource Guide to ePublishing

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6998692893_0a8c639362_z.jpg Have you noticed whenever you're on the metro or at a café that eReaders are everywhere these days? These handheld devices let you carry hundreds of books around with you at any given time. This new technology has brought on a revolution in the publishing industry - ePublishing.

It had become common for big publishers to offer their titles in electronic form as well as in print form but it has also become phenomenally easy to publish your own eBook. Not only is it easy to do but it can also be more profitable.

This guide will lead you to several websites that offer ePublishing services. Each site is evaluated based on type, cost, distribution and percentage of royalties given to the author.

There are two types of sites: Distributor or Publisher.
The difference is mostly in cost and the amount of services offered. Distributors offer help in the last step of publishing, which is to actually get your book into the correct file format and put it out on the market. Publishers tend offer the kind of services you will require to transform your manuscript into a polished and professional book.

Self-publishing costs money, whether you decide to go with print-on-demand or ePublishing. How much you want to spend is up to you but making your book look like something put out by Random House does not come cheap.

There are several markets that have most of the market shares for eBook sales: Apples iBookStore, Amazon's Kindle Store, Kobo Books and Barnes & Noble. Not all distributors have agreements with every market, therefore which distributor you go with depends on which markets you want access to. Keep in mind that not all distributors limit you only to their services should you publish with them.

These were the four most talked about sites I found:

Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing

Smashwords

Kobo Writing Life

BookBaby

I thought it might be helpful to include a top five list of eReaders to give you an idea which bookstores to aim for.

The silver screen

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By: Sara

Screen shot 2012-08-03 at 9.28.04 PM.png
For some, going to the cinema is an indulgence, a special event that we treat ourselves with only once in awhile. For others, it can be a weekly event, and of course, there are many other types of cinema-goers in between. I personally belong to that group of avid film watchers, who are there for the opening night of an anticipated film or willing to see a box-office flop, simply for the experience of watching a movie on the big screen. As a personal experiment when I bought my new wallet, I decided to keep every ticket stub for every film I'd seen. Since I saw Daybreakers on the 19th of January 2010, I've seen eighty seven films in cinemas. So, I find myself in an apt position to compare a smaller scale cinema in my area versus the big one, the cinematic experience at the Scotia Bank Cinema on St Catherine St.

The last time I was at Scotia Bank Cinema was actually last night, to see the Avengers film for a second time. The great thing about seeing a movie of this scale at Scotia is that you can experience it on a variety of different screens, in addition to being able to see it in 2D or 3D. Where the first time I saw the film, I went to the regular old 2D showing on opening night. Of course, a blockbuster film like this would be enjoyable regardless, but the following time I saw the film, I splurged on the Ultra AVX screen. This screen allows for a higher picture and sound quality, as well as the ability to choose your own seat, all for an extra $5 on top of the $12.99 ticket price. In all honesty, while the screen is excellent, my ears certainly didn't detect the sound difference, nor did the ability to select my seat affect my enjoyment of the film. If you arrive to any film early enough, you can select your seat anyway. If this is a determining factor for a moviegoer to spend the extra $5, I think it's a bit of a rip off.








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