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FEATURE : Interview with the Graffiti Kings

February 4, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Meet Darren Cullen the founder and CEO of GraffitiKings he has transformed his graffiti lifestyle into his business. Hes worked with brands like Ed Hardy, Microsoft, Hugo Boss, Dolce and Gabbana, Warner Brothers and Emporio Armani to name just a few. Graffitikings have even appeared on national UK televison numerous times from vandal to lunchtime tv stars who would have thought it? Companies now more than ever are trying to reach out to the younger generations ,they seek street credibilty by associating themselves with graffiti and if they want something done they contact the graffitikings.

Thanks for your time,tell us who are the graffiti kings?

The Graffiti Kings Team, TEAM GK is a collective of the BEST UK Graffiti Artists with history since day dot in terms of British Graffiti. Long gone the days of thinking about ourselves with BIG egos, we all work as a team and make GK more important than our own names. This is why GK has a massive presence in the Graffiti Art game, everyone else is still trying to take on the world by themselves.Lets go back to the begining.How did you start writing graffiti ? I know you are writing a long time im guessing twenty years ago there wasn’t  a big graffiti scene in the UK?

Ser piece early 90's

I started writing Graffiti in 1983 when at the time there was only 4 maybe 6 other guys that I knew that were writing our names in the area we used marker pens to write our names on everything, we thought we were the only ones doing this as we never saw anything else by anyone. It wasn’t utill late 1984 when I took a bus to New Addington swimming bars & saw all the Graffiti on the building with spray paint ,after seeing that I was proper hooked and had to find out how these guys done these BIG colourful letters on the wall. Months go by when a mate shows me Stylewars the Graffiti movie, well that was it, GAME OVER, every car shop selling spray paint from Croydon to Mitcham was ran sacked for their paint by the 5 finger crew.

Any bad experiences painting when you were younger? Arrested? Beaten up?Shot at?

WOW OK… TO MANY but lucky for me I was never convicted so I wont give away them storys as they may catch up with me :) One story that will always be in my head & mouth? I was in a building site tagging all the walls & digger machines when out of the blue a MASSIVE Irish man takes my can of green Buntlack spray paint out of my hands & starts spraying my face green while holding me round the throat. He then smacks me in the mouth and breaks my front teeth in half  he tells me to FUCK OFF so I run home looking like the Hulk crying my little eyes out while the nerve in my broken tooth is killing me. Next day my Dad rounds up everyone in the pub and around twenty maybe thirty men with my Dad takes me back to this very building site, what happend next was like the football game in the Wanderers film,ENOUGH SAID!

When did you start painting legally? was it a natural progression as you got older?

I started painting legally around 15 years ago, well getting paid that is. I 99.9% stopped when my son was born 12 years ago but never say never.When he was born it really made me think what the fuck I was doing, fuck it I wasn’t going to get nicked painting walls while I had a son at school with no dad at home.When did you think about making a business out of your hobby?

When my son was born I was already making money on & off but never thought of going at it full time, I was having to much fun with the lads jumping on and off trains and all that jazz. So yeah I had a son and thought ok lets do this, I was never short of a pound note when I was young, I always had my hands in pies and I knew how to hustle on the hard ghetto streets of Croydon lol. I took what I learned while hustling and just walked into company buildings and gave them the Arthur Daley spill.

I read this comment under a youtube video that featured you

GRAFF310 Says:

nice story and all but i want fame, i want a proper rep and i cant get that through legal shit. im going all city. smashing the tracksides, watch out for me. “

Do you ever get any negativity from other graffiti writers who don’t ike what your doing?

When I first starting making money of Graffiti yeah BIG TIME, but now its all about the money for everyone, when I was a kid I was playing with go-karts, building camps, scrumping & Action Man etc. Nowadays kids want trainers, PS3 games, clothes and phones and the only way of doing that is by making money by ANY means good but 99% bad, they don’t have time for me as there is a man walking down the street with a Iphone in his ear ?
What is your opinion on Banksy?
Right he is a genius bloody GENIUS and a nice bloke. If it wasn’t for him my work would not be as hectic as it is, FACT, in fact if it wasn’t for him Graffiti would still be the same as what it was in the 70s, a culture made up of kids/young men that just wanted to fuck things up, there was people that was doing it for the Art but they was a small percentage of the culture and not even getting noticed, a few got their art in gallery’s etc …but no more attention was paid after a month. The public only saw the vandalism as 98% of people doing Graffiti was in it for the ego damage side of it, if it wasn’t for Banksy people would still be seeing/saying the same old shit. Give the man a fucking knighthood or something as he has created a culture of Art.

After having a look through your very impressive client list I think its kind of funny some of these companies would have probably prosecuted you before?

Unreal isn’t it? I’m lost for words on that question, really? what happened? its a set up.

Whats the best experience you have had so far while working on GraffitKings?
1.   Everyday watching the proud smiles on my family’s faces when they see their Dad, Son, Brother walking in the door from a hard days/weeks away long working. Come on I’m Darren Cullen from Croydon who had no care for the world and who was in it, if I wasn’t doing Graffiti right now I would be in prison, a junky maybe dead, working in a job for Penny’s & getting in debt, living of state money & waiting every two weeks for my £68 FUCK THAT, who knows? I know it would not be anything to smile about, I got kicked out of school so no GCSAPFD or what ever the fuck they are lol, NOTHING, the only thing I had back in them days then that would always make me feel happy was my Mum and Dad, sisters & brothers as they was always there for me, THAT’S ALL I HAD AND STILL HAVE.
2.   Knowing that when we do our youth workshops I maybe able to help change the way some young people feel about there empty future, there is a BIG chance that many of the young people are in the same boat as me when I was young as its not getting better out there its worse. example: if I had a fight when I was a kid we had a punch up, now kids we stab and shoot you and want to kill you? hopefully I can show them that its not the end.

Whats a normal day like in the life of GK?

EMAILS EMAILS EMAILS EMAILS and NO SLEEP, oh and I’m going bald and moaning about how messed up the youth of today is? hang on I’m getting old………….FUCK I’m turning into my Dad, I better play some Tinie Tempah and dust of me PS3, time fix up look sharp, BRAAPPPP! 


What are your plans for the graffiti kings in the future? Branch into tattoos or clothing?

OHHHHH I cant tell you that yet but VERY SOON Graffiti Kings will not just be about painting walls, who wants to buy my BIG share of this painting wall market ?it will be up for grabs, offers via EMAIL!

http://www.graffitikings.co.uk/

  1. steezyjeezy
    February 4, 2011 at 8:13 PM | #1

    good to see you back in business broski!

  2. London Police
    February 5, 2011 at 4:53 PM | #3

    Great read & Ser has always been a inspiration, good luck to Graffiti Kings.

  3. Eli
    March 2, 2011 at 5:42 PM | #4

    Darren Cullen getten it done!

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