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Meet Griffin One

Today we’d like to introduce you to Griffin One.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I think a person’s childhood foundation most often sets the path for their trajectory in this world! I was born in Nairobi, Kenya in East Africa in the mid 70’s. My free-spirited parents decided that with everything going on in the states in the late 60’s at that time, why not move out to Nairobi, Kenya?… Where My grandparents had recently established a small international Travel Agency, originally based out of the Bay Area in California. So, they did & started a small but successful candle and custom leather purse & belt retail shop out there the 1st of its kind, called “Rainbows End.”

My brother and I were born a few years later. In the late 70’s, once the Kenyan president at that time passed away, we moved to the states due to civil unrest, and it was unsafe to stay any longer. We then packed up and headed to the states. I was around 4 years old at this time. My family explored a bunch of places in the Southwestern states for a few months — we were traveling and camping out in a small truck camper. When we stumbled upon Sedona, it was decided this would be the new home base and so that’s where I grew up.

I have a lot of Love for Arizona. I spent a majority of my years in this state & it will always be home. I, however, have always had a big attraction to being on the road, perhaps as equally as I am to creating art! There is something to travel that sparks my imagination — when the windows are rolled down on a road trip, and you are headed into unknown territory. I’ve been drawing or scribbling on something since I could hold a pencil. Growing up, I knew this that was what I was supposed to do. How? I had no idea but I was going to work as hard as I could to make it happen!

After graduating from high school in Cottonwood, AZ (Sedona didn’t have a high school), I moved to Seattle and went to the Art Institute up there. After graduating I began my pattern of, every 4 years or so, to move to a new city & state… and start over! (Seattle, San Diego, Louisville, Tempe/Phoenix, and Oakland.) Through each of these urban areas, along with some travels abroad, I feel like I have assimilated elements of culture & style that have influenced my mind, perspective, creativity & artistic vision.

It wasn’t as super glamorous as it may sound, haha, for I was always close to broke for a majority of my life since art school. I would work at sign shops or t-shirts shops or other similar businesses & then do my own artwork, and other graphics related gigs on the side or for friends Album Art for example or performing live art at shows & festivals. This included places like the AZ legendary “Blunt Club” weekly, the Good Times Festival (Jerome & Flagstaff), and other music events, art galleries, and special events. I wasn’t in it for the money, nor where many artists then, because that wasn’t a reality! The graffiti & aerosol mural scene was still very underground then and not anything like the popular movement of what “street art” it is today!

My mural work in other cities would soon create opportunities for me to travel more & with the presence of the internet in early 2000, I could do graphic artwork from where ever I was at!! It wasn’t until 2005 while living in Louisville, Kentucky, I was given my 1st real Break at a Local T-shirt screen print shop, called MeMe-Tech. Where I was encouraged to set up my computer in his office & do my thing – Thanks, JJ Haws! That was the start of my Full-Time Freelance Career & feel blessed to keep the momentum going of being my own Boss, going on 13 years now!

With all my traveling & being in the underground art, hip-hop, electronic music scene, I soon had built up a strong US network, a web of artistic like-minded friends and creative collaborators. In fact, in 2008, I had the opportunity to travel abroad with 2 Hip-Hop groups: AZs own “The Insects” as well as Awol One from LA. It was a 3-week tour all over Europe. I went fingers crossed and $120 US dollars to my name & a bunch of art supplies in hopes of painting & selling my work at the 13 Tour dates! Through this, I had the opportunity to introduce the art of live painting in hip-hop venues, clubs, squats & bars alongside the bands — and bring this performance art combo to a bunch of the underground scenes & venues in various European cities! Athens, Greece was probably the most surreal place I could have ever imagined my art would take me, to sit on a hilltop next to the Acropolis overlooking the city, knowing that I would be heading downhill to paint at a show in the evening with my friends.

Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to work for a diverse set of clients and patrons, which keep me on my toes and feel lucky to continue to work on projects that inspire me creatively. I tap into people’s imaginations with what I do, and the creative challenges and opportunities keep me inspired. There is never a dull moment in my workday in terms of ideas or proposals that come up.

Please tell us about your art.
A lot of my artwork tends to fuse elements from our modern technological age, with organic elements and motifs from the Old World. Whether it’s through landscapes, character-driven pieces or abstract work, I try to tell a unique imaginative, and in some cases a dream-scape story somewhere between time, function, the familiar & unknown, into the surreal. I have a Canvas series entitled “No Matter What” for example, where I explore multiple textural elements of different matter or densities compositionally – the elements are playing off each other, creating a cohesive visual juxtaposition of unity.

I’m driven to painting large aerosol Murals & productions! I have been at it for the past 23 years, & it is my medium of choice! A few of my murals around Arizona are still running strong, with hopes of & in talks to do a few more AZ mural projects in the coming year!

However, I’m an artist of many mediums & themes and my projects will vary from large aerosol murals to canvas work; illustration, branding, lettering & digital design. I appreciate a variety of genres, styles, approaches & platforms. I would be bored doing just one thing or style, I feel! I have also found that the more feathers you have in your hat, the better… it provides more opportunities if the path of a full-time artist is your calling!

Do you have any advice for other artists? Any lessons you wished you learned earlier?
Stay humble.
• Respect those who came before, they paved the wave for you believe it or not.…
• Strive to keep a level of originality, imagination & quality over quantity in your work!
•Don’t let the social media hype define your value as an artist/person!
• Every artist must define their value and time as an artist!… nobody will do that for you – or in your favor! (Don’t sell yourself short.)
• Attitude is everything.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
I have a lot of work on my website & social media, Instagram. Facebook Griffin One. I have some merch on my website: artwork, prints, shirts, accessories, etc. Some recent projects include:

  • NBA 2K19 game released this month (created most of the murals and graffiti pieces in the game).

A few of my public Arizona murals include:

  • “Water by Design” in Old Town Scottsdale (1st aerosol mural in Old Town)
  • one on Route 66 – “Amongst the Trees” (side of Sea of Green), “Flagstaff AZ
  • Flagstaff Portal (Birch Avenue Tattoo) downtown Flagstaff AZ
  • IBM’s Invitational Art Exhibit: Hand Painted Skateboard Deck Art Show @ the 2018 VM World Conference in Las Vegas.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Eric Lampe & Awol

Getting in touch: VoyagePhoenix is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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