I’ve been following Sker on the interwebs for a while now, after showing up in several pics with our mutual friend D.J.P. I sent him a friend request. Shortly after, I noticed my already loud timeline becoming even more colorful. Outstanding graff pics with the paint so wet I could almost smell it through the monitor (no drips though), mixed with updates promoting impressive parties with nice line ups were everywhere. Clearly he was up in the scene…several of them. Little did I know till now, that he was pretty much running shit Tulsa/OKC. I recently got to ask him about it. He told me the story of a Mid-west kid addicted to freshness. You know a writer is legit when his answers almost fry your auto spell check. It was dope. It went like this.
What are your artistic roots?
I’ve been doing art since I was a kid. Growing up I was really into comic books, drawing, fantasy, monster movies and sci-fi. As a teen I got into rap, and saw album covers like Treacherous Three and Run-D.M.C. where I’d take tracing paper and copy the letters of the logos. I was drawing stylized lettering since about age 13, then moved into graffiti lettering around 1987. My brother and I formed The Evil Boys or EBK in 1987 with 2 friends, I painted my first real piece in 1988, and have painted steadily ever since.
As I turned into my twenties, we were incorporating anime, manga, and lots of graphic styles into our art. I co-founded UAT (graff/party crew) in 92 and have repped UAT (Us Against Them) since. I started writing the name SKER in 1993 and I’ve written SKER ever since then. I formed NDK (strictly graff crew) and repped that til its demise in 2000, and nowadays I rep Okie Boys, a loose group of artists & cool cats that I organized. I paint graff, and I do commissioned murals & art signage for a variety of clients, as well graphic art and custom paintings. What is your favorite medium?
My favorite medium is spray paint. Graffiti is where I really got into the styles, and I developed a passion for the art of creating graff. This passion is what keeps me going, still painting and still drawing. Spray paint is the core foundation, it’s the one thing that is the same for all graffiti artists; no matter where you come from, it’s up to you to show and prove once you get the cans in your hands.
A close second favorite would be markers. I draw ten times as much as I paint, and I use markers extensively. In addition to drawing graff I now use my markers for body art and calligraphy; figuring new techniques and new styles is always exciting. To me that’s what graffiti is all about: the concept of style, and the competition for the best style – that line is from “Style Wars” 1983 and it’s still true today. How would you describe your style?
I have many styles. I’m known for big burners, clean lines, sharp edges, bold colors. I like making my pieces look real tight, with lots of energy. I focus on the flow of the letters, making it fresh every time. With UAT having been so strong and on point, and NDK having been so deep with art talent, our crews influenced the styles and we would share knowledge and techniques amongst ourselves.
So UAT had a certain style, and NDK had a recognizable style, that influenced others that came later. Of course, I also do fine art like acrylic paintings and large aerosol canvases, and there I get into lots of abstract styles and also characters. In addition I do professional graphic design, calligraphy, lettering and photography. I like to stay creative and stay busy.
On the promotion tip what events have you been a part of?
UATKrewe was just about the top name in the Oklahoma underground scene of the 90s. Very few people have more experience throwing parties in Oklahoma than I do. I’m talking about the OldSkool scene of all-night warehouse parties, no permits, unlicensed venues, DJs, hip-hop heads, B-Boy crews, and the underground music of techno, hip-hop, house, jungle, & electro. The OldSkool scene was a network of crews, working together into a movement.
UAT was formed as a graff crew in 1992 by HEK, CODAK and myself, and the following year 1993 I took the helm to promote the first UAT party. I threw a slew of parties, in the heydays when our scene was under the radar and was quite big (thanks to a list of other Oklahoma party promoters who also put in mad work). UAT parties featured out-of-state DJ headliners, underground venues, strong production values, and stylish graffiti-soaked flyers that people talked about and collected.
I brought DJ Z-Trip to OKC in 98, I brought the entire Hieroglyphics Crew to OKC in 97, I brought Mix Master Mike to OKC in 96. I brought a slew of regional (Houston, Austin, Little Rock, Kansas City) techno-house DJ’s. I debuted D.J.P. in the OKC metro (he was down with UAT since 1995). I brought Midwest Avengers to OKC in 1998, Theo Parrish in 1995, a bunch of other names. UAT was known from St. Louis to Austin, and had a very strong reputation for quality.
I threw dozens of parties from 1993 – 1999, then took a hiatus after my first child was born. I re-established UAT events in Tulsa in 2003 with a monthly DJ party called “The Down Lounge.” I promoted that and other monthly parties (Mixt and Smoov Monthly) at a number of club venues for years. Then I slowed down heavily on club events, and moved into art shows. In 2008 I organized “Okie Boys Graffiti Invitational” and in 2011 (and in 2013) I did the “Decked Out” group skateboard art show, all in Tulsa. I keep saying I’m retired from promoting (which is almost true due to my work and family obligations), but I still keep busy with the annual Red Party (9th annual is coming this fall) and other events now under the GrownFolks moniker.
Who are some of your favorite Oklahoma artists?
In OKC/405: My brother HECTK / David HEK, is the most talented artist you could find, he gets my ultimate respect. Way beyond graffiti (and he’s a style master), his illustrations, paintings, murals and lettering are incredible. He’s been a prodigy since we were little, and was my main partner in UAT and NDK, my painting-mission-teammate, and my brother so if you saw one of us back on the scene, you probably saw the other one. He’s at Think Ink Tattoos in Norman doing his thing today, and turning out amazing new work on the regular.
My man RHAK and I go way back, he was in my crew NDK and was a tight painting-partner for years, we’re still homeys. He used to promote parties back in the late 90s too, he brought DJ Craze, DJ Swamp, a bunch of quality underground hip-hop. Now he travels to do art, he gets up and he has great style, and still keeps his ear to the streets. ENTAKE gets good respect from me, he’s a great guy with a good attitude and tight skills. He’s active and he’s pushing himself forward all the time. YAVE I’ve seen his work in OKC since at least 1996, but I’ve never met the cat (he’s the only one on this list I haven’t painted with). I know that his graff characters have been arguably the best out of Oklahoma since back in the day, and I know he’s still getting busy with all types of custom art and airbrushing. Big props to this guy.
In Tulsa: BSON is one of my favorites out of the 918. He’s been getting up for many years (he writes YOMOMS now), and his style is real clean and crisp. He’s precise, he runs a cool blog, plus he’s a great guy to be around. He also gets busy with paintings and commissioned murals.
AWHIZ is an art-business-owner so nuff respect on that tip alone! He gets busy with the graff, and his style is nice. A quality person too, who knows a whole lot about Golden Era hip-hop.
RUHEK is a cool cat, his style is on point and the guy paints with the best of em. You can spot his pieces easily, he has a certain look that is clean and flows really well.
ERATIK definitely gets mentioned here, he was in my crew NDK and since those days he’s developed into an incredible tattooist and illustrator. He owns Pen & Ink Tattoo in Tulsa, he’s done a slew of commissioned murals around town, and the guy’s art just blows people away.
How would you describe the Midwest scene today? The OldSkool generation will always be different from those who came afterwards; a lot has changed obviously, but “A” came before “B” came before “C” – the scene today didn’t just pop up, it was built upon foundations that were laid before by the older generations. The Midwest scene does have good appreciation for the real underground culture: the knowledge, the history, the values.
The styles coming out are nothing short of incredible, and the easy availability of thousands of amazing graff photos every week (via social media) means artists can stay inspired 24/7. OKC and Tulsa both have some quality graffiti talent, with some good crews putting in work. The expansion of graffiti jams has also been great for the Midwest scene, the number of regional events (like Denver, Austin, Houston, Kansas City, St. Louis etc) is really good to see since these events give publicity and bring in top names from other cities. It fosters a sense of having a community, so connections are made and that’s what keeps the graff scene going.
The party scene is long gone, and unfortunately people don’t really travel in any numbers for road trips anymore. Back then Kansas City heads like EAST, GEAR, SCRIBE, KRIE, FIVE, PRES, SCOOB and many others (including the Flavorpak Crew) drove more than once from KC to go to my UAT parties in OKC; partying and painting with us, making connects that went both ways. Heads and crews from Dallas, Austin, Fayetteville, and the whole state of Oklahoma all used to be in the place representing at UAT events and other parties here in Oklahoma.
So having any type of underground event today is still very valuable to the heads, and I give props to the promoters who still organize real hip-hop events, on both the art and music tips. These days with legal walls, writers can take their time to create pieces that are very high quality & creative. Of course, a few folks think that permission walls “don’t count” as graffiti but that’s just their opinion. Me, I don’t knock what anyone does, I mind my own business and I pay attention to what I’m doing not what you’re doing.
Huge respect to all the writers who are getting up with style in Oklahoma, they are pushing the core of the movement and taking the risks to get that fame. That will always be the main foundation of the scene, so props to the artists that get biz on the streets, there are several here who are active. Of course, today beef and drama are everywhere, especially with the younger cats, and made much worse by the internet. But that doesn’t really bother or affect me, I stay drama-free. So the best advice I’d say to any writer is just to avoid all the BS, just do your work and concentrate on your painting, eff all the rest.
Thank to Locash for letting me run my mouth haha, and props to you for delivering a quality product. Respect goes out to my wife Lady Miz, and to the UAT Krewe: HEK, CODAK, JEST, TORK, ZEN, DEFIANT, ORBIE, SRVLNC, and BIAS. Shouts to the Okie Boys, and NDK family. Shouts to D.J.P, RHAK, AWHIZ, DJ Snap, Stylarosa, BSON, SADAT, Kartel, ERATIK, JDAM, GEAR, EAST, SCRIBE, JOKER IHU, MYST, QUEST, TAME, DREMR, WERS, MASHER, SLER, D-Range, HUS, MANIK, DASH, DERT, CASPER, MOY1, ABORT, DJ Krisp-E, Jeremy McConnell, SAVES1, Brotha Bee, DJ Moody, Jabee, RIKS, Evol -M, RUHEK, ZUAWE, MANIK, DESPIZE, JASPYR, TEK, LIKER, DJ Chron R.I.P, WWST, DUST, SEIKO, MEEK MC, Oilhouse. DJ Somar, Culture Shock Camp, Thing 1, One Tribe, MSX, DTK, DFA, OAC, ASS Crew, AOS, RAL, DKT, Pozitribe, Storm, Loo-B-Fresh R.I.P, Ed Crunk, Cypher 120 crew, and last but not least Jackie at MadDog.
SKER UAT, also known as Chris Sker, was born & raised in Tulsa Oklahoma. He’s on Instagram @chris_sker