When we sat down to interview Stak TFP, he only spoke on the record for about 30 minutes, but his photo albums spoke volumes. It took us about two hours to flip through the 25 years of graffiti stored between those metal binders packed full with flicks. And that was only part of the story, since the pictures of his earlier work are now lost to history.
His was a lifetime of graffiti sparked in the late ’70s, before he was even 10 years old. As a little kid, family members would take him to the Bronx when they went benching. He’d sit with them at a subway station, watching the graffiti covered trains pass by as they took photos of their work. “They were babysitting me, so I got to see a lot,” he says.
It didn’t take long for him to start doing it himself, riding the trains all over the city from his home in Bushwick, Brooklyn to see what other writers were doing, leaving his own name behind while he was at it. He did his first bubble letter on a train in a layup in 1981 when he was just 11 years old, and continues painting to this day.
“I was little enough to fit between the bars and ride for free. So I’d ride around and cop tags. Eventually you graduate and write on the outside of trains.” By high school, when most other kids started writing, he’d already put in years of work.
Trains weren’t the only thing that caught his eye, though: “I wrote on everything. In the streets, on the trains. I wrote on a pole, on the floor. I might take a tag on your back if you fell asleep.” He practiced a lot too. “I used to steal text books from school and practice my hand styles in them with a marker and then throw them away.”