"Street art is just such a visible medium, where you can reach so
Like the sketches and murals that clutter his brain and blaze through
his fingertips, David Choe confounds predictability. The South Bay
graffiti artist is celebrated for startling visual intensity crossed
with streetwise vision. He paints fast and furious -- using aerosol,
acrylic and watercolors -- able to nimbly capture the slightest
emotional serration. His works bridge two worlds and mindsets -- the
street and the gallery.
As a young man, Choe earned a reputation as a talented, free-spirited,
law-flaunting graffiti artist, hustler and world traveler. His
self-published award-winning graphic novels, "Bruised Fruit" and "Slow
Jams," have attracted people who were theretofore clueless about museum
art and graphic novel genres. David's talent for illustrating, through
words and pictures, minute details of hopelessness, boredom and inner
turmoil earned him a cult following. His work also earned equal amounts
of criticism and acclaim for its flagrantly explicit and nihilistic
The years passed, and his work matured with subtle depth, dignity,
beauty and richness. His paintings commanded higher and higher prices;
he produced illustrations for high-profile magazines and mounted dozens
of gallery shows. In late 2003, Choe was invited to Tokyo to create a
mural and participate in a group art show, and while there, he had a
life-changing run-in with the law that resulted in his being curled up
in pain in a Japanese jail cell. The charges, "committing violence,"
stuck, and he spent three months in prison, the bulk of the time in
While in jail, the last book he thought he would turn to was the Bible.
Too cliché, too predictable, he thought. But like the born-again junkies
and fallen rock stars and actors before him, the Bible became his saving
grace. In the episode "Up from the Street," Choe gives Spark his first
on-camera interview since returning from jail. He talks about the
incarceration, his new motivations and how his artwork may -- or may not
Take a look at the Graffiti
Machine and Led Throwies.