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  • Amy Young with Students of City College

Graff 101: SacSix

Wanna know the 3 things you need to be a Street Artist? Well you should'a been at the City College Graffiti and Street Art class last night when we met the wheat paste artist, curator, teacher, artist's advocate, filmmaker, actor SacSix who works with brands and creates his own work in the street. SacSix is a long time friend of the class who wheat terrifyingly pasted with a bunch students a few spring semesters ago - we learned about the thrill of the police almost pulling up on us. But in lieu of illegal pasting (I thought the weather would freeze the paste and our fingers), we met in the classroom. He discussed inspirations - Obey, Hanksy, PhoebeNY, Dain, Ethan Armen, Cost and his gentle origins - coming to NYC as advertising creative, viewing and photographing street art in the city "a non-stop addition and all I could think about," and his strategic launch into pasting himself on December 15, 2015, then continuing to pasting a group of works and ideas every two weeks. A miracle happened - 6 months in MTV called and commissioned a curated project, 3 months later he did his first wheat paste show of a community of artists, and Adidas called soon after - amazing.

In a font of information he explained to the class how "we are all ads, walking advertisements," how to make wheat pastes - from the choice of papers to his recipe for glue - why he creates mash ups "to make me laugh," how and why he curates "to share the wealth" and how the advertising world prepared him for "street beef" and cyber bullying - the emphasis of his project #PostNoHate . And then he showed us his, I mean streetartcouncil's hilarious short film My Street Art Addiction - all tongue in cheek - as well as real "Vandal Squad" footage. It was a fun night and he gave us all stickers!

This is what my students had to say about the visit.

- Amy L. Young


SacSix for Welling Court Mural Project, June 2017

Adina: I first looked into SacSix for a “Post No Hate” stencil piece I found on the sidewalk of the Bushwick Collective a few months back, and I was inspired even before I met him. His work responded to something bigger than him, as he strived to connect the artist community with positivity, respect and unity - the same kind of way that graffiti writers saw themselves in the beginning of the graffiti movement. In our class visit with SacSix, he further explained this concept of artists is stronger together. He said how he was never really alone when we walked the streets of NYC, because he would always bump into a Phoebe or a Dain. “We are all ads in a way,” he said, “We are all walking ads. Your name is your brand.” This is not the first time I heard a statement like this. In Norman Mailer’s “The Faith of Graffiti," Cay 161 is quoted that “the name is the faith of graffiti.”

Andre: I love it when I hear an artist dabbles in other occupations than the one that they got into first because it shows how talented you are if you’re able to do that. That’s one of the few things that I’ve gotten from hearing Sacsix coming to class and speak to us. One of the few things that I enjoyed about his visit was how calm and cool he was as he was talking about his background and how he got to where he’s at today. Another thing that I took from Sacsix was that it’s okay if you get rejected. He was telling us that he had come up with like five ideas because in case the boss didn’t like one or more of his ideas, he had some backups so that way he wouldn’t be out of ideas.

Yuri: SacSix discussed how his background in advertising has influenced and helped the type of work he does. He learned about branding, how to pitch and sell to clients, how to have thick skin when it comes to rejection or criticism and networking at social events. He said “Your name is a brand, SacSix is a brand," pointing out the parallel between advertising and street art when it comes to deciding and being conscious of how you are presenting yourself, especially to potential future clients. It is clear that SacSix is very much ambitious and visionary in the future he wants to see for the entire street art community, not just for his own career.

Emerald: Given the opportunity to be lectured by street artist SacSix was positive experience. He is full of energy, even though he admits to the class that he’s a shy individual. What I like about his work is his ability to not only cut and paste people into one person, but also making sure his choice of collaborative pieces has a connection with one another. A few of my favorite wheat pastes would be Pharrell and Abraham Lincoln, as they both are known for their infamous hats and Obama and Rick Ross, as they both are known for being a “boss” from two different industries.

Tiffney: After SacSix's visit, I was left with a deeper understanding of street art and the marketing aspect of it. The art of branding and marketing yourself is key. Before this meeting I did not think anything of a name on an art piece as just a name. It is more than a name it is the driving force that pushes your ideas, style and most importantly you image as an artist. SacSix used this form of marketing strategy to promote his brand and made a career out of it. He also stresses the importance of “thinking about what you are going to do," this important to considering the vast array of artist and art concepts. As an artist you have to stand out from the rest and have a uniqueness in your work. SacSix also reiterated the concept of community as you attain fame. He stated that, “I am a big believer in community and sharing the wealth."

Daisey: The positive vibes we all felt in class from SacSix’s visit was amazing. When his “post no hate” movement got brought up and he opened up to us about what it really was it hit home, he said how it was about stopping cyber bullying and spreading positivity since he himself had previously been bullied throughout his life which I have to as well so hearing about that made me feel very inspired.

Anastasia: Based on his belief, you need only three things to make street art: Idea, execution, and courage. I couldn’t understand why wheat pasting is good, but he described all positive sides of this process: from saving tons of time and create professional piece, to the point where you enjoy this romantic of wheat pasting age processing, where you can see how long it has been on the streets. I personally loved his “Post no hate” stencils, but didn’t know who was the creator before now. It is always great to see someone, who truly loves what he is doing, and always open for new experience and styles in his art work.

Natasha: Having SacSix visit us in class was a different light and perspective on street art. I learned how art isn’t just a one-way street of visual creativity. He validates his career of making art but also exposing and negotiating art on a business level that is much needed for this day in age. He levels out the platform between business and street art. As a professional and successful businessperson, he broke it down to us “to become a street artist you need three things: an idea, execution, and courage.” He also mentioned when he used to do commercials, and that “advertising helped me grow thicker skin from rejection.” Which made me think that anything you do in life and or whether it has to do with art could benefit for a successful career. I always relate my career path of working with kids, gives me a lot of patience and understanding to difference personalities. He taught us that any experience can be successful add on to your career.

Ariela: Last week we were visited by and asked questions to SacSix a really cool street artist who started out as a collector and worked in advertising for 15 years. I think the most important thing I learned was how to make your passion profitable. In class we have had ongoing discussions about the term “sell-out” -- usually an artist people think have "sold" themselves or artwork for money or opportunity. I thought it was kind of interesting how SacSix took this and kind of turned it on its head. Another thing I enjoyed about SacSix’s visit was how he emphasized how important it was to share the wealth within the street art community. I really liked how he mentioned that if he knew he couldn’t or didn’t really meet the criteria for a job he would always reference them to another artist, which is really cool.

Kiara: Artist visits has been my favorite part about our graffiti and street art class. For SacSix, advertising was a career that he really enjoyed, but over time he also gained a new passion, which was street art. He shared how advertising “gave [him] courage to expose [himself].” This experience resonated with me because I feel like often we are pressured to “choose” what we want to do in life at an early age. Maybe down the path we wish to do something else, and that is ok. The most important thing I learned from SacSix’s story is that it is definitely possible to start all over, as long as you have drive and courage. Every experience in our life, whether negative or positive, is an opportunity to learn and prepare for the future.

Liping: The meeting with SacSix was like taking a course on wheatpaste. He taught us how to become an artist, how to create wheatpaste stickers, and how to post them on the street. Unlike the other street art artists we met, he is new in street art, his experience with street art only four years, but he works very well to use his work to connect people's hearts. Therefore, he is a great example for people who want to be a street artist. He told us that, to be an artist only needs three things, an idea, execution, and courage. The reason for him to do street art is he thinks advertising and street art have a common, they have a goal is to connect people. He said: "The definition of advertising connects with some emotional levels like whether humor, fear, or sadness. Whatever it is. You can be stuck how it relates to street art, you can be stuck so many attracts and connected with someone else."

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