Many Miami street artists were working on their Art Basel murals in Wynwood this past week. Miami Culinary Tours interviews local artist, Ivan Roque, capturing his perspective on what's happening in the city when it comes to graffiti and street art.
Samantha: Hey guys, I’m here with local artist, Ivan Roque. Can you tell us a little bit about your work here?
Ivan: What’s up guys? I don’t do too much graffiti. I’m considered more of a street artist, but this time i decided to incorporate that culture in the form of letters. But this time, I used numbers as in 305. That wall is gonna represent Miami, so it’s a tribute to say that us [sic] locals are here, because when Art Basel comes, we’re usually overshadowed by the internationals and cast aside, so it turns more light towards us. It’s basically our voice in there.
S: Nice. You said that you’re doing more of the street art instead of graffiti.
I: Yeah, I’m much more of a street artist. You’ll see those little jack-o-lantern faces around. I call them viruses, but people have been like “oh, the halloween-face guy,” and I’m like “yea the halloween-face guy.”
S: What’s the difference, from your point of view, between street art and graffiti?
I: Graffiti is letters. It’s writing. Street artists usually use characters. Graffiti is much more letters, and getting your name out there, if that makes sense.
S: It comes to my understanding that some people believe graffiti is vandalism, and street art is actually art. What”s your point of view on that?
I: In my opinion, I guess it all depends. In some parts it might be considered that, but I dont see it that way. I’m an artist. I think it beautifies many places. you’ll see a lot of artists always tend to move to run-down neighborhoods, and it sort of gives a much more vibrant feel to destroyed properties. You know a lot of us artists will go into these places and beautify them in our own way and leave our mark.
S: That brings me back to the tragic accident with Israel. You know he went to a run-down McDonald’s and was trying to beautify it. He was considered to be doing vandalism. Did you know Israel?
I: I never met him personally, but the tragedy still affected me deeply, because it could have been me. It could have been him. It could have been her. It could have been any of us, so it’s sort of a reminder: We still risk our lives doing this, but we still do it for the love of it. So it’s a very tragic thing, and I hope it doesn’t repeat itself.
S: So Israel didn’t have any consent to be doing his work on this building. Did you have consent to be doing this here?
I: I have consent for this here, but when it comes to that it’s like the culture. When we started, nobody asked for permission. We just go and we do it. That”s just how it is. Most of the time we’re not doing it on businesses that are open and all that. That’s when you got to go into asking. Sometimes it’s these buildings that will go into abandonment, like really run-down. You might as well work on it. In that case, it was an abandoned McDonald’s. It wasn’t necessary to hunt him down like an animal
S: What happened with him was in South Beach. Do you feel if he would be doing this in Wynwood, it would have turned out how it did?
I: It might have been a little different maybe. i mean it’s in different areas. If I’m here in Wynwood painting, it’s not gonna be such a big deal like if I’m in Pembroke Pines painting something.
S: This is like a safe haven for artists right?
I: Yes and no, because there’s still people who come out here and paint a lot. It’s more accepted, I believe. But there’s still the risk of getting caught, sent to jail.
S: Alright, this is Ivan Roque with Miami Culinary Tours.