Our local street art scene has new blood on its hands. Kenji Chai aka Black Fryday was picked up by the JUICE radar after having worked with Vans on their recent road-campaigns. The modest day-time graphic designer said that he never felt confident joining the graff scene in the past, but fortunately with the talent he harnessed he was able to enjoy expressing himself which led to his discovery. Upon hearing about his do or die attitude, we decided to scope out the young artist…
Text Joe Ng
Image Euseng Seto
Nice to finally meet you, Kenji. How would you define street art?
Some say street art is vandalism, in a way. But there’s a fine line between the two. It usually depends on the intent of the artist. Whether it’s a small sticker or stencil or a massive mural, street art can be anything you see on the street!
Even a squashed bug on a wall? Haha! What do you think of local street culture?
I think there are many Malaysians who have potential. And they’re not all graff artists, some can do amazing stunts on wheels while others are excellent rappers and such. But the government and mass public has yet to realise their potential.
Who would you consider as Malaysian street culture icons?
Artists such as the Phobia collective; Bone, Carpet and many more. Their works are always consistent.
Respect! What about graffiti attracted you to get into it?
Actually it was very simple. All I wanted to do was draw on large surfaces [laughs] and let people enjoy it. I love street art because the canvas can be as large as you want!
Who’s your favorite graffiti artist?
Mad C. She’s a brilliant master of French graffiti who also does portraits and mechanical drawings (blueprints of engines) equally well.
Where do you usually bomb?
I started with small alleyways and then moved to bigger walls. Like I said, I like big canvases! Now occasionally, some friends will ask me to help out with their works and projects.
Which piece has been your most memorable?
I think that would be the piece I did for Vans. It was very special cos the organisers gave me the task of painting over 30 skateboards! Although it was hard, it was still fun!
How long do you usually spend on a graffiti piece?
The shortest time is about 3 hours. And the longest time is about 8.
What’s the future of graffiti in Malaysia?
I think it will become more popular. Right now, although it’s not a new thing, it’s still in its infancy. And people will always want to be involved with something that’s fresh!
More of Kenji’s work at www.kenjichai.com