SHEM RDC F1C FBA FMC is an Australian letterform master. His piece structures draw inspiration from early New York legends, yet push an evolved formation with kinks, connections, and arrows that make sense. Couple his tidy schemes and tight outlines with on-point characters and you have a recipe for timeless graffiti.
As a part of our Australian Graffiti Pioneers series, we fired off a few questions to SHEM.
Hey SHEM, thank you for taking the time to answer a few Qs. To kick-off, for those not familiar where do you call home?
How did you first get into graffiti?
The usual classic films like Style Wars, All City, and Wild Style – and watching graffiti being painted live by Bondy at East Richmond station.
Also riding my BMX up and down the line to check out the local greats Malkm, Zone, FMC, etc.
A chance meeting with Prowla on a train in 1987.
How would you best describe your style?
Traditional technical letter-based graffiti predominantly, but I like to utilise many styles in the arsenal.
How often do you get out to paint?
I used to try and paint a piece every two weeks for years but I’ve slowed down with family, more work responsibilities, and my music career.
What would you say is your favourite thing about painting?
Improving oneself and pushing new styles and techniques. Unlearning has been the ultimate challenge. Breaking the rules of how to paint from my generation and those that came before me. There are many ways to execute a piece not just first outline, fill, then final.
You bust out mean wildstyle letters! Do you have any tips for someone that wants to put together a wild style piece?
I can only speak for my own letters but I try and make all my connections have meaning or have endpoints that connect somewhere, or to something. Be it another letter or arrow. Nothing’s more wak than arrows and connections for the sake of it in random places. Flow and function is key.
Who are some of your favourite writers with tight wildstyle skills?
There are so many but a few faves are Wane, Ces, Yes 2, Pure, Sento, Hews, Dash 167, Tones, Sage, Totem, Ransom & Merda circa 89, Puzle’s interlocking Style in the 90s, classic NY crews: FC, TC5, and FBA.
Bates, Swet, Serve, Serch, Dem189, Sirum, Sage, and more recently DVS Crew, Teal and View2, Stae 2 and his crew GFR, Kear, Dmote, Mast, Dem333, Ojey, Chek, Opium and the Wild Boyz, the homie Maos.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
Travelling, meeting new writers, which you can learn from, and consistently drawing. Also comics and Gundam.
You’ve been active for a long time and inspired many here in Australia. On a local level who do you consider as being influential in the graffiti scene in Melbourne?
Anyone that’s active both legally and illegally and is passionate about letter style. I’ve painted for over 30 years but every ten years a writer comes along that has hints and knowledge of the past but also new ideas for the future. Last ten I’d say it was Sofles. Right now it’s young Resio in Melbourne.
What keeps you motivated?
Having fun and creating burners and characters that command a space or surface and make people want to get off Insta and go see it for themselves. Painting with people better than me!
Is there anyone you’d like to give a shout out to?
Props to anyone still painting for over 20 years. It takes dedication and a true love for graffiti to keep spending time, money, paint, and petrol in your later years. Society really thinks graffiti is something you do in your teens but creativity shouldn’t have an age limit.
Where can people find you online?
#theartofshem – Instagram and SoundCloud are my main platforms.