No one is a prophet in his own country
This famous saying, meaning that you`re least recognized among your peers, is totally untrue in Five8’s case. If the artist’s name is not really known internationally, he is one of the most appreciated street artists in the Montreal scene.
Five8 (Five Eight) is a graffiti writer, an artist and a self-taught street artist. The man is discrete, even mysterious according to some. Furthermore, he doesn’t like being photographed, which is probably a remnant of his illegal graffiti days.
His journey started sporadically in 2002, in the neighbourhood of Ville St-Laurent, a borough of Montreal. With a gang of friends as inexperienced as he was, he started having fun with a spray can, using it to write different names each time. Meeting MENT BYN, a real graffiti writer, was a defining moment. He was then initiated into the graffiti culture and its various techniques. His curiosity quickly spurned him to experiment along with his mentor, spraying his first tags, fill ins, ground-ups, rollers and scratchies, whether on walls, alongside highways or even on trains. [See lexicon at bottom of page]
We can still see remains of his years of artistic exploration, as well as more recent works, here and there all over Montreal, on walls and inside abandoned buildings.
Gradually, other challenges were added to his “training”: the reach for better personal expression, discretion, planning and particularly speed of execution, different factors which all contribute to who he has become today.
Since his beginnings, he has navigated through different styles ranging from conventional graffiti writing to an easily recognizable and clean aesthetic. He has evolved from spraying illegal pieces to big scale mural productions and also indulges in meticulous studio work. Through the years, the artist collaborated with many of the main actors in the Montreal scene, such as A’Shop, Earth Crusher (Dre), Omen, to name a few. He has also participated in some projects with MU MTL and the collective En Masse.
His clever and clean work, in graffiti lingo, made him one of the most respected artists according to experts and a recent “survey” of his peers. He is considered an outstanding technician and a ”master of the long straight line” according to Haks180, a fellow Montreal-based graffiti writer. Polyvalent, Five8 is as good in calligraphy as he is in figurative style.
When we talk about Five8, we must above all appreciate his evolution, as you can observe from these two pieces created only two years apart.
As a muralist, he has participated in many collective shows as well as numerous public art festivals in Canada and abroad.
Since 2011, Five8 has developed a sharpened vision for color and composition. Clean cut and sleek lines, select mixed colors with transparency effects and light are now the basis of his work. Indeed, the light, very present in his work, inspired him to appropriate the neon universe into his creative process over the past two years.
In 2016, not satisfied with just painting the magic of neon, he decided to start learning the ancient art of glass making with Gerald Collard, a Quebec specialist in the field of blowtorch and neon work. The more the artist works with this medium, the more it reflects in his pieces.
Why did he choose to call himself Five8 ? If you were expecting a complex answer, you might be disappointed. There is no mysterious secret.
I chose this name for myself, based on nothing in particular. It’s easy to recognize, everyone understands it and I like the variety of forms created by the letters. I also got inspired by other artists who had names with numbers such as Royce da 5’9, Futura 300 and others.
Today, the street artist continues to balance his love for painting street art with that for his studio creations. He aims to elevate himself and to inspire through perfectionism. Always ready to go further, this Montreal artist has notably been selected to be part of the Mextonia Festival which will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the creation of Estonia.
• Clean : Consistent lines, very straight as they are meant be. There is no hesitation in the execution. You can see that the person knows what they are doing.
• Fill-in : Lettering with an outline usually filled in with a contrasting colour.
• Ground-up : Graffiti covering a full wall starting at the ground. Most of the time, it is used to cover as much surface as possible.
• Roller : Huge piece executed with a paint roller instead of a spray can. Usually pretty simple with character fonts, but can also sometimes be quite complex.
• Scratchies : Technique consisting of scratching a surface. Bus shelters and windows of public transportation are hot spots for this type of graffiti.
• Tag : Basic form of graffiti. Usually consisting of 3 to 7 characters representing the alias of the graffiti writer.
*** The original version of this article was published on February 07, 2017 in Beware Mag.