With his roots deep in the Hip-Hop culture, Phillip Botha has been a bit of a trouble maker since he was a kid. He has now become widely known as one of Johannesburg’s top graffiti writers, gracing walls with his artistic touch. For well over a decade Phil has been making waves with massive murals and his very own exhibitions. This is his story-
MA: Phil, Tell us a little bit about how you got to where you are today?
I’m almost 33 years old, married, from Durban originally, living in Johannesburg for almost 3 years now and loving it, I’m a full time tattoo artist who writes graffiti, I also am into menswear, fishing and antiques. I got into graffiti in the late 90’s I was one of the first writers in Durban and through hardwork, dedication and some often bad choices i got where I am today. I have been writing graffiti for almost half my life.
MA: How would you describe your graffiti writing?
Its true classic 80’s New York style with a modern twist.
MA: For pretty much your whole life, Walls and spray have been your medium of choice. Now days you find yourself expanding to the art of Tattoos, is this a completely new path in your career or will you always be true to Graffiti writing?
They are two different things for me but I can see the comparison, as much as the art of true old school tattooing is what I try emulate the most in my work it’s a proper job it’s not the glamorous LA ink lifestyle people think it is, it’s been a hard road getting here, as for graffiti I have been writing my name for about 16 years and that will never stop, the fact that I get to do paint graffiti for money here and there is a bonus.
MA: What would you say is your main inspiration when it comes to creating your art?
I like to stay true to the origins but put my style to it, I don’t follow fly by night trends, in tattooing and in graffiti I don’t try to reinvent the wheel.
MA: What do the words “Converse” and “Cons” represent to you?
Well as a former sneaker collector (before influencers) CONS was the sneaker of choice for the older kids in my neighbourhood to wear when playing basketball. As for CONVERSE they were the everyday shoe, I grew up in a very mixed race neighbourhood and everyone wore CONVERSE from Allstars to Chucks to Jack Purcells to the CONS Dr Jays.
MA: Where to next for Phil?
Working hard at tattooing, keep writing my name when I get the chance, maybe another exhibition soon, who knows I’m not trying to plan too much stuff as I get older.
MA: Looking back at your career, what would you say has been your most memorable moment?
There have been a few, from my first solo exhibition to painting/meeting with some of my idols like CLAW, Stephen “ESPO” Powers and Martha Cooper, to still remaining a writer at my age.