Skill keeps it real wearing city locs designs he’s created

Skill Wears City Locs: Pupil Teaches

By Mr. Joe Walker

Eyes make people critical. They judge what they see, especially art. In certain circles their impression of graffiti is it requires no artistic talents to create. Legendary graffiti writer Janos “Skill” Varady does not have to beg to differ. Famous the world over for his elaborate, vividly colorful designs, the Los Angeles native has impressed even the most cynical observers for decades.  “The first appreciation came very easy because I came from a graffiti community,” says Skill, his talents initially recognized by his graffiti writing peers. “I wanted the props and acceptance of them. Then I started getting local attention from people of all walks of life, all different ages - school kids, people on buses, then businesses owners. Before I knew they’re asking me to come paint for them. That brought me respect on an everyday, day to day level.”

The working relationship Skill forged with City Locs is a product of mutual respect. “I have a good relationship with their owner [Miguel Espinza]; he’s a stand-up guy, a real cool guy,” he says. “He had a TV show, sometimes I’d help out and do some art work for them. He supports the city, urban stuff in general. So naturally I’ll always have his back.”

Upon owner’s request, Skill created two designs for City Locs. He says Espinoza wanted “a look that represented Los Angeles and [California]. So we kept [the design] Cali-based with the word ‘Cali’ in graff letters. People have pride in Cali, so this was like speaking their language.”see Sample Here

The second of City Locs’ Skill-designed sunglasses showcase an L.A. theme Seen Here. “I’m a writer who is really known as an L.A.-guy,” he says, “and I’ve put in a lot of energy keeping the scene going here. Both of those designs come naturally to me.”

Skill recalls noticing gangsters wearing locs sunglasses, especially in L.A., South Central, and the east side of the city. Thanks in part to the popularity of pioneering Hip Hop group N.W.A and the critically-acclaimed hit movie Colors, Skill says locs began to spread to more suburban areas. “Out in L.A., and even in the suburbs, locs became, like, part of the dress code.”

Placing a pair of locs sunglasses  on anyone makes them look a little more serious and edgy, Skill says. “It’s an unpredictability behind those glasses! You can’t see the eyes. You don’t know what the dude is thinking, so it’s very mysterious. Almost has a sense of danger. They have an effect.”

“When I put on a pair of locs sunglasses,” Skill continues, “I feel comfortable in them. When I’m out taking care of business on a working level, when I want to look sporty, or if I’m in harder neighborhoods, it’s good to put off a vibe of, ‘Hey, I can bring it there too if you want!’ Those glasses help you achieve that vibe.”

Looking upon Skill’s signature graffiti writing, with or without locs on, has a similar mood-altering effect.

Eyes are the windows to the soul. As a child Skill did not simply look out seeing a layered world of land, sky and the space between. He saw all three dimensions. When Skill closed his blinds he’d visualize the world’s depths, using his imagination to broaden his view. “I could be alone and entertain myself in my mind,” he admits of his childhood. “If I went into the yard and started looking at the bugs and rocks I could get zoned out in just a square inch of land. There were many things that inspired me, but it was more that alone time and being able to wonder.”

Recognizing distinguishable characteristics in the simplest of things – the armor of a roly poly, curved legs of a jumping spider, various textures of tree bark, shimmering specs on an earth rock – this heightened his sense of wonder with appreciation of natural and man-made beauty. He learned how much his senses were  elevated when he visited sprawling cities. “When I go into a city I see the architecture, I see the local landscapes and where the sky is with proximity to the land, I want to know the history of the city and why it was set up the way it was,” Skill explains, noting how he also studies the people and their different cultural influences on the environment. “I observe them; I went from the little creatures, like bugs, to people - the bigger creatures.”

Attention to the finest and fairest of details helped make Skill’s graffiti writing so unique and respected. “I applied it all to my technique, all the styles and colors as well as the locations,” Skill says. “Graffiti is as much about where you put it as what you’re doing to it. I believe every area will kind of dictate to you what type of piece can go on there, that could match it and give it flavor.”

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The whole Citylocs.com team