Los Angeles based street artist, Teachr, stopped by the studio and spent some time with AGNTS to discuss his game-changing stencil design, give us insight into the name and Teach Peace movement, AND lay down some fresh designs on canvas. when THE PAINT SETTLED, a new friendship was created and the I Spray LA collab was born.
We now bring you one of the very best.
So what’s with the name Teachr? Where did it come from?
When I first started doing it I didn’t even think about having a name. There was a guy that was running a street art blog called Melrose and Fairfax. I had gotten in touch with him and it was funny because he was like “Yeah, we are familiar with your work” and I was like, “You’ve seen my stuff?”
So he says, “What do you want to put the work under? What name do you want?”
I was like, “Oh...well…the first piece I did said Teach.” And basically, to me, I thought about it philosophically also: Anyone that puts something out on the streets and the people that get something from me, your kind of a teacher. So to me, all street artists are teachers.
And I wanted to have a simple name. I didn’t want a fancy fuckin’ name because I knew somewhere down the line that I was going to do some shitty work and I actually wanted to make it easy for people to make fun of me. So I was like, You know what? There you go.
So what prompted you to invent your style of stencil as opposed to what you were using before?
Strictly for street art. I wanted to make something that could hold floating pieces and that was one layer. Because I figured, if I have kids and if I do these two layer, three layer and four layer fancy stencils which through time guys are like, “Man, you should try these multiple layer stencils. You would probably be awesome at them”. Maybe? But I have twins and shit disappears. And what do I do if one of those layers is gone, you know? I guarantee you one layer or more is going to be lost somewhere along the way.
I get what you’re saying with the crazy multi-layer stencils; it’s fantastic and it looks amazing but…
But it’s not street realistic.
These are very street. They’re tough too.
They can handle a beating and everything, that’s why the idea of gluing it to the fiberglass window screen, I just tried it. I didn’t know if it would work or not. And dude, the first times that I did it, it was very, very basic and simple. The design was just a face, my daughter’s face, very graphic, and it said “Teach” across the top and there was very few floating pieces. So what I did was put it down on the floor of our garage, cement floor, and then I very carefully rolled this fiberglass screen over it and then went around and taped it all the way around with duct tape.
Yeah, that’s what it started off with and then I figured out the spray adhesive really helped the whole process to become a lot more elaborate. You get a lot more elaborate pieces.
How long does the stencil usually last now that you have the fiberglass on it?
You get about maybe twelve or fifteen sprays before it starts getting kind of built up on that. You can still see the image though. I mean, to me, certain stencils look kinda cool, especially like the dollar bill when it gets all clogged up and stuff on certain spots ‘cause then it looks like it’s kind of rough. Sometimes I don’t even spray complete. You just spray like this (the sound of quick bursts and arm movements signaled by can rattles). See what I mean? Just barely hitting it. You hit it and do prints like that, you can do a bunch more. But see, like the gold one (Teachr points to a special one-off Bukowski he laced). If I do all those the way I did his, it’s not gonna last that long.
How long have you been doing stencils as an art form?
I actually did stencils a little while I was airbrushing back when I was fucking fourteen years old and then I started doing the street art stencils, what was that, almost five years ago.
Do you have any crazy chase stories or run-ins?
Yeah I do. I had just moved to where we are now in Los Villas and I was hitting this billboard at Hollywood and Wilton. And I’m coming down –and I had to take a ten foot ladder up a twenty six foot ladder basically—and so when I was coming back down I had the ten foot ladder set-up next to the, there’s a little lip like this going down. So I stepped over onto the twenty six foot ladder and right as I stepped over and brought my other foot over this cop was driving down Wilton, passed by the alley and slowed down. I’m like, Oh, shit. There is no doubt in my mind that he fucking saw me.
So I go, ledge, right over to the side and sat there and watched him turn around and pull back down the street and then slow back down in the alley, look, and then kinda slowly creep up to the light. Then the light changed and he went across Hollywood and then turned around and sat there at the light, facing Hollywood on Wilton on the other side. I was like, mother fucker. I seen a spot where I could hop around this fence, climb down the fence and I could go in ‘cause there’s an open door and then just walk down the stairs and come out. So I was contemplating that. In the meantime I went back over and looked and he was gone from where he was sitting. So I was like, Okay, time to haul ass.
I hop over and I come down and I’m walking out and –luckily, for some reason—I had my white construction helmet on. Always had white pants. White. White. I took my helmet off and my truck’s parked right there on Wilton, soon as you walked out. So as I’m turning like this and walking, a car was coming up like this. And just because of the timing and where I was walking it didn’t see me. So I walked around the back and came up like this, up around the side of the truck and it stopped. It was an unmarked cop car and it stopped and it was looking up the fucking alley. And then I hop in my truck and I’m sitting behind it. I’m going, Okay. Do I just fucking sit here until he fucking leaves? Or do I go? You know? He could be there a long fucking time, whatever. I’m like, Just fucking start the, just fucking go! Go! Go!
So I start the car up, pull out and I go. I’m just sitting there looking in my rearview mirror, then I make the first turn possible and go around the turn and then, vrrroom. Pull around the corner. Change my clothes ‘cause I always have a change of clothes for missions. I’m walking back around the corner, walk up and I see that he is gone. So I’m like, Okay, they know that I’m gone now. So I went back, got in my truck and pulled back around, parked right where I was, walked over there and looked up for a second at the ten foot ladder and thought for a second, Oh man, I should go grab that. And it was a piece of shit ten foot fucking ladder that we had that was left in the last house we were in. Like, I payed nothing for this fucking ladder. Nothing. And here I am going, Maybe I should go grab the ten foot ladder? Luckily, something inside of me’s like, Get the fuck outta here. Get your god damn nice twenty six foot ladder and get the fuck outta here. So I pulled that fucker down, folded it up, threw it in the back of the truck and hauled ass, and left the fuckin’ ten foot ladder. Went by there the next day, evening, and it was gone already.
Have you gone painting with a lot of those guys in the DVD, Artists Templar?
Thrashbird. I’ve done some billboards with Thrashbird. I did one of the most elaborate billboards by anyone, with Thrashbird. We did a Thor billboard. I did a massive paster speak bubble that said, “Teach Peace Thrashbird Style”. Then he got up and went over and it said The Dark World, like over on the side, he went over and made it say, “Teach the World”. Then we also had, I made a stick person, full size stick person, and we put clothes on it and like a head and everything, a hoodie, and we had it holding a phone like it was taking a photo of the piece. I even did a little painting on the phone that looked like what you would see if you were looking. I even have pictures of it and everything. It’s ridiculous. No one’s ever going to see that shit, but, what the fuck.
I hauled that mother fucker up there. First I got up top and I was pasting that thing down and Thrashbird was over there spraying. He said that every time I came over like this, he said that thing dipped down about a foot and a half. ‘Cause he was on the end, you know, the swinging end. I got done and I came back around him and then I stood the guy up and wired him down and everything and Thrashbird –oh, and a photographer came up there with us also—so there was three of us up there.
So we had a 3D figure wired to the fuckin’ billboard, we had a burner piece that he did, and then a massive paster that I did. You’ll never see that again. And he and I will never do it again. Because it was crazy.
On that same billboard and the billboard next to it there was a Captain America on that one that faces north and south and on the other one there was a Maleficent; Angelina Jolie. I had her saying, “Hey, Captain America, let’s Teach Peace”. And then on the Captain America, he said, “Okay, let’s teach peace”. So I made two billboards talk to each other.
You’ve never seen that before, right?
I know (enter any name here) and all these guys do some fuckin’ bad ass shit and you know what, dude? If I really wanted to I could spend a couple months and start doing stuff like that and could do it just as good, but it's not part of who I am. It's not my message or anything. It's not my steeze.
No, no, no. The street art stuff started when the kids were born. The Teach Peace actually developed from, I wanted to do something with the symbol of the red cross. It was gonna be Teach and then Teach. Because I figured a good way to teach first aid is to teach what you learn. It's good first aid. But sometimes I didn’t feel that good about it. It wasn’t that thing where it was like, Oh yeah, that’s fucking it. It sat for a little while and then this friend of mine sent me this color thing that I’ve had dozens of people send me since and it has like something like that (Teachr begins drawing the first designs of his iconic symbol on a scratch paper) and it's in color and it's cool and everything. I was like, Wait a second man. That was the perfect first aid Teach Peace. So that is what is started out as.
The whole Teach Peace thing, it's a message that you want to spread in different forms to different audiences it seems. What’s your feelings on it?
My whole idea, Teach Peace, basically anyone that is like an entertainer, or a comedian or a teacher or anyone that helps you learn how to deal with your conflicts, then they’re teaching peace. So that’s why I’ve had all the different entertainers and people that inspired me. It’s because they’ve, in some form or another, they’ve taught peace.
See, there is always going to be conflict. Until the end of fucking time there’s going to be conflict. So I’m going to be teaching peace until the fucking day I die and rest in peace.
Thank you for stopping by. It’s been much appreciated.
Teach Peace, bro, I gotta run.