"This graf habit, I just can't kick it."
In a new video showcasing his lifelong obsession with illegal graffiti, artist Gouch gives the world a peek into his process, and his headspace. Seen spraying near his home neighborhood in Flatbush, the short film's subject appears as a tall, faceless vandal, always looking for an opening, always toting a spray can.
Named simply GOUCH, the 23-minute mini-doc was shot and directed by filmmaker Raul Buitrago and shows the artist spraying walls and snow-covered box trucks with his signature tag. It features plenty grade-A illicit footage set to dusty hip-hop beats—but what matters most is the constant, thoughtful narrative that Gouch provides. Looking back on his life as a student of "graf," he describes tagging as a community, an addiction, and a lasting purpose.
"You want to leave some kind of legacy behind when you die. That's pretty much everyone's goal, right? To be remembered, right? Graf is the ultimate tool to being remembered in this lifetime," Gouch says in the opening seconds. Eventually we see that tagging isn't the only means he has of impacting the future: there are multiple scenes of him drawing "special letters" with his five-year-old daughter.
Gouch's method of looping connected letters is a tagging style called Flatbush Flow, one he adopted out of necessity when he first began tagging in the '90s. "There was a certain way you had to write really fast in my neighborhood, the window of opportunity was minimal. The only way to do it was to connect those letters."
Today for Gouch, life is good. He catches tags when he can, practices drawing every day, and has even let his daughter spray a bit of paint in the backyard. "I’m starting to plant the seed and build the block," he said. As a short film, GOUCH is about craft, personal demons, and the struggle to keep them separate. It's both cool and kind—Buitrago helps to expose the contemplative side of what many dismiss as blight. "If I ignore graf, I just start fiending. You start seeing other people. You’ve got to scratch your itch. It’s my healthy drug.”