Kam the Chameleon

Kam the Chameleon

Favourite Paint?
Molotov Flame; great coverage, good colour, awesome formula.
Favourite cap?
The stock cap from Montana black with the orange dot. 
Favourite mission?
Definitely freight and panel missions, they’re amazing. 
Favourite piece?
I’m still looking for it and I don’t think I’ll find it. I think that’s what pushes me more. 
Favourite piece of someone else?
I’d hate to be that guy but I can say pretty much any Sofles pieces. Every time Sofles comes up with something, I just brace myself.
Favourite colour palette?
I use a lot of teal or the frazetta. You go to any store that runs out of frazetta, don’t go back to that store haha. 

You might’ve seen the festive chameleon roaming the streets of Melbourne either with glazed eyes or strapped in a Christmas hat. If not, you better buy a flight to Australia’s art capital and bring a pair of your trusty binoculars. Rooftops being his favourite hangouts, Kam was created from leftover paint. We caught up with his creator to discuss his whereabouts and how his face is allowing everyone to relate to graffiti.

Graffiti’s are pretty interesting passion to get into, how did it all start?

It all started when I stumbled upon one of my old sketch books. I drew something that I thought was graff but it was absolute shithouse. Afterwards, I thought  ‘why didn’t I pick up a can?’. I picked up some cans the next week, haha. I went down to the local and had the chick behind the counter to show me how to use it. She literally ran me through Ironlaks where you take off the stopper then remove the silly strings and I’m like ‘what’s a silly string?’.

How old were you?

I was 20. Super late bloomer. 

How did you decide on your character?

I was out with a friend checking out abandoned buildings. He was going on about graffiti and how he loves the colours but doesn’t understand it but if it were a face, he could look at it and relate to it immediately. It got me thinking that graff is only targeted to a certain audience and I wanted to reach out to a wider audience and yeah, Kam came next.  

You’ve done quite a few different ones with like little Christmas hats, avatar themed or drooling with spirals in the eyes.

Initially I did it so people can relate better to it, I paint Kam in spots where I want to have a lot of exposure. It’s having that positive impact on everyday people and it wasn’t something that I planned to do, it just happened that way and I kinda just went with it. If it makes people have a giggle for 10 seconds like man, that’s more than enough for me.

The character has a pretty recognisable style too. Does your character have a name?

I didn’t have a name to begin with but I guess the name Kam because it’s short for chameleon. It’s pretty generic but I’ll let his face do the talking. 

Is there many misconceptions with Melbourne’s graffiti scene?

I don’t think Melbourne’s that bad in terms of misconceptions of graffiti because it’s pretty much an art capital of the world. Even people that aren’t into that scene, because the city has that real artistic mentality, even on your day to day people, I think people are generally more accepting and open to different types of art form. So whilst there is misconceptions of graffiti, they’re more towards your tagging and bombing. Which if you’re not into graff, you can understand why because it’s just sheer vandalism in their view, whereas for writers, it makes sense. I don’t wanna rehash that’s been said a million times but tags build your letter structure and it’s crucial to a graffer but for other people, they don’t understand it. So it’s a really exclusive element in that part. 

So would you say Melbourne is pretty accepting of graffiti?

I mean if you’re making something that people can appreciate, I dunno like faces and colours, people are generally more accepting.

There’s are a lot of street artists around too, is there the standard tension between street artists and graffers? 

There was before I think. Now, I think because a lot of prolific graffers have ventured into the street art scene, that gap has closed a bit but the tension will still be there. People just paint for different reasons and when you have conflicting reasons or interests that’s where all these capping start happening. I don’t particularly advocate or encourage it but the way I see it, you have a really nice wall and it gets capped, it opens up an opportunity to put something fresh onto it. It’s awesome to have a piece that lasts 10, 20, 30 years but you’re always churning out new ideas and it is always fresh and nice to see new ideas so capping is kind of a recycling process. Although, people don’t like it because no one likes to see the nitty gritty stuff. 

Is Melbourne quite territorial with spots?

Yeah, there’s a lot of spots but there’s definitely a hierarchy that you have to work up to. Who you know does play a big part but also I think showing dedication through your work. Obviously the gnarlier the spot, the more respect you get. It’s definitely very territorial, but if you can prove yourself in the scene, you pretty much get a ticket into it. And that comes from not just being a gnarly writer and getting up spots and getting up everywhere but also in a subtle way, showing people respect. Even if that means if you do a burner piece and there’s someone that’s prolific has done a tag or throwie where your background is going and you go around them, that’s just a simple way in showing respect. It’s just subtle gestures at the end of the day. 


Feature image and inset by Kam

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