Reminiscing West Coast & G-Funk Culture with Artist Colin Taniguchi
WORDS: NOAH PHAM | ILLUSTRATIONS: COLIN TANIGUCHI
Everyone had a stash box growing up. It was the best-kept secret from your parents; the treasure box from your childhood. It kept everything that you didn’t want to share with the world. Drawings, photos, happy meal toys, letters to yourself, and love letters. A ripping hit of nostalgia takes over your body once you revisit these moments of your youth.
These same feelings carry through with Colin Taniguchi’s world of vibrant illustrations. Born and raised in the bay area, Colin’s “treasure box” is displayed through his vibrantly colored & graffiti-inspired pieces that resonate chords struck by low-rider and west coast influence.
Everything that you can imagine how life was in the late 90s / early 2000s hyphy movement spills through Colin’s drawings. You can almost hear RBL Posse playing as you wander through his landscape drawings, mixtape covers, and custom garment designs.
Tell us a little about yourself and how you found the style you got into.
I’ve been drawing since I was 3 on my dad’s notepads. Just doodling random stuff and growing up in the Bay, there’s hella graffiti everywhere so I was trying to replicate that. It’s formed into what I draw today. The stuff I draw is what I did during as a kid. Like block letters my dad used to draw and all the hyphy movement stuff too. They used to have sick ass covers. I brought that to the current day. My styles have always been colourful so i just brought that to current day things. Just from stuff I’ve been through.
The Bay Area plays a huge part in what you portray in your illustrations. How was it like being born in raised in the hyphy movement? Bay area’s music has a huge influence on your work.
Oh hell yeah! That’s probably the reason why I draw what I draw. I was 8 or something and my dad gave me a RBL tape and some Dre Dog. Ever since then I have been into that type of music. That old school G-funk and Mob shit. My cousins were also really into the hyphy movement around 06 and the myspace era. All the crazy headers and graphics inspired me too. I didn’t know how to code and do it online so I just drew them. I want to make it seem like just by looking at my work I want people to know where I’m from.
You mention your dad inspires you alot, was he an artist as well?
My dad had his own business so that was a model. He always showed me how to hustle in that aspect. But he would always doodle. Like Teen Angel, brick and block letters and put daly city over everything he was drawing. I still use the brick letters in my work today and seeing it hella young.
Are there stories behind your illustrations? Like your party scene images or any characters you draw?
Shit, they’re representations of my homies. We just kick it all day and all of those drawings of real stories of just kicking back at my homies crib. All the brehs just come through there and have fun. I don’t want to forget these memories so i just draw them. You can lose a phone and lose all the pictures in there but if you have a drawing that can be hard to lose. It’s cool to draw your homies too. It’s like shouting them out in a rap song. I like keeping my circle happy and they have something to remember and they say “ Oh that character is me”. All the characters are real people so it’s a little shout out to them.
Tell us about your “Breh” movement.
That was hella funny! It was my big homie panda sex when i was doing grafitti. He’s a frisco graf writer. A legend. He’d always say breh and he was just doing his thing. I met him one night for the first time after seeing him since I was a kid on flickr. He put me down on the crew and I just started doing breh flips just for laughs. And it just sort of blew up out of nowhere. That’s where the Brehlenciaga flip came from. It just sort of kicked off. Shout out to that fool.
So you did graffiti too?
I’ve been doing graf since I was a kid like at 11 in middle school. I was just tagging on everything and got hella markers and hit up lamp posts and books. Now I just keep it on paper. Don’t want to risk it haha.
So why does your heart rest with the Bay Area?
I love everything about the Bay. We have the culture, the rap, the lingo. We got sideshows, the way people dress, beanie flips. We have Mac dre and E40. It’s gone now but people are still with it. It’s a melting pot too, with all races coming together and all of it becomes a bay thing. It’s cool being from where everyone wants to be.
Outside of art, what are other things you’re passionate about that inspires your aesthetic.
I’ve always collected vinyls and cassettes, toys and shit. All the old rap tapes my dad would grow up listening to. Then the stuff I would end up finding too from those tapes. I really like collecting music, it’s close to me.
How many tapes do you have in your collection now?
Around 300. I sold a lot though but I still have a shitload. It’s all the stuff I listen to when I work.
If you could an album cover for any artist, who would it be?
RBL Posse since it was the first cassette I ever got. I’ve been slapping “Don’t Give Me No Bammer Weed” since I was 12. It’s dope because I put some RBL posters in my drawings and they hit me up and sent me a bunch of stuff. They found out I was including them and he just found my work online. He’s been supporting ever since. Some homage shit.
Tell us about the collaborations you got involved in?
I did stuff for gx1000, Rolling Loud, Heron Preston, and Post Malone. They all found me on social media. Somehow some of my stuff just caught the eye of these people and it started from there. It’s all happening because of social media, it’s crazy. Like for Heron, he just found me on the explore page. I was like what the hell. It trips me out, people find you from this stuff and it can change your life.
What are the next big plans for you?
Thinking ahead makes me scared haha. I want to have another art show out here in the bay and have all the homies come through. I want to do one for my hometown. Other than that just cook with other artists. Lately I’ve been doing drawings where I’d start it and they would finish the other half. Just work with more people that love drawing. And make it into a magazine like Teen Angels. I like helping people. The best I can do is just find the same people and help them and the homies out. I want to let it all happen naturally. I just want to work hard and whatever happens, happens.