Chor Boogie is a world-known master of grafitti or as he refers to it “Modern Hieroglyphics.”
Chor Boogie was born as Jason Lamar Hailey in Oceanside, California in 1979 to a military family. He was first handed a paintbrush at age 5 and knew then and there that he wanted to become an artist. He took up illegal spray painting at age 10 and subsequently changed his name.
Chor dropped out of high school and never received formal art training, as spray paint was discouraged as art.
In his 20s, Chor underwent what he calls a “deep spiritual healing” and transformed his life, quitting drugs and alcohol. This had a major impact in his style of color therapy and innovativeness.
At 28, Chor Boogie moved to San Francisco and took the leap to pursue a full time career in art, where his art began to receive widespread recognition.
Chor sites being commissioned to create a mural of Ol’ Dirty Bastard following his death as a career highlight.
In 2008, Chor painted the Beijing Olympic Games Mural.
In 2010, Chor Boogie’s “The Eyes of the Berlin Wall” sold for 500,000 euro, making history for the street art genre.
He widely credits the influence of artists such as Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Klimt and Dali on his work. He combines his appreciation of art history with street culture, learning from the great masters of spray paint PHASE 2 and Vulcan. His visionary works ignite the hearts and minds of the masses world-wide.
I don’t use the word graffiti. I did when I was younger in my 20s a little bit….So I decided to give it my own terminology – my own name, my own meaning, my own understanding, and that’s ‘modern hieroglyphics.’
My name is Chor Boogie, that’s Chor B double O G I E. And I am a spray paint artist; I paint with spray paint.
This mural is a part of, it’s like a collectible…kind of, sort of… called Art Battles. And they brought in a few artists to come and collaborate. When it comes to my section of the mural, it’s a piece for the working man – for the working individual, corporate, no discrimination… working corporate zombies. And within the American culture. They do not have enough time to enjoy their life, because they have to do this you know 7 days a week, 5 days a week, not knowing if they love what they do or not.
I was first exposed to it I wanna say around age…I wanna say like 10 or something like that… and walking by you know certain aqueducts and stuff and seeing all these bright colors coming out of it. When I saw that, I said, “I’m gonna do that!” And then by the age of 13, I decided to try it.
Yeah when I started spray painting, in the beginning, it was on the illegal side…the illegal aspect of it…
Those were the rebellious days, teenager rebellious days, I was doing that whole you know illegal thing too and other things too – I like to call them extracurricular activities, you know partying and stuff. I was a crazy kid. I think like yeah one day I was like I’m done with this; no I think I got in trouble for something in high school and I was like I’m out of here. And I walked out of school and I never went back.
So, I wanna say like around the age of 22 when I started realizing okay, let’s get serious about this, because I’m an artist. I felt like I needed to…you know…spread a different message.
And I think once I hit that turning point, and jail was included, and that was getting into my 20s, I was like something’s gotta change here, and actually that pushed me to change a little bit. I changed my life through art.
I think I was in my 20s, was when Ol’ Dirty Bastard died. They had a tribute show for him, and I was commissioned to paint his portrait. They wanted it to be a gift to…you know… Wu Tang. But that’s not the highlight; the highlight was when they brought it on stage, and you could just feel 70,000 people move. Like, it was like a force field, you could feel ’em, once they saw the portrait they were just like moved, they were just like… [gasps].
There were like cameras and the camera-phones, and all that stuff started coming out, and it was just like…”wow!” Oh my gosh, I damn near fainted. I was like “wow!”
Wu comes on, and I’m on stage… I’m on stage with them, and they’re like bringing all the people up, and I’m hanging out with the mom, and she loved the painting. The crowd’s going off; show’s going off. Then, the RZA like wants to introduce the mother. And she goes up and the first thing she says is “I would like to thank the artist that painted my baby Russel” and I’m like woah, like stuck, and then Method Man…GZA they run up to the painting, they’re picking up the painting and holding it up in the air, and they’re holding up the painting, crowd’s going off, cameras are going off, everything’s flashing then all of a sudden we start
singing “shimmy shimmy ya shimmy yam shimmy yay” – we start singing ol dirty bastard, and I felt like I was a part of the band for that song, and it was one of the coolest…one of the coolest things in my life that’s happened to me with art.
Well 3 words to describe my 20s, um… “son of a bitch!” Uh let’s see, well that right there! I can’t say that, I can’t say that…
Strength, patience, tolerance.
Cinematography: Danielle Calodney & Bowie Alexander
Edited by: Danielle Calodney
Interviewed by: Laura Lehmann
Music Courtesy of Let’s Make Out (@itsletsmakeout)