Women’s Month is coming to an end at Montana Colors, but females make a vital contribution to the brand all year round. There’s no better example than LUCY, a writer based in LA who just happens to coordinate all the MTN Shops in the U.S.A.
In this interview for MTN World, we hear about the challenges she has faced as a writer and professional in this male-dominated subculture.

Could you tell us who you are and what you do? 
I go by LUCY. I am a WOC (Woman of Color) from Boyle Heights, Los Angeles. My preferred media are spray paint, photography and mixed media collages.
I am the Regional Manager for Spray Planet. I set up the Montana Colors Flagship Stores in the United States. Aside from training and setting up MTN Shops from the ground up I also am the co-founder of Ladies First; an annual multimedia art show that aspires to highlight WOC in our communities.

How long have you been in the world of graffiti? 
I have been associated with the graffiti culture since I was in high school. I grew up watching my brother go bombing, and after a few years I caught the bug myself lol. I started with stencils and wheat paste then transitioned to photography.
Towards the early 2000’s I decided to write LUCY to pay homage to my grandmother who had recently passed. I’ve never turned back since.

“Style isn’t a key point in my graffiti, writing on things is. I used to get really hung up on my “style”, but what I have noticed should be a key component in this game is: having fun.”

Speaking of graffiti, how much has your local graffiti scene influenced you when it came to painting?  
I am born and raised in Los Angeles, so the graffiti culture has always been around me. The Los Angeles Style is more “Cholo” Lettering, neighborhood gangs throwing up what they rep. Closer to DTLA you see it All: bombs. Throws, tags, burners, rollers, heavens. Living in Los Angeles is a privilege because I get to see people from all over the world come flex their styles.

Nowadays, there is much more freedom, new ways of painting and new styles have been generated. How important is style to you and what interests you most personally about graffiti?  
Style isn’t a key point in my graffiti, writing on things is. I used to get really hung up on my “style”, but what I have noticed should be a key component in this game is: having fun.
Graff writers come and go. Once day you’re up and up, and the next month you’re old news. If you get too hung up on that, you’re missing the bigger picture. Now don’t get me wrong, You get a rush from seeing yourself up so style will always have importance. Leveling up is a priority in my realm so if my lines are cleaner than the last piece, and there are a minimum seven colors then I’m good to GO!

Do you belong to a group of women writers? Can you tell us a bit about this group and the role of women in the graffiti scene in your environment? 
As an individual, I want to use my platform and the experiences I have had through my work field to connect with likeminded WOC/POC in the community.
In 2019, I connected with WINK and together we created LADIES FIRST. A Annual Multimedia Art Show Curated to highlight WOC/POC in all art media.
Our First Show was at the MTN SHOP LA in Feb 2020 right before the pandemic. This year we have decided to challenge ourselves and curate a show out of state. The Ladies First Show will be held this year in Phoenix, Arizona, on May 21st.  Check out our IG @ladiesfirstla for details.

As the manager of the Montana Colors Shops in the USA, we are sure that you have a lot of obligations and work, as much as some curious anecdotes. Could you tell us about your experiences? 
Men often try to shortchange me in this culture, but they always get reminded by my assertive gift of gab. For instance, when I started I wasn’t initially hired to be manager, I was just anticipated to be full time. I proved myself over my male coworkers and earned my way to Store Manager at the MTN Shop LA.
Now, I have three MTN Shops under my belt. I have trained all three MTN Stores and personally stocked all the paint racks myself. I’m v proud of my contribution to the history of such a well-respected brand: Montana Colors, Herstory Edition!

“Men often try to shortchange me in this culture, but they always get reminded by my assertive gift of gab.”

What difficulties or facilities have you encountered on the way to date, both as a businesswoman and as a graffiti artist? 
Absolutely, I mean I work in a male dominated culture. As a WOC, I’m constantly breaking barriers and smashing through the glass ceiling unapologetically. I must constantly work THREE times as hard to prove myself.
I was not given this position, I proved myself and earned everything I have. I’m expected to look cute, act like a lady, and be assertive enough to set boundaries and discipline my staff. Although those are unrealistic European beauty standards, I still manage to do my thing.

We understand that graffiti reaches different areas of your life… how far does it extend to your daily life? 
Graffiti and Montana Colors are a full spectrum part of my life. I’m constantly working alongside my husband representing MTN as a brand, creating merch/clothing for Spray Planet and trying to paint as much as possible.
It’s a blessing to say graffiti pays my bills and a privilege to be a part of the Montana Colors Team.

“I’m constantly breaking barriers and smashing through the glass ceiling unapologetically.”

As a writer, what are your essentials when painting? 
I got my Patagonia Duffle backpack. Inside is my Sanrio Twin Star cap case. I only need two caps; Lego & cream cap, gloves, and minimum 12 cans, preferably 94.

And finally, how is the legal situation of graffiti where you live and how has it affected you personally? 
After COVID-19, graffiti has been more embraced. The freeways aren’t getting buffed, and a lot of business have become Bandos/penates so it’s been easier to paint. It’s a wild time to be alive and a part of the graff culture.
I have the privilege of hearing the stories from the OG writers and I’m mindful of the vital influence I have on the new generation of writers coming into The MTN Shops.

Read what eight international female writers had to say about their experiences on International Women’s Day 2022.

Listen to playlists curated by Asya, Mukie and Glitter Riot here.

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