In a masterclass attended by five selected artists from Oman, he demonstrated what years of experience can do in but a few minutes. Without a sketch or blueprint in hand, he went freestyle etching his name in graffiti style on one of the cylindrical columns of a parking lot and he made it look so easy those who were watching noted that he was but only playing. While he was flown all the way from Mexico to Oman to do an art installation in one of the walls of Oman’s newest, hip and youth-centric hotels, W Muscat, his origin has been sordid and colourful and he gained his mastery and experience by continuously painting and evading the authority at the same time.
Graffiti can be traced back to ancient times when early civilisations carved drawings on walls or any surface they can find. From ancient Egypt to the Roman Empire, it was a rebel art that transcended time and took an even bigger more ornate form in the modern era.
Graffiti as an art has been a controversial subject. Most artists from around the world started by vandalising walls of properties of other people and because of this, many countries made it a punishable offence. It also became associated with gangs, used extensively to mark territories and for this association, artists who are into graffiti had been marginalised.
For Buster, he can’t remember how many times he has been chased off by people but for every attempt of stopping him from doing his art, he thrived.
Growing up in Monterrey in the sprawling Mexican state of Nuevo León, the young Buster has always loved drawing. Buster isn’t his real name and just like Banksy, he created his own unique persona, one that almost his 1 million followers on different social media have gotten very familiar with now.
“I started painting graffiti in 1998 and took the name Buster (pronounced Boo-ster). I’d been doing this for 20 years now,” he shared.
He is rarely seen without something covering his face. His uniform is usually made up of a bandana covering his nose down and a cap. In front of the camera, he covers his face.
He shared that the style was born out of living and doing his art on the street. The face-covering serves different purposes not only to protect him from inhaling the fumes from the spray paint but also to hide his identity.
The year 1999 to 2003 was his wild days when he ventured on different parts of Mexico to practise his art. In 2006, he produced the very first graffiti documentary he called “Wild Street” compiling his journey as he affixed graffiti on the walls of his city. From the streets to being invited all over the world to do what he loves best, Buster felt that the world has changed so much and has started to accept the art it used to marginalise in the past.
Ornate Mexican style graffiti
While graffiti as a subject can be divisive, Buster considers himself a true blue artist. He does other things too from producing his own designs to venturing into designing logos and typographies. He felt like his long journey has also allowed him to evolve as an artist. He created his own studio called Catrink and used his online popularity as the foundation of selling his own merchandise.
“My team and I currently work under our brand Wild Street and we do our own design and decoration work,” he said.
While there’s a lot of people who would claim they are graffiti artists, Buster shared that the one goal that makes him different is developing a Mexican style of graffiti.
He shared that most of the styles in graffiti all over the world are shared and are copied from each other. He wanted that when someone sees his work, they will be able to say that it’s Mexican or “it’s Buster’s work.’
For most of his design, he sticks to the regular colours of white, black and gold.
The commissioned artwork he did for W Muscat was an elaborate and ornate weave of leaflike designs which he said was a reflection of his Mexican style. It was beautifully done that one cannot even say that “it’s just graffiti.”
“I like having an opportunity such as this. It makes me happy to see society accepting that there are different kinds of arts and that people are free to follow the style they like. I’d been flying all over the world, in Europe and Latin America but it’s my first time in the Middle East. I can see that there is an interest here,” he said.
“A lot of new artists trying to get into graffiti will find confined spaces challenging to create art on. You have to understand your canvas well and having done this so many times, it has been easier for me to create a design,” he said.
Buster is not the “all talk” kind of person. He rather creates art but always finds the time to give back and train people who are interested in art.
In Mexico, he has been holding workshops for new artists and even in Oman, he spend a few hours teaching graffiti-aligned artists some styles and techniques.
“This kind of art needs a lot of practice. I love teaching and giving back. It’s nice to see new artists learn and interact,” he said.
Only in Oman for four days, he managed to squeeze into his schedule a visit to a local skate park where graffiti is a big part of the culture. He went to work and left his own mark at the skate park, a memento skater in Oman can cherish.
Buster sees himself checking out the scenes of Los Angeles soon. He said he is considering moving for a time just to establish his style and art there and market his brand and style more.
To see his other works, his Instagram page is @busterduque or you can also follow his management team @inkinctv.