When it comes to amazing graffiti, you won’t find a better example then graffiti writer/artist, Todd Hebenstreit. This Albuquerque born artist, who’s recognized by his graffiti name, Path or Path One started his painting career at the age of 15. His graffiti career didn’t blossom until a few years later. “In the beginning I was probably more of a stencil/street artist. I liked that it was all about art skills + ninja skills + mischief.”
Graffiti names, such as Path or Path One are an important aspect to defining and branding oneself in the graffiti world. Writers typically choose their names based only on the letters within the word, often a made-up word or new spelling of a word that has an aesthetic appeal. ‘Path’ according to Hebenstreit is one of the worst combos of letters you could ever have, “a ‘T’ in the middle of a word is a BITCH,” he adds. Never the less, he still writes it knowing the story and reason behind it.
“I came up with it one day when I was on a roof top. It was a difficult climb, I figured I was the first graffiti writer to get up there. Then I saw a little marker tag from an older writer and I was like “No way, this dude took this same path.” I liked the idea of paths and all the interesting paths graffiti sends you on. So I started writing it.”
Hebenstreit’s work can be seen throughout Albuquerque, but his skills and creativity were cultivated in Denver, CO where he has spent most of his life. His design teachers in Colorado and virtually everyone he has worked with professionally have been influential in his growth as a working artist. “Once you get to the pro level of design you meet some seriously bad ass muther f*ckers.”
“I liked that it was all about art skills, plus ninja skills, plus mischief.”
While working with the best in the field has it’s advantages, Hebenstreit was quick to point out one of his best teachers was his own grandma, a successful architect, designer and portrait artist herself. Her advice, which Hebenstreit keeps as a mantra for emerging artist is to, “ learn a lot about business, marketing and being professional. Every successful artist is all over that stuff. If you can’t get that stuff down you will fail, period.” Hebenstein’s piece of advice, “Don’t sleep.”
Clearly Hebenstreit listened well. Apart from his graffiti work he flourishes as a successful graphic/ industrial/ UI designer for major companies. He also gets commissioned to paint walls throughout the country and even sells some of his work in shows and galleries.
While big name artists like Banksy have blown up in the mainstream art realm, Hebenstreit knows that isn’t the norm. “I don’t know a single flourishing graffiti artist. I wouldn’t say I “work” as a graffiti writer. Every graffiti writer I know (even the greats) all make money doing something else. Graffiti writers make money as designers, most commonly as tattoo artists, and a very very select few, make money as gallery artists (and prob not much). “
In fact, Hebenstreit would say, along with anyone that knows him that 95% of the time he is doing other forms of art besides graffiti. “I am a graffiti artist and I do flourish as simply that, and that is only because I love graffiti. I would say that is true of anyone who has painted for over 10 years. You do it because, despite the occasional beef, or fight, or battle, it’s fun. That’s really its only payoff.”
Hebenstreit has come along way since first picking up a brush, but he isn’t finished, not by a long shot. His aspirations include becoming a concept/ design artist for an amazing company like Valve or Bethesda, as well as doing level design. His path forward looks bright and colorful and we look forward to seeing him walk it.
Want to see more work done by Todd? Check him out on Facebook at facebook.com/todd.hebenstreit. You can also find him on Instagram by searching for @paths01.