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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Creative, Sweet: A Conversation With BurgerFuel's In-House Graffiti Artist

Spreading word of the burger through street art.
By Margaux Black
June 30, 2016
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Creative, Sweet: A Conversation With BurgerFuel's In-House Graffiti Artist

Spreading word of the burger through street art.
By Margaux Black
June 30, 2016
  shares

Kairau Bradley, known as HASER on the street, has found himself in an unusual situation for an artist, being employed full time by a global New Zealand brand. Working in-house for BurgerFuel as both a graphic designer and graffiti artist has given him the flexibility and support to grow his own creative endeavours and motivation to help others with theirs.

In conjunction with BurgerFuel, Creative, Sweet is a new platform that the brand hopes will encourage all things creative and edgy, and give artists an outlet to express their work. We sat down with Haser to find out a little more about how he got to where he is, as well as his plans for the platform and his future with art.

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Haser X Concrete Playground24

How did you first get into graffiti art?

I've always had an interest in art. My dad was an artist so I naturally gravitated towards it. My brother and I were always quite competitive so we always had that drive to want to surpass each other. We both got into graffiti around the same time, I must have been about 10. Though, when I say graffiti, I actually mean tagging, I didn't really figure out what good graffiti was until I was about 13 - 14. I remember the first time I went out tagging, I got so excited and came home to tell my brother, he thought it was stupid so he told my mum, who then grounded me. I pretty much just tagged for the next few years until I met another graffiti writer (HERO) from Central Auckland. Because I lived in Te Atatu Peninsula, there was pretty much sweet fuck all to do. Public transport was average and dreams were low so I never really ventured out into other suburbs. HERO had been living in Grey Lynn so he was a lot more engaged with what was going on with the Auckland graffiti scene. Had I not met him, my graffiti dreams would have died in Te Atatu.

When was your interest in art and graffiti first piqued?

I believe it was after I saw my first bit of graffiti when I was about 9. On a rare trip to the city, I had the privilege of seeing a SMACK piece under the St Lukes overpass. I later learned he was a local legend from TMD (The Most Dedicated), a crew I aspired to and am now a member of. I don't think that was the moment I decided this is what I want to do, but it definitely planted a seed for later on.

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Haser X Concrete Playground20

Who was your inspiration to begin with in comparison to any influences you have now?

As mentioned before, my dad probably played the biggest role in regard to people who inspired and influenced me. I always had the mind-set of, if he can do it, I'm pretty sure I can do it and I guess that was my mentality for most things. In regards to graffiti, the first look I got at good graffiti was not in person, but in Source magazines that I use to steal from the local dairy. They usually dedicated a spread to graffiti, I read that shit like it was the Bible.

I'd say local influencers when I started were guys from TMD, RTR, DAF, RFC, BDS, DFH, USP, RO, SC, DMN, I could easily go on, there are so many. I generally still look up to them today, mostly because they came from a time where they were pioneers, it's so easy to go on the internet these days and copy what's hot. These days I'm generally influenced by those around me, if they're doing dope shit, it kinda gives me a kick in the ass to get my shit together. I have little anxiety attacks if I feel like my work is slipping, I shouldn't though, because sometimes I find myself going out to paint, just to prove to little 15-year-olds that sit behind their computer screens all day that I still paint. When I think about it, it's actually quite sad.

Do you have any formal training?

Haha, if you classify illegally applying a medium, predominately spray paint to a surface, then yes, I graduated from that school a long time ago.

Who taught you/did you teach yourself?

I learned everything I know from just doing it. All you need is a decent set of balls and a real "I can" attitude. You'll need that when you're hanging off the side of a building and asking yourself, "Is the street fame really worth it?"

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HAS - Auckland, 2009

Where did the name HASER come from?

HASER is actually an extension for HAS. My older brother had a few tags he use to rotate between, and one of those was HAS. When I was 13 we went out tagging, I didn't have a tag at the time that I liked so I asked him if I could write HAS, he said "no", I tempted him with $5 and he said "yes". It's probably the best $5 I've ever spent. I put the ER on the end because everyone thinks HAS is a crew, or they always write things like "small balls" after it. To all my friends though, I'm just known as HAS.

Do you have any crazy stories about scaling walls to do your art?

I think the one that sticks out to me the most was a rooftop I painted in downtown Auckland. It was at the top of an apartment building but the only way to get up there was to climb the scaffolding that ran up the front of the building in front of people's windows. We had to sneak past people as they were making dinner, watching TV, reading etc. We also had to make a little pulley system, as carrying our paint up with us would have made too much noise. So, we tied all our bags of paint to a rope that was conveniently there, and when we got to the top, we pulled it up. It's not the most hectic story but one I always find funny. I guess the other one would be when we spent 3 nights out in the Orakei Basin painting a 100 metre piece on a pipe that ran across the water. We had to time it with the tides, which meant we had a small window of opportunity to pull it off. On the last night we just painted until we finished, when we were leaving the water was up to our chests and all over our materials had floated off in to the darkness, good times.

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Haser X Concrete Playground25
How did you come to work at BurgerFuel?

My friend ASKEW had a few jobs for BurgerFuel, he was quite busy at the time so he palmed them off to me. I guess I did a good job because more work followed through until they eventually took me on as their in-house graphic designer and graffiti artist.

What are the highlights for working with/for BurgerFuel?

I've always enjoyed having the backing and support of BurgerFuel, I can definitely say they have played a huge roll in my success over the last 5 years. The freedom and flexibility they offer me is extremely rare in most companies. BurgerFuel also endorses my work, it's always a dope day when I go to work and get asked to paint a wall or do some illustrations for them.

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BurgerFuel Style
How did Creative, Sweet come to fruition?

Like Radio BurgerFuel is to music; Creative, Sweet is our BurgerFuel channel for all the artistic awesomeness we're into. Be it graffiti, illustration, graphic design, videography or tattooing, we're all about it, and we like supporting other people who are too.

What are your plans/vision for Creative, Sweet?

Ultimately, I would like BurgerFuel Creative, Sweet to be something for up-and-coming creatives to aspire to, and also a platform for them to leverage off, and at the same time help and support our creative friends of the Fuel and other awesome creatives out there doing their thing.

Can you define the BurgerFuel style? Would you say you are responsible for it?

Purple? Haha. In regards to our store art I'd say I'm responsible for it, only because I'm the only one currently doing it, although we did manage to get Australia based artist John Kaye to help us out recently. Eventually I see the BurgerFuel Creative, Sweet having a fleet of artists from different cities around New Zealand and eventually the world.

As much as I enjoy travelling all around the globe, it would be dope to see artists within our BurgerFuel communities get involved. The tone that I have set is, rather than tell them what to paint, I have simply restricted their colours to a BurgerFuel palette, it wouldn't make sense to bring in these amazing artists and then ignore their skills by having them paint to a strict brief. The BurgerFuel Creative, Sweet also gets behind other visual artists and art, whether it be graffiti, street art, illustration, graphic design, photography, videography or tattooing, it's hard to say that we have a style, we just simply enjoy working with like-minded and driven creatives.

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Haser X Concrete Playground27

You get to travel a lot, what have been your favourite destinations and why?

In the context of dope places in general, I'd say New York. I was raised by a television so New York has a real nostalgic element to it when I go there. In regard to painting, I'd say Germany, there's a lot of dope writers there and it seems to be a little more embracing of this modern plague we know as graffiti. I also have members from both of my crews (GBAK & TMD) that come from Germany. If I could choose a place to live for a year, there's a 92% chance it'd be Germany, most likely Berlin, the other 8% would be distributed between San Francisco and Tokyo. I've been pretty fortunate to see a lot of the world, every trip I've done has been on the back of graffiti. I still scratch my head when I think about all the little shitty things I did as a kid have somehow manifested into me travelling around the world to paint my name.

This year I finally got the call up from BurgerFuel to pack my paint and head up to the Middle East. Dubai has been on the cards for a long time, but there has never been a reason to warrant me actually going up there. I spent 9 days in Dubai and managed to sneak out to Abu Dhabi for one day. It was dope getting to meet the staff up there and introduce them to. Over 9 days I painted 4 stores, made 3 pieces of art to be installed in up-and-coming stores, did temporary tattoos at 2 stores, got mad props from kids, made scream noises at Aquaventure, looked at a camel, went up a tall building and walked aimlessly around a giant mall.

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Haser X Concrete Playground18

Do you have a favourite piece of art you have done for BurgerFuel?

I'd say the favourite wall I've painted for BurgerFuel would be one of the more recent murals I did in Newtown, Sydney. I don't imagine I'd ever live in Sydney, but if I did it would definitely be in Newtown, I enjoy the people, food and culture there, so when I did the mural on the side of our BurgerFuel store, I wanted to incorporate the town in to it. It was dope, I got mad props from all the locals and a lot of tourists were taking their photos in front of it. I also got to meet Sam Niel and Taika Waititi that day, total fan boy moment.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Being a part of the GBAK and TMD crew. Almost every opportunity I've had has been because of these two crews. GBAK is a crew that was founded in 2004 by myself and a few friends. Back then our morals, goals and ambitions were a lot different, we had a lot more energy, and we were definitely a lot more hungry for fame. Twelve years later we are still going strong and have expanded from various suburbs of Auckland to various cities in Australia and Germany.

TMD is a crew I aspired to when I was coming up as a youngster, they had been around long before I even picked up a spray can. Like GBAK, TMD started off with a couple teenagers from West Auckland in 1996, and have now expanded to Australia and Germany, sporting some of the biggest names in the world graffiti art scene, ASKEW, PHAT 1, BERST, SOFLES, VANS, CAN TWO, WOW123 and plenty more. In 2010, I was asked to be a part of the TMD crew, for me it was a huge honour, considering these guys were legends to me when I was a kid. Growing up, most kids idolised pop stars and sports stars, I idolised dope graffiti writers.

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Haser X Concrete Playground29

What is your ultimate goal for your art and career?

Almost every goal I've set myself, I've achieved, I don't really know what else there is to do apart from more. At this point, it's to make sure I keep doing what I do best and that's paint. Who knows where I'll be in 20 years, but if I can help it, I'd like to say, I'm still doing what I'm doing now.

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Published on June 30, 2016 by Margaux Black

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