Jason Hailey, better known to you as Chor Boogie, is a self-taught artist known for his legendary use of vibrant color, influential subject matter, and hypnotizing patterns. Born and raised in Oceanside, California, Hailey discovered his passion for art at the age of 10, and has gone by his chosen name “Chor Boogie” ever since. His work has taken him around the globe to showcase his works in places like Mexico, Berlin, Australia, and China for the 2008 Olympic games. The purpose behind his work is to create timeless dimension of originality, form, self-expression, and faith. Now residing in San Rafael, just twenty minutes north of San Francisco, Chor Boogie continues to inspire through his art. I recently had an opportunity to sit down with the man himself to learn about his discovery of graffiti, modern hieroglyphics, and love.
JOSH SCHIELIE: Who are you, and can you tell us about your beginnings and discovery of graffiti?
CHOR BOOGIE: My name is Chor Boogie. Birth name Joaquin (Jason) Lamar Hailey. I am an Artist Of Balance, a real G. I discovered the world of graffiti, around the age of 13, I stumbled upon the illegal aspect of it and by walking near aqueducts when I was a kid and looking down the tunnels and seeing the place covered with colors and tags and such. It was the colors stood out to me the most, like the sounds of spirits singing to me, it was a calling towards the spray can. I have been an artist since the age of five and when I was in kindergarten, my teacher was like, “Do you want to play duck duck goose or PAINT?” I was like “What’s painting?” Painting was like magnetics to me, I was naturally drawn to the easel and I was just able to create. My teacher came to me and asked me how I felt about it - I simply responded, “When I grow up, I’m going to be an artist.” The rest is the future.
What is the meaning behind the name Chor Boogie?
Usually characters within the street culture carried numbers or their block behind their name, I wanted to be different. My art is my chore and I get boogie with it, you may catch me dancing while I’m in my creative zone. I didn’t want to try and reinvent the wheel but sometimes there is an order for a change, the power within the work has a melodic symphony type of approach. The Chor Boogie is Love.
Was your specific style something that you worked at developing or did it just come out of you? How did you manage to get it out?
Of course you have to pay your dues and put in work, but naturally it just flowed out of my heart, mind, body, soul. I got it out because it needed to come out of me, almost like an orgasm - with good intentions. I was able to express my inner truth on any surface with a spray can. Once I entered the world of using all colors and no discrimination, I started expressing in a different way compared to my amateur stages of developing a style and learning the fundamentals behind the spray can first. It took me around 10 years to gain that understanding but after that, expressing with colors took me to a whole other dimension. I consider my style now as “Modern Hieroglyphics” - It’s a way of life, not just an art form. I don’t call it graffiti, street art, or whatever name there is for it out there now. I call it what it is - an aerosol art form which is the fundamental basis of my style. It’s a splash of color therapy, meets fine art, meets street, meets music, meets multidimensional perspective, meets love. I have a saying: “You can really tell who/how a person really is by the quality of their creation. Your art is a reflection of what’s really inside.” I correct and fine-tune my inner self so I can create beauty.
Are there any other forms of art, in any medium, that you think you share common ideals and inspirations with you?
I love all forms of art, to me they all are fresh. There are amazing artists out there and some art not so amazing, I’m inspired by the amazing ones. Historically speaking, I take inspiration from the works of Gustav Klimt, Salvador Dali, Michelangelo, Caravaggio. To more modern day contemporaries in the spray paint world: PHASE 2, who is the Father of style and originality to this medium and is the reason why this medium is what it is. RIFF170 and VULCAN are legends for bringing color to the game, and when I say color - I mean real color. They inspired me to the fullest, all of these guys are my brothers in arms and I love them for what they have done for me.
How do you organize your works? Is there a sketch process prior to painting?
Sometimes I use references for realistic approaches, sometimes I don’t and just wing it and work from experience and just paint it. I do not sketch - stopped that many years ago. I just paint. I used to be a purist when it [came] to just using spray paint. Most of the time I still am, but now I’m more open-minded. Granted, I still use spray paint and nothing, but I turned to the earth to use some of the elements it’s blessed me with like twigs from trees to use as an edging tool. But from the source, I use spray paint to create the beauty.
After you were attacked and stabbed, how did you move the feelings that followed into your art?
Actually I didn’t, they may have trickled in there subconsciously, but in all honesty I forgave that chapter in my life. Over-standing that there are demons / devils not in there right heart out there, and don’t get me wrong I’m no angel, I have my fare share of inner devils as well but I choose to operate on a different frequency: polarity through balance. It’s the over-standing that negativity is not going anywhere and positivity can easily be pushed aside unless you retrain your heart, body, mind, and soul to love - like it’s naturally supposed to. I moved that energy of rage before the stabbing and after I counter acted with a solution of love. I did drugs and alcohol at a young age for years and ultimately developed my inner self based off this mentality of self-abuse and street life. I have experienced allot from the dark side - addiction, jail, death, however I was able to correct my wrongdoings and got clean for about thirteen years.
Unfortunately, I went back into lesson for about two years was lucky to be able to correct myself again, thanks to the love of myself, my family, and the inspiration have manifested with my fans over the years. I found Iboga, a plant medicine that showed me love, real love- the love that I was born with and even beyond that. I went to www.ibogatherapyhouse.com in Costa Rica and was awaken. Forgiveness is one of the tools the medicine has manifested within me, so I let all that go and the page has turned on all aspect ratios of my life.
Are there any common stories or themes that your paintings tell?
A Street Romantic Voodoo of a Melodic Symphony through emotional landscapes of color therapy, a Love Hate story.
How does love play a role in both creating and receiving your art?
Love is the fundamental basis or foundation of all things whether you like it or not, it’s all energy. I have had paintings that had dark feelings involved in them, and I have paintings that have light feelings as well. Basically there is a balanced approach to everything but ultimately it was the love that started it and the love that ended it.
For you to be satisfied with a piece that you created, what does the outcome need to have?
The piece is a never-ending story and it’s my life’s work. So it takes a lifetime to create. Granted, the pieces to date are elaborations of a continued saga so they may seem finished but ultimately the multidimensional story keeps going on and on and on and on.
Any upcoming projects you would like to speak on?
I run a multi media team that has their hands in all sorts of talents. I am co-founder of Modern Hieroglyphics magazine and I am running the products team for [them] as well as COASTISCLEAR productions. I will be an Iboga practitioner and getting married in Africa in December to my lovely wife Elizabeth Bast Boogie. Recently working on a project based off the Divided State of America with my brother in arms Dr. Nirmal Mulye. The projects never end, but starting off this year of 2014, painting a mural at a building called the cubes 120w 42ndst was an amazing experience.
Feel free to stay tuned and grow with me on www.chorboogie.com. Instagram @chorboogie. Facebook&G+ @chorboogie. For any more details and questions feel free to each me at email@example.com or just feel free to be who you are.
Chor Boogie has an upcoming show called “BALANCE” on November 6th at 111 Minna Gallery in San Francisco. Follow him on Instagram @chorboogie and keep up with Modern Hieroglyphics magazine on modernhiero.com.