Dennis Brown, better known as Bagger43, is an artist, illustrator, and designer interested in all forms of image making. His work has been shown in numerous publications including Juxtapoz MagazineCMYK Magazine, and Giant Magazine, showcasing his wide variety of different styles. Inspired by a range of cultural and nostalgic influences, his work can be seen through an array of different mediums such as acrylic, collage, silkscreen, laser cut, and most recently pen and ink. After working for a grocery chain in high school, Brown developed his alias after his store position: “Bagger 43.”  Having collaborated with prominent brands like Ecko, Zynga, Razor Fish, and XXL Magazine, Brown has now shifted his focus to pen and ink. I stopped by his in-home studio to get a firsthand look into his personal sketchbook and discuss the crossover appeal of his recent works.

JOSH SCHIELE: For those who aren’t familiar with yourself and your work, can you tell us who you are and describe your interest in art?

BAGGER43: originally came My name is Dennis Brown, better known as Bagger43. I was born in the Philippines in '83, but i was raised in Japan at Kadena and Yokota Air Force base. My dad was in the Air Force, so I've spent the majortiy of my life living overseas. I didn't move to the United States until 2001. I went to art school in Florida at Ringling College of Art and Design to study illustration and graduated in 2005. I was always into drawing, but when I was in school, my works were mainly focused on painting and working with different mixed media art forms - I was always into ink, but it was kind of something I got interested in later. My work back then was a lot more loose and expressive. Over time, I got more control over the pen and ink medium, and as of late, that's pretty much what all my works have consisted of.

What brought you to San Francisco after college, and what was the local art scene like when you arrived?

I originally came to the Bay in 2005 for a convention and immediately I knew this is somewhere I wanted to live. The overall environment of San Francisco was amazing to me. There was, and still is, a huge artist draw in this city. At the time a lot of stuff was poppin’ off with Upper Playground, they were putting out a lot of amazing stuff with Mars-1David Choe, and Mike Giant was still in the bay at the time too. There is just this crazy creative energy that flows through San Francisco. This city was built on such diversity and has an amazing culture built around it.


Can you tell us about the name Bagger43?

When I was in high school, my friends and I worked at grocery store. As part of our uniform, we all got these bagger pins because we were grocery baggers. My bagger pin was bagger 43, so I ran with that. I guess I was kind of shouting my friends out from high school but I really did like the ring of it, it’s kind of open-ended if you hear it, but don’t know the context. I liked that the name I chose for myself had a number attached to it because it gave me some room to play around with as far as having an option to have an alias but also have something to run with. I got that pin when I was seventeen and I still have it to this day.

Most of your early works consisted of paintings, what made that transition into pen and ink?
As an artist, I’ve always tried to be really diverse in my mediums. I’ve always tried to work in different types of mediums really just because it’s more fun for me. It’s funny because I would say that Instagram actually played a huge factor in me working in pen and ink form. I would sketch here and there in my free time throughout the day, but never really saw a reason to do it every day. Last year was the first time I ever committed to sketching every day. There’s an artist named Jake Parker who started this thing called Inktober and the whole point is to draw something in ink everyday for the entire month of October. I thought Inktober was a cool concept because you could search the hash-tag and see everyone’s work. I was posting a lot to Instagram and it was awesome to know that people were actually following this and liking my work. I committed that month to doing one page of faces a day in my sketchbook, and that point on the daily ink drawing kind of just turned into a habit.

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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.  

Thanks for reading! You can read the rest of this interview via THE HUNDREDS