ABOUT: Dino Style

ABOUT: Dino Style


Dino Style

Country of Residence

United States of America




I am always curious about the background of different artists what they do for a living but I respect their privacy. Like Dino Style, I asked him to participate in the interviews and he told me that he is a science teacher and how he combines art in his classes. It was really nice to have an artist like Dino Style in the teachers section who actually has a deeper understanding of the sticker and graffiti community. This is his story:

You told me you were a teacher at a middleschool, educating your student into art using graffiti and stickerart. What motivated you to teach this?
Although I’ve been teaching for 22 years, I’m still trying to find new ways to teach my subject (science) and connect with my students. About a year ago, I got my hands on a stereo and turntable for my classroom, and I started playing music for my students while they worked on experiments and hands-on activities. A lot of jazz, but also hip-hop, specifically beat tapes and instrumental records from artists like MF DOOM, J Dilla, and Aesop Rock. Some of these records came with stickers that I put up on my laptop and stereo cabinet, and I noticed my students taking a great deal of interest in them, particularly the DOOM logo as well as some Robots Will Kill stickers I had on there. I started showing them some pictures of my art, and they loved it. Some kids even started showing me stuff they had been working on and asked me for tips. From then I started slowly adding more graffiti to my room, starting with pictures of stuff by other artists, then adding my own. I painted a mural saying SCIENCE! in some graffiti-inspired lettering over some beat up cabinet doors and started writing inspirational messages in my “handstyle”, if you can call it that.

From there it moved on to stickers, as students started taking interest in the 228s I had stuck in various corners of my classroom. I decided to tap into this interest and introduced them to a brief history of how the labels have been used by graffiti and street artists for decades now. Social-emotional learning (SEL) has become a huge component of our job in recent years, especially since the pandemic. I showed them the work of some artists that I felt best communicated positive messages and imagery and had every one of my students create their own positive message 228 that I added to a bulletin board so everyone could see the uplifting words and artwork.

I’m trying to promote positivity and kindness and crush any pre-conceived notion my students may have had about graffiti, because I think it can be an incredibly powerful way to communicate ideas. Kids love graffiti, probably because it’s the only art form that was created by kids. It gives them a voice in a world that too often doesn’t hear them.

We see you are progressing your character with graffiti on the board. How long have you been doing graffiti?
I’ve been doing graffiti on and off since high school in the late 90s. In my early 20s I got really into it, but around that time I started teaching, and in my free time I shifted my focus to music and playing in bands. After the abrupt end to my last musical endeavor, I realized my rock star dreams were never going to come true. I started drawing a lot again, and I picked graffiti back up. It was basically like starting over from scratch, having drawn very little for nearly 20 years. Having a project (the Dino Style book) definitely helped focus me on setting a goal I could work toward. Doing stickers is something I have only started in the last year, but it’s completely addicting and probably my favorite format to create on.

What is your background in art and when did your journey in art set off to be a passion?
I have no formal artistic training. I took art classes in high school when I was younger but I didn’t have the attention span or maturity to listen to my teachers and practice what they were teaching me back then. Fortunately, I found an amazing and talented teacher later on, who happens to be my wife. She studied art in college and has been an art teacher for the past 21 years, we actually met at the school we both work at. She has taught me a lot about basic principles and elements of art and design, and has helped me turn my work into something coherent.

I wanted to be a cartoonist / comic book artist when I was younger, and I’ve designed band logos, t shirts, and stuff like that. But I wouldn’t say art became a passion until I was able to meld my love of graffiti with my career as an educator. It’s been extremely liberating being able to share this side of myself with my daughter, my students, and other kids.

Where did you interest in Dinos come from?
I have been dinosaur-obsessed since I was two years old. Some kids slept with stuffed animals, I slept with my dinosaur books. It always fascinated me that these incredibly weird monsters used to rule our planet. I guess some kids outgrow their dinosaur phase, but I never did. Dinosaurs are really the reason I developed an interest in science, and eventually led me to being a science teacher.

You are working on a book, educating about dinosaurs using graffiti. Can you tell us more about that?
It’s called Dino Style, and I’m hoping it will give young kids the same sense of excitement I had as a four year old in 1982; walking through a graffiti-covered New York City on the way to see the dinosaurs at the American Museum of Natural History. I really do believe there was some sort of subconscious link in my mind between dinosaurs and graffiti that has finally manifested in the form of this book.

To summarize the book, kids will be flipping through a [dinosaur] graffiti writer’s black book to learn about other dinosaurs. Each dinosaur in the blackbook has a graffiti name which basically acts as a colorful sight word so kids can easily remember it. The graffiti names summarize each dinosaur’s most notable feature. There’s also all sorts of nods to graff in the book, particularly from the early 80s New York scene that inspired the work. Some of them are pretty overt, others are more subtle drops in the text.

Check out the digital flipbook I have up at www.dinostylebook.com to see what I’m talking about. I’m expecting to have this thing published in print in the next half year and I’ll have all the info about it on Instagram when it happens.

Does your art have a deeper meaning to you ?
It’s made me feel like a more complete human being. Ive been able to connect a personal love of graffiti with my professional role as an educator. It has given me a way to connect with kids, express myself to them, and help encourage their interest in science. It’s also given me a new way to connect with my beautiful, talented wife and our daughter.

What do you like most about what you do?
I love getting kids excited about science and realizing that science is FUN. With the subject I teach, I have this amazing opportunity to give students a hands-on learning experience to make sense of the natural world around them. I love hearing back from students years later saying that my class inspired them to pursue a career in science. To me, there is honestly no bigger compliment a teacher could ever receive.

With art, I love how I’ve connected with so many people over the last year since I made my work public on Instagram. Never in a million years would I have expected to have received the level of support I have received. Sticker trades are awesome, I love being able to exchange work with other artists, then have the opportunity to spread their art around the world. I really feel like I’m part of a special community of people, and I hope I get to meet many of them in person one day.

What markers do you use? And why?
When I got back into it a few years ago I started with a generic no-name brand of alcohol markers because I wanted to be able to blend colors. Since then I’ve worked my way up to getting some Copics, which are ridiculously expensive but the fact they can be refilled makes them more cost effective in the long run. They cover the paper so much better than the other brands and it’s hard for me to go back since I’ve started using them. I recently started using Poscas, I love how well they cover and how vibrant the colors look, although I’m still learning the feel of them. Finally, I LOVE the tried and true iconic Pilots (also refillable), which I don’t feel need much explanation.

Got anything more you want to say?
I just want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to do this interview. Like I said earlier, it’s sort of blowing my mind that anyone out there is even taking what I do seriously.

Oh yeah, and Octulos is hands down a MASTER of this art form!

5 thoughts on “ABOUT: Dino Style

  1. avatar Jessa says:

    Amazing interview ! Rob you killed this !!

  2. avatar Pat says:

    Hey Rob. Why to go. Great interview👍

  3. avatar Morgan says:

    Very inspiring!

  4. avatar Nancy says:

    Art and Science…..A Perfect match!!!!
    Great interview!

  5. avatar yack says:

    very cool story

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