About Writerz Blok
"Call a kid a tagger and he’s a criminal. Help him become an artist and everything changes."
Art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. What’s prized by one person, might be despised by another. What’s priceless to some, means little to others.
With street art this is even more the case. What some call vandalism, others see as bold, beautiful, and expressive. What some paint over, others want to frame.
But on one thing, most agree. When graffiti is scrawled on a park bench, private business, or freeway overpass, it impacts community pride, spawns fear, and contributes to gang violence.
Indeed, graffiti is an ongoing problem in many of San Diego’s older urban centers, creating a dismal backdrop for even the brightest efforts at revitalization. In one such community, however, something entirely different is taking place. Graffiti is being used as a tool for the very transformation the neighborhood seeks.
In southeastern San Diego, four miles east of downtown, a vibrant street art culture is leading the way as a group of artists builds their skills and shares their talent, bringing young people into the heart of a community-led effort to turn brownfields and blight into projects of promise — while at the same time raising awareness and respect for graffiti as the art form it truly is.
Finance Manager (2003 - )
Born and raised in San Diego, Sergio began volunteering with JCNI before the development of the Writerz Blok that we know today. He had stumbled upon the fledgling program in 1999 while riding the trolley home from work one day. Witnessing a group of youth with spray paint cans freely painting in safe space along the trolley line became a life-altering event.
Four years and countless volunteer hours later, Sergio was hired as Writerz Blok’s chief financial manager. His diligence and attention to detail made him well-suited for the Blok’s bookkeeping needs, and he began learning accounting and inventory skills on the job for both the program and the storefront. Over the years, Sergio has become a graffiti art instructor for their after school class at Morse High School. He is interested in furthering his education and skills with an undergraduate degree in business administration and finance.
Production Manager (2003 - )
Born in Miami, Florida but raised in San Diego, Jose was fascinated by graffiti art in his youth. With a lack of places to practice his art safely and no resources in his community to utilize his talent, he turned to illegal vandalism as a way to express his creativity. In 1999, he was riding the trolley to work when he noticed a group of youth spray-painting large wooden a-frame walls with graffiti art; the next day, he saw even more people painting in that same yard. He decided to skip work to find out what was going on at Graff Creek – now Writerz Blok – and began volunteering his time to support the program.
Jose was hired as Writerz Blok’s facility supervisor in 2003. He learned graphic design on the job and has since become the Blok’s resident graphic designer, coordinating incoming jobs for the storefront. He teaches graphic design and silkscreening onsite and co-teaches graffiti art for their after school program at Morse High School. Always interested in developing his skills as an artist, Jose would like to pursue an undergraduate degree in graphic design.