What do MOCA's “Art in the Streets” and Gears of War 3 have in common? OG Slick.

Slick, the L.A.-based street artist who has been painting for, he estimates, about 25 years and is part of MOCA's current show, designed the 2010 Gears of War E3 t-shirt. At the time he mentioned that the game was great, but “it would be sick if you had actual graffiti in it.”

“Even though it's not really from this world,” he says, “I thought it would give it a little bit of authenticity, realism.”

When the team behind the third-person shooter video game caught wind of Slick's comment, they brought him on board to design graffiti for Gears of War 3.

Slick, whose own taste in video games leans towards the “old school” ( “I smash fools on Dr. Mario,” he says), researched the game to get a feel for the history and environment of the universe, as well as the “mindset” of the characters.

The Gears of War t-shirt that's all over E3; Credit: Shannon Cottrell

The Gears of War t-shirt that's all over E3; Credit: Shannon Cottrell

“Much of the graffiti isn't the traditional type of graffiti that we do,” he explains. “I tried to get into the mindset of the people that were living in that particular game at the moment.”

They started out by designing Coalition of Ordered Government (COG) propaganda posters, which have turned up on the Gears of War 3 t-shirts that were all over E3 this year and will be sold at Hot Topic.

“Then we went against the whole thing,” he says. “We crossed everything out.”

Slick surmises that spray paint might not exist in the Gears of War universe, so he and his team took a different approach on the propaganda-defacing mission. Instead, they made it look like paint or ashes were used.

“I kept the palette really dark, like how the game is,” says Slick. “There are little hints of color hear and there, but it's definitely layered so much. “

Slick had access to a few screenshots while he was working on the graffiti, but, for the most part, “I was just taking old abandoned factories and things like that as my canvas and then having them apply it to the game.”

He used photos of cities like Detroit and Prague to help guide his work.

What Slick said was “so cool” about this project, though, was that he was able to provide graffiti art for a game that wasn't about graffiti.

“It has nothing to do with it,” he says. “I just had to go in and get into the mindset. That was kind of fun.”

LA Weekly