#WestCoastWednesdays presents Ethos One


  1. the characteristic spirit of a culture, era, or community as manifested in its beliefs and aspirations.
    “a challenge to the ethos of the 1960s”
    synonyms: spiritcharacteratmosphere, climatemoodfeelingtenoressence

We are here, present in hip hop culture, because the spirit of the culture, the ethos of hip hop, dwells within us. We didn’t choose hip hop, hip hop chose us. There is a notable chasm between those who have chosen to try to put on hip hop – something like an article of clothing that doesn’t quite fit – and those in whom hip hop lives and breathes. (I am not the/a gatekeeper and don’t pretend to have a role in knowing who is in and who is out, but I do feel like the tried and true, “real recognize real”, is quite reliable). As hip hop has chosen us, Ethos One’s name chose him, and aptly so, as the essence, the ethos, of hip hop emanates from his art. Ethos’ art is markedly of the lineage of the visual aesthetic of hip hop, broadly known as graffiti. While Ethos creates pieces using the various styles he has mastered, he is often recognized for his unmistakable, geometric, patterned hand-lettering that blends elements of graffiti, calligraphy, and Arabic letters, often atop other media, creating powerful, almost spiritual images. Break the pattern of your day-in-day-out today, and join Ethos One as he shares a bit about his name, his art, and his life; breathe in the ethos of hip hop culture. Read. Look. Enjoy. Share.

SDLHH: Who is Ethos One?

Ethos One: I actually thought of writing this name in high school during a speech class; the teacher was doing a lecture on ethos, pathos, logos and I’d be lying to you if I told you I knew what these meant. I didn’t pay attention during the lecture, I was too busy writing ‘ethos’ over and over and it just stuck.

SDLHH: That’s funny; It’s almost as if the name chose you. As a high school English teacher, I am both proud and saddened that the ethos, pathos, logos lecture didn’t stick! Haha. Can you tell SDLHH a story about how hip hop has changed your life?

Ethos One: In high school I was infatuated with good hip hop, lots of super ‘underground’ shit. During that time, the Cash Money Millionaires were coming up and I was quick to stay away from that “bling bling” type style hip hop. By staying away from all that, I believe that it shaped my view of the world and showed me what I needed to do to improve myself and my peers—music is important in today’s society especially, hip hop.

SDLHH: I am so grateful to be interviewing you and to be stepping out of the world of emcees and into that of graff writers/visual artists. Let’s go. So, what first inspired you to create art, particularly visual art?

Ethos One: I did it for fun with a couple buddies in high school. After a while I just started noticing how good I was getting and decided to run with it. I just kept writing every day, over and over and over, and eventually people started to take notice.

SDLHH: As you developed your skill, what was a moment when you stepped back and looked at what you had created and said, “damn, this is something special!”?

Ethos One: Honestly, it’s still not that special to me. I just feel like this is what I have to do, it’s just a special gift I have, something I’m good at. It’s up to me to share it with the world.

SDLHH: Okay. Well, while you began to see others noticing your art, were there people who encouraged you to continue to hone your craft? What was some of that feedback, and who were your day ones?

Ethos One:  There’s been a lot of people that have encouraged me and helped me get to where I am now. I started selling t-shirt’s in my hometown of Mira Mesa – a company I started after high school called ‘callin shots clothing’. Every year I would set up shop at various events and I received huge support. That alone helped me network and build a good resume for myself and my art, but ultimately it was my choice and my dream; no one could have helped me, I wanted it that bad and still do.

SDLHH: Your signature aesthetic is what appears to be a blend of calligraphy and arabic hand lettering. What inspired that and what do you find to be the inherent power in that style?

Ethos One: What a lot of people don’t know, is that I’m not limited to that one style. I go through phases when I prefer a certain style over others. My letters come from graff handstyles mixed with various calligraphy styles with a modern twist.

SDLHH: That’s dope. This interview has definitely exposed me to more of what you do for sure. I don’t know why I feel this way, but your work almost feels spiritual. Do you find that your work connects with people in some deeper, more spiritual/existential way? Is your art spiritual for you?

Ethos One: Honestly, I can’t really tell. When I’m zoned in, it’s kinda like tunnel vision, I don’t see or hear anyone else around me it’s just me ink and paper. I get into a meditative state which I guess you can categorize that as spiritual.

SDLHH: Either way, I’d definitely categorize that as deeper than surface level, and getting into what we might call spiritual, or something like it. Who are some of the artists that have inspired you? Influenced you? Who push you to want to grow?

Ethos One: Some other artists that inspired me at an early age are: dream tdkDyse oneSaberOG Abel – those guys are legends to me; I hope to be at their level one day.

SDLHH: I’ve seen you live a couple of times now, and I’m curious, does the live performance aspect add any dimensionality to the process for you? Or does it feel just like when you are in your “zoned in/meditative” space?

Ethos One: I started doing the whole live lettering thing couple years back, it was good practice for me. With every letter or word I did, I got better; it never really mattered where I was doing it. Like I said earlier, I get tunnel vision and my location doesn’t matter.

SDLHH: Speaking of live performances, are you going to be creating live any time soon? If so, when and where?

Ethos One: This month (April) I’ll be pretty busy towards the end I got a couple gigs at AC Lounge with the big homie, Kahlee, and I’m also at DJ Artistic’s BattleBot every month. You can usually find me at good hip hop events; I try to stay close to that community.

SDLHH: I want to ask one more spin-off question. Where is the physical location that is most conducive to your creativity? Why do you think that that place provides so much freedom for you to express yourself?

Ethos One: I have an office/studio space in Mira Mesa; I’ve had it for a couple of years now and I like it because I can work, lock the door and have no distractions. Most of my work has been created out of there. It’s not much, but just enough space for me to kill shit!

SDLHH: Earlier, I touched on the depth of your work internally, but I am also curious if you have a hope, or a goal, or a focus for how your music might impact viewers? I suppose that I am sort of asking about your “why”. Why do you create art?

Ethos One: I used to care a try to chase being the most well known writer / artist but that didn’t take me anywhere. I noticed I had a bigger responsibility, and that is sharing my talents with the world; everything else after that is extra.

SDLHH: As we begin wrapping up, what’s something you’d like to share with hip hop as a whole?

Ethos One: Don’t be believing everything you hear and don’t pay attention to the people who don’t give a flying fuck about you! Blaze your own trail and keep creating.

SDLHH: One emphasis of SDLHH is to see a heightened level of unity in the San Diego hip hop community. Can you point to some other artists who you see as comrades and who you also see as helping to progress the scene?

Ethos One: I got massive respect for everyone doing their shit; I see a lot of artists grinding, going to all the shows and events, day in and day out – people like: Optimize, Ric Scales, the whole Battestar crew, Odessa Kane, mr. Hek, hevrock, felt, Artistic, Tram, Root, Norm (DJ Norm Rocwell), all those guys and many more can’t name them all, but all those guys put in work for the SD hip hop.

SDLHH: Finally, where should readers go to connect with you?

Ethos One: I put all my newest work and post all my events on my IG @Ethosone if you would like commission work DM me, or email csc.ethosone@gmail.com