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GTPulse: Chase Hunt – Local Artist

If you can’t trust someone with two first names, what does that say about someone with two verbs for a name? If Chase Hunt is any indication, I’d say you’re meeting someone with originality and a yearning to use it towards community betterment.

Somewhere there’s a clever way to use his name as wordplay for chasing dreams or hunting down what you’re passionate about, but for his sake and yours, I won’t try my hand at it. Instead, here’s a little bit more about how this Traverse City-based artist and muralist has used an affinity for graffiti to create beauty in Traverse City and beyond.


GTP: Have you been in Traverse City your entire life? Or did you find yourself here?

CH: I was actually born in California in a small county outside of San Diego. I moved here when I was 12 or 13, and I’ve been here ever since. My dad’s side of the family is up here and being close to them has been awesome.


GTP: How did you get started with being an artist? Have murals always been your thing?

CH: I started with doing graffiti when I was younger. I had a couple of friends that were a lot more talented at it than I was, but I was super intrigued by it. So we’d find spots where we could do larger work. Me and my buddies eventually got a warehouse so we’d have the freedom to paint the walls as much as we wanted to. I got used to doing bigger work, and I had started doing canvas work at the same time.


GTP: Graffiti sometimes has negative connotations to it. You’re paid to do murals now, but was it hard or easy to break out of stereotypes about what kind of work graffiti artists are capable of doing?

CH: It was a little bit of both. Obviously, I wasn’t going to try to run around town and put graffiti on things all the time. But when I was working on canvas I was doing a lot of abstract work and eventually got into stencils. They cleaned up my lines and they were fun. That was during the whole Banksy uprising thing. I was really impressed by his work and the secrecy of it. So with that and my graffiti background, I just started approaching business owners. I spent a couple of months going door to door downtown like, ‘Hey there’s a wall on the back of your building. Can I paint it?’”


GTP: Were you making money at that point?

CH: Some people wanted to pay me, some didn’t. I did it either way. I wanted to get my name out there. People would ask me, ‘Have you seen that piece downtown?’ and I would tell them, yeah that’s mine.


GTP: How else have you channeled your artistic talents in the community?

CH: I’ve spent a few years working on and off with different schools and their art programs. I’ve also done stuff for Arts For All, the BATA Bus project. Working with the kids was cool because I got to teach them that you don’t have to be a professional artist to make something you’re proud of. I’ve also worked with the DDA. We did the #DowntownTC that’s on the entrance to the parking garage. We were also hired by them to do live paintings downtown during Friday Night Live.


GTP: Do you have a favorite tag name you used to use as a graffiti artist?

CH: The one that stuck the most was SEEZ, at some point I think I used to write Seymour.


GTP: Do you think there’s a distinction between a graffiti writer and an artist?

CH: No, I think it’s just art. It shouldn’t be categorized as one or the other. If you’re a graffiti writer, you’re an artist. All of the graffiti writers I know could paint a family portrait or things like that. They’ve just gotten used to doing letters. 


GTP: What’s on the horizon for the rest of the year?

CH: I’ve done a couple recently at medical marijuana dispensaries, those were really fun. Hopefully, I’ll be doing another one of those in the U.P. come April.


GTP: Any dream projects that you haven’t gotten to do yet?

CH: To design and head up a city-wide project for myself and other artists.


The next time you’re out for a walk or drive in downtown TC, take a look around. There’s probably a Chase Hunt work of art not too far away.

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