Jon Lake was introduced to the world of graffiti and graffiti writers when he was in high school. It became the perfect creative outlet and community for the young artist, and Lake chose “SIVA” as his tag, an alternate spelling of Shiva, the Hindu god of both creation and destruction, to reflect his nascent artistic mind. He fell in with MSK (the Mad Society Kings) and LA was covered with SIVA’s name by the time Lake was arrested when he was 19. “If you don’t understand the difference between graffiti and gang graffiti, if you mix those two up, then it all looks the same and then it becomes a jumble of fear,” says the now-adult Lake, “To me, one has everything to do with creativity, and the other has everything to do with destruction.”

This short film tells the story of what being arrested can do to a young graffito. After being interrupted mid-shower by the feds and serving nearly ten months, Lake was pretty embittered to the world of illegal tagging. “It changed me in a way, like, there was no coming back from that.” After taking a photojournalism class, he shifted to documenting his friends’ art. Lake seems pretty happy, though. Of his choice to photograph graffiti, he says, “It’s like being a surfer and making surfboards for your patrons. I’m doing both.”