Interviews

marcelo ment close up JMZ Speaking with Rio de Janeiro Based Artist Marcelo Ment

Brazilian artist Marcelo Ment recently brought his infectious, spirited aesthetic back to NYC, where he painted in Bushwick for JMZ Walls, on the Lower East Side for the New Allen and at First Street Green Park for International Hip Hop Day. While he was here, I had the opportunity to interview him.

When and where did you first get up?

It was in 1992 in Rio. I was 15 at the time.

What inspired you back then?

I always loved graffiti. My friends used to bring back graffiti magazines from the States, and I loved what I saw. I wanted to do it too. And from the time I was a young child, my older sister had always encouraged me to draw.

How did it feel at the time – the first time you got up?

It was great! I was so excited, I had butterflies in my stomach. It was love at first touch.

marcelo ment street art jmz Speaking with Rio de Janeiro Based Artist Marcelo Ment

How did your family feel about what you were doing back then?

My mom didn’t understand it.  She said, “You have talent. So why are you doing this?” But now my entire family is proud of me.  They respect that I can make a living from what I love doing.

Yes, that’s the best! What is the principal source of your income?

Commissions, graphic design and canvasses.

What was the riskiest thing you’ve done?

Painting in high places that were not safe.

So then why did you?

I told myself that I have to.

marcelo ment street art jmz walls bushwick nyc Speaking with Rio de Janeiro Based Artist Marcelo Ment

What about these days? Do you prefer to work in legal spots or in unsanctioned ones?

These days I tend to do more legal work. I’m 40. I’m not a kid anymore, and I have serious responsibilities. But I respect illegal art and I miss the adrenalin rush.

Have you any thoughts about the graffiti/street art divide?

I don’t feel it in Rio. There’s a sense of mutual respect.

Are there any particular cultures that have influenced your style?

My initial and principal influence was classic NYC graffiti. I love letters.

Do you have a formal art education?

No! I’m self-taught.

marcelo ment paints east village nyc Speaking with Rio de Janeiro Based Artist Marcelo Ment

What percentage of your time is devoted to art?

Almost 100%.

Have you any other interests? Passions?

Music is very important to me. I especially love reggae – all kinds of it.

Have you shown your work in galleries?

Yes, I’ve exhibited in Rio and in Amsterdam.

Do you prefer working alone or collaborating with others?

I love collaborating with friends.

marcelo ment bushwick street art nyc Speaking with Rio de Janeiro Based Artist Marcelo Ment

Are there any artists you would particularly like to collaborate with? Artists who have inspired you?

Among them are: Marko 93 from Paris, Germany’s Can2 and the Brazilian artist, Tarm.

What is your ideal working environment?

Anywhere I have access to paint!

Do you work with a sketch in hand or do you let it flow?

It varies. I prefer to freestyle.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished work?

I don’t think I am.  We are all so far from our best.

ment street art lic Speaking with Rio de Janeiro Based Artist Marcelo Ment

How has your work evolved through the years?

It’s evolved from painting letters to painting women. Painting women has been particularly challenging. And as I continue to grow as an artist, I tend to fuse my various styles and skills.

How do you feel about the role of social media in all of this?

It’s good and bad. Some are too eager to share what’s not worth sharing.

What do you see as the role of the artist in society?

To share knowledge and awareness.

marcelo ment allen street Speaking with Rio de Janeiro Based Artist Marcelo Ment

Photos: Lois Stavsky; interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

Note: Hailed in a range of media from WideWalls to the Huffington Post to the New York Times, our Street Art NYC App is now available for Android devices here.

en play badge 2 Speaking with Rio de Janeiro Based Artist Marcelo Ment

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charlie ahearn in scratch ecstasy PPOW Charlie Ahearn on SCRATCH ECSTASY at P.P.O.W in Chelsea

Scratch Ecstasy, an exhibition of  work in a range of media by visual artist and legendary filmmaker Charlie Ahearn, continues through June 24 at P.P.O.W in Chelsea. A chronicler of the rise of hip-hop and street art culture, Ahearn has documented the movement since the 80′s through photography, film and slide shows.  The following is adapted from an interview conducted by travel and street photographer Karin du Maire with Charlie at the gallery:

Can you tell us something about the title of your current show, Scratch Ecstasy? To what does it refer? 

Yes! The word “scratch” actually has a double meaning. It refers to scratching on a surface, but it also refers to a technique pioneered by Grand Wizzard Theodore of a needle going back and forth on a record — which creates a very jazzy, electronic effect.

Ectasy Garage flyer Charlie Ahearn on SCRATCH ECSTASY at P.P.O.W in Chelsea

And what about the word “Ecstasy” in the title? What is its reference?

It’s a reference to a real place in a real time — the Ecstasy Garage, where I was listening to not only Grand Wizzard Theodore scratch his music, but also to Chief Rocker Busy Bee on the microphone or Grand Master Cass, along with many other artists who were performing there. I spent a lot of time at  the Ecstasy Garage doing a slide show and watching different hip-hop performances, largely to an audience of high school kids. It was a very out-of-the-way place.

charlie ahearn map Charlie Ahearn on SCRATCH ECSTASY at P.P.O.W in Chelsea

What was your mission back then? 

It is similar to the mission of this show — to create a record of what was going on so that people today can pinpoint certain people and places that should get recognition and be remembered.

What about your own paintings that are on exhibit here? Can you tell us something about the process?

It started with me doing the painting on canvas with the forms that would be in it. The colors I chose reflect the bright fluorescent colors that were prominent in inexpensive flyers that the kids would hand out to get others to show up.

charlie ahearn survival Charlie Ahearn on SCRATCH ECSTASY at P.P.O.W in Chelsea

And what about the slide show that is going on? 

It is the slide show that I gave at the Ecstasy Garage with Grand Wizzard Theodore as the DJ. As presented here with the music, it is a reflection of what was going on back there at the time. I gave it at the Ecstasy Garage as a kind of way of working on Wild Style — the slides in a particular order to tell a story, and it all ended up in the movie, one way or another.

lee quinones graffiti Charlie Ahearn on SCRATCH ECSTASY at P.P.O.W in Chelsea

Thank you for preserving and sharing so much history with us.

Note:  P.P.O.W will be screening Charlie’s 1979 kung fu film, The Deadly Art of Survival, tomorrow, Friday evening, at 7pm. The gallery is located at 535 West 22nd St, 3rd Floor, in Chelsea.

Images

1  Charlie Ahearn at P.P.O.W — as interviewed by Karin Du Maire — with Data Rock, silkscreen on canvas

2  Scratch Ecstasy, silkscreen on canvas

3  The World of Hip Hop, silkscreen on canvas

4  Nathan, silkscreen on canvas

5  Howard the Duck, Lee Quinones, LES mural

Photo credits: 1 & 2 Karin Du Maire; 3, 4 & 5 (still from slide show) Lois Stavsky; interview conducted by Karin Du Maire and edited by Lois Stavsky

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Michael alan mom and child portrait Michael Alan on the Upcoming Staten Island Indoor/Outdoor Living Installation in Tribute to His Mom

The wildly imaginative and splendidly talented Michael Alan aka Michael Alan Alien is busily planning an artistic tribute to his mom, Raindrop, in his childhood Staten Island home this coming Saturday, June 17th.  What follows is a brief interview with him about it:

What spurred you to plan this tribute to your mom?

All that my mom has done — and continues to do — for me.  She saved me from the dark as I was growing up, and she inspired me to be the artist I am today. My mom is living art.

Michael Alan Mom with T shirt design Michael Alan on the Upcoming Staten Island Indoor/Outdoor Living Installation in Tribute to His Mom

Can you tell us something about the role your mom played in your artistic career?

My mom was the first performer in my Living Installation projects. She helped me get started by modeling for my drawings at this very home and by modeling — clothed — at the early stages of Drawathon.  She has given so much to help me forge my career.

Michael alan figures Michael Alan on the Upcoming Staten Island Indoor/Outdoor Living Installation in Tribute to His Mom

What can visitors to her home — your childhood home — in Staten Island next Saturday expect to experience?

There will be a seven hour tribute — from 5pm to 12am — for my mom with music, models, comedy and a BBQ. It will be on her property, and she will be performing with her husband, Michael, and the cast of the Living Installation. Part of the house will be set up as an installation of my mom’s past memories.  Jadda Cat, Living Installation’s new leader, will perform in a kids’ pool and do face-painting for kids. And there will be a chance for everyone to make art.

Michael alan face Michael Alan on the Upcoming Staten Island Indoor/Outdoor Living Installation in Tribute to His Mom

And what about your art? Will any of it be shown at this event? 

Yes, over 60 of my works will be on display, along with photos of my mom and her religious prophesies.

Michael alan living installation at home Michael Alan on the Upcoming Staten Island Indoor/Outdoor Living Installation in Tribute to His Mom

How can folks attend the event? 

Tickets are $20.00 and can be purchased here.  The address will be provided to ticket holders. It is just a 10-minute bus ride from downtown Manhattan and the perfect retreat!

Editor’s note: For an intimate look into the artist, check out the following video produced by Alan Ket.

Photos provided by Michael Alan; interview by Lois Stavsky

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PAUL RICHARD GENTLEMAN 1 Paul Richard Solo Exhibit Opens at 212 ARTS in the East Village

Opening this evening at 212 ARTS is DRIP, a solo exhibit by the iconic NYC-based artist Paul Richard. An outstanding representational painter, Paul Richard is best known to us street art aficionados for his drip paintings that surface on NYC sidewalks. While visiting the exhibit yesterday, I had the opportunity to speak to 212 ARTS gallerist, Marc Leader.

This is such an elegantly handsome show! What spurred you to feature an exhibit of Paul Richard‘s works?

Paul has been an iconic figure in NYC culture for over 20 years. Although low-key, he is also subtly prolific. And this is his first NYC exhibit in five years.

paul richard art on door Paul Richard Solo Exhibit Opens at 212 ARTS in the East Village

How did you decide which artworks to include in the exhibit?

About one year ago, Paul and I began discussing the concept of an exhibit featuring his work at 212 ARTS. Then Paul ran with it. He created a few dozen new works, and together we decided which ones to feature.

paul richard urban tank1 Paul Richard Solo Exhibit Opens at 212 ARTS in the East Village

How many are included in DRIP?

There are two dozen works of varying sizes.

paul richard commuter Paul Richard Solo Exhibit Opens at 212 ARTS in the East Village

It is always a thrill to glance down to the pavement and come upon one of Paul Richard‘s iconic faces!

Yes! Even before he first moved to New York in 1997, Paul Richard recognized that people constantly scan the ground in front of them — making it the perfect place to find an audience.

Paul Richard pavement art Paul Richard Solo Exhibit Opens at 212 ARTS in the East Village

It’s great to see your gallery continue to bring a diverse range of first-rate artists — who remain active on our streets — to its East Village home. To what do you attribute its success?

It’s the passion we bring to our projects.

Paul richard opening 212 arts Paul Richard Solo Exhibit Opens at 212 ARTS in the East Village

Photos of artworks and interview by Lois Stavsky

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Distort enraged DISRUPTION Continues Through June 16 at Jersey City Theater Centers Merseles Studios: Distort,  Fabrico Suarez, Luis Alves, Sam Pullin with Noah Tavlin, David LaMorte & more

On view in Jersey City through June 16 is DISRUPTION, an exhibit of politically and socially charged artworks by a diverse group of NJ-based artists. While visiting the exhibit at Jersey City Theater Center‘s Merseles Studios last week, I spoke to its curator, Allison Remy Hall .

Can you tell us something about the title of the exhibit — DISRUPTION?

Yes! It is part of a larger series of events and performances presented by Jersey City Theater Center that focus on the theme of rapid change — from the environment and climate to industries and social systems – that has resulted in a sense of “disruption.”  Lucy Rovetto, Jersey City Theater Center‘s Visual Arts Coordinator, invited me to curate this exhibit.

Fabricio Suarez oil painting edited 1 DISRUPTION Continues Through June 16 at Jersey City Theater Centers Merseles Studios: Distort,  Fabrico Suarez, Luis Alves, Sam Pullin with Noah Tavlin, David LaMorte & more

What has the theme of DISRUPTION come to mean to you — in the course of curating the exhibit?

I originally thought of it as a disruption of norms and expectations — as most prominently evidenced by the results of the November election. But I’ve since been thinking more about the moral and spiritual disruptions that characterize our present times as a result of these changes. We have come to value things solely by their material worth.

How did you get the word out to the artists whose works are on exhibit here? While I’m familiar with Distort, Mr Mustart and Sam Pullin from their work on the streets, others here are new to me.

I reached out directly to some artists whose work I know and like, and Jersey City Theater Center launched an open call.


Luis Alves collage DISRUPTION Continues Through June 16 at Jersey City Theater Centers Merseles Studios: Distort,  Fabrico Suarez, Luis Alves, Sam Pullin with Noah Tavlin, David LaMorte & more

Did curating this exhibit exact any changes within you — how you, personally, think about these issues?

I feel now that what we are facing is bigger than just a political challenge. It’s not simply about left and right; it’s about right and wrong.

How have people responded to the exhibit?

They’ve responded really well.  It has brought people together and has started a conversation.

sam pullin and Noah Tavlin collage DISRUPTION Continues Through June 16 at Jersey City Theater Centers Merseles Studios: Distort,  Fabrico Suarez, Luis Alves, Sam Pullin with Noah Tavlin, David LaMorte & more

How do you — as an artist and curator with a strong social consciousness — feel about the role of art in these challenging times?

Art allows us to reclaim the narrative.  It is a means for us to transmit a message: We are humans and this is how we are being affected. Art has an essential role in these times.

How can folks see the exhibit before it closes on June 16th?

They can email me at info@nosucharts.com. And ongoing events are posted here.

David lamorte paper sculpture DISRUPTION Continues Through June 16 at Jersey City Theater Centers Merseles Studios: Distort,  Fabrico Suarez, Luis Alves, Sam Pullin with Noah Tavlin, David LaMorte & more

Note:  Merseles Studios, a venue of Jersey City Theater Center, is located at 339-345 Newark Avenue, 2nd floor.

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the art of tats cru The Art of TATS CRU: An Exhibition and Block Party Celebrating 37 Years of the Legendary TATS CRU at BronxArtSpace

Opening tomorrow — June 3, from 2-6pm — is The Art of TATS CRU, an exhibit and block party celebrating 37 years of the legendary Bronx-based crew. While previewing the exhibit yesterday, I had the opportunity to pose a few questions to its curators, Eileen Walsh and Laura James.

Eileen Walsh and Laura James The Art of TATS CRU: An Exhibition and Block Party Celebrating 37 Years of the Legendary TATS CRU at BronxArtSpace

This is such a handsome exhibit and such a wonderful tribute to TATS CRU. What spurred you to focus this exhibition on TATS CRU?

After curating BRONX NOW that showcased over two dozen artists in 2016, we decided that we wanted to focus on a smaller group of artists this year. And TATS CRU – Nicer, Bio and  BG183 — seemed the perfect choice. They represent the best of the Bronx and they “kick ass!”

Nicer tats cru artwork The Art of TATS CRU: An Exhibition and Block Party Celebrating 37 Years of the Legendary TATS CRU at BronxArtSpace

How would you define the mission of the exhibit?

Its intent is to tell the story of these three artists — through their own artworks and through photos and videos produced by Miguel Teck Arteaga. It is the story of three Bronx-based artists who transformed a youthful passion into a successful career on their own terms. And although they have traveled throughout the world with their art, they’ve chosen to remain here — in the Bronx.

bio tats cru at Bronx Art Space edited 1 The Art of TATS CRU: An Exhibition and Block Party Celebrating 37 Years of the Legendary TATS CRU at BronxArtSpace

How did you decide which artworks to present?

The artists — for the most part — made the selections. They wanted to represent themselves with a range of distinct styles and techniques.

BG183 at Bronx Art Space The Art of TATS CRU: An Exhibition and Block Party Celebrating 37 Years of the Legendary TATS CRU at BronxArtSpace

In addition to meeting the artists and viewing their artwork, what can visitors expect to experience at tomorrow’s opening?

The Block Party will feature homegrown, Bronx entertainment. DJ Pusha will keep the party going, along with dance performances by BBoy and Emcee Chief69 and Hip-Hop legend Rokafella‘s Full Circle Souljahs dance troupe. There will be live music performances by up and coming Bronx MINDY artists Static Vision and by alternative music group The Nobodies. There will also be a presentation by spoken word artist and rapper Safiel VonayThe Bronx Children’s Museum will host creative activities for children and families and will have its Museum on the Go Bus parked on the street outside the gallery.

Bio and guests at Tats Cru previewjpg The Art of TATS CRU: An Exhibition and Block Party Celebrating 37 Years of the Legendary TATS CRU at BronxArtSpace

How can folks see the exhibit, particularly if they can’t make it to the opening?

Located at 305 E 140 Street between in the South Bronx, BronxArtSpace is open Wednesday through Friday from 12-6:30pm and Saturday 12-5pm. The exhibit will also be open on Wednesday, June 7, from 6-8pm for Trolley Night. And on Thursday, June 22, at 6pm there will be an artist talk with Hector Nazario aka Nicer, Sotero Ortiz aka BG183 and Wilfredo Feliciano aka Bio, along with the premiere of The Jardin Orange Project, a short documentary that features some of the world’s most renowned streets artists, including TATS CRU, as they come together to paint massive murals in the city of Shen Zhen, China.

Note: Tomorrow’s event — free and open to the public — is sponsored by neighborhood businesses JCAL Development Group, ID Studio Theater, Zaro’s Bakery, La Grata Italian Restaurant, Filtered Coffee, and Bronx Native, along with the support of Port Morris Distillery and The Bronx Brewery.

Images

1  Invite featuring BG183, Nicer and Bio

2  Curators Eileen Walsh and Laura James

3  Nicer

4  Bio

5  BG 183

6 Bio with guests at preview

Photos 2-6 by Lois Stavsky; interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky – who will also be moderating the Artist Talk on June 22. Special thanks to Scratch for her assistance at the preview!

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rocko and zimer street art nyc Rocko on the Now Iconic <em>Spread Art NYC</em> Biggie KONY Mural on Quincy and Bedford in Bed Stuy

This past Sunday, I had the opportunity to meet up with Rocko, artist and founder of Spread Art NYC. We discussed the Biggie KONY mural that he’d painted with Zimer, the wide attention it has recently attracted and his efforts to preserve it.

When was the mural first painted? And how did you decide on its subject?

Zimer and I painted it back in 2015. As it was our first mural in Bed-Stuy, we decided that it must be of Biggie.

What about the specific site — on Quincy and Bedford? How did that come to be?

I researched Biggie and the neighborhood for about a year.  I picked this site for the mural because Biggie had referenced it in his first demo tape “Microphone Murderer.” I’d also found a video of Biggie freestyling at the age 17 on Bedford and Quincy. I located the site and was put in touch with the building’s owner, who agreed to let us paint a mural. We signed the agreement five minutes after we’d met!  I was impressed by the landlord’s kindness and generosity.

OGB biggie mural bed stuy Rocko on the Now Iconic <em>Spread Art NYC</em> Biggie KONY Mural on Quincy and Bedford in Bed Stuy

What was the initial response to the mural?

Incredible! It was all over the news. And in 2016, when Borough President Eric Adams recognized Biggie’s birthday, May 21, as Official Biggie Day, it received even more attention.

When did you find out about plans to remove it?

About four months ago, the landlord told me that he wished to renovate the property and add windows to it. I asked him to see if it was possible to do so without damaging the mural. He agreed to speak to the architect. But soon after, he asked us to pay $1250 a month to maintain it.

Why $1250 a month?

He told me that advertisers are renting other walls he owns for at least $1250 a month. And that if he didn’t add windows, he would have to charge me the $1250 he would otherwise get.

ogb and artists Rocko on the Now Iconic <em>Spread Art NYC</em> Biggie KONY Mural on Quincy and Bedford in Bed Stuy

How did you respond to that request?

I offered a one-time payment of $5000, but he said he had paid more than that in construction costs and permits, and that our mural is causing him to lose money. At that point, I couldn’t argue with him. I knew that he was telling me the truth.

What spurred you to post about the situation on Instagram?

There are so many people – from DJ 50 Grand to Matty C  to the OGB crew — deeply connected to this mural and all that it represents. We felt that we had to go public with the sad news that our beloved Biggie mural might be put to rest soon.

When did you find out that what you’d put out was going viral?

The next day, I woke up to a load of emails from local news sources wanting to get more info. Zimer and I declined to comment until we knew what was really going on.

quincy and bedford bed stuy Rocko on the Now Iconic <em>Spread Art NYC</em> Biggie KONY Mural on Quincy and Bedford in Bed Stuy

Among the many efforts from community members and organizations was a landmark petition. That was problematic to you. Why?

I don’t have any issue with the people who started the petition. They genuinely care about their community and culture.  But I didn’t want to go the way of a petition. Look at what happened to 5Pointz! On November 19, 2013, the landlord whitewashed the building overnight. I think we all have learned from that tragedy. And we didn’t want that to happen to the KONY Biggie mural.

How did the landlord react to the petition?

The landlord refused to even meet with me because he thought I was the one who’d started the landmark petition. He told me that he would do what it takes to protect his property.  At this point, I knew we were at the edge of losing.

Why do you suppose the landlord had taken such a strong stand?

He is well-known and well-respected in his community, and was most likely upset that he was being portrayed in a negative light.

Tyanna Wallace with Biggie mural Rocko on the Now Iconic <em>Spread Art NYC</em> Biggie KONY Mural on Quincy and Bedford in Bed Stuy

What was your next move in your determination to save the mural ?

I had to convince the landlord that I had nothing to do with the petition.  We were planning to have a huge Block party on Biggie’s birthday, but we had to cancel. There was too much confusion and misunderstanding.

What — do you think — caused him to change his mind and decide to let the mural remain?

During a two-hour meeting last Monday, it became obvious to me that he was not aware who Biggie was or of Biggie’s connection to Bedford and Quincy. I informed him that the Brooklyn Nets, Atlanta rapper TI, and various Mega companies were willing to pay whatever to save the mural, and that the Mayor and Congressman Jeffries are also offering support. Once he understood the significance of the mural, he agreed to keep it. I had also made the point that other landlords were paying thousands of dollars to artists they hire to paint their building’s facades – and that it did not make any sense to remove artwork that was “gifted” to him and the community.

What a happy ending!  So the landlord did not ask for any money?

No! We didn’t have to pay anything. At the end of our meeting, I shook his hand and said, “Thank you, Mr. Berkowitz! You just made so many people happy.”

Images 

1  Rocko in front of the mural

2  OGB Crew

3  Zimer, Deejay 50 Grand and Rocko

4  Deejay 50 Grand with former Source magazine editor Matty C

5  Biggie’s daughter, T’yanna Wallace

Photos: 1 Lois Stavsky, 2-5 courtesy of Rocko; interview by Lois Stavsky

Note: Hailed in a range of media from Wide Walls to the Huffington Post to the New York Times, our Street Art NYC App is now available for Android devices here.

en play badge 2 Rocko on the Now Iconic <em>Spread Art NYC</em> Biggie KONY Mural on Quincy and Bedford in Bed Stuy

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drew contra brooklyn nyc street art Speaking with Portuguese Visual Artist Frederico Draw in NYC

The gifted Portuguese artist Frederico Draw, along with his talented Colectivo RUA partner Contra, visited NYC last month. With the support of Spread Art NYC, they graced Bushwick’s Troutman and Knickerbocker with an elegant mural dedicated the late Puerto Rican poet and activist Julia de Burgos. While the artists were in town, I had the opportunity to speak to them. A brief interview with Porto-based Frederico Draw follows:

When and where did you first get up?

I started tagging with my friends back home in the town of Freamunde in 2001.

What inspired you at the time?

The New York City hip-hop culture that I followed was my main inspiration back then.

Do any early graffiti-related memories stand out?

I was about 12 or 13 on a trip to the beach in Algarve with my family when I saw massive amounts of graffiti for the first time. I was astounded.

Drew and Contra street art nyc Speaking with Portuguese Visual Artist Frederico Draw in NYC

How did your family feel about your engagement with the graffiti culture?

They were very supportive. They taught me to do it responsibly. There are many artists – painters and architects — in my family.

Have you any thoughts about the graffiti/street art divide?

I don’t feel it much.  There isn’t much of a divide in Porto. Most street artists do graffiti and respect it.

Do you have a formal art education?

I earned a Masters in architecture in Porto, but I never studied fine arts.  I had expected to be an architect; but when I started painting on the streets, my entire lifestyle changed.

draw mural art port Speaking with Portuguese Visual Artist Frederico Draw in NYC

What percentage of your time is devoted to art?

All of it!

How do you feel about the engagement of the corporate world with graffiti writers and street artists?

It helps us artists live. But we need to work together; the relationship must be consensual, not exploitative.

Have you shown your work in galleries?  

Yes! I’ve exhibited in Portugal — principally in Porto — and I’ve had two exhibits in Italy.

draw contra lisbon street art Speaking with Portuguese Visual Artist Frederico Draw in NYC

And what about festivals? Have you participated in any street art festivals?

I’ve participated in street art festivals in Portugal, Italy and Spain.

Here in NYC you are collaborating with Contra. Do you prefer working alone or collaborating with others?

I love both.  When working with others, I can exchange ideas.

Is there any particular street artist out there – with whom you’d like to collaborate?

I’d like to collaborate with Retna.

draw solo street art Speaking with Portuguese Visual Artist Frederico Draw in NYC

What about crews? Do you paint with any crews?

I’m a member of Colectivo RUA. We are a group of artists based in Porto.

Do you work with a sketch in hand or do you let it flow?

I often work with a sketch.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished work?

I usually am.

Draw and contra portugal street art mural Speaking with Portuguese Visual Artist Frederico Draw in NYC

How do you feel about the role of the Internet in all of this?

It helps me get my work out. But I see it as my responsibility to get my artwork onto social media.

What inspires you these days?

Life…the environment…classical art…street art. I’m a huge fan of Borando.

What do you see as the role of the artist in society?

To raise awareness. It is the role of the artist to direct others to think about issues that matter.

Draw and Contra Portugal street art Speaking with Portuguese Visual Artist Frederico Draw in NYC

And why have you chosen the streets as your principal canvas?

Because the streets allow me to reach and engage many more people than I would otherwise.

Images

1 Julia de Burgos, Bushwick, 2017

2 Frederico Draw & Contra at work in Bushwick, 2017

3 An.fi.tri.ão, Porto, 2015

4 APAV with Contra, Lisbon, 2015

5 VELHOS SÃO OS TRAPOS with Senior University for VOLTAGEM and Fundação EDP, Alfândega da Fé, 2016

6 EQUILÍBRIO with Contra, São Mamede, 2017

7  SOUR VIRGIN with Contra, Naples, 2016

Photo credits: 1 Karin du Maire 2 Tara Murray 3-7 courtesy of the artist; interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

Note: Hailed in a range of media from Wide Walls to the Huffington Post to the New York Times, our Street Art NYC App is now available for Android devices here.

en play badge 2 Speaking with Portuguese Visual Artist Frederico Draw in NYC

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A premier source for graffiti pictures, interviews and the most complete online graffiti supplies store, Bombing Science is a favorite site for all of us graffiti lovers. I recently had the opportunity to pose a few questions to Bombing Science  founder, Fred.

Bombing science graffiti supplies On the Premier Graffiti Site <em>Bombing Science</em>: Its Origin, Its Mission, Its Challenges and more

When was Bombing Science first launched?

The first website was launched around 1998. It was then called Montreal-North Graffiti, as it documented graffiti in our part of town. I was posting mostly pictures of walls and bombings painted by our crew. I then began to take pictures in all parts of Montreal and, eventually, in other surrounding cities. At that point, I changed the name of the website to Bombing Science.

What was its mission at the time of its initial launch? And how has its mission evolved?

Back in ’98 when I first started the site, it was mostly to show the world what we were painting.  But I then got deep into traveling and taking graffiti pictures all around the world. I’m now heading, in fact, to San Diego and Tijuana to take pics for the site!  So, yeah, since the beginning, the goal was to give shine to graffiti artists through our site. And, of course, we now have an online graffiti supplies store. It was actually one of the first online graff stores. It’s grown a lot, and now our mission is also to provide the finest graffiti supplies to writers worldwide.

bombing science on the run On the Premier Graffiti Site <em>Bombing Science</em>: Its Origin, Its Mission, Its Challenges and more

What about the name, Bombing Science?

Oh, I remember how I came up with this name! I was looking to register a domain name with the word “Bombing” in it, because it’s the element of graffiti we were pushing the most on the website. While I was looking for a name, I was listening to a drum’n’bass LP by the Ganja Krew, and one of the tunes was named “Science.” So I just put together Bombing and Science and that was it.

Your blog has evolved into one of the most popular and respected graffiti sites on the web. To what do you attribute its success?

Consistency, without a doubt. We are updating our site daily since 1998 with new graffiti pictures, and people are coming back for them. It’s a lot of hard work — updating a website on a daily basis for almost 20 years. But I think a lot of people enjoy the efforts we put into it.

bombing science interior On the Premier Graffiti Site <em>Bombing Science</em>: Its Origin, Its Mission, Its Challenges and more

What are some of the challenges involved with maintaining such a comprehensive blog?

I think the major challenge is to stay relevant in the Facebook and Instagram era. These sites killed the web. I mean, before. there were tons of graffiti sites all around the world with people putting work in their blogs — having something to say, something to show. Now people are scrolling down their feeds and they rarely go out of them.  I find it kind of sad, because the web was a huge DIY place, and now most people only post pictures and content on social media sites. Remember, kids: you don’t own these sites. If you want to be an OWNER and a DOER, create your own thing. Don’t rely on social media. You don’t own shit when you post on Facebook. You don’t even own your followers. These large companies decide who gets to see your posts and ask you to pay to have it seen by the rest of your “followers.” More power to you for running StreetArtNYC!  So, yeah, the challenge is to keep it going for another 20 years, without falling into the easy traps, keeping our integrity and improving along the way.

Interview by Lois Stavsky; photos courtesy Bombing Science

Note: Hailed in a range of media from Wide Walls to the Huffington Post to the New York Times, our Street Art NYC App is now available for Android devices here.

en play badge 2 On the Premier Graffiti Site <em>Bombing Science</em>: Its Origin, Its Mission, Its Challenges and more

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Epic uno live painting Speaking with the Masterful Epic Uno

A master of his craft with a formal educational background in graphic design, Epic Uno has been sharing his talents with us here in NYC public spaces for the past several years. He is one of the many talented artists who will be participating tomorrow in the 3rd edition of the Street Art Expo in Elmhurst, Queens. I recently had the opportunity to meet up with him:

When and where did you first get up here in NYC? 

It was around 1997-98. I had left Puerto Rico to attend Pratt University, and I first got up on and off the campus of Pratt.

What inspired you at the time to hit the walls?

I did it because I could! It felt good to get up. It was a rush!

Epic uno cloud mural Speaking with the Masterful Epic Uno

Do any early graffiti-related memories stand out?

I was about nine or ten years old when I saw a Sen2 piece on an abandoned building back in Puerto Rico. I was struck! Years later when I met Sen2, he gave me the best advice any mentor could give. He said, “Draw every day.” And I do!

Would you rather work legally or illegally?

These days it’s not a choice. I have a family, and I’m not 20 any more. But I do miss the rush.

I’ve seen your work up in the Bronx, in Long Island City and at Welling Court. It’s quite impressive! Who have been some of your influences? Have any particular artists inspired you?

I met the writer HUMAN back at Pratt. His dorm room was across from mine. And he taught me the basics. Among the many artists who have inspired me are: Sen2, the late Swiss graffiti legend Dare TWS, Rime MSK, 123 Klan and Does from the Netherlands.

epic uno skull hat Speaking with the Masterful Epic Uno

Have you painted with any crews?

I’ve painted with A Dying Breed and 4Burners.

\Would you rather paint alone or collaborate with others?

I generally prefer painting alone, but when I paint with the “right” person, there’s nothing better. I love painting with Sen2 and Logek.

Can you tell us something about your name Epic Uno? Its origin?

I first started as Elastic. But it wasn’t working for me, and I wanted a new name. I checked Art Crimes to find a name that nobody else had. I came up the name Epic and then added Uno to identify my Latin roots.

epic uno with black book  Speaking with the Masterful Epic Uno

Have you any thoughts about the graffiti/street art divide?

Although there are some of us who bridge both worlds, there is a definite divide. The backgrounds and mentalities of most street artists and graffiti writers are quite different.  And I especially feel it here in NYC.

What percentage of your time is devoted to art these days?

Just about all or it! I used to be into snowboarding, but I barely have any time these days for anything besides my art and my family.

How do you feel about the engagement of graffiti writers and street artists with the corporate world?

We artists have to live. I’ve collaborated with brands such as Coach and Nike. And I, of course, use my discretion regarding which corporations and brands I work with.

epic uno graffiti character Speaking with the Masterful Epic Uno

Have you shown your work in galleries?

I’ve been in lots of small group shows. Here in New York City I’ve shown in all boroughs except Staten Island. I’ve also exhibited in San Diego, Minneapolis and back in Puerto Rico.

Do you work with a sketch in hand or do you let it flow?

I’m always over prepared. Without a plan I get stressed and anxious.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished work?

I am satisfied only if I’m able to include every detail I want to include.

Epic Uno street art Speaking with the Masterful Epic Uno

How has your work evolved through the past few years?

I’m somewhat more comfortable with the process. I’m less confined by my initial plan or sketch. I’ve learned how to take imperfections and make them seem organic.

What inspires you these days?

I’m inspired by the 1920′s… ads, graphics, art deco. I’m interested in incorporating traditional typography into my current work.

Are there any particular cultures that have influenced your aesthetic?

Definitely the graffiti and hip-hop culture. Back in Puerto Rico, I was a break dancer, and I emceed and deejayed with my friends before I ever started piecing.

epic uno with mural art Speaking with the Masterful Epic Uno

How do you feel about the role of social media in all of this?

Instagram was a turning point for me as an artist, as I made so many contacts through it. But I see social media as a loaded weapon. It can be very beneficial, but it can also be hurtful.

Can you tell us something about your current day job?

I work as an Art Director for Equity Brands. My office is here in Midtown.

Do you feel that your formal art education played a positive role in your art career?

Definitely. My studies in Graphic Design at Pratt Institute gave me the tools to be able to do the work that I do today.

epic uno graffiti burner Speaking with the Masterful Epic Uno

What’s ahead?

I have recently been commissioned to paint a mural at a hotel. Next month I will be painting in the 8th Annual Welling Court Mural Project. I will be participating in the Robots Will Kill exhibit at My Plastic Heart on the Lower East Side in July. And on Sunday (tomorrow), you can find me at the Street Art Expo – at Elks Lodge, 82-20 Queens Blvd in Elmhurst, Queens – where I will be displaying and selling my art and a range of my products, taking commissions and signing black books.

It all sounds great! I look forward to seeing you then.

All photos courtesy of the artist; first photo by Rachel Fawn Alban; interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

Note: Hailed in a range of media from Wide Walls to the Huffington Post to the New York Times, our Street Art NYC App is now available for Android devices here.

en play badge 2 Speaking with the Masterful Epic Uno

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