Trucks and Vans

UR New York artwork Speaking with Mike Baca and Fernando Romero of UR New York

We recently had the opportunity to speak to the dynamic Mike Baca aka 2ESAE and Fernando Romero aka SKI of the collective UR New York at Pop International’s new pop-up location at the Atrium at 153 East 53rd Street – where a vibrant new series of the talented duo’s art is on view.

When was UR New York born?

Mike: It started back in 2002 as a clothing line. But it died out for a while.

Fernando: Then in 2011 we revived it as an art collective.

You two are such a great team. How did you guys meet?

Fernando: We met through a mutual friend in 2005.

What would you say is the key to your success as a team?

Fernando: We don’t let the success get to us. We do what we do because it feels right.  As individuals we’re strong, but when we work together as a team, we are even stronger. And we are like brothers.

Do you guys have a mission of some kind?

Fernando: It’s all about individuality. Most people are sheep. The message is: Don’t be sheep. Be who you are, and be the best that you can be – whoever you are and whatever you do.

U R New York on NYC shutter Speaking with Mike Baca and Fernando Romero of UR New York

Have you a formal art education?

Mike: I went to the High School of Art and Design.

Fernando: I graduated from Parsons in 2006.

Any thoughts about art school, Fernando?

It was an amazing experience. I met so many talented people – students and teachers — and I now have friends from all over the world.

How has your work evolved in the past few years?

Fernando: We’ve begun to focus much more on detail. We experiment with different styles and variations of colors.

Mike: We’ve learned how to step out of our comfort zone.

ur new york art Speaking with Mike Baca and Fernando Romero of UR New York

How do you feel about the movement of graffiti into galleries?

Fernando: Even though it’s been going on for awhile, it’s a process. It will take awhile for graffiti to be accepted by the art establishment.

Mike:  As long as you keep it real, it’s a great platform. And at this gallery – Pop International – a percentage of our sales goes to CAW, a non-profit that offers free arts workshops to kids uptown.

Tell us something about your experiences here at Pop International and CAW.

Mike: It’s been awesome. The folks here at Pop International are like family to us. And through CAW, we’ve been working with kids. It’s great serving as role models.

Fernando:  Definitely. It’s been a great experience. And we get to hang out in this gallery and see our artwork hanging alongside the likes of Keith Haring and Basquiat!

Who are some of your favorite artists?

Fernando: Among my favorites are: KA, Belin from Spain and my partner, Mike Baca!

Mike: I like Skewville, REVS, Smart CrewKA and See One.

UR New York KA graffiti on bus Speaking with Mike Baca and Fernando Romero of UR New York

Any thoughts about the graffiti/street art divide?

Mike: I can appreciate street art. I like the way it interacts with the environment. But there’s a natural tension between graffiti writers and street artists, as many writers risked their lives to make their mark. But we’re all in this together, playing in the same arena.

Have you any first graffiti memory that comes to mind?

Mike:  I remember finding a can of spray paint in my basement. I took it to school with me and wrote my name in the schoolyard. I got suspended.

Fernando: I was about six years old when I saw my cousin writing for the first time in Astoria, Queens. By the time I was ten, I started writing my name around my neighborhood.

What percentage of your time is devoted to art?

Mike: My whole life is devoted to art. I don’t have a day job, and I almost never sleep.

Fernando: When I’m not making art, I’m thinking about what I’m going to make.

UR New York at Atrium Speaking with Mike Baca and Fernando Romero of UR New York

Any artists out there you’d like to collaborate with?

Fernando: How and Nosm, Os Gemeos, C215, Jose Parla, Doze Green, WK Interact

Mike: If I could collaborate with anyone, I’d choose BluRoa and Mode.

Any thoughts about the role of the Internet in all this?

Fernando: I see it as good and bad. It’s good because it can give an artist mass exposure. But – at the same time – a nobody can become a somebody. And that’s not good.

Mike: The Internet is the devil. There’s just too much information out there.  But on the plus side, you can get to show your work anywhere.

Any theories as to why graffiti is more embraced in Europe than here in the US?

Mike: People are more relaxed there and more appreciative of everything.

Fernando: Europeans are generally more open than Americans. They’re more laid back. Art has been a part of  European culture far longer, and Europeans tend to respect and appreciate it more.

KA UR New York graffiti on NYC truck Speaking with Mike Baca and Fernando Romero of UR New York

Which countries have you guys painted in?

Fernando: Australia, Italy, Austria, Israel, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Canada, much of the US and Puerto Rico.

Any favorite cities?

Fernando: There’s nothing like NYC.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Fernando: Women, cars, buildings…just walking with my eyes open inspires me.

Mike: NYC. It’s a monster. It’s always alive and a constant source of inspiration.

Tell us something about your process.

Mike: It’s organic. We just let it flow.

Are you generally satisfied with your work?

Mike: We always strive to make it better.

What’s ahead?

Mike: Painting on a larger scale; working more with children and curating shows for people who don’t have the opportunities that we have.

Fernando: All that and making five times as much money!

Photos by Dani Mozeson and Lois Stavsky; the two trucks featured are by UR New York in collaboration with KA

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This is the eighth in a series of ongoing posts featuring the diverse range of trucks and vans that strike NYC streets:

Chilean street art pioneer Cekis 

Cekis art on NYC truck NYC’s Stylish Trucks & Vans – from the Whimsical to the Wild, Part VIII: Cekis, Kwaz, UR NewYork & KA, Sevor & Ideal, Wane, the Royal KingBee and Dek & Glue 2dx

Kwaz in Midtown Manhattan

Kwaz truck NYC’s Stylish Trucks & Vans – from the Whimsical to the Wild, Part VIII: Cekis, Kwaz, UR NewYork & KA, Sevor & Ideal, Wane, the Royal KingBee and Dek & Glue 2dx

NYC’s prolific UR NewYork and KA in Downtown Brooklyn

URNewYorkKAbus NYC’s Stylish Trucks & Vans – from the Whimsical to the Wild, Part VIII: Cekis, Kwaz, UR NewYork & KA, Sevor & Ideal, Wane, the Royal KingBee and Dek & Glue 2dx

NYC graffiti artists Sevor and Ideal

Sevor and Ideal graffiti on NYC truck NYC’s Stylish Trucks & Vans – from the Whimsical to the Wild, Part VIII: Cekis, Kwaz, UR NewYork & KA, Sevor & Ideal, Wane, the Royal KingBee and Dek & Glue 2dx

Veteran writer Wane in East Harlem

wane graffiti on NYC truck NYC’s Stylish Trucks & Vans – from the Whimsical to the Wild, Part VIII: Cekis, Kwaz, UR NewYork & KA, Sevor & Ideal, Wane, the Royal KingBee and Dek & Glue 2dx

The Royal KingBee in Midtown Manhattan

KingBee graffiti character on NYC bus on NYC’s Stylish Trucks & Vans – from the Whimsical to the Wild, Part VIII: Cekis, Kwaz, UR NewYork & KA, Sevor & Ideal, Wane, the Royal KingBee and Dek & Glue 2dx

Brooklyn’s Dek & Glue 2dx

Dek and Glue 2dx NYC’s Stylish Trucks & Vans – from the Whimsical to the Wild, Part VIII: Cekis, Kwaz, UR NewYork & KA, Sevor & Ideal, Wane, the Royal KingBee and Dek & Glue 2dx

 Photos by Lenny Collado, Dani Mozeson, Tara Murray & Samantha Sabatino

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This is the seventh in a series of ongoing posts featuring the diverse range of trucks and vans that strike NYC streets.

Xabu from Sao Paulo, Brazil

Xabu graffiti on NYC truck NYC’s Stylish Trucks & Vans – from the Whimsical to the Wild, Part VII: Xabu, JR, Grocer, Priz, Emo, Hefner & Never

French photographer JR and the crew from Sao Paulo, Brazil

JR on truck NYC’s Stylish Trucks & Vans – from the Whimsical to the Wild, Part VII: Xabu, JR, Grocer, Priz, Emo, Hefner & Never

Groser 

Groser graffiti on NYC truck NYC’s Stylish Trucks & Vans – from the Whimsical to the Wild, Part VII: Xabu, JR, Grocer, Priz, Emo, Hefner & Never

Veteran graff writer Priz on truck parked on Boston Road in the Bronx

priz graffiti NYC truck NYC’s Stylish Trucks & Vans – from the Whimsical to the Wild, Part VII: Xabu, JR, Grocer, Priz, Emo, Hefner & Never

Emo in Chinatown

Emo graffiti on NYC truck NYC’s Stylish Trucks & Vans – from the Whimsical to the Wild, Part VII: Xabu, JR, Grocer, Priz, Emo, Hefner & Never

Hefner, Smart Crew

Hefner graffiti on NYC truck NYC’s Stylish Trucks & Vans – from the Whimsical to the Wild, Part VII: Xabu, JR, Grocer, Priz, Emo, Hefner & Never

Never in Bushwick

Never street art on NYC truck NYC’s Stylish Trucks & Vans – from the Whimsical to the Wild, Part VII: Xabu, JR, Grocer, Priz, Emo, Hefner & Never

Photos by Lenny Collado, Dani Mozeson, Tara Murray & Lois Stavsky

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This is the fifth in a series of ongoing posts featuring the diverse range of stylish trucks and vans that strike NYC streets:

Sevor and Ideal

Sevor and ideal graffiti on NYC truck NYC’s Stylish Trucks & Vans – from the Whimsical to the Wild, Part V: Sevor & Ideal, Cinik, Ski & Optimo Primo, Staino, Noxer & 3ess, Roda, Repo and Toper/Smart Crew

Cinik

Cinik graffiti on NYC truck NYC’s Stylish Trucks & Vans – from the Whimsical to the Wild, Part V: Sevor & Ideal, Cinik, Ski & Optimo Primo, Staino, Noxer & 3ess, Roda, Repo and Toper/Smart Crew

Ski and Optimo Primo

ski urnewyork and Optimo Primo truck in NYC NYC’s Stylish Trucks & Vans – from the Whimsical to the Wild, Part V: Sevor & Ideal, Cinik, Ski & Optimo Primo, Staino, Noxer & 3ess, Roda, Repo and Toper/Smart Crew

Staino

Staino graffiti on truck NYC’s Stylish Trucks & Vans – from the Whimsical to the Wild, Part V: Sevor & Ideal, Cinik, Ski & Optimo Primo, Staino, Noxer & 3ess, Roda, Repo and Toper/Smart Crew

Noxer and 3ess

Noxer and 3ess graffiti on NYC truck NYC’s Stylish Trucks & Vans – from the Whimsical to the Wild, Part V: Sevor & Ideal, Cinik, Ski & Optimo Primo, Staino, Noxer & 3ess, Roda, Repo and Toper/Smart Crew

 Roda

Roda graffiti on NYC truck NYC’s Stylish Trucks & Vans – from the Whimsical to the Wild, Part V: Sevor & Ideal, Cinik, Ski & Optimo Primo, Staino, Noxer & 3ess, Roda, Repo and Toper/Smart Crew

Repo

REPO graffiti on NYC truck NYC’s Stylish Trucks & Vans – from the Whimsical to the Wild, Part V: Sevor & Ideal, Cinik, Ski & Optimo Primo, Staino, Noxer & 3ess, Roda, Repo and Toper/Smart Crew

Toper/Smart Crew

Toper Smart Crew graffiti on NYC truck NYC’s Stylish Trucks & Vans – from the Whimsical to the Wild, Part V: Sevor & Ideal, Cinik, Ski & Optimo Primo, Staino, Noxer & 3ess, Roda, Repo and Toper/Smart Crew

 Photos by Lenny Collado, Dani Mozeson, Tara Murray and Lois Stavsky

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This is the fourth in a series of ongoing posts featuring the diverse range of stylish trucks and vans that strike NYC streets:

Noxer and 3ess in Bushwick, Brooklyn

Noxer and 3ess graffiti on NYC truck NYC’s Stylish Trucks & Vans – from the Whimsical to the Wild, Part IV: Noxer & 3ess, Gano, Wen One, Deceve, Sebs, NDA & See One and Stem

Gano in Manhattan

Gano graffiti on NYC truck NYC’s Stylish Trucks & Vans – from the Whimsical to the Wild, Part IV: Noxer & 3ess, Gano, Wen One, Deceve, Sebs, NDA & See One and Stem

Wen One in Manhattan

Wen One graffiti on NYC truck NYC’s Stylish Trucks & Vans – from the Whimsical to the Wild, Part IV: Noxer & 3ess, Gano, Wen One, Deceve, Sebs, NDA & See One and Stem

 Deceve of Smart Crew

Deceve Smart Crew graffiti on NYC truck NYC’s Stylish Trucks & Vans – from the Whimsical to the Wild, Part IV: Noxer & 3ess, Gano, Wen One, Deceve, Sebs, NDA & See One and Stem

Sebs in Bushwick, Brooklyn

Sebs graffiti on NYC truck1 NYC’s Stylish Trucks & Vans – from the Whimsical to the Wild, Part IV: Noxer & 3ess, Gano, Wen One, Deceve, Sebs, NDA & See One and Stem

ND’A and See One in Bushwick, Brooklyn

NDA and See One street art on NYC truck NYC’s Stylish Trucks & Vans – from the Whimsical to the Wild, Part IV: Noxer & 3ess, Gano, Wen One, Deceve, Sebs, NDA & See One and Stem

See One close-up

See One street art on NYC truck NYC’s Stylish Trucks & Vans – from the Whimsical to the Wild, Part IV: Noxer & 3ess, Gano, Wen One, Deceve, Sebs, NDA & See One and Stem

 Stem in Manhattan

Stem graffiti on NYC truck NYC’s Stylish Trucks & Vans – from the Whimsical to the Wild, Part IV: Noxer & 3ess, Gano, Wen One, Deceve, Sebs, NDA & See One and Stem

Photos of Noxer & 3ess and ND’A close-up by Lois Stavsky; Gano, Wen One, NDA & See One by Dani Mozeson; Deceve by Lenny Collado; Sebs by City-as-School intern Damien Kelly and Stem by Sara Mozeson

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This is the third in a series of ongoing posts featuring the diverse range of stylish trucks and vans that strike NYC streets:

 Cycle parked in Bushwick

Cycle graffiti on NYC truck NYC’s Stylish Trucks & Vans   from the Whimsical to the Wild, Part III: Cycle, Karate147, KR.ONE, Meres, Nutso, Optimo Primo, Paul Richard, TMNK & Wane

Karate147 in Manhattan

kARATE147 graffiti on NYC truck NYC’s Stylish Trucks & Vans   from the Whimsical to the Wild, Part III: Cycle, Karate147, KR.ONE, Meres, Nutso, Optimo Primo, Paul Richard, TMNK & Wane

KR.ONE  in Queens

KR.One graffiti on NYC TRUCK1 NYC’s Stylish Trucks & Vans   from the Whimsical to the Wild, Part III: Cycle, Karate147, KR.ONE, Meres, Nutso, Optimo Primo, Paul Richard, TMNK & Wane

Meres at 5Pointz in Long Island City, Queens

Meres street art on NYC truck NYC’s Stylish Trucks & Vans   from the Whimsical to the Wild, Part III: Cycle, Karate147, KR.ONE, Meres, Nutso, Optimo Primo, Paul Richard, TMNK & Wane

Nutso of Smart Crew in Manhattan

Nutso Smart Crew graffiti on truck NYC’s Stylish Trucks & Vans   from the Whimsical to the Wild, Part III: Cycle, Karate147, KR.ONE, Meres, Nutso, Optimo Primo, Paul Richard, TMNK & Wane

Optimo Primo in Manhattan

Optimo Primo on NYC truck NYC’s Stylish Trucks & Vans   from the Whimsical to the Wild, Part III: Cycle, Karate147, KR.ONE, Meres, Nutso, Optimo Primo, Paul Richard, TMNK & Wane

TMNK, Paul Richard & more on van parked in the Meatpacking District

TMNK and Paul Richard steet art on NYC van NYC’s Stylish Trucks & Vans   from the Whimsical to the Wild, Part III: Cycle, Karate147, KR.ONE, Meres, Nutso, Optimo Primo, Paul Richard, TMNK & Wane

Wane whizzing through downtown Manhattan

Wane graffiti on NYC truck NYC’s Stylish Trucks & Vans   from the Whimsical to the Wild, Part III: Cycle, Karate147, KR.ONE, Meres, Nutso, Optimo Primo, Paul Richard, TMNK & Wane

Photos of Cycle and Meres by Lois Stavsky; photos of Karate147, Nutso, Paul Richard & TMNK and Wane by Lenny Collado; photo of KR.ONE courtesy of the artist

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