interview

fcee paints mural art nyc Queens Artists Diego 127, FCEE and Whisper aka Chip Love Fashion a Fantastical Alphabet in Jackson Heights

Painted collaboratively by Queens-based Diego 127, FCEE and Whisper aka Chip Love, a fantastical alphabet mural has made its way onto a huge wall on 78th Street adjacent to the Garden School in Jackson Heights. While visiting the site as the mural was near completion, I spoke to classic graffiti writer, Diego 127, who had secured the space.

What an ideal spot for such a striking mural! 

Yes! I’d been eyeing this wall since I moved into this neighborhood in 2004.

alphabet mural r zJPG Queens Artists Diego 127, FCEE and Whisper aka Chip Love Fashion a Fantastical Alphabet in Jackson Heights

And how did you go about securing it for this mural?

I eventually connected with Dudley Stewart, an active member of the local community and the president of the Jackson Heights Green Alliance. And he was able to get us the support that we needed to make this happen.

How did you come up with this concept — this amazing alphabet?

Lots of text messages between Chip and me! And we loved the idea of playing with the letters of the alphabet — as we so often do — on a big wall.

alphabet mural jackson heights Queens Artists Diego 127, FCEE and Whisper aka Chip Love Fashion a Fantastical Alphabet in Jackson Heights

Why did you choose to work with white, black and grey? I love the effect. The impact of this mural is tremendous.

As an illustrator, I often work in black and white. And Chip, in particular, loves black and white.

Did you guys work from an initial sketch or did it all happen on site?

We had developed a loose plan. But the mural, itself, evolved organically. We free-styled, continually revising it and adding to it.

alphabet mural fragment Queens Artists Diego 127, FCEE and Whisper aka Chip Love Fashion a Fantastical Alphabet in Jackson Heights

How long have you guys been working on this mural?

We started in May; so it’s been two months.

How have the kids responded to it?

They love it and they’ve loved watching the process.

street art mural art artists nyc Queens Artists Diego 127, FCEE and Whisper aka Chip Love Fashion a Fantastical Alphabet in Jackson Heights

Congratulations on this! I’m so glad I got to see it!  What a fantastical alphabet!

Interview with Diego 127 by Lois Stavsky; all photos by Lois Stavsky; photo #1 features FCEE; seated in final photo are: Whisper aka Chip LoveFCEE & Diego 127.

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 Queens Artists Diego 127, FCEE and Whisper aka Chip Love Fashion a Fantastical Alphabet in Jackson Heights

{ 0 comments }

vanessa rosa stencil art brooklyn NYC Speaking with Brazilian Visual Artist and Art Historian Vanessa Rosa

I first encountered Vanessa Rosa’s mesmerizing aesthetic several months back in Lisbon, Portugal.  I was delighted to have the opportunity to then meet up with the wonderfully talented Brazilian visual artist and art historian here in New York City. 

When and where did you first hit up a public space?

Back in 2009 in a favela in Rio.

What inspired you at the time?

I’d always been interested in street art. I love the way it is accessible to everyone – not just to people who visit museums.  Most of my schoolmates back in Rio had never entered a museum or a gallery. But they were very ecxited to see the rise of street painting in Rio.

Have you any preferred surfaces?

I like adapting to different spaces. I’ve painted on a variety of surfaces from doors to boats.

Do you tend to paint alone or collaborate with other artists?

I almost always paint alone; I’m not much into groups. But I’m open to working with others. Collaborating allows us to learn from one another.

vanessa rosa stenil art in NYC Speaking with Brazilian Visual Artist and Art Historian Vanessa Rosa

What was the riskiest thing you’ve done?

Painting in precarious places – places without staircases, or just terribly bad improvised ladders.

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

It used to be largely blurred in Rio, but that’s changing now. It’s very important to respect tagging. However, when we’re working with a community that does not like tagging, confusions and conflicts can arise. Confusion also arises between street artists and graffiti writers when we don’t know who really owns a particular wall — legally or symbolically.

Do you have a formal art education?

I studied Art in Rio, did an exchange in Paris and had the opportunity to take classes through fellowships in programs in NYC, as well.

Has your formal education been worthwhile?

I feel that it has positively affected the way I deal with colors, history and concepts.

vanessa rosa laser stencil nyc Speaking with Brazilian Visual Artist and Art Historian Vanessa Rosa

What percentage of your time is devoted to art?

Everything I do is connected to art, including the academic research and publishing business that I do.

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

I’m most comfortable working with NGO’s. I will only collaborate with a corporate entity that adapts to my beliefs.

Have you shown your work in galleries?

I’ve exhibited in Brazil, Berlin, Paris, Basel and NYC. Now it’s changing, but many of the exhibits I’ve done were in very alternative places, like buildings occupied by artists or who knows what!

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

It varies; often I don’t work from a sketch. Or I start with a sketch and then it becomes something else.

Vanessa rosa street art lisbon portugal Speaking with Brazilian Visual Artist and Art Historian Vanessa Rosa

Are you generally satisfied with your finished work?

I usually am. But sometimes it takes me awhile. When I just finish it, often I think it should be better. But then I realize it’s fine; it’s just different from what I had in mind. I’m often megalomaniac and I want to do too much — like too complicated, too many details, even bigger, more conceptually innovative from the previous works, or who knows what! At some point I end up accepting my limitations.

How has your work evolved through the years?

As I get deeper and deeper into research, my work continues to evolve reflecting a multiplicity of cultures. Personally, I’m the result of a very mixed cultural background, and my love for history and travel makes me always want to expand my worldview. Curiosity is essential, curiosity and affection, being interested in things and wanting to learn with them is a way of loving life.

Are there any particular cultures that have influenced your aesthetic?

Portuguese, Islamic, West African and Central European.

What inspires your work these days?

Transcultural exchange throughout history. What I’m studying now is a mix of Art History, History of Science and Post Colonialist Theory.

vanessa rosa street art brazil Speaking with Brazilian Visual Artist and Art Historian Vanessa Rosa

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

It is essential to the phenomenon of public art. The Internet is essentially a public space. And it definitely makes it much easier to travel around and know people.

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

I feel that the artist has an ethical responsibility to help others become more humane. Or just to show people how interesting the world is. Or how it could be.

Note: Vanessa Rosa has begun a new huge work at the entrance of Pioneer Works, 159 Pioneer Street, in Red Hook, Brooklyn

Images:

1-3 Imaginary Tiles Project, Brooklyn Brush, Bushwick, 2017

Blue Wall Project, close-up, Lisbon, 2015 

Rio de Janeiro, 2016 

Photos: 1-4, Lois Stavsky; 5 courtesy of the artist

{ 0 comments }

ki smith with Ryan Bock art mana contemporary jersey city Speaking with <em>Apostrophe NYC</em> Co Founder Ki Smith at Mana Contemporary in Jersey City

While visiting Ryan Bock‘s solo exhibit at Apostrophe NYC‘s Mana Contemporary studio space last month, I had the opportunity to speak to Ki Smith who — together with his brother Sei —  founded Apostrophe NYC  back in 2012. For the past several months Base 12, Apostrophe NYC‘s 12 emerging artists, have been working in a 8000-square-foot space through a one-year residency program at Mana Contemporary in Jersey City.

This is such an ideal space. How did this residency come your way?

Mana actually reached out to us after seeing the wide press coverage we received in response to our guerrilla-style pop-up exhibits.

julia powers at work apostrphenyc Speaking with <em>Apostrophe NYC</em> Co Founder Ki Smith at Mana Contemporary in Jersey City

Your pop-up shows were certainly unconventional! It’s not surprising that they — particularly your intervention at the Whitney Museum – generated so much media attention. It was your pop-up exhibits at the Kosciuszko Street stop on the J Line, in fact, that initially attracted my attention. When I first met you, you were based in Bushwick. 

Yes. But as a result of the opportunity that Mana offered us, several of us have since moved to Jersey City.  And we love it here! Mana is a very unique place and is located in a great area that’s just a short walk from Little India and all its great restaurants.

 

senor melon contemporary art apostrophenyc Speaking with <em>Apostrophe NYC</em> Co Founder Ki Smith at Mana Contemporary in Jersey City

With your distinct styles and sensibilities, you guys all seem to work so well together. 

Since starting the Base 12 project we have all gotten to know each other quite well and I feel like every one has gained a lot of respect for each other’s work and practices. And with 12 of us working together to navigate the contemporary art world, we are able to accomplish so much more than if we were working individually — 12 times as much!

james reyes contemporary art apostrophe nyc Speaking with <em>Apostrophe NYC</em> Co Founder Ki Smith at Mana Contemporary in Jersey City

Here at Mana each Base 12 artist has been publishing a book to accompany his or her exhibit. That’s quite impressive.

I feel like making books and records of exhibitions is really important and something that very few smaller galleries do for artists, so we decided that we had a good opportunity to create a new company Apostrophe NYC Books. And in classic Apostrophe style we do everything in house, from printing to binding to working with the artists to designing and hand silkscreening the covers.  Making books is another great way to share art, and because of the especially quick turnaround on the shows we are currently doing, it’s also a great way to memorialize shows that people might miss the opportunity to visit.

charlie hudson contemporary art apostrophe nyc Speaking with <em>Apostrophe NYC</em> Co Founder Ki Smith at Mana Contemporary in Jersey City

What’s ahead?

The following solo exhibits are scheduled: Charlie Hudson on July 8th; Kolter Hodgson on July 22nd; Alana Dee Haynes on August 5th; Morell Cutler on August 19th; Julia Powers on September 2nd; Caslon Bevington on September 16th and James Reyes on September 30th. And next Saturday night, July 15th, is the opening of Base 12: Little Big Show, a group exhibit that critiques assumptions of virtual versus “real” representation with two allied narratives in sequential galleries: the first in an exhibition of miniature digital reproductions, the second in a series of original artworks.

That sounds very exciting! I can’t wait to see what’s ahead for you all!

Note: Tonight is the opening of  Charlie Hudson‘s solo exhibit.

charlie hudson Speaking with <em>Apostrophe NYC</em> Co Founder Ki Smith at Mana Contemporary in Jersey City

Images

1 Ryan Bock artwork — with Apostrophe NYC co-founder Ki Smith

2  Julia Powers

3  Kolter Hodgson

4  James Reyes

5  Charlie Hudson

Photos and interview by Lois Stavsky

{ 0 comments }

sunny sundancer mural art LES NYC Sonny Launches International Tour of His To the Bone Project on Manhattans Lower East Side

Based in Johannesburg, UK native Sonny recently brought his extraordinary talents and passion for animals to NYC. I had the opportunity to speak to him when he took a brief break from painting a massive mural overlooking Allen Street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

What brought you to NYC?

I am here to launch my first mural in North America for the To the Bone project in partnership with IFAW, the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

What is the mission of the To the Bone project?

It utilizes street art to increase awareness of animal conservation and to raise funds to rescue animals in crisis throughout the globe.

sonny sundancer mural close up Sonny Launches International Tour of His To the Bone Project on Manhattans Lower East Side

What spurred your engagement in the project?

Living in South Africa surrounded by animals, I developed a passion for them. And painting them on huge murals is a positive way for me to do street art and pay tribute to the beauty of these animals, while raising attention to their plight.

Where else will this project be taking you?

In the weeks ahead, I will be painting in Canada, Russia and in India.

What are some of the other animals represented in the To the Bone Project?

Among them are a rhino, a leopard, an elephant, a bear and a gorilla.  There will be a total of ten, with the gorilla the face of an upcoming exhibition in London.

sonny sundancer paint spray cans Sonny Launches International Tour of His To the Bone Project on Manhattans Lower East Side

You’ve also painted several canvases and released prints in coordination with this project.

Yes. The original artwork will be exhibited and auctioned off, with prints of the works available online — with 10% of sales donated to South Africa landscape work and IFAW’s work with tigers in Russia. Among the original works are hand-painted skull replicas that showcase endangered animals from around the world. These paintings show the animals’ faces breaking away to reveal the raw skeletons underneath, symbolic of how these beautiful creatures are quickly fading away.

Can you tell us something about the patterns that adorn your works? 

They are tribal patterns from the animals’ countries of origin. When we lose these animals, we’re losing a part of our heritage too. That is the message conveyed by these distinct patterns.

Sonny Sundancer mural art Jelani Johannesburg Sonny Launches International Tour of His To the Bone Project on Manhattans Lower East Side

Your murals are stunning. Have you a formal art education?

No. I’m self-taught. I painted my first large-scale mural three years ago.

That’s quite impressive! Are there any muralists out there who have inspired you?

Among these whose works have inspired me are Case Maclaim and Faith47.

Sonny Sundancer mural art canada Sonny Launches International Tour of His To the Bone Project on Manhattans Lower East Side

How can folks support your project?

They can visit our website to learn more about the To the Bone project and buy artwork. And they can help us raise money for the IFAW, the International Fund for Animal Welfare by donating here.

Good luck with your project.  And we are thrilled that you launched the international tour of To the Bone here in NYC.

Images:

1-3 New York Lion

4  Jelani, Johannesburg

5 Grizzly Bear, Cambridge Street Art Festival, Ontaria

Photo credits: 1 Lois Stavsky; 2 & 3 Karin du Maire; 4 & 5 courtesy Tess Cunliffe

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 Sonny Launches International Tour of His To the Bone Project on Manhattans Lower East Side

{ 0 comments }

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

{ 0 comments }

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

{ 0 comments }

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

{ 0 comments }

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

{ 0 comments }

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

{ 0 comments }

raphael gonzalez and Giz <em>Hip Hop Utopia: Culture + Community</em> at Jerseys Citys Dineen Hull Gallery Through February 21

While visiting Hip-Hop Utopia: Culture + Community at Hudson County Community College‘s Dineen Hull Gallery this past Friday, I had the opportunity to speak to Michelle Vitale aka woolpunk who — along with Fred Fleisher — curated the wonderfully eclectic exhibit.

What a fabulous tribute to hip-hop this is! What would you say is the exhibit’s mission?

Its mission is to celebrate the culture of hip-hop. Its four elements –  MCing, Graffiti, DJing and Breakdancing — have had a huge, positive impact on today’s society. This exhibit is our way of paying tribute to these elements and to the community that has nurtured them.

Dipset graffiti <em>Hip Hop Utopia: Culture + Community</em> at Jerseys Citys Dineen Hull Gallery Through February 21

Did anyone or anything —  in particular — inspire it?

The notion of curating an exhibit on hip-hop was first suggested by Hudson County Community College Vice President Dr. Pando.  It seemed like a great concept, as I love the communal aspect of hip-hop. Among the many inspirations was music industry veteran Tony Drootin who serves on the board of  Hip Hop Public Health.

Yishai Minkin Biggie <em>Hip Hop Utopia: Culture + Community</em> at Jerseys Citys Dineen Hull Gallery Through February 21

Just what is Hip Hop Public Health? I see it is represented in this exhibit.

Based in NYC, Hip Hop Public Health uses music as a message to improve health literacy and encourage positive behaviors among school children.  Its founder and president, Dr. Olajide Williams, MDMS serves as Chief of Staff of Neurology at Columbia University Medical Center.  Among the artists involved in Hip Hop Public Health are: Doug E. FreshEasy A.D Harris and Jordan Sparks.

Karlos Carcamo sculpture mic <em>Hip Hop Utopia: Culture + Community</em> at Jerseys Citys Dineen Hull Gallery Through February 21

Can you tell us something about some of your other partners? There are some great T-shirts on display here!

Among our partners is Chilltown Collective, an apparel and lifestyle brand based here in Jersey City. It was co-founded in 2015 by Lovelisa Dizon as a platform for “passionate creatives.”

chilltown collective <em>Hip Hop Utopia: Culture + Community</em> at Jerseys Citys Dineen Hull Gallery Through February 21

And there are quite a few bikes in the gallery!

Yes! We’ve partnered with both Grove Street Bicycles and Animal BikesGrove Street Bicycles is a nearby full-service shop that sells all kinds of bikes, accessories, clothing and shoes and handles all kinds of bicycle repairs. And Animal Bikes, owned by Ralph Sinisi, supplies bike parts for BMX street riding and also sells gear.

Fred Samboy and more art <em>Hip Hop Utopia: Culture + Community</em> at Jerseys Citys Dineen Hull Gallery Through February 21

What are some of the challenges you faced in curating an exhibit as multi-faceted as this one?

Once we knew what direction we wanted to go with the theme of Hip-Hop, everything came together easily. Our Karma has been great! We are showcasing works of noted established artists together with talented younger ones, several who are Hudson County Community College alumni. We have local DJ’s participating, as well as spoken-word artists.  We’ve planned a range of events open to the community.

Cultural Affairs Hip Hop Flyer Spring 2017 <em>Hip Hop Utopia: Culture + Community</em> at Jerseys Citys Dineen Hull Gallery Through February 21

How has the response to the exhibit been?

We’ve been open just a few days, and the response has already been great.  We’ve been featured in the Jersey Journal and listed as one of the top 10 current attractions in Jersey City.

Freddy Samboy Hip Hop Utopia <em>Hip Hop Utopia: Culture + Community</em> at Jerseys Citys Dineen Hull Gallery Through February 21

How can folks see the exhibit?

Our opening reception takes place Tuesday evening, January 31, from 6-8pm. The exhibit continues through Tuesday, February 21 at 71 Sip Avenue 6th Floor. Gallery hours are: Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Admission is free and those who attend have a chance to win a graffiti-tagged, fat-tire bicycle donated by Grove Street Bicycles.

Michelle Vitale <em>Hip Hop Utopia: Culture + Community</em> at Jerseys Citys Dineen Hull Gallery Through February 21

Congratulations! It’s looking great!

Images

1.  Raphael Gonzalez, The Art of the Throw Up! Giz

2.  Alex Melo, Diplomatic Immunity

3.  Yishai Minkin, Biggie

4.  Karlos Carcamo, One, Two Three… 

5.  Mr Mustart with Chilltown Collective, I free myself…

6. Freddy Samboy, two works suspended from ceiling; Grove Street BicyclesDonated Fat Tire Bikes and Videos courtesy  Grove Street BicyclesAnimal & Hip Hop Public Health

7.  Raphael Gonzalez, Danielle

8. Freddy Samboy, Breaking Free

9. Jeremy Coleman Smith, DJ Shrine with Michelle Vitale aka wool punk seated

Photos and interview by Lois Stavsky

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

en play badge 2 <em>Hip Hop Utopia: Culture + Community</em> at Jerseys Citys Dineen Hull Gallery Through February 21

{ 0 comments }