Of the many new pieces to surface at 5Pointz since it began its 11th season last month, a particular stand-out is the huge mural by Phillip Perez aka Article. Curious about the artist behind this singular graffiti aesthetic, we posed some questions to him.


When did you start getting up?

I first started in Houston, Texas — back in 1992.

What inspired you at the time?

It started when my friend Big Mark aka KRAM, a B-Boy (Rock Skittles Krew) and a graffiti artist, showed me a video that featured break dancing and graffiti. Before then, I hadn’t seen anything like it. Two days after watching that video, I went bombing. I spray-painted in an alley behind my house.

Any memories that stand out from those early days?

A neighborhood hothead, SKEEZ 181, invited me to paint in a train yard for a graffiti battle. I don’t know how he got my number, but he did. He gave me a call one day and said he’d even pay for the paint and pick me up at my place. I was young and crazy, so I agreed. It was me and Ceroe against all of Hou-Tex freaks in a train yard in Denver Harbor. And as we were painting, a couple of train cops rolled up on Ceroe at the end of the car and start shooting at us. We all hopped about six sets of train tracks while dodging the bullets. Everyone got out of there alive. We even became good friends after. Never did like train yards, but I did it that once!


Have you any preferred surfaces?

No favorites. I’m a city bomber; any surface will do. The laws here don’t allow graffiti to live too long. A month maximum and bombs are buffed. So as a writer in Houston, you have to be very selective where you bomb. Location is key!

What’s the riskiest thing you’ve done?

I painted a wall along this railroad track with a couple of friends. Soon, the police rolled by and we were forced to hide in this ditch of muddy water amidst a horrible stench and a swarm of mosquitos. We couldn’t move or sneeze. The cops knew that there had been painting going on, as there was that strong smell of paint in the air. When the police left, we jumped out of there and ran. When we did, a police officer saw us, and hit full speed. To get away, we had to jump over barbed wire gates. We made it, but we separated as we dodged the cops. We met back up again about an hour later.

Have you ever been to jail?

Yes. When I was young, I went to jail for a lot of crazy things, but not for my graffiti art. I’d never go to jail for that. I’d feel too awful getting caught for my art.


Can you tell us something about some of the other writers down in Houston?

When I started out in the early 90’s, there were hardly any graffiti bombers. There were a few graffiti artists, though.  Nekst and Vizie started here in the mid ’90’s and moved on to work with MSK — from what I understand. I respect those kids. They could have done anything in life, but they chose graffiti as a lifestyle. Episode, Color One, SKEEZ 181, The One Lee, Cease, Dual — are a few cats that live the lifestyle and keep things real in the H.

Who or what inspires you these days?

The lack of real graffiti nowadays is what inspires me to keep at it and teach it — when possible. This new generation needs to learn the foundation and history of this culture before they try to rub elbows with self-made artists. It’s a big let down when I meet a cat who can rock a 3-D but can’t paint regular letters or write with a nice hand style. But there are still sick artists coming out of the woodworks.

Are you down with any crews?

I’m in Hyroglifx Krew 182. We’re like a family here and help each other out. I don’t see it happening these days with many other crews. Internet crews have members who don’t even know each other. We were all born and raised in the North Central Houston.

Have you exhibited your work?

I have in the past few years, and I’m looking to exhibit more regularly.


Do you have a formal arts education?

No. My art have been my true education. It has taught me to write proposals and contracts, research history and conduct business. Art has taught me everything. When in school, I felt like the institution was misguiding me.

What’s the attitude of your family and friends towards what you do?

My mom bought me my first can. She has been supportive of the graffiti art, but not of the graffiti bombing. It’s a life style and culture. For me, graffiti is a rare art form. I often find myself explaining it to friends. I never get any real negative feedback from them, though.

What percentage of your time is devoted to writing?

It’s a balance. I have to maintain my commercial works and still fit in my street time. My heaviest bombing years were throughout the 90’s. I’ve had to slow down in the 2000’s because of paid gigs, which took up a lot of time and energy.

,Have you a steady day job?

Yup! I have an in-house art gig for a corporation. It helps me pay the bills and buy paint supplies. When I’m not working there, I do commission work for various people. Along the way, I’ve met a lot of actors, musicians and politicians who are interested in what I do. So luckily, I get to work for them and anyone else who needs art of any kind.


What about other interests?

Anything that is even vaguely art-related interests me. I’m also interested in history.

How has your work evolved throughout the years?

It’s evolved a ton. I taught myself foundation, structure, color schemes and balance. And through that learning process, my work naturally evolved into what it is today.

How did you connect with 5Pointz?

My boy Episode gave me Meres’s number and I texted him. A thousands miles later — with a hundred pounds of paint — I presented my layout to Meres, who approved the sketch and got me straight to work.

Can you tell us a bit about this image?

It’s a memorial wall — a tribute to the building representing the kings, the OGs of New York City graffiti. I don’t want to see the building torn down. With its gold background, the piece represents the significance of 5Pointz. The hieroglyphics are actually names of important writers such as Stay High 149, Dondi and IZ the Wiz, to name a few. And overall, the work represents the style of my crew. It’s an offering to the 5Pointz community and its importance in the movement. Even in Houston, we know its value.

Interview by Lenny Collado; photos by Lenny Collado, Tara Murray and Lois Stavsky

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Onur and Wes21

We discovered the wonderfully talented Onur Dinc while he was painting over at 5Pointz during his recent visit to NYC. We were delighted to have the opportunity to speak to him before he returned to his home in Switzerland.

Your artwork that has surfaced here at 5Pointz is exquisite. Have you a formal art education?

I apprenticed as a painter in my late teens. Then I studied set-design for four years in Solothum and graphic design for another three in Basel.

And when did you begin sharing your talents in public spaces?

Five years ago. That’s when I met Wes21 and KKade of the Schwarzmaler collective


We’re so glad you guys met! How do you feel about working outdoors in the public sphere?

It’s great. I love it, and I love meeting the many people who stop by.

How does your family feel about what you are doing? Are they supportive?

At first my parents didn’t encourage me. They were quite concerned.  My dad, who had emigrated from Turkey to Switzerland, worked in a factory his entire life and felt uneasy about my not having a steady job. But these days, everyone in my family is proud of me and supportive.

What is your principal source of income these days?

Selling canvases and prints.


What about exhibits? When did you begin exhibiting your work in galleries? And where have you shown it?

I began six years ago when I was 27. I’ve exhibited in all of Switzerland’s major cities and in Germany.

Who are some of the artists who have inspired you?

The late Swiss painter, Ferdinand Hodler, and the contemporary Australian artist, Jeremy Geddess, come to mind.  The American painter and photographer, Chuck Close, and the people around me — like Wes21, Schwarzmaler, Jörg Müller and Rodja Galli — have also influenced me.

What about artists getting up in public spaces? Have you any favorites?

I think Roa is wonderful. His skills are remarkable.

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

There’s too much information out there. There’s lots of dope work, but there’s also too much trash.

Onur and Wes21

Any thoughts about artists — particularly street artists – working with corporations and brands?

I’ve done it, and I don’t like it. I often felt like I was selling myself.

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

I see the artist as society’s commentator and conscience, as well as its mirror.

What’s ahead?

I’d like to continue doing what I’m doing now.  Painting both in my studio and in public spaces, exhibiting and traveling.

Good luck and we are eagerly awaiting your next visit to NYC.

Photo of Onur and Wes21 at work by Lenny Collado; all other images are courtesy of Onur.


Speaking with Semor

May 20, 2013

Germany’s masterful graffiti artist Semor returned to 5Pointz earlier this month, where he once again graced its walls with his outstanding skills. This time we has the opportunity to speak to him.

When did you first get up? And where was it?

I was 11 years old when I first hit a wall. It was in an abandoned area in the middle of nowhere. I grew up in a village near Cologne, Germany where there was no graffiti — or just about anything — on the walls.

Then — how did you get into graffiti?

As a young child, I destroyed my room with chalk. This started when I was about six. I always focused on letters. One day my sister said to me, “What you are doing is graffiti.”  And she bought me a copy of Style Wars. That was it!

And you have been doing it ever since!  What is it about graffiti that appeals to you?

I can put my all into it. I can express everything that is going on inside me and around me. I never sketch beforehand. Everything I do is freestyle. It’s what I feel at the moment. It doesn’t matter if it is a good day or bad day. I have graffiti.


How do your folks feel about what you do?

My mom loves it! And my dad admires what I’m doing, too. He is an architect.

Tell us something about your name. How did you get the name Semor?

I was always a big Simpsons’ fan and I particularly liked the character Seymour Skinner, the head of Bart Simpson’s elementary School. I just changed the spelling!

Have you any favorite surfaces?

I’ll paint on anything that is paintable, but I love big walls.


Have you ever been arrested?

Sure, but Germany actually provides us with graffiti lawyers. And you need to be caught in action in order for the police to arrest you.

Have you exhibited in galleries?  And how do you feel about the move of graffiti into galleries?

Yes! It’s been a good experience. It’s good money. And it’s time for graffiti to be given the respect it deserves.

How do you feel about the divide between street art and graffiti?

Graffiti is graffiti and street art is street art. Street artists are more concerned with getting a message out to the public.  And it often has political and social overtones. Graffiti is about style.

Semor and KKade

Any thoughts about today’s young writers?

They need to learn the importance of respect. They think getting up is cool, but too many young writers out there don’t have any knowledge of graffiti’s roots.

Any differences between the graffiti here in NYC and back home in Cologne?

There’s definitely a greater variety of styles back home. Writers there are more eager to experiment.

Have you any favorite writers?

The Schwarzmaler Crew, Sen2, Storm, Aroe MSK – among others.


How did you make contact with 5Pointz?

In 2005, I reached out to Meres via e-mail, and we’ve stayed in touch since.

Photos of Semor with Jimmy C and Semor & KKade by Lois Stavsky; Semor at work by Lenny Collado and Tara Murray


Since 5Pointz began its 11th season earlier this month, its walls have served as a canvas for artists visiting NYC from across the globe. Here’s a sampling of what has surfaced in the past two weeks:

Onur, Wes21, Kkade from Switzerland and Semor from Germany

Onur, Semor, Wes21 & KKade

Semor and KKade

Semor and KKade

Vova Zomb from Moscow

Vova Zomb

Ecuadorian artist Toofly


French Tunisian artist eL Seed, Jaye from Paris and Meres

eL Seed and Jaye

Funk from Montreal


Australian artists Zert and Stain

Zert and Stain

Indonesian artist MiesOne


Article from Houston, Texas



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


Singapore native Sheryo and Aussie’s the Yok are back in New York City.  And that is a cause for celebration! After gracing Long Island City’s 5Pointz with their wondrous whacky characters, they got busy at the Bushwick Collective.

At 5Pointz

Sheryo and the Yok

Sheryo at the Bushwick Collective on Friday afternoon


Sheryo and the Yok in the early stages of the Bushwick Collective wall

Sheryo and the Yok

The Yok back at the Bushwick Collective on Saturday

The Yok

Sheryo back at work on Saturday


The cast of characters — as of late Saturday

Sheryo and the Yok

Photos by Tara Murray


Even during the winter months, artists from across the globe make their way to Long Island City’s 5Pointz. Here’s a small sampling of what can be seen on the walls of the world’s Mecca of aerosol art:

Italian artist Mr. Blob 

Mr. Blob

French artist Monsieur Plume 

Mathieu Plume RC

From Hamburg, Germany


Moscow-based Zmogk

Zmogk graffiti

And this past weekend, the 5Pointz indoor gallery featured “From Bricks to Blades” as part of Armory Art Week. Here’s a sampling from the exhibit that is set to travel to Europe.

5Pointz founder, curator and artist Meres One


Spud from Toronto


And Zimad of the TD4 crew — on a more subtle note


Photos by Tara Murray and Lois Stavsky

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"cortes graffiti"

NYC-based painter and illustrator Christian Cortes has been increasingly exploring combinations of graffiti typography with surrealism, abstraction, South American iconography and New York City culture. 

Your extraordinary artwork has graced the walls of 5Pointz for years. Where else have you gotten up?

I’ve painted in France, Germany, Spain, Japan, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic and in Puerto Rico. I’ve also gotten up in Seattle, Miami and Fort Lauderdale. And here in NYC, I’ve recently painted in the Bronx.
Any favorite place?
Probably Puerto Rico. I had many Puerto Rican friends as a teenager, and I feel a strong connection between NYC and Puerto Rico.
When did you first start getting up in public spaces?
I was in 7th grade when I began paying close attention to what was happening on the 7 train, on rooftops and along the 59th Street Bridge. Soon afterwards I was bombing those surfaces. I was most active on the streets – as Waqs A3crew– between 1990 -1995 piecing. But then I took a ten-year break.
Do you have a formal art education?
I attended the High School of Art and Design and I began fine art studies at three different colleges. But I dropped out of all of them, as I became increasingly involved in my own work.
What kind of work were you doing?
I was doing lots of commercial work such as record covers, backdrops for videos and steady commissions for rap groups. Among my projects was a video for Jeru the Damaja. This was ideal work for me, as I’ve always felt strongly connected to musicians. When I hit a wall with other artists, it’s like we’re all making music!
What got you back into painting on the streets?
5Pointz – for sure! Also traveling and the Internet. I share much of what I do on YouTube these days. I feel a responsibility towards the younger writers, and I love the interaction with them.
Have you any advice for young artists?
Aspiring artists need to learn the value of discipline. Art doesn’t happen quickly or easily.
Who inspires you?
Mode 2 from France and I’ve developed a new appreciation for Seen. I’m also inspired by musicians – such as Sadat X of Brand Nubian and Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam.
"Cortes graffiti"
Tell us something about your skulls. They surface in so many of your pieces.
Skulls have forever been a theme in all genres of art. When I first started painting skulls – while still in high school — I was suggesting that graffiti is dead. But now I think of skulls as a celebration of life through acknowledging death. And in relation to graffiti, the skulls have come to imply rebirth, as graff has been reborn.
What do you see as the future of graffiti?
I see it developing into more of a grass-roots movement. I see us developing our own events, along with smaller brands, as the huge brands have been dictating what kids see.
How do you feel about the street art vs. graffiti divide?
I don’t see them in conflict with one another. I see them simply as two separate genres. But I have difficulty understanding, for example, the Banksy phenomenon.
"Cortes graffiti"
What’s next?
More traveling, more black book videos, more tutorial videos and more walls. I’m planning to paint next in Brooklyn and I’m starting something new at 5Pointz. Next month I will be heading down to Miami for Art Basel.
Good luck! ‘sounds great!
Photos of Cortes at 5Pointz by Dani Mozeson;  in the Bronx by Lois Stavsky and painting in the Bronx by Lenny Collado


"Meres @ 5Pointz"

Under your leadership 5Pointz has evolved into an internationally acclaimed aerosol art Mecca. When did you first become involved in managing this space? And how did it happen?

It was back in 2002.  I simply asked the landlord, Jerry Wolkoff, if I could, as the space had been neglected. And he agreed. He told me, in fact, that he loves graffiti. More after the jump!


A Mecca of aerosol art, Long Island City’s 5Pointz attracts not only local artists, but also those from across the globe, offering a transitory legal home to a diverse range — from Old School graff writers to modern muralists.  Here are some recent sightings:

Olivier Bonhomme from Lyon, France

"The Floating Man by Bonhomme"

More after the jump!

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Speaking with Toofly

July 11, 2012

"Toofly at 5Pointz"

A self-described artist, designer and entrepreneur, Toofly is best-known for her signature character that has made its way onto walls across the globe, as well as onto a range of fashion items. We had the opportunity to meet up with Toofly this past week and ask her a few questions.

Your alluring character has been surfacing all around town. We’ve recently seen her in Williamsburg, at Welling Court, at 5Pointz and even on a Lower East Side rooftop. Can you tell us something about her?

She’s kind of like my alter ego. An outlet where I can express my emotion and ideas. She was once tough and with an attitude, but she has mellowed down over the years. And, like me, she is continually evolving.

More after the jump!