Kid Lew


Queens-based artist Steve Lew aka Kid Lew recently brought his talents and vision to Toronto’s Enterprise Boulevard. The new urban complex — known as Downtown Markham – is now graced with a huge, brilliantly hued 40’x50’ mural, featuring Kid Lew’s iconic characters. Situated on the northeast corner of the Remington Contemporary Art Gallery, it can be seen for miles and by thousands of folks daily as they pass by on Highway 407. I recently spoke to the artist about his experience.

Can you tell us something about this project? What brought you to Toronto?

I had been invited by Broadway Bound — a fine arts and entertainment company — to paint an outdoor mural in Downtown Markham. I had submitted a few ideas, and one was accepted.


And how did you initially connect with Broadway Bound?

I had met Shelley Shier, the founder of Broadway Bound, at the Dorien Grey Gallery back in 2012. I was one of the street artists who had collaborated with Hank O’Neil aka XCIA for the exhibit Street Artists Unite. We’ve stayed in touch since.

Your mural is huge! How long did it take you to paint it?

It took 12 days, working 8-10 hours each day.


What were some of the challenges presented by this project?

I almost always paint standing on the ground. But this time I started on the third floor of a building. I immediately got over my fear of heights!  It was also rainy and very windy. I could feel the lift swinging from side to side! Sometimes the wind actually sprayed the paint! Then when I walked around the hotel, I felt as though everything beneath me was moving! I had a serious case of lift lag!

I’ve been a huge fan of your characters since I first discovered them years ago — on the streets and in galleries! Can you tell us something about them? What initially inspired them? 

I was intially inspired by cartoons. I began as a young child copying Disney characters. And later on my main influences grew to include: graffiti, skateboarding, NYC pop culture and — in general — life in this city. But my greatest inspiration in Keith Haring. And because I am color blind, I tend to use colors that appear brightest to me — those that can be seen at night.


And who are these characters? What do they represent? And how have they evolved through the years?

They’re often not as bright as they appear to be. They represent different phases in my life. And as my life evolves, my characters continue to evolve, as well. Both my technique and design have become more refined through the years. I am also more responsive to my audience.

What’s next?

I hope to return to Jersey City to complete the mural I’d begun with Will Power and Ree. It is a huge mural that was put on hold. I’m, also, looking forward to painting more large-scale murals in a range of cities. And I am participating this weekend in the New York Comic Con, where you will be able to purchase custom used Montana Gold Spray Paint cans and ink drawings on spray painted subway maps. I will be signing some at 2pm at Booth 603 with Clutter Magazine.


Good luck with it all!  And I look forward to checking out your mural when I visit Toronto.

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky; all photos courtesy of the artist.

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.

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This past weekend over 100 artists — including such graffiti legends as T-Kid 170, Cey Adams, Cycle, Claw Money and Part One — transformed the blank white walls of August Martin High School into a dazzling, brilliant canvas. Curatated by Meres One with Marie Cecile Flaegul, the freshly-painted artworks represent a multitude of cultures, sensibilities and styles. While visiting yesterday, I had the opportunity to speak to August Martin student, Justin Price.

This is all so amazing! Your school is an absolute wonderland! What inspired this magical change?

The walls in our school were recently painted white. They looked dull and unwelcoming. We wanted to bring color and life to our surroundings, so that we would look forward to coming to school. And we wanted to look at art that we could relate to and that reflected our culture.


Whose concept was this?

August Martin’s Future Project Dream Team surveyed 500 students to find out what change they most wanted in our school. The students’ consensus was that they wanted to change the appearance of the school’s interior.


Once you knew what you wanted to do, what were some of the challenges you faced? 

We had to come up with a proposal and a budget. That took us at least a month. Then we had to identify artists who could work with us. That was our biggest challenge until we were introduced to Meres and Marie of 5Pointz.


How have things been working out since you met them?

Once we met up with Meres and Marie, everything went smoothly. Meres is an amazing artist and knows so many other amazing artists. And I just can’t say enough about Marie! She is so conscientious and caring.


Most of the students haven’t yet seen the murals. But what kind of response have you gotten from those who have seem them?

They love them. They can’t wait to pose for photos in front of them!



And how have the teachers responded to this project? 

Their response has been positive. They know that if the students are happy and motivated, their jobs are easier.



And what about your principal, Ms. Smith?

She’s been 100% behind it. She’s worked hard to make sure that it happens and she has been here with us all weekend.


Why do you suppose there are so many underachievers among the students here?

Many of the students here lack the support systems they need, and they feel easily discouraged.  So many are talented and really love discovering new things.


I don’t doubt it!  What are your thoughts about this project and its possible impact?

I love it! It makes me so happy! And I think it will have a great impact on the other students.


Why is the project called Operation Skittles? I’ve been wondering about that!

Actually, there are two reasons!  Skittles are colorful and this project brings color to our school. And Skittles are the favorite snack of  Syreeta Gates, the Future Project Dream director here at August Martin.


Now that makes sense! How lucky you students at August Martin are to have realized Operation Skittles!

Note: Keep posted to the Street Art NYC Facebook page for more images and for news about an event at August Martin open to the public in early June.

Photos and interview by Lois Stavsky

1. T-Kid 170

2. Will Kasso

3. Cey Adams

4. Zeso and Awez

5, Miss Zukie

6. Kid Lew with August Martin principal Gillian Smith standing to his left

7. Part One

8. Meres One

9. Reme 821

10. Remiks and See TF

11. Cycle

12. Sjembakkus — in from Amsterdam

13. BK Foxx

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"Zimad and Meres"

On exhibit through February at Great Neck’s Gold Coast Arts Center is WALL WORKS: The Art of Graffiti featuring works by 5Pointz (Rest in Power) curator and CEO Jonathan “Meres” Cohen and other artists who found a home at 5Pointz. Here’s a small sampling:





 See TF

"See tf"

Kid Lew


Hunt Rodriguez and daughter, close-up from sculpture, “Rest in Power, 5Pointz” (Click on link for video clip with full view)

"Hunt Rodriguez"

John Paul O’Grodnick




 First image of Zimad and Meres, close-up from photo by Richard Alicia; all others by Lois Stavsky


The walls at 5Pointz continue to showcase some of the most vibrant public art in NYC — or anywhere. Here’s a sampling of some artwork that has recently surfaced:

Puerto Rican artists Rimx and Nepo

Rimx and Nepo

Queens-based Kid Lew’s tribute to Trayvon Martin

Kid Lew

Jasper — in from Queensland, Australia


New Jersey-based graff masters Demer, Rain and Kasso

Demer, Rain and Kasso

The Parisian Nok Crew


Serrano, Mas Paz, Rimx and Cortes fashion letters “PROC” for the Artist Process, a 5Pointz annual project coordinated by Marthalicia Matarrita 

Serrano, Mas Paz, Rimx, Cortes

Close-up from huge mural by French TD4 member, Zeso


Photos by Dani Mozeson, Tara Murray & Lois Stavsky; image of Ked Lew’s mural courtesy of the artist