Nic 707

As featured earlier this year in the New York Times, Nic 707’s Instafame Phantom Art movement continues to bring dozens of artists — from Old School writers to contemporary painters — back into NYC subway trains. Here are a few recently-captured images:

The legendary Skeme of Style Wars fame

skeme

Gear One

gear-one-subway-art

Nic 707

Nic-707-instafame-phantom-art

Ivory

ivory-graffiti-

The legendary Taki 183

taki-183-subway-graffiti

Michael Cuomo

michael-Cuomo-abstract-subway-art

Kingbee — with fragment of Michael Cuomo on left

kingbee-subway-art-nyc

Misha Tyutyunik

M-Dot-subway-art

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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The first NYC tagger to go all-city, TAKI 183 has achieved mythical status as the father of modern day graffiti.  We were thrilled to meet up with him last week.

Taki-183

Your name TAKI is — according to what we’ve read — a traditional Greek nickname for Demetrius, and 183 refers to the street where you lived in Washington Heights. How old were you when you first got your name up? And what was the first surface you hit?

I was about 16. The first surface I remember tagging was the bus terminal on 179th Street and Broadway.

What inspired you to leave your mark in a public space?

My friends Phil T. Greek and Greg 69 had begun writing their names in the neighborhood. They had most likely been inspired by Julio 204, whose tag first surfaced around 1964.

And why did you keep doing it? 

I liked the feeling of getting my name up, and I liked idea of getting away with it. I soon became obsessed. Once I started, I couldn’t stop.

taki_183_nytimes

Did you have any preferred surfaces?

Any flat surface was good. Subways were good. If there was a blank space, I hit it.

Do any early memories that stand out?

One night when I came upon a huge empty space on a wall across from George Washington High School, I decided that instead of using a marker to write my name, I would use a paintbrush with black paint. I wasn’t prepared for the mess that it made. And I remember returning home with black paint all over me.

In the summer of 1971, you were the subject of a significant article in The New York Times. How did you feel about that?

I didn’t understand why they would waste their time on some kid who was tagging. I thought to myself, “For stupid things they put me into The New York Times. Aren’t there more important things going on in the world?”

Jorit-street-art-taki-183

How did that New York Times piece impact you?

It gave me legendary status. After all, if The New York Times says so, it must be true! Suddenly the media were all interested in not only what I was doing — my greatest hits —  but in the entire culture of tagging and graffiti.

How did your family react to what was going on?

My father said, “Take it easy!”

Have you any thoughts about the direction that graffiti has taken?

I don’t really pay attention to it. If you were born after 1955, I don’t know you! But I do appreciate the graffiti over on 207th Street.

taki183-subway-art-graffiti

You’ve been riding the trains again in Nic 707‘s Instafame Phantom Art Project.  Can you tell us something about that?

I think it’s great! I like Nic’s vision of taking an old concept and presenting it in a new way.

How do you feel about your status in the graffiti culture?

I feel good about it. I like having a place in history!

Have you any theories as to the world-wide popularity of modern graffiti?

It’s a great outlet for talent and creativity. And getting up in a public space gives you great exposure. Not everyone has the means or know-how to get into a gallery.

taki-183-signs-graffiti-tag

What advice would you give to the young taggers out there?

Be careful!

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky.

Photos: 1 & 4 Lois Stavsky; 3 Italian artist Jorit with his portrait of TAKI 183 in the Bronx, courtesy Patrick Styx One; 5 Tara Murray

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Featured in this past Monday’s New York Times, Nic 707’s ingenious Instafame Phantom Art project continues to transform NYC subway cars into instant galleries. These are some images I captured on a recent ride from Yankee Stadium to Coney Island:

The legendary TAKI 183

Taki 183

Kingbee

Kingbee

Veteran graffiti writer Snake 1

snake-subway-art

Praxis 

Praxis-stencil-art

Nic 707

nic-707-kilroy

Sketch

Sketch

Graffiti legend T-Kid

T-Kid-tag

Brian M Convery

Brian-Convery-subway-art

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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Nic 707‘s InstaFame Phantom Art continues to share a range of art — from tags by legendary writers to works by global artists — with NYC subway riders. Here are some images captured on a recent ride from East Tremont in the Bronx to Brighton Beach in Brooklyn.

Veteran UK graffiti writer, Pulse

Pulse

Bogota native Praxis

Praxis

The legendary TAKI 183

Taki 183

Praxis

Praxis

Nic 707

Nic707

Graffiti pioneer Skeme of Style Wars fame

skeme

Mulit-media artist Michael Cuomo 

michael-cuomo-art-in-transit

Nic 707

Nic707

Michael Cuomo

Michael-Cuomo

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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"Nic 707"

If you happen to be riding the NYC subways anywhere between the Brooklyn Bridge and Pelham Bay Parkway, you could be in for a treat – an impromptu art exhibit curated by veteran graffiti writer Nic 707Michael Cuomo, a multi-media artist based in Yonkers, accompanied Nic 707 on a recent ride to share some of his new paintings. Here’s a sampling from the InstaFame Phantom Art Project:

These women who exited the train on the Upper East Side were delighted by Nic 707’s InstaFame Phantom Art Project!

Nic 707

Michael Cuomo, Wizard’s Well

"Michael Cuomo"

Michael Cuomo, Amazon Jungle

"Michael Cuomo"

Nic 707,  Kilroy Goes Wild

"Nic 707"

Michael Cuomo, Astro-nuts

"Michael Cuomo"

Nic 707, Apocalypse Aftermath

"Nic 707"

Nic 707, The Whole World in His Hands

"Nic 707"

 Michael Cuomo, Bubblegum Ecstasy

"Michael Cuomo"

Photo of Kilroy Goes Wild by Eddie DiBono; all others by Lois Stavsky

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For over 30 years East Harlem’s Graffiti Hall of Fame has been home to hundreds of stylish masterpieces.  This past weekend, generations of fans and writers came together — once again — at 106th and Park to celebrate the extraordinary art movement that began here and continues to impact the world. Here is a selection of images captured at the event:

1983 Wild Style mural by Zephyr, Revolt and Sharp recreated by KingBee and Vase1

Wild Style

Hef and Per1

Hef and Per1

Rain and Demer

rain and demur

Muse, Wallnuts

Muse

Kais

Kais

The Cone

The Cones

Craze, Reo, Page3 and Eazy

caze-rio-page3-Eazy-graffiti-NYC

Nic 707 and Tony 164

Nic 707 and Tony 164

One of many talented break dancers

dancer

In front of the main mural celebrating the 30th anniversary of the film Wild Style

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Final photo courtesy of Scott Richardson; other photos by Dani Mozeson, Tara Murray and Lois Stavsky

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Born in Argentina and raised in the Bronx, veteran graffiti artist Nic 707 is once again riding the trains. Curious about the force behind the transient graff galleries that have been surfacing on NYC subways, we posed some questions to Nic.

Nic707

When did you first start getting up?

It was back in 1973.

Wow! So you were at the beginning of it all. What inspired you at the time?

My first hero at the time was Checker 170, the King of the 4 Line. And I saw what guys like Tracy 168, Rub 5 and Pnut 2 were doing.

What train lines did you hit back then?

Mostly the 4, 5, 2, the D and the old CC trains.  But I also hit the 7 and the 1 lines.

Did you work with any crews?

Lots. Among them was MGA – with Set 149, Padre, Stone High.  When I was 16, I started OTB and was its first president. Presidents that followed included Noc 167, Ban 2 and the current one, Cope 2.

Nic707

Were you ever arrested?

Let’s just say I was held against my will a couple of times. Life was more adventurous back then.

What is the riskiest thing you ever did?

Probably jumping off the trains when they were moving. I could’ve gotten killed. Some writers did. I also remember when I had to ride on the top of a train to escape some cops, surf to the next station and leap to the roof and lie there for two hours until the coast was clear.

How did your family respond to what you were doing?

They never supported me.  When I was 19, I returned from summer camp to discover that my mother had destroyed everything I had ever created.  That ended my early stint as a graffiti artist. Luckily, I found my way back to it about seven years ago.

What were you doing all those years you were away from it? And what brought you back to it?

I was doing lots of things – mostly stand-up comedy and other things that I shouldn’t have been doing. But I finally realized how much I missed my graffiti days.

Nic707

I’ve recently seen your work on walls here in the Bronx and up in Inwood.  I also saw it on exhibit at Gallery 69 in Tribeca. Have you exhibited anywhere else?

I took part in an exhibit at NYU and at a number of smaller private spaces.

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

I applaud it. It pushes writers to continually refine their styles, and I think it’s great that they can make some money from their talents. I also like the idea of graffiti reaching folks who frequent galleries.

Why do you suppose graffiti seems to garner more respect in Europe than it does here – where it was born?

You’re never a hero in your hometown. And NYC is filled with too many haters.

Who are some of your other favorite graff artists these days?

There are many.  Meres, T-Kid 170, King Bee, Sonic, and Serve 1 are among them.

Do you have a formal art education?

No. But I attended DeWitt Clinton High School – along with dozens of other writers. It was the best art education I could get.

Nic707

Tell us something about your current project.

I came up with the concept in 2008 for “InstaFame Phantom Art.” It’s about creating moving art galleries – back on the subways where graffiti had its first and strongest impact. It’s about bringing people’s art to the people. Who really wants to read a Budweiser ad twenty times?

And how have folks reacted to it?

They love it!

And what about the “InstaFame” part?

Yeah. I want to be famous. Doesn’t everybody?

I’m not sure!  What do you see as the role of the artist in society?

To inspire others to dream and to follow their dreams.

How do you see yourself in five years?

I’d like to have my own graffiti reality television show.

Good luck! It sounds like fun! And in the meantime we’re looking forward to seeing more of your InstaFame Phantom Art galleries riding our trains.

 Photos by Lois Stavsky

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