Operation Skittles

For over three decades Bronx native Just One has been making his mark on NYC public and private spaces. We recently had the opportunity to speak to the prolific artist.


When did you first get up? And where?

It was back in 1984 — over 30 years ago — in the West Farms section of the Bronx. I was 14 at the time.

What inspired you to do so?

My older brother and his friends were all doing it. It was the natural thing to do.

Any early memories that stand out?

I was at a handball court in Crotona Park when the spray can I was holding in my hand almost burst into flames.

How did that happen?

It came into contact with a cigarette lighter, and could have easily blown up.

We’re glad it didn’t! We’ve noticed your work in quite a few projects these days – from JMZ Walls in Bushwick, Brooklyn to Operation Skittles at August Martin High School in Jamaica, Queens. Do you prefer legal or illegal surfaces?

I love painting anywhere – but to experience the full essence of graffiti, there is nothing like painting on a surface I discover on my own. Finding a space, being there alone and creating something out of nothing is the ultimate experience.


Have you ever been arrested for graffiti?


How’s that?

I have good instincts.

What was the riskiest graffiti-related thing you’ve ever done? And why did you do it?

Hitting an elevated abandoned train line, where I had to hop over each wall to do another letter. Why did I do it? I’d been eyeballing that spot for quite awhile and nobody else took it, so I’d figure I’d take my chance. And, yes, it was worth it!

How does your family feel about what you are doing?

My children love it!

What percentage of your day is devoted to your art these days?

About 70%.


What keeps you painting after all these years?

Passion and the adrenalin rush!  It also relieves my stress.

Any thoughts on the graffiti/ street art divide?

I, myself, prefer the movement and flow of graffiti. But art is art. And street art can be beautiful.

How do you feel about the movement of graffiti and street art into galleries? Have you shown your work in galleries?

I don’t have a problem with that. It’s a good thing! I’ve shown at the Jeffrey Leder Gallery in Long Island City and in bars and other alternative spaces around town.

Do you prefer working alone or collaborating with others?


Is there anyone in particular you would like to collaborate with?

I’d like to paint with Mitch 77, Jamie Hef and Lee Quinones.


Do you rep any crews?

TMC, TFO, KD, COA and I’m the prez of WF, World Famous Crew.

How you feel about the role of the Internet in this scene?

It can be too much. When it gets too much into your business, it’s bad.

Do you have a formal arts education?

I’m self-taught, but my teachers always encouraged me to draw.

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

I freestyle.

Are you generally satisfied with your work?

Most of the time!


How has your work evolved in the past few years?

It’s sharper and neater. And I work much faster.

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

To inspire others to express themselves.

How do you feel about the photographers in this scene?

The more exposure our works get, the better for us.

What do you see as the future of graffiti? Where is it going?

It will continue to evolve.

And what about you? What’s ahead for you?

I plan to keep painting.  And I want to get back into the canvas scene and hopefully — sometime soon — do a solo show.

Interview by Lois Stavsky with City-As-School intern Diana Davidovaphotos: 1, 3-5 courtesy of Just; 2 & 6 (with Awez) Lois Stavsky

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This past Sunday, the 5Pointz family continued its transformation of August Martin HS with some of the finest international, national and local artists adding their talents and visions to the extraordinary indoor gallery the school has become. Here’s a small sampling of more of the works that now grace the hallways and doors of the Jamaica, Queens high school:

El Niño de las Pinturas in from Spain


NYC-based Ben Angotti

"Ben Angotti"

Queens-based Nicholai Khan with August Martin student Justin Price (interviewed by Street Art NYC) and project co-curator Marie Cecile Flaegul

"Nicholai Kahn"

Trace, New Wave Crew at work


Skio in from Paris and Brooklyn-based Elle


Bronx-native Andre Trenier at work


NYC’s ZaOne


5Pointz curator Meres One


Note: The school will be open to the public on Thursday, June 11, from 4-8pm.

Keep posted to the StreetArtNYC Facebook page for many more images of the amazing artworks.

Photo credits: 1, 3, 6 & 8 Lois Stavsky; 2, 4, 5 & 7 Tara Murray

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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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