Full disclosure: these guys currently have a show up at my gallery (which closes May 31 by the way). And not to be too self-serving, but after spending a lot of time with them as of late, I figured why not. Since the gang’s all here, let’s talk (we hadn’t seen each other much since the 21st Precinct Exhibit last August).
My memory fails me on the year, but I met Ghost through a mutual friend roughly 10 years ago, just hanging out on St. Marks one sunny day. It’s always great to put a face to a name, especially one of a legend in the scene. A few years later, for my second curatorial foray, he blessed me with some pieces to show. Not long after that, I bought a small piece from him and he split to Europe. Ghost only does email and I’d be like a prick up with honor whenever I received one, especially if it was some random link to some political conspiracy story. When I got my hands on the old 21st Precinct building, he was one of the first artists I called. He was on board instantly and asked if he could bring along GIZ; I was all too happy to have him, especially after I met him. Dude is one of those guys you can look in the eyes and a firm handshake later and you’re done; you don’t have to worry about him, he’s gonna rock it. At first I thought, “These guys are completely different people. How can they get along so well?” But they live to paint, and they have that brotherhood-type bond that comes with being part of a crew. RIS is the crew, and for those that don’t know, they are Rockin It Suckers!
Mass Appeal: When starting a canvas or wall, do you begin with an idea or roll with it?
Ghost: It depends. Sometimes I think about what I wanna do, but don’t get stuck there; I give myself the room to go wit it.
Do you sketch/draw on the regular? For fun?
Yeah, I sketch all the time.
When painting, what comes easy to you and what do you have to work through
I needed to work on being patient. When I switched from spray to brush, it took a lot of time because spray painting is so much faster, where using a brush took a lot of time to work with, but I’ve been able to work through that.
Do you ever get the itch to bomb or you on to the next?
Yeah, I would love to go out and rock some shit, those days are over though.
Favorite museum or gallery?
Museums? Who the fuck goes to museums?
Views on the art world (U.S. and abroad): Do you think it’s possible to create a viable independent art scene due to technology/social media?
I’m not really into the art world to comment on that. I do believe they embrace the arts more overseas.
Heros/mentors? (In art and/or life)
What do you listen to while painting?
Some good ol’ funk type shit.
Best/worst thing about the new NYC?
Worst: high rents and hipsters in the hood.
Best/worst thing about the old NYC?
The best: apathy, crime, drugs, low rents, and no hipsters in the hood.
Do you think the new crop of graff writers & street artists coulda survived in the old NYC?
Who knows? Then again, who cares?
World view: we doomed or we gonna work it out?
We’ve been doomed
Can you breakdown the three crews you are in and how active each of them are.
GIZ: MTA, RIS, XTC…They are all active crews
You are obviously inspired by cartoons: what about them resonates so deeply with you? Name some lesser known (old/underground/international) favorites.
Cartoons give me a lot of inspiration. I get a lot of ideas just looking at them. Not just the characters, but the backgrounds too. There’s a few that I would consider my favorites: Fleischer was definitely ahead of their time. Paul Terry made some cool cartoons. Mickey Mouse is an awesome character. Looney Tunes is fresh too. And William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. Of course The Simpsons are really dope characters too.
When doing a canvas or wall, do you start with a sketch or just an idea and see where it takes you?
Usually, I just go with the flow. Whatever comes to my head, then I go with it. Sometimes an idea will pop into my head and I’ll note it on paper for later. I do a lot of rough draft sketching and doodling when I have time. Sometimes I will recreate things on a wall that I’ve drawn in the past.
You are definitely a no-nonsense, hard-working, on-point dude—I’ve never seen you sweat—do you ever feel overwhelmed? Where does that work ethic and emotional stability come from?
I’m always overwhelmed. I like to put all my effort into everything I do, so when there’s a lot of things to do—like work, art, projects, etc.—I feel like I run out of time on everything because I put so much time into everything. I always feel you can make things better.
When painting, what comes easy for you and what do you spend hours working through?
It depends. Sometimes I spend a lot of time making things as perfect as I can. It might be something that looks really simple when it’s finished, but it actually took a long time to execute. What comes easy to me is color schemes.
What do you listen to when you get ready to paint?
I listen to a wide variety of music. I guess it depends what I’m in the mood for. I like ’90s hip hop, rock, psychedelic funk, Pink Floyd, etc.
As an artist do you plan your career path or roll with it?
Just rollin’ with it because I love to do it. I don’t plan anything, but when I do something, I try to do it to my best ability. Painting is my stress relieve valve. I just forget about all the problems in life when I paint. Makes my anxiety go away. Especially when I do a fill-in. I get more satisfaction from doing a fill-in than anything else.
Overall view of art scene: galleries, streetart vs. graff?
I’m still not used to how [much] more socially accepted graff is now. I’m used to it being shunned on by society. Difference between streetart and graff is street artists don’t really risk anything. Graffiti writers risk a lot. Especially back in the day. But I dig some of it.
Best/worst thing about the new NYC?
The worst thing about the new NYC is that there’s no New Yorkers left. 95% of people I see are out-of-towners. NYC lost its old flavor. Even the new architecture with all the modern condos makes me sick. NYC doesn’t look like NYC anymore. Bushwick is now rated the coolest place to live in the U.S. LOL, that’s crazy. There’s all these hipsters and coffee shops and craft beer spots. Back in the day, it was drug dealers, drug spots, stick-up kids, and fiends. Nothing good about the new NYC.
Best/worst thing about the old NYC?
Best thing about the old New York was there used to be a sense of community. Every neighborhood had its own feel. People knew each other. Kids played with each other instead of iPhones and iPads. It’s not the same today. There was nothing bad about the old NYC. I loved it how it used to be. I’m glad I grew up in the old NYC.
Heros/mentors (in art and/or life)?
Do you have a personal credo?
Not really. I just try to give 100% to whatever I do. If I’m gonna do something, I’m gonna do it right. Otherwise what’s the point?
General world view: are we doomed or we gonna pull through?
Doomed. Eventually we will destroy ourselves. Either by out-consuming our resources or war. Humans, although capable of many great things are unfortunately like a virus.
Their work is currently on exhibit at the Outlaw Arts Space on 44 Bowery in New York City.