Off Script: MISTA
Documenting the best graffiti handstyles from NYC and around the world
Photos: Carnage NYC
How did you develop your handstyle and who were some of your influences?
I grew up in uptown Manhattan, around Washington Heights, Inwood. I got into graffiti through my father, who used to write DAN105. When I went to my grandma’s house as a kid I used to see his tags all over the house. In fifth grade he gave me my first tag. I think he told me to write REAL. I went through a hundred other tags after that. I started writing MISTA in 2000. That’s when I started really doing graffiti.
I started writing in my building. Then I went from my building to my block, then me and my boys started bombing the Inwood area, then the Heights, then downtown and then we started hitting the city and all the boroughs.
I got my handstyle from my boy NETR. He had the most crazy handstyles I’ve seen in my life, since back in the 90s. He was ahead of his time. He used to chill with us uptown, but he was from the Bronx. I learned from watching him and developed my style based on his. Most of my boys, too, we all kinda stole from him.
Besides NETR, there were a lot of other writers I looked up to. SKUF is one of them, he always had one of the dopest handstyles out of Brooklyn.
How has your handstyle changed over the years?
I used to suck [laughs]. Every year I’m just practicing to come up with new little flows and new little handstyles and it’s always changing. Sometimes it changes depending on what I see around. I’ll see new out-of-town flows and I’ll start playing with those. I like to keep my shit recognizable, but I also change it up.
Whenever I’m at home I always have a stack of paper and I’m always doodling and drawing, practicing and getting better and better. My priority was always to perfect the handstyle more than my throwies. I wanted to have a dope handstyle and come up with creative letters. I think I’m the first one to ever start doing the “M” with the opening in it. Everybody uses that “M” now, but I believe I was the first one doing it, around 2002.
Do you have any favorite markers or other tools?
Right now I like using meanstreaks. Because I get them for free. Sometimes I make my own mops. For books and stickers, Copic markers or Montana markers are pretty dope. On the streets I like to use Rusto cans and keep it old school. I don’t really like using that new fancy paint that much. My favorite cap for the Rusto is the orange dot, even though you need to use adapters now.
What’s the best part about bombing with tags for you?
It’s just a thrill. Walking around the city, catching tags, bullshitting with your friends, drinking beers. It’s fun. It’s a rush. I like to come down the next day and see all the damage I did. It’s a good feeling.
When I was a kid I was way more reckless. I didn’t care about anything. I did fill-ins downtown daytime and got arrested all the time. Now that I’m older I do everything a little smarter and keep myself out of trouble, but I still like to at least catch tags. I try to catch at least a couple of tags a day. It makes me feel good.
What does it take to become a good bomber?
It always starts with the style. If you are up there putting your name everywhere and it’s just really awful and ugly, what’s the point? First you have to practice, develop a decent style, and then get your name up as much as possible. Hit spots that other people don’t hit. Try to be creative with spots. Be a little adventurous. Climb something, do something crazy. Don’t just hit the gates or walls that everyone else hits. I like hitting highway signs or other extreme shit. Something that you could die doing, but someone will see it and they’ll say, Wow, this kid is crazy!