What do you write and who are you down with?
I write Nic One and I’m down with AEROSOL KINGS, UMXS, RTW, YNN, ICR. NETWORK, DTK, OTB, WILD STYLE, WANTED, EX-VANDALS.
Which brands of paint did you use most frequently in the early years and why?
In my early years of writing, the paint that I was using was mostly Krylon and Rust-Oleum and a couple of other types of paint brands that were around. They were the easiest to rack up and they had great colors too. Back then Krylon was the leader in the color department, with Rust-Oleum somewhat right behind them. If you were into some funky and fancy colorful pieces like I was, then Krylon was your best friend. If you were into hitting trains and you wanted some really nice thick paint that would hold up, then you could chose between Red Devil or Rusto as both brands were great for working on a cold metal surface. The funny thing was most of us writers back then really didn’t care too much, seeing as it was all going to get used up one way or another. The point of course is that we had a nice variety of paint brands back then. That was the key to doing what you had to do, there was paint out there for it all, from the bombers to the piecers and all of the rest.
^Classic Piece Breakdown. Nic One, Queens HOF 1992. Fill: Rust-Oleum Cinnamon, Iris Blue. Krylon Beige, Hot Pink, Semi Flat Black, Taupe, Slate Blue, Aqua Turquoise, Avocado. Outline/3D: Flat White. Background: Krylon Avocado, True Blue.
Besides Rusto and Krylon, what other brands did you or other members of your crew really like and use a lot?
Some of the other brands of paint that me and my friends would use were Touch ‘N Tone silvers and flat blacks, also the Martin Paint store brand of spray paint. From 84 to 87 those are what I would see me and my friends and many other writers using. In 85 I started going downtown to places like Canal street and a few mom-and-pop-owned hardware spots on the east side of Manhattan. I would sometimes come across some (Zynolyte) Epoxy and some Red Devil brands. I really didn’t know too much about the paint out side of what a couple of older writers would tell me, cats like A-One (R.I.P.), Phase2, and Toxic, and of course from watching Seen, UA talk about those brands in “Style Wars.” I really wish that I would have used more of those brands of paint. By late 86 and into 89 all of my little mom-and-pop shops weren’t even carrying them. I did hear of a couple of paint stores up in the Bronx along the number 2 train line but I couldn’t find them. So I ended up becoming a Krylon and Rusto fiend like all the rest of the 80s writers did.
What do you remember most about these? (ie. Color range, coverage, availability.)
-Any other independent brands, eg. Martins, Pergament, Caldor, Sipersteins?
WOW! I never used Wet Look or Wet Paint. I remember the Epoxy paint being a bit loose in its consistency, you’d get a pink or a green and it sprayed fast and easy but it did the job for me. I never really had much of it to care like that. It was just paint in a young man’s hands back then and it was to be used, nothing else. I had that same premise with all of the brands of paint that I was using back then. I did like the way that Red Devil came out of the can. It was really great and covered very well. Too bad that company faded them out before I could really get a shit load of them. As far as the indies go, well I never used Pergament or Caldor brands, don’t think I ever saw those brands or Siperstein either. I know that there was paint produced by those companies, I just didn’t check for them like I would Krylon, Rusto or Martin Paint. Now the Martin Paint store was to me like old reliable. They had some nice colors and it was regular paint to say the least and it worked ok. Well, at least for what I was using it for… street bombing, station getting-ups, and motion-tagging on the outsides of the trains, and the store was pretty easy to rack up at.
^Classic Piece Breakdown. Nic One, Queens HOF 1989. Fill: Krylon Chrome Yellow, Beige, Aqua Turquoise, Hot Pink, White. Outline: Krylon True Blue. 3D: (Top) Krylon Baby Blue, (Bottom) Clover Green.
Can you share any good racking stories with us?
Well back in 1984 I was mentoring a few young writers from around my aunt’s way uptown in the Bronx. They were all great guys and they took to the graffiti movement quick and fast and hit the streets hard. But one of them was a lil bit out of control at times. He wrote Trim, (not Trim TNC from Brooklyn), and I was starting him from the ground up. I gave him his name and all of that and took him out on crazy street bombing missions up along the 4 yard and many other places in the Bronx. He wanted to know how I got my paint and I told him that I racked it from stores. After I said that he would ask me each and every time about racking. I tried to avoid the subject mostly because I thought that he was too young and that he wasn’t ready. But he kept on pestering me about going racking with me. I didn’t want to take him to good old Martin Paint store for fear that he’d get busted and then get arrested and then have his moms coming after me on some “ya got my son arrested” drama. But he just kept on and on about it. All I’d hear from him in a soft, itchy voice was, “let’s go racking, man.” He was going crazy and really starting to get on my nerves. It had been a few months and he was really taking to the graffiti game, getting his ups and all that stuff. So I finally give into this young and very eager vandal. So the next day we headed over to Martin Paint and right before we go into the store I give him his first instruction, which was simple. I said, “wait for me to get the woman to open up the paint rack and when she leaves, you come over and then we’ll rack shit up.” I get the woman to open up the rack. I start a little conversation with her and then she leaves… I give him a nod to come over. He gets up to the rack and I tell him, “take these,” pointing to the paint rack that was the closest to him but also the farthest to the back of the store. He starts grabbing paint and so did I and once I saw that we had enough paint, we bounced. The whole way home he was talking about what we had just done and how much paint he got and that he racked up more than I did. He just kept going on and on, so I thought that he had gotten his racking fill and all was good. A short time after that he went racking everywhere that he could. I would go to my quick rack spots and he’d burn them out. I mean some of the racks were dead, no real colors whatsoever. It was crazy. One day I go over to good old Martin to get my rack on and the rack was at half stock and I was low on blacks and reds and blues. I was grabbing Martin’s and Krylon like it was my birthday. As I’m getting ready to head out the store, Trim comes in and runs over to the rack and starts yelling out loud and pointing at me saying, “why you kill the rack, why you kill the rack?!” The woman behind the counter noticed what was up and started yelling at me saying, “put that paint back!” I ran out the store and a cop saw me and chased me for several blocks. I lost him as I cut through Poe Park. I also lost a good amount of paint in the getaway and I was pissed about it. Yeah I was glad to get away but I was young and racking paint back then was the shit… lol. I wanted to beat him down afterwards for acting stupid in the store, but I thought to myself he’s just a young kid. The best thing was to just stay away from him. Needless to say he went on killing all of the rack spots uptown and I found newer ones downtown. I’d never been chased by a cop and I’ve never been caught for racking and on that day when I was running from that cop, I was shitting paint.
^Nic One poses with his paint stash 1992. Hulk sketch by Host One, AK, Umxs.
Any favorite old hardware or paint stores that you remember well?
Yeah! Well I’d guess I would have to say the Martin Paint Store witch was located on Fordham Road. They had a nice stock of their store brand as well as Krylon. I once picked up a few cans of Rusto Harbor Blue from them. They didn’t have much of those in the store. What I liked about that store was that the paint rack was located way in the back and it was an open grab rack, they didn’t seem to check the paint as much as they checked for other things. Sometimes there would be unopened cases of Krylon paint stacked off to the side of the rack and up top as well. I didn’t mess with any of that, I just went straight to the rack and took what I needed and kept it moving. Some of the funniest times that I racked paint from them were when my aunt would take me with her to Martin’s to get house paint, (I was the muscle that’s all), I’d simply carry the paint back home. But whenever we went I’d grab a couple of cans. It was too easy. Two cans in the coat real quick and I was good. I didn’t want to try and be crazy about it. After all I’d most likely be back later on that day anyway. That’s how easy it was for me there.
I had great success with a nice hardware store rack spot that was on Burnside Avenue. Don’t know what the name of it was, didn’t care either. Back in the days the paint rack was in back and to the left side of the store. You had to be fast and cool when you went in there. One day I was in the store racking up some flat black and I thought that I was paying attention to my surroundings and the woman, a customer bumped into me and knocked my paint out of my hands. She looked at me and quickly said, “sorry” and I looked at her and I smiled and said, “it’s ok, I’m not sure what I want.” I was trying to play my situation off as I’m bending down, stuffing a can of flat black in my left sleeve and another in my right sleeve. I would have made off with five cans, rack free. But thanks to that and the fact that the female store clerk was now heading over towards us, I had to think fast. So when the store clerk came up to where I was I said, “um, do you have any more Harbor Blue?” The clerk said, “no, we’re all out of it.” To further play things off I said, “ahh man, I was in here last week and it was here”. The clerk said, “I’m sorry we must have sold out of it, we should be getting more in by next week.” Then I hit her with my trump card and said, “oh ok, I’ll just take this,” and I handed her two cans of Krylon flat white. I paid for the paint and I left the store thinking, damn that was close and damn, that woman fucked up my racking. I only came off with two flat blacks and I paid for two flat whites. The store had very small and very narrow aisles so you just had to be really quick about what you were going to do. I hit it a few more times then just let it be.
When I would go to other paint spots to try and rack up paint, it wasn’t always easy to come off with paint. I had one spot on West 26th Street that was really easy and I’d hit them whenever I could. It was like that for me back in those days. It wasn’t always good and it wasn’t always bad, it was what you made of it.
^Classic Piece Breakdown. ‘Black66′ by Nic One, New Jersey 1989. Fill: Krylon Daisy Yellow, Chrome Yellow, Plum Purple, Hot Pink, Baby Blue, True Blue, Beige, Clover Green, Avocado. Rust-Oleum Harbor Blue. Outline: Krylon Pastel Aqua. 3D: Krylon Jungle Green, True Blue.
If you had to choose between Krylon & Rust-Oleum in their heyday?
See, that’s a bit hard to simply answer. Krylon was great spray paint in its early days and so was Rust-Oleum. I favored Rusto if I was going to hit a train up, for the obviously fantastic way that it covered the train’s metal surface. I favored Krylon for the nice selections of colors that they had back then. One brand is thick and covers nicely and the other covers well and has greater colors. Since I was using Krylon more than I was using Rusto, I’d have to pick Krylon. There was just more colors to mess with and it wasn’t bad paint. It was back when the Krylon paint company gave a damn about making a good product, with a strong color foundation. They seemed to have let the quality of their paint hit the skids and it’s not what it used to be. Maybe if the company gave a flying fat cap they would still be a real player in the spray paint market, ’cause Rust-Oleum is still killing it today.
Which brands or colors proved the most difficult to find during the early years?
At one point certain Krylon and Rusto colors were starting to disappear. Colors from Krylon like Icy Grape, Raspberry Red (Hot Raspberry), Mint Green. And colors from Rusto like Air Force Blue. By the early 80s colors like those were starting to fade off the hardware store shelves. If you were looking for those colors you might have found them here and there, but they were fading fast. In 89, word was getting around on the streets that Krylon was getting ready to discontinue some more of their colors. Colors like Jungle Green, Hot Pink, Brick, Burnt Orange, Daisy Yellow, School Bus Yellow, Bonfire, Pastel Aqua, Aqua Turquoise, Chrome Yellow, Pastel Yellow, Blue Aluminum (aka Metallic Blue), and Spanish Brown. It was looking pretty scary, hearing these companies wanted to take out so many great and fabulous colors. Myself and many of the New York writers had to start changing up the way that we got our colors and also with the introduction of Rust-Oleum Painters Touch brand which was very hard on the hands as the pressure was high and at times made it pretty difficult to paint in a constant manner. We would end up using that as well as Krylon’s new change of color palette. You had to search high and low for what ever old cool colors were still around as most stores were just selling off what ever old color stocks that they still had. It really was a pain in the ass to be running around to get the old colors. Every so often I’d come across a store that was selling the paper label Krylon and those were a real treat to scoop up!
My all time score was Jungle Green paper labels, Aqua Turquoise, and Burnt Orange! Things like that made it worth it all at times. It also helped to have some real writer connections to keep on getting these and many other colors that were starting to disappear. Those were crazy days man.
Do you collect vintage cans, or do you still have a stash set aside that gets worked into your walls from time to time?
I am not a real collector anymore, I gave it up a good while ago. Once I had a crazy shitload of Krylon paint, something like around 500 cans, thanks to my crewmate and brother from another mother, Agree ATK, AK, (RIP). Someone out in Queens owed him a little over a thousand cans of paint and they were holding out on him so I helped him get his paint back. In return he split the whole pile with me 50/50, like real bro’s do. I had some great colors too like Popsicle Orange, Plum Purple, True Blue, Hot Pink, Jungle Green (my favorite), Daisy Yellow, Baby Blue, Avocado, Aqua Turquoise, Pastel Aqua and on and on to the break of dawn… lol. I tried to hold on to as many cool colors as I could but I was so highly active of a writer that I was crushing my stock like a Krylon crackhead. Man I was crazy, all that paint and no self control. I was my own worst nightmare.
Today I have a few cans in my stash. One Avocado and a pink called Ballet Slipper. I own a can of Icy Grape as well. I believe I also have one can of Rust-Oleum. So as far as my collecting goes I’ve still a few jewels. But I’m not chasing any colors down. I like what I have. The way that I like to look at it is like this– whatever I have now is from the many great times that I’ve had from simply being out there. I’m lucky to have had that.
^Classic Piece Breakdown. Nic One on the 5 Train 1988. Fill: Bright Silver. Outline: Flat Black. 3D: Krylon Baby Blue, True Blue.
Back when… would you travel far to find a spot, or did you have plenty of access to stores nearby?
I really didn’t travel all that far. I took the trains uptown and downtown and walked across town and wherever I needed to get to whatever paint stores that I would go to. It really didn’t seem all that far and I always made it fun for myself by bringing a marker and some stickers to get up along the way. Up by me the stores were ok but I found that when I would go to place like Canal Street, there’d be a great selection of crazy colors. I’d pick up a few Krylon Clover Greens and some Aqua Turquoise and then head back to the Bronx and it was all good. I went downtown mostly because sometimes paint spots uptown wouldn’t have what I wanted or needed, and the downtown spots always seemed to be on point.
In your own view, what was the best discontinued domestic paint, and why?
I can’t really say because I really never used anything that was bad or garbage type of paint. I’ve pretty much always have gotten my hands on paint that was good or at least good enough to do the job for me. I never got to use mad crazy amounts of Red Devil, Epoxy or Wet Look paints, and really didn’t get serious about all of the different types of spray paint until 1983 and up until that time brands all seemed a bit the same in my eyes. From 79 to 83 I was using Martin Paint and I would get a can of Rusto or a can of Krylon here and there. I was still just trying to get my ups on the streets, ya know, bombing. 1983 was the year when I started noticing how good Krylon and Rust-Oleum were. And I learned very fast that, using those brands made my stuff look a bit nicer, even though I was still very rough style-wise, or toy as it was..LOL. In around late summer of 85 I went to a hardware store that was on Tremont Ave over by 3rd Ave and they had Red Devil and Epoxy. The hardware store was a good walk from my house but I didn’t go to it that much. I racked up two cans of Red Devil and two cans of Epoxy. I didn’t pay too much attention to how well the paint was. It was just paint and I was just glad to be getting it.
^Classic Piece Breakdown. Nic One, Queens HOF 1992. Fill: Krylon Marigold Yellow, Popsicle Orange, Sunset Orange, Mauve, Rose, Taupe, Avocado, Moss Green, Pastel Aqua, Aqua Turquoise. Outline: Krylon Colonial Blue. 3D: Krylon Baby Blue. Rust-Oleum Iris Blue. Background: Krylon Clover Green, True Blue.
What were some of your favorite old school color schemes?
Colors like Avocado Green into Jungle Green into Clover Green and some Dove Gray, with some Baby Blue to some True Blue. Or some School Bus Yellow into Brick into Daisy Yellow into Brunt Orange with a little touch of Banner Red. I used to just line my cans up on my window ledge and just try and come up with a nice color scheme. Plum Purple into Baby Blue, yeah that was cool too. I loved Banner Red and Brick and Spanish Brown. Whatever I could whip up that looked great.
Did you ever have a need to mix your own colors?
Yeah, I used to mix many of my colors and make up colors like Aqua Turquoise, Mint Green, Hot Pink, Plum Purple, Mustard Yellow, Pumpkin Orange aka Popsicle Orange, Lavender, Icy Grape. When Krylon took all of the good colors away in the early to mid 90s I was forced to start mixing my own. It was the only way to get a color that you loved that was no longer around. I would make up Jungle Green in a can of Jungle Green and mess with writers heads and be like yeah, I still have some jungle greens man..LOL. I think that around that time a lot of us were feeling the loss of all the colors. We were mixing paint as a way to still continue to be able to pull off great pieces. I became a paint mixologist of sorts. In 1998 I did a piece in the scrapyard out in Brooklyn with my brothers Stem and Bek YNN. I was using the last of my mixed paint cans. I remember bugging out laughing about it because Stem had a few mixed cans too and we both were laughing at the fact that we were both into mixing our colors. He told me what colors he was mixing up, colors like Jungle Green and Icy Grape and I would laugh and be like, “yo, I made those colors too man.” At that time that’s what the graffiti scene was about. You do what you have to do, to do what you want to do – and I did.
Worst paint ever?
Um, I can’t answer that. I don’t remember ever having anything that was truly 100% crap. My paint stash always was well to do with great paint. I didn’t use the bottom of the barrel type of paint. I used stuff that was somewhat considered close but not bottom. I had a few writer friends that would come around with some funny ass paint brands and I’d just look at them thinking, damn, cats are using anything these days. I’ve had piecing friends that I would be painting with pull out some funny style cans and tell me that it was good paint, you should check it out. Then a few minutes later they’re slamming and banging the can on the ground going, “FUCK!” So that answered my question. I tried to keep pretty good paint around as often as I could. When writers would come over and see my paint stash it was always like, “man you’ve got some cool colors bro.” Krylons mostly and I wasn’t complaining.
^Classic Piece Breakdown. Nic One, School Yard 80 1992. Fill: Krylon Chrome Yellow, Burnt Orange, Beige, Taupe, Aqua Turquoise, Mauve. Rust-Oleum: Iris Blue, Raspberry. Outline: Krylon Jungle Green. Background: Krylon Jade Green, Regal Blue.
Do you remember your first exposure to European paints like Belton or Montana? What was your reaction?
My first exposure to European paint wasn’t paint brands like Belton or Montana but further back to when the European paint was Sparvar and several others. It was 1989 and I’d have to credit Lee (The Fabulous Five), Zebster, Loomit, and Dare with giving me my first exposure to the Euro paint scene.
In 1989 at Henry Chalfant’s studio, Lee was working on a canvas and he was painting the Speed Racer character on it and one of the cans that he was using was called Sparvar and the other was Marabu. I noticed that the Sparvar brand of spray paint looked somewhat like a Krylon can except that it was a different color and that it had said Sparvar inside of the red oval. The other can was a somewhat shorter can, not as short as the Alien cans but a little bit bigger and it said Marabu. These cans were both from the UK which I didn’t know about until that very moment. I asked Lee about the paint and where he got it from. He said that he had bought it while he was over in the UK and that he loved it and had decided to bring some back with him. I asked him what was so good about the paint that made him want to bring some home and he said the paint quality and the pressure were great. He explained to me how the paint from the can was finer than what we use over here, yet stronger in their pigments. When I saw him make a few lines with it, I started to fiend for a can or two. Just watching him work on his canvas and seeing him using some for foreign type of paint was great and it got me open. Sometime in that same year I would run into Zebster up at 238th St (The Bridge), finishing up a piece. I was there photographing some walls and I wanted to see if there was something new. When I approached him I noticed that his piece was different and I could tell enough that he wasn’t from the Bronx or from NYC. I noticed that his piece had some strong colors, especially the light colors such as the yellow that he used. We got to taking and he was cool. I asked him about the paint that he was carrying and I could see that he had some Sparvars and we talked about that. He enlightened me about the UK spray paint scene. He wrote down all of the names of the different brands of UK paint that was out at that time. I’ve since lost the list all I do remember these days are Sparvar and Marabu. Anyway it was the start and I had to get some. I didn’t know anyone that I could get some from until I met Dare (RIP) in 1992. He was painting at the Queens Hall of Fame with Poem and we met and got to talking about the graff scene in New York and the UK, and I told him that I was trying to get a few cans of Sparvar paint. He put me on to Loomit, and he put me onto his connects over in the UK… I got a few cans shipped over and they were great. I remember thinking, “man, if we could get some of this type of paint over here, it would be great.” That was 1992 and it wouldn’t be until 1998 when I met and started painting with my brother Stem YNN (AK, UMXS) that I would be reintroduced to the Euro paint game through the introduction of a new brand of paint called Belton Molotow Premium. I used Belton throughout the last decade and it became my number one brand of paint hands down. I’ve done some great pieces with it. But the last four years I’ve added a few other brands into my mix. Brands like Montana Gold, the Blank Line and Montana 94. Funny, what I was exposed to two decades ago has somehow become a way of being as an aerosol artist. I didn’t see it coming but it did and look and me and many others now– using foreign brands to keep the game alive.
Current favorite brand for outline work?
Well things have changed for me. Belton will always be top dog in my eyes but I’ve taken a liking to the the Montana Black and Montana 94 line. Both brands work great for me and outline-wise they’re just superb. I find myself needing paint that can perform to my needs and the way that I paint. And these two brands work very well for me.
^Classic Piece Breakdown. Nic One, The Maze Queens 1992. Fill: Krylon Hot Pink, Dove Gray, Taupe, Baby Blue, Bright Silver, Flat White, Beige. Outline/3D: Krylon Flat Black.
Do you still use domestic paint in your work today?
Yes I do, but I use it mostly for background work. I don’t use it for pieces. I just don’t like it for that and now with the whole new cap system that Krylon and Rust-Oleum have put in place, I’m truly turned off by it. I’ve had all that I can take from Krylon and their change-ups and now Rusto wants to follow the same suit. Well, that’s cool, I’ll use their brands for the background work. There’s even caps for the new Krylons and Rustos as well. Man, I’m not interested in all of that. With all of my regular cap figuring out that I have to do, that last thing that I need is to play around with brands of paint that just don’t suit me anymore. When my crew does a wall production depending on the overall concept we will use domestic brands. The better paint brands are used to do the more important works on the wall. It’s really all about how we make use of these different brands of paint. I think we do a good job of it.
Some of your best painting experiences to date?
My best painting experiences to date have been with my crew and I’ve had many. I’ve gotten to go out west and paint with my ICR brothers that I’m down with. I’ve gotten to go out to Brooklyn and paint with my YNN brothers that I’m down with and I’ve got to paint up in the boogie down Bronx with my crew Aerosol Kings and the UMXS crew. All have been great and wonderful painting times and moments in my life. And that’s just all within the last ten years. Back in the days it was hitting the number 6 line and coming back across town rocking on the 4 line. Those where great times because I learned so much about myself and the graff game as well. I didn’t need to be down with anyone’s crew. I was too happy with the notion of just being me and doing it my way. I might not have done it like some others did but I was out there and I was doing it. I met a whole lot of great writers back then. Some I got chased with, some I had fights with, and with some we fought together against others. Those days help make me into the writer that I am today. There have been so many painting experiences in my life it’s kind of hard to just pick one. Painting at the Graffiti Hall of Fame back in 1989 when it was still crazy illegal, and being filmed for Video Graf #1 while several other writers that I had gathered to be there to be filmed…. then going to the Hall of Fame to paint on another day only to almost get shot by another writer. Or painting at the now defunct and destroyed but very historical Belmont Tunnel out in LA in 1990. Me, Carl Weston (San2), Colin Turner (Spin), and Sacha Jenkins, the offical VGP crew (Videograf Productions) were getting busy at one of LA’s top painting spots, rock shocking the house. Fresh indeed. The place was pretty packed with LA writers, one of whom was a well-known writer by the name of Skate CBS crew (RIP). He was really cool and he had a great personality. On that same trip we had a meeting with Dream TDK (RIP) in Oakland. Dream and his partners in crime took us to one of their cool painting spots to be filmed at– well that is until the track police came and moved us along, but we came back though… lol (see Videograf #8 or The History of Videograf Productions Volume 3, www.graffitivideos.com, y’all). Last but not least, painting the J line lay-up out in Brooklyn back in 1988 with Ket RIS and Porn DTK– I had boots on and could barely make it over the wall to the lay-up and once inside we all got to painting and my can of True Blue died on me and I had to play the last part of my piece off. Then the conductor opened the door and said, “hey, how long are you going to be?” And Ket said, “about 15 minutes.” The conductor said, “ok, I’m pulling it out in 20 minutes.” When that door first opened we all was startled and shook at that first moment. We pretty much all thought, “oh shit, it’s a raid.” We took our flicks and we bounced. I didn’t get to finish my piece up. And it ran unfinished. Guess I should be happy though, it ran.
How do recent paint sessions compare with those from your early years?
My painting sessions today are pretty cool, things flow smoother and piecing has become easier. The quality of paint that I’m using today is ten times better than what I was using in the past. It’s straight and simple painting. Krylon and Rust-Oleum both covered really well and there were many colors available. Krylon performed pretty well, as long as it wasn’t cold out but Rusto, well, that was something different. It was great paint in terms of its consistency. It came out of the can like real paint should and it covered very good. It just had way too much air pressure in it. You couldn’t do crisp, clean outlines with it or nice, smooth designs inside of your piece unless you depressurized the cans. If I was at a spot that was on the hot side and I needed to paint fast and keep it moving then I just used it straight forward, fill my piece in and switched off to Krylon to do all the rest of the piece. If I was in a cool spot where there was no stress or the place was illegal but cool, then I would let the pressure out of the Rusto cans. I had learned to make use of the paint that I had to get the best performance out of them. I didn’t think it was a smart idea to be sitting at a hot wall spot spending valuable time letting out air. Only to end up in a cell like, “so what they get you for?” then I’d say, “letting air out of a spray can while sitting on the Amtraks.” Not a good look. That’s why Rust-Oleum was the number one choice for the graffiti bombers. The high pressure and fast spray action was just what you needed to get your throw-ups on any surface. Major Rusto colors that were favored were, silver, black (flat or glossy), white, and even American Accents Summer Squash was a big smash with writers. Add a fat cap and it’s a wrap! I like the spray paint that we have out now. Yeah, it’s European-made but what I like is that it’s tailor made for the aerosol artist of today, serious or otherwise. The low pressure makes it great to do fine work and the way that the paint flows out of the can feels smooth and easy. There’s no jitteriness when the cans in your hand. Equally important is that your fingers, hands, and arms don’t get as fatigued as they would as if you were using Rusto. The crazy part is that a lot of the old school cats and even myself have made the upgrade to the newer European paint brands. Old school, mid school, and new school are all using it and thanks to the introduction of it and its great quality has helped to raise the level of the playing field in great ways. There’s way more colors than anything that either Krylon or Rust-Oleum has put out in the last three decades altogether. It now seems like the easier it is to paint and do a piece, the more people want to do it. I paid my paint session dues back in the days. Today I’m reaping the full benefits of what paint brands are out there now and I’m making the best of it man.
Any current/future projects?
Well right now I’m working on some illustrations for a future art show to take place later in the year. I’m working on a series of canvases for a show in Los Angeles as well as showing some of my subway photos from my photo archive. I’m also working on my subway graffiti book in my spare time. I spend a lot of time working on commissioned artwork and art projects, some tattoo artwork. Two recent projects are a hand painted Red Sonja on a drummer’s bass drum cover and the other is a Batman animated series full blown poster. In between time I’m working on some black book madness to keep my mind on high creative mode. I’m looking forward to painting with my crew Aerosol Kings and my brother crews YNN, UMXS, ICR and RTW. I’m looking to do a little bit of traveling. I want to paint with some of my brothers out where they are from, that should be very interesting. I try and keep busy as possible, I like it that way, keeps me focused on the more positive things in life. It may seem like I’m all about graffiti but I’m not just all one subject matter. I’m about so much more. There are many other interests that I have that make up me as well. It’s just that graffiti and drawing are things that I love to do and I like what I’m doing. I’ve been doing it for so many years now so by that definition alone I am what I am. An artist, and my art is my soul, my mind puts it all together and I just put it out there for others to take in. It’s what makes me feel alive and that’s a great thing. Not to do so is simply a waste of yourself and I’m far from that.
What do you think of CMC documenting paint history?
I think that what CMC is doing is a great thing for the graffiti movement. It’s up to us to document our culture and all its aesthetics. By CMC doing so it’s setting things in motion for others to follow and learn from, providing such great information as to what the world of graffiti is about, by getting the real truth and the heart and soul of the elements of the spray paint seen through the writers’ knowledge of it on a first hand basis. To me CMC’s presentation of our lost times and lost paint brands of old is well needed and very important. The world that we live in today is nothing like what it was before and to document the history of a culture of people (in this case the graffiti writer) should not be over looked and by CMC doing so it is not. Anybody that’s about keeping and staying true to the history of the aerosol culture and what writing is about, should be acknowledged and recognized for it because if anything they care about the people and their history enough to make sure that the next generations coming into the movement will have a base of information to learn from. That’s what it’s all about. And that’s just what CMC is doing. Thank you CMC for all that you are doing, you’re not just here to exist you’re here to educate. That’s something that’s always needed.
Any other comments or shouts?
Well thanks to you guys, I’ve now officially remembered my racking days of old and some spots that I used to go to that I haven’t thought about in the last 20-something years. If anything this interview has made me have a very fresh take on my life now. So much as changed and I’ve been around to see a lot of it change. Wish I could have collected more paint though, oh well I guess there’s always the memories. Thanks. Want to give a big shout to my crew Aerosol Kings and my brother crews, YNN, UMXS, ICR. My long standing crews RTW, Network, DTK, PTC, IBM, OTB, Wanted, Wild Style, Ex-Vandals. Peace to: Stem, Slon, Fume, Inex, Kacer 171, Jero, Observe, Jash, Act, Gosh95, Goal, Shiver, Rask, Zeyo, Blen 167, Seez, and Drupe. Old friends: Host One, Carl Weston, Colin Turner, Sacha Jenkins, Henry Chalfant, Koe Rodriguez, Bek YNN, G Rodz, Rob Stull, Else ICR, 4Saken ICR, RD 357, Skam YNN, Bryan Puglisi, Jose Santiago, Cole Onley, Charlie Porn, Christie Z and Fabel, Spek, Rebel NSA, Finster, Slave, Karen C, Eric Deal, Selo 456, Poem, Part TDS, Doms, Paul White, H2O YNN, Burnner YNN, Bill Rock and Raks2. That’s all folks…