All posts tagged: The Clash

CLET and “London Calling” / Paul Simonon’s Bass Smash with The Clash / Dispatch From Isolation # 64

CLET and “London Calling” / Paul Simonon’s Bass Smash with The Clash / Dispatch From Isolation # 64

It’s September 1979, the creaking fissures of societal liberalism were being formed by a retrenchment of money into public coffers, attacks on labor, and to fund western war machines – privatization was afoot on both sides of the Atlantic and the punks were now in a full scream, those counter-cultural canaries in the coal mine.

We had the Three Mile Island nuclear meltdown, the USSR invading Afghanistan, the bombing by the IRA in England, Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran, the cold slap of Margaret Thatcher in the UK, 17% inflation for the UK.

CLET”s interpretation of the iconic photo by British photographer Pennie Smith of Paul Simonon of The Clash smashing his bass guitar at a concert at The Palladium in NYC in 1979.

New York and London were making common cause on the street with a shared interest in this new music and its defiantly angry peacock anti-fashion, and the London Palladium had a bill with Sam and Dave, the Undertones, and The Clash.

A bloated middle-class decade of arena rock bombast and coke-fueled disco hedonism had left Boomer white youth with rage with a rumbling sense of emptiness. Rebellious Punk was a vehicle, ready to tear a self-satisfied commodified hippie system down, perhaps thinking someone else would build it for us later. The lore is that bassist Paul Simonon was frustrated and furious at the ushers telling people to sit in their seats, not stand. In a rageful heat, he smashed his bass on the stage, the act was captured by Pennie Smith, and it became the iconic cover of their album “London Calling.” 

Here we find a Brooklyn “Do Not Enter” sign on the street with artist Clet’s inspired tribute to that now-famous pose – a symbol of blind rage that ultimately was self-sabotage. Simonon is quoted as saying he wished he hadn’t done it to one of his favorite guitars “a shame because the bass I had to play for the rest of the tour was a lot lighter and didn’t have any density to it when you played it.”

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STUDIO : Shepard Fairey : Too “Street” For Corporate, Too Corporate For The Street

Shepard Fairey has grown up before the eyes of fans, peers and would be competitors. Undaunted by criticism he gets from both sides of his chosen vocation as a globally-known street artist, the man still has a great deal to say. His art has made its way into homes, museums, wardrobes and book collections in addition to all the walls–legal and illegal–and he pays the price and gains the benefit of all of it. A living conundrum, he embodies the sharp tongued anti-establishment, anti-corporate, anti-police state ethos of his formative years, while gradually beginning to resemble the middle-aged dad who so much of the punk generation rebelled against.

He raises money for individuals and organizations who advocate for those who are disempowered or victimized, yet street art and graffiti kids who feel marginalized in their lives call him a sellout for making commercial work. Without the credibility of major shows, arts institutions, and collectors he could never afford to employ people who help him. Yet keeping it clean and doing legal walls costs him “street cred.” How exactly does one become an authority on questioning authority? You try this balancing act, and see how far you get without a scrape or two.

brooklyn-street-art-shepard-fairey-jaime-rojo-studio-visit-los-angeles-04-11-web-4Shepard Fairey (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Actually, Shepard seems pretty down to earth and surprisingly un-embittered for a guy who has made a few mistakes and taken some hard bumps since growing up a skateboarder, going to RISD, and making all those weird “Andre the Giant” stickers.  It’s not like he’s been hiding behind the couch of course.  He likes to be celebrity DJ at openings. He likes to inveigh on panels about Street Art and graffiti and it’s impact on culture. He loves to write on his blog about all manner of social and political issues.


Shepard Fairey (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Because of his professional and commercial success as a street artist, designer, and illustrator and his talkative spates as social activist and cultural influencer, he’s laid himself out there for self-appointed persons of outrage and myriad colorful verbal pugilists with rapidly batting wings who are attracted to the light. Just a few weeks ago he and his wife had a first encounter of the gossip kind when they were hi-jacked for 90 seconds by a brain-free tabloid show at an airport.  Sure, it was sufficient dish for the terminally distracted, and his fans and critics jumped to throats to settle burning questions like the current state of his credibility as a real Street Artist and to analyze the innerworkings of his marriage.


Shepard Fairey (photo © Jaime Rojo)

If you get to see the people who work with him at his studio in Encino, some for many years, you’ll get the idea that the CEO is fair and friendly as he seems. People buzz in and out of rooms and offices in this polished wood complex; each genuinely warm and welcoming to a stranger, willing to take an extra minute to talk or point the way to something interesting to oggle. They could be stoked because their daily grind is surrounded by cool and storied artwork, stacks of books, records, art supplies and ephemera, and this afternoon alone you might just run into Martha Cooper, Cope2, D*Face, or Word to Mother as they stop by to say hello or discuss a project. Obviously an achiever, he is always in motion and critical of so much in this world and you could see how he may have a choice word in pursuit of greatness, but if the regard for him and the camaraderie you see is forced, Los Angeles really must be full of actors.

The artist himself takes time to give a tour of some of his favorite items, all the while hitting whatever issues or artistic inspirations are evoked; gifts of art from friends and famous, his record cover collection from the 80s displayed on the wall, personal mementos that have meaning or stories. Here is a personally signed Clash LP cover and now let’s talk about America’s dependence on fossil fuels. He’s a new rubylith transparency of Ronald Reagan called “Mo(u)rning in America” and now lets talk about how influential Russian Constructivism has been to his work and how to simplify and exaggerate perspective.


Shepard Fairey (photo © Jaime Rojo)

With the meteoric rise in interest in Street Art during the last decade, it’s difficult to know if Fairey pushed the wave or learned adeptly how to ride it, but the list of cities, walls, art products, shows and professional accomplishments requires a catalog. A hotter younger head might get too swollen to fit through a door and hubris might cloud his worldview.  During a brief interview at his studio in Los Angeles while he signed multiple copies of a new print, the husband and father of two with grey flickering around his temples comes across as a pretty sincere guy who may worry a bit too much and who has a fire in the belly that burns fiercely, if a little more controlled than before.


Shepard Fairey (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: What is interesting to you at the moment?
Shepard Fairey:
The MOCA show is interesting. The rise of street art in general is pretty interesting. The reason I called my book “Supply and Demand” is because the forces, economic and cultural, are what’s fascinating around the evolution of an artists career, an art movement, politics, fashion, music, everything.  I think a lot of what’s fascinating to observe right now is that as Street Art and graffiti have become maybe a little bit more acceptable and marketable that certain people are very happy about that because maybe they have done it in obscurity and poverty for a number of years and other people prefer the idea of it staying underground.

To me that’s actually kind of an elitist standpoint. “Oh the institutions are elitist! We’re underground!” and they don’t want to share it.


Shepard Fairey (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: And in the process they are creating their own institution which is called, “The Underground”
Shepard: Exactly! So just seeing how all these points of view are going around – I think debate is really healthy. I think that the most potent things are maybe contentious. So seeing how many people are loving this moment and how others are going out and attacking all the artists stuff that showed in the museum – calling them sellouts – these are all not always uplifting in terms of my opinion of humanity but are fascinating to see. To me it’s just an exciting moment.

But I also think a lot of it revolves around these sort of reductivist arguments that are valid based on defining things very narrowly and putting them in categories that are unhealthy. My strategy as an artist has always been, “Look at every single situation and adapt to it the way that is logical”; the “inside/outside” strategy I’ve called it. For example, trying to reach people in a democratic way by putting stuff up on the street but also if there was an opportunity, for example, to do something for a band I like, or do something in a gallery – that’s just another way to reach people. So it’s not being dictated to by the system, working around it when you need to, but also not being afraid to infiltrate and work within it.  That’s been my approach.

And I guess a lot of the friction that I’m seeing seems to based around people who cannot think that way.


Shepard Fairey (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: Your participation in the MOCA show; There weren’t many new elements in that show were there?

Shepard Fairey: Um, yeah there were actually. The big canvas was new, all the environmental pieces were brand new paintings. But really what they asked for in that show was a historical overview but they also wanted the work to have the spirit of the street but have it a stand-alone artwork in an institution. So there are sort of two agendas that aren’t always easy to bring together. So my solution on some of it was to make “paintings”


Shepard Fairey (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: It seems like we’re swimming around in this system that we are all kind of uncomfortable with and that friction that you speak of flares up during times like this. It’s a punctuation in the flow of thoughts. We have this huge show and it’s like, “Here marks a beginning, or an ending”.  So many people feel they have to weigh in with opinions.

But you’ve certainly borne a number of strong or vehement attacks over the years just because of the way you negotiate the system and your place as an artist within it. Do you think your skin has gotten thicker as a result? Or have you always been kind of thick skinned.

Shepard Fairey: Um, I’m actually pretty thinned skinned and it always hurts my feelings when people attack my work but the real enemy is indifference. If something is ire-ing or inspiring it is motivating someone to respond.  I think that could be the starting point for a conversation and I’ve known a lot of people who, once they’ve heard me articulate my opinions about things, they’ve changed their opinions about my practice, my way of working. Other people haven’t. But it’s not my goal to win everyone over but it is my goal to make work that I think sparks a conversation. So I’ve accepted that my feelings are going to get hurt trying to do what I think is most important to do. (laughs)


Shepard Fairey (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Shepard Fairey (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: I’m not sure I could withstand the continuous attention and negativity that can be out there.

Shepard Fairey: Well the nature of street art is about people who are aggressive and rule breakers and oftentimes very opinionated about how they think things should be done or not done. So just by inserting myself into that arena I’m going to be dealing with a lot more static than almost any other area of culture (laughs). But that’s my choice.


Shepard Fairey (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: It also feels like home.

Shepard Fairey: But when I look at the rewards of it, and when I say rewards I don’t mean financial at all, I mean the satisfaction of creating something from nothing and empowering myself and speaking to a lot of people in a way that’s democratic – to me all of that greatly outweighs having to deal with haters from my own community or law enforcement. I mean all of that stuff has been really stressful but when I’m out doing something and a kid comes up and says “Hey, you know I got into graphic design or I got into making art cutting stencils because of you,” – that happens frequently – and that makes it all worth it because that person might end up making art that is very powerful, that’s going to change someone else’s life. The sort of cumulative effect of that influence is hard to even quantify.


Shepard Fairey, Craig R. Stecyk III (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: Is there a sound? I know you have a musical ear – is there a sound when something like that happens in your life when a kid talks to you like that, do you hear a “ping!” or “ching!” – and think, “That was exactly what I wanted”. Or do you see something visual like a light?
Shepard Fairey:
Well, I remember a moment in my life when that happened for me and so it’s almost like when you smell the same smell as your first girlfriends perfume or something that’s very Pavlovian, I guess.

Brooklyn Street Art:
That’s what I’m thinking about.
Shepard Fairey: When I first got into skateboarding and I went over my friends ramp and the experience of riding that ramp and how it seemed like it was changing the world for me. Or the first time I listened to The Clash or The Sex Pistols and how it was like, “Okay, wow, everything just got a lot different, broader, more exciting.”


Shepard Fairey, Invader (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Shepard Fairey (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: Doors flew open.
Shepard Fairey: Yeah, knowing those moments in my own life, when someone talks about that for them – I’m like, “How could I not feed into that as much as possible?”

Brooklyn Street Art: I think that is very gratifying.
Shepard Fairey: Yeah it is, I mean ultimately I still enjoy this stuff. I don’t feel in any way like “Oh, I’m such a martyr, I’m doing this for the people” – The great aspect is that I enjoy doing the work and I enjoy going out and putting it up. The funny thing is I used to think about being a thorn in the side of the authorities when I was doing my thing. Now I’m actually a thorn in the side of the authorities and some of my own peers who think I’m too successful. This is really funny. I’m too “street” for the corporate, too corporate for the street.


God save the chandelier; A signed work by Jamie Reid; anarchist, situationist and designer of the covers for Sex Pistols records. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Shepard Fairey (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: It’s a funny place to inhabit.
Shepard Fairey:
I guess it is about understanding the world we live in and learning how to navigate in a way that you get as much good and as little bad as you can but not just being unrealistic and an isolationist because you refuse to engage something that inherently is going to be problematic. There are a lot of people who do this – they’re like, “oh I’m not part of that” – BUT you go to the store and buy stuff that’s made by evil corporations, you’re wearing Nikes, – by saying that you are not part of it you actually are just being complicit anyway.


Blek le Rat at Shepard Fairey Studio (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Faile (detail) at Shepard Fairey Studio (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: You’re actually not helping in any way to bring it forward in any way at all. You’re dropping out.
Shepard Fairey:
Exactly. And…

Brooklyn Street Art: You’re an expert critic today, but your not doing anything constructive.
Shepard Fairey: And my whole thing is that if there is a really great net positive in doing something that you might have to engage with a company but they facilitate a project that ends up really benefitting the kind of culture and art that you believe in, to me it was worth having to put a logo on a wall in the corner of an art show. But there are some people who, I think in a lot of ways in an effort to justify their own complacency, say “Oh that’s not cool because of that. The whole thing is ruined”. So now they feel much more justified just sort of sitting around hating on everything. And you know, not being able to have the chip on the shoulder is something that a lot of people from the Street Art world don’t want. They want to remain persecuted and angry. It’s something that feeds them.

You know that is something that has driven me in a lot of ways – frustration, anger. And there are people who I think are very self destructive in how they deal with those emotions. But now I feel like I’ve just channeled that in much more constructive ways.


Barry McGee at Shepard Fairey Studio (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Banksy and Keith Hering at Shepard Fairey Studio (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Shepard’s collection of signed album covers at the studio (photo © Jaime Rojo)

This article was originally posted on The Huffington Post

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Futura Talks: Completion of the “Kid” at PS11 with Os Gemeos

Futura Talks: Completion of the “Kid” at PS11 with Os Gemeos

Os Gemeos and Futura (© Jaime rojo)

Os Gemeos and Futura’ finished “Kid” at PS11 (© Jaime Rojo)

A great big painted kid with one shoe was given this week to New York by a hometown hero and some imported world class talent. Public space artfully used is a true gift and all week neighbors, teachers, students, and fans have stopped by to watch, snap pictures, and talk with Futura and Os Gemeos. The mural’s completion was cause for celebration on a sunny Friday afternoon in the school yard.

The Brazillian twins began their infatuation with graffiti and street art as boys in the mid 80s, pouring over and imitating art in books from New York like “Subway Art” by Henry Chalfant and Martha Cooper.  By that time the homegrown Futura had already parlayed his graffiti on NYC trains into becoming an international art star and a touring painter, writer/rapper with The Clash. The genial and wizened Futura took this colorful Os Gemeos gig with pleasure, gratitude and some trepidation, possibly due to the logistics of painting an 80 ft. mural above the raucous schoolyard games below.

In a generous interview with Brooklyn Street Art, Futura talks about his four decade career, the birth of graffiti in NYC, his uncomfortable transition to fine art, working and playing with The Clash, and his greatest reward in life – his two grown kids.

Brooklyn Street Art: You began your career in NYC in the 70’s.
1970, exactly 1970, forty years ago.

BSA: You’ve created work on the subways, streets, gallery, and even on stage. Can you talk about your personal journey and the transitions from graffiti to street art in New York?
Yeah well I mean at that time there was really no point of reference because everything was sort of being developed at that time. There was very little what we would actually call street art in the sense of what we know today. No stenciling, none of what we know today, no grand murals, no Os Gemeos, nothing. So it was very limited and the art form,if you will, itself was very primitive

I grew up in Manhattan, I’m a New Yorker, a native. I’ve been here my entire life so I grew up in the 60’s with graffiti around me. Most people they don’t really want to talk about it but the social conditions in New York at that time, more specifically what was happening with the city of New York, the money, the finances, the mayor. We were broke, okay? We were in a bad war that nobody was happy about. King was killed, the man on the moon, all these kinds of crazy things were happening and there was also a need for change at this time- A radical need. We were spurred on by the anti-war demonstrations in the early 70’s and people were going to the streets to make messages.

Futura (© Jaime Rojo)

Futura (© Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn-Street-Art-Futura-subways-giftSome of the above-ground things that were graffiti; Graffito in the classic sense of the word; cave drawings, scribbling – were anti-war messages, religious promises. It was a moment of people trying to make a message and maybe some possible enlightenment, where there was something positive coming from it.

As the subway movement grew, we saw the subway as an incredible vehicle to transport your name around the city. You write your name on a train in the Bronx and then it goes through Manhattan and then it goes through Brooklyn. It’s was a great medium. And so the galleries for us were the subway. With the City it was a question of financing. How was graffiti able to go for four or five years? They were not cleaning, they had no control, and the kids were running crazy. Finally they got the money together to start to stop this act. They built fences for the train yards, had machines to clean the trains, and by 1980 I think it was the official beginning of the end and thus the transition to the next form: Gallery.

Keith (Haring), Jean Michel (Basquiat), Kenny Scharf, Dondi, Zephyr, all of the names of the young artists from the 80s in New York, were my contemporaries. Keith went to school, Jean Michel was very clever and I’m sure he went to libraries and read about fine art. They had an education about art. But not all of us. When we made the transition to do the galleries it was very difficult because we didn’t have any education. We didn’t have any references. We didn’t know. When I started being reviewed, they said “oh you are a Kandisky, a Klee, a Malevich.” People were naming artists I’d never heard of. “You are influenced by this, you’ve stolen from that.” At 25 I was still a kid in my mind about art but clever as a man. I’d been in the military already and I was experienced. However I was also ignorant. This is nothing you can fake. You know you can’t pretend to know about art when you never heard of painters from this movement, that movement. So yeah it was very difficult.


At that time I became a follower of other young artists who did know, who did go to school, who told me, “Oh yeah Malevich is a Russian constructivist”, and so then I began my own education, somewhat to try to do research. In the process I developed what people defined as an abstract style and in 1980, which was like a kind of a “mega period”, I did a very beautiful train. Very abstract, it was kind of a color field and it was very popular. Even if it was misunderstood people liked it. It wasn’t typical and that was fine with me because I was trying to find my own area. You know the competition in New York is very difficult and everyone defines something, a certain style, a technical ability. There’s a look to people’s work and unfortunately many works look similar.


Os Gemeos and Futura. Detail (© Jaime Rojo)

Os Gemeos and Futura. Detail (© Jaime Rojo)

The styles developed in New York in the 70s and in the 80s are the architectural foundation of what kids all around the planet are doing right now because the books have been made and the books are the modern Bibles for this culture so they know Dondi, they know Futura they know ……..they know T-Kid, they know Zepher….. they know all of the New York guys and from those names they grab some elements of this guys’ technique.


I was represented by a gallery in SOHO – Tony Shafrazi. – Selling paintings for like 20,000 dollars. I got half and then after the half I was getting less than a half because of the expenses and then at the end I’m like, “Really? We sold twenty and I got two?” But I’m happy with my two! Okay? I’m f*cking very happy with my two.

Though then I’m like, “Okay… Wait wait.  Am I being exploited?” And that’s when you know –“Okay, basta. Stop. F*ck the 80’s, f*ck the art world – I have a baby, Timothy.” He was born in 1984.

So for me the priority was to support my wife and my child and the art world and the fickle nature of this movement were not dependable, so I became a bike messenger. I used to make like $150 a day. We were like independent contractors. So you know me, I hustle. It’s always going to be legal. You know I’m never going to sell drugs. I will not do something illegal because I respect my freedom, I appreciate my freedom and I don’t want to be involved with the authorities. I was never arrested during all of my years. Not that I’m clever – but I’m careful. You know I’m not going to do something obviously to jeopardize a situation. I try to do it cool. So the messenger thing was amazing for me. I was making a pretty good living working around the streets of New York with a beeper and a walkie-talkie.

Os Gemeos and Futura. Detail (© Jaime Rojo)

Os Gemeos and Futura. Detail (© Jaime Rojo)

BSA: Can we go back to ’81? You did live painting with The Clash – while you were painting on the stage were you collaborating with them? Were you being influenced by the music or were your paintings influencing the music – or were you autonomous?
Futura: We were just doing our own thing. When I met The Clash here at that time they kind of fell in love with New York again. I mean when they came here in ’81 the Hip Hop thing really began to happen here in New York with different groups from uptown…of course Grand Master Flash but also Cold Crush Brothers, Double Trouble – many rap acts were beginning to emerge. When The Clash did their shows on Broadway they opened with hip hop performers for their show. I’d been asked to paint a banner that said “The Clash” and when they arrived and they saw it they asked, “Who did the banner? That’s amazing. We wanna meet those guys.” That’s when they invited me to go Europe with them and asked me if I wanted to paint on the stage while they were playing.  I mean when I first met them I wasn’t into punk music.

BSA: What music were you listening at the time?
Futura: I was listening to Hip Hop and…I mean I’m traditionally more like R&B, Motown, you know I’m an old-school guy for that, so The Clash sound was new and I was learning about the music and I liked the music. But it wasn’t like “Paint for the music”. They were like, “Yo, just do what you do and we are going to play”, and that that’s how it kind of was. Then I did some graphics for them for the record and I actually went on the stage with them in Los Angeles when they released their next album, “Combat Rock”.…..I sing on the record with them….”Overpowered by Funk” then there is a part where I rap.

This is a message from Futura

Don’t prophesize the future
I liven up the culture
Because I’m deadly as a vulture
I paint on civilization
It’s environmentally wack
So presenting my attack
I’ll brighten up your shack
I’m down by law and that’s a fact

Just give me a wall. Any building dull or tall
I spray clandestine night subway
I cover red purple on top of grey Hey,
no slashing cuz it ain’t the way
The T.A. blew 40 mil they say
We threw down by night
They scrubbed it off by day

OK tourists.

Picture frame, tickets here
For the graffiti train
People at home show you care
Don’t try and fry me in your shockin chair
Funk Power, Over and Out

From “Overpowered by Funk”, by The Clash and performed by Futura

In the concert in Los Angeles I was painting and they started playing the song and Joe was like “Futura, Futura” and I came on stage…So I actually painted for The Clash and sang on the stage with The Clash and that all happened that year in 1981. That experience blew my mind of course because of all I got exposed to – they took me to Europe, to Vienna, Paris, London, Scotland. It was supposed to be two weeks and it became two months. So I had a great opportunity with them that year. And when I came back my popularity as an artist grew as a result because even if I didn’t know who The Clash there were a lot of people who knew who The Clash were. So it was a great opportunity for my career at that time even though by ’85 I felt the gallery experience wasn’t a good deal.

Os Gemeos and Futura. Detail (© Jaime Rojo)

Os Gemeos and Futura. Detail (© Jaime Rojo)

BSA: It has been very often the case where American artists would have to go to Europe to get popular and in the 80s graffiti here was considered more like a crime and you were vandals and criminals while in Europe graffiti was being accepted as an art form. Has that changed? Do you see things differently now?
Futura: Yeah, you know your sh*t, dude, that is exactly the story. Yeah things are different now – let’s just say for example, 1980. We’re 30 years after that now, okay? So if I’m talking to a 30 year-old man, woman, at this moment they know. They know already. Back then – people didn’t know and they were threatened by it. The actions were “in their face” at the time and people were taking the trains and it was always aggressive. We were vandalists to them but I think enough time has passed and they understand and they appreciate it, perhaps more than they did. Although what we were doing all was illegal, mildly criminal, we were never hurting anybody okay? And our messages were always positive and we were trying to embellish and to beautify and to present something visually attractive.

BSA: Can you talk about this project with Os Gemeos and how it has been for you:
Futura: I want to say that the beauty of this project for me is the sense of collaboration that normally doesn’t totally exist among artists. I won’t say it’s the first time I’ve done collaboration, but it’s the most amazing collaboration I’ve done. I mean in the past I’ve worked with other artists on walls but not with the same respect as I have with the twins.  I mean artists around the world look at their work. And you say “I’d love to work with them, it is like a dream.”

I’ve known the guys for more than ten years and I’ve seen them around the world. I love their work. We always have a great relationship and in Miami at Art Basel last year they were talking about, “Hey we should do something together you know”. They had this idea and of course I’m open and I’m also, “Wow, really?”  You know, for me, they come to my city and asked me to work with them out of a kind of a respect for the historical reference and you know I’m still relevant – I’m not like a dinosaur, like a fossil.  So for me it’s almost indescribable really how it makes me feel as an artist, as a person – actually not even as an artist but as a person, as a human being. You know the humanity of it right? So this is what’s genius and priceless and it is not about money, not about sales. Who cares? You know what I mean. It’s about a real artistic collabo – you know a gift to the neighborhood, a gift to the school, a gift to the city, and possibly some project like this can open some doors.

The Twins and Futura (© Jaime Rojo)

The Twins and Futura (© Jaime Rojo)

BSA: How about the experience of going up in a hydraulic lift to paint?
I’m very happy with the results because technically they are able to make it work and I trust them because I know they are “the masters” you know. First of all just getting up on these walls on those machines, normally I’d have been like, “No, it’s okay.”  I mean when I was in the military I was jumping out of airplanes so it’s not a height thing – also I was 18 at that time kind of stupid in the head. Today I’m thinking more like, really? Are you sure? And it’s quite a sensation painting up there like that. If it wasn’t them I would have not done this project. I would’ve not done it. The second night I almost couldn’t sleep thinking about it. It really bothered me, physically. The first day I was like “let me just touch the sky and let me get the feeling”. But this is uncomfortable what can I say? But you know what? This is these guys so for them I’d say “f*ck it, I’d do it”.  But when yesterday was done and they were like “we are done” I was very very happy.


BSA: Your web site is amazing and you’ve maintain a pretty current internet presence….
My son designed my website. You can archive it back for three years. I’ve been on line since 1996. Flickr is the new application that I like. Every artist seems to be promoting themself and what I learned as a graffiti writer is we are in the business of self promotion, that’s what we do. I have been doing it for so long that it is boring to me now to do that. I am not interested in that. I mean I love it, I love this experience, it’s indescribable but I mean I’m not there to promote me.  My life does not revolve around me and who I am – I’m getting more joy among other things. Now I’m traveling. I’m trying to see the world on my terms and not be like a puppet. But the web site my son designed. I have a daily photo and basically everyday there’s a new image. There is a kind of a curation there. Some of the pictures kind of go together – there’s a lot of personal things there with me and my girl. I like to play with the public also.

Closer Look. (© Jaime Rojo)

Futura between Os Gemeos. (© Jaime Rojo)

BSA: What do you wish for your children to have in this modern age?
Futura: I love my children Timothy and Tabitha. They already have what I want for them. What I want for them I have put into motion; the ability to think for yourself, to take care of things. They are independent and great. My wife is French – I met her in Paris in 1982. Now we are separated, but we are wonderful together and I love her enormously for the gift she gave me of the children and we appreciate that they are grown up and who they are becoming and we love them for who they are. We are like, “Hey, good job!” to each other because we respect the labor that we both did.

Brooklyn-Street-Art-Futura Quote Parent

But everything is going well because they have a good foundation which I didn’t really have and I was an only child and have no brothers and sisters, so this whole opportunity for me to be a parent has been more rewarding for me than me being an artist for sure. And I’m so grateful that I have that because my art is more rich because of that and vice-versa. If it was only one or the other, something would be  missing. If I had a regular job I wouldn’t be a good father.  I try to keep myself stress free.  I know what I’m good at and I don’t do what I’m not good at. I try not to waste my time if possible.


Read our previous posting on this event:

Interview: Os Gemeos, Futura & Martha Cooper At PS 11 In NYC: Day 3


This project is made possible with the vision and elbow grease of AKANYC and 12ozProphet and the engaged involvement of PS11 and the community.

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