November 12, 2013.
AK: What do you write? Are you in a crew?
FM: I don't write, I paint imagery. No,I am not in a crew. I work independently. At times, I collaborate with others.
AK: In what city did you start painting in the streets? Do you feel your work has influenced the community in return? If so, how? Is there a relationship between the artist and the community in which they work?
FM: I started painting on public walls during Art Basel Miami in 2010. Yes, the public response has been very positive in the communities and neighborhoods I have "FUMEROISZED". The relationship benefits both the street artist and the community because the artist, such as myself, enjoys painting in a public forum for the people and the people appreciate the artwork and they rather look at a wall or outdoor surface that is aesthetically pleasing, as opposed to a barren and lifeless wall. For example, I have noticed that in New York City, more and more public spaces, many privately owned are having their properties painted on with murals.
AK: Did you go to school or are you self taught?
FM: I am self taught and later I went to school for art. I drew a lot as a kid, copying The Peanuts Gang, Charlie Brown and Snoopy was one of my favorite things to draw. So as a little boy I learned a lot form copying the newspaper comics. At 13 I began getting into graffiti and really liked drawing letter designs. I saw graffiti art as an extension of cartooning but with added letters or names. Graffiti art taught me so much, most of all was how to create color combinations. All throughout high school I was a serious student of graff. It's when I attended community college that I began drawing other subject matter outside of graffiti. It wasn't until I went for my under-grad at SVA(The School of Visual Arts) in Manhattan that I was really exposed to fine art. The anatomy, nude figure drawing, painting and caricature classes catapulted my skill level and that's where I discovered my style.
AK: How did you get started in the arts and why?
FM: I have been interested in art since I was 3 years old. You might say, how can that be? Well, for someone who can remember being in his baby carriage, my awareness of the environment around me goes back that far. There is a photo of me when I was 3 making street art, it's true. I remember it was the beginning of the spring season and the bush that is yellow before it turns green, sorry I don't know the name of it, but I broke off a couple of branches took a red, yellow and blue clothesline pins and arranged a compositional design within a sidewalk puddle. My mom called my name twice from the back stoop to get my attention, to look at her, but I was busy creating my "puddle art" and didn't want to be bothered. My mom summoned me to look again and that's when I turned my head and she took a photo of me. I was next to an old, beat up metal garbage can,crouched down, in a squatting position, no smile, just an expressionless look and got back into what I was doing as soon as the photo was taken. I also remember at 4 years of age drawing in a notebook. I loved King-Kong and on each page was a different scene or scenario, I filled up the whole notebook, page after page of King-Kong drawings. Of course my drawings were nothing more than bubble figures, with no shading and all drawn with a Bic pen at the kitchen table. I really enjoyed it and wanted to get better and since then I never stopped drawing.
AK: How long have you been working in the streets?
FM: Well, as a graffiti artist I used to paint four color or multi colored pieces and that began at age 13. So I knew how to use a spray can and back then, it was hardware spray paint, such as, Rust-0leum and Krylon were the top of the line, very archaic, this is way before Montana spray paint was invented. Back then my tag was, Gusto. I never did a piece on the outside of a train, only tags inside the subway cars, but I did "hit" the walls in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. As a professional artist I began in Wynwood during my first experience at Art Basel Miami, 2010. That's when I painted a huge portrait of my Grampa, with the FUMERIOSM approach.
AK: Who or What inspires you the most?
FM: That's a broad question for me because many things inspire me. I really enjoy painting people, the human figure, but I also like to paint scenes with perspective. Colors inspire me, that's why I had a fascination with drawing cartoons as a kid and wild style letters as a teenager. Another passion of mine besides creating art is learning about the history of art. Art history is another inspiration and being knowledgeable about the evolution of art through the ages gives me a limitless amount of subject matter that I can create from. The era of the Renaissance has an impact on me because I view myself as a "Renaissance man" in the sense that I feel it is important as an artist to master realism and that's why I also like the classical period of ancient Greece and Rome. However, the Impressionist movement ushered in a new era of art making and changed the way we view art forever and it lead the way to modern art of the 20th century, abstracted subjective to pure abstraction. The same could be said about Greco-Roman art which brought Naturalism to an entirely different level during Antiquity and one-thousand years later so did the Renaissance, moving Europe out of the dark ages and the Medieval Art period. Needless to say I admire all the masters of the Renaissance and a couple of the Baroque artists like, Caravaggio and Poussin (who lived during the time of Baroque but was really a Neoclassicist). As a college student attending SVA I was exposed to those artists and more, Van Gogh, Lautrec, Schiele and Modigliani were some of those I admired and connected with their because of their bold and exciting visual approach to fine art painting.
AK: What should the general public know about street art? What stereotype about street art/graffiti do you hate the most?
FM: The public is fully aware of the impact street art is making on our society, not just in NY or the USA but the whole world is embracing the new era of art. The public needs to realize that it has been over 40 years since graffiti art was invented. In this post graffiti era that consists of roughly 43 years, it has evolved. Many artists who were once doing graffiti like myself have taken it to another level. All other art movements are classified as separate genres of art but 40 years later artists like myself are classified as a graffiti artist. I love graffiti art, it is a major influence of FUMERIOSM but I am not a graffiti artist. When I paint with acrylic on canvas with a brush I am considered a fine artist by the public because these art works are hanging inside a gallery, but when I change my medium from acrylic paint and canvas to spray paint and a wall, now I am no longer a fine artist. If a street artist paints on a public surface with buckets of paint and a brush it is fine art, however, when I paint I am considered a graffiti artist, even though I am not painting letter designs. I am painting imagery, art, as I would on canvas but only because of the fact that I am using an aerosol can as my medium I am no longer a fine artist. It's been over four decades and the urban artist does not get the same respect as a pop, surreal, impressionist or any other type a "fine" artist receives. In fact, there is the advent of Graffuturism which embodies this evolution of the post graffiti era and in NYC we have our own new movement we call Grafstract expressionism and it's taking hold and making a statement.
AK: Are you a full time artist? Do you have a day job? Is it best to be full time artist or not worry about it and make your $$$ elsewhere, that way you can paint what and how you want, which one offers a more creative outlook?
FM: Yes, I am a full time artist because I work everyday making art and I paint quite often in the public forum. I do have a day time job as a high school art teacher, I love it and find it to be an extremely rewarding career. I have two careers that I work very hard at. I used education as my tool to become self-sustaining as an artist, meaning, I am not the old cliché of a "starving artist". I have an MFA in art education, a pension, retirement savings, I am a professional in both the classroom and as an artist. I always knew I wanted to be an artist in the same regard that Picasso, Warhol or Basquiat, but I did not want to struggle financially because I knew I would be "starving" so to speak. I became educated and lifted myself up from the streets knowing that it would be the vehicle that would propel my art career and give me the freedom of independence with unlimited resources to create and paint. I don't have to worry about selling a painting to pay for my next meal or rent. If it were not for my job as an art teacher I would not be able to "go global" to Brazil, Germany or Italy where I have painted murals, nor would I be able to do it at home in New York, Miami or Detroit. When I learned about Maslow's "Hierarchy of Motivation" the "pyramid of self-actualization" and the phrase," delay of gratification" it resonated with me as an under grad student at community college. It became my philosophy of life and set me on the long journey of many years to achieve my goals, schemes and dreams. I chose the right path to sustain my fine art career and I am very happy I saw the "big picture" and remained steadfast with the determination to succeed with my personal endeavors.
AK: What are you working on now?
Currently I am painting murals all over NYC and painting more canvases of old and new themes alike. I plan on working, exploring and evolving because I live in "New Work City, NY".
AK: What do you hope to achieve or accomplish by putting your work in the street?
FM: Every time I paint in "the street" I am making history and in a sense achieve immortality. Even if the mural doesn't last or stay up, it was documented by someone in photograph or video and seen on the social networks, blogs, etc. It always bothered me that even later generations of my own family will not know of my existence on this planet. What I mean is that, I know the names of my great grandparents but not beyond them. Therefore, I believe that if you are not remembered then you are truly dead. I make art that is memorable. I made it a point while attending SVA as an art student to create something distinctive so all will remember and know that I made that and I once walked this Earth.
Check out more of FUMERO'S work http://fumeroism.com