September 10, 2013.
What do you write? Are you in a crew?
I write ZIMER. Right now I don't rep any crews, but I am a founder of A DYING BREED NYC art collective along with Sen2.
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?
I started painting in Queens, NY, which is not a fun place to start. Being more suburban, there is a priority on quality-of-life offenses, which means a quick buff and harsh sentencing. So I built up my skills in low spots where average people wouldn't think of going. There is no fame in the trenches, but down there you have a temporary sense of true freedom. If anything, it showed me how disconnected I was with my community. The moment I switched to the more urban streets of Bushwick, the roles were reversed. Both the locals and the incoming hipsters commended my actions and I was now doing my community a service.
Did you go to school or are you self taught?
I have a degree in architecture, which included drawing perspectives and art history. It's hard for me to know the true extent of it’s influence on my art. I can think more spatially and I absolutely have a better understanding of person vs environment relationships. Most importantly, it taught me to work my ass off! I know hundreds of artist, and that helps expose me to different techniques and mediums. Everything else I had to figure out on my own. I'm always looking at how to's on Google and You Tube.
How did you get started in the arts and why?
There wasn't a time in my life that I wasn't creating something. It seems like I don't even have a choice in the matter. No matter how far away I run, the art bug compels me to come back. It's as strong an addiction as any.
How long have you been working in the streets?
I started writing in 2001, probably hitting the streets in 2002. I was no big time bomber, but I put in enough work to collect a few stories. I'm a quality over quantity kinda guy, so painting shit real quick that's getting buffed equally as fast doesn't really appeal to me. Also, there's no longevity in bombing because they WILL catch up with you in this town. Now that I switched from letters to characters, I have a lot more opportunities. So I limit my resources to painting street spots that have the most exposure. I have sold out in that respect, but I gotta make a living!
Who or What inspires you the most?
I try not to limit what can influence me. I was originally inspired by older style masters like DONDI, ZEPHYR and TATS/FX walls. Later, the internet introduced me to some West coast and European styles. There are architects like Frank Lloyd Wright, Santiago Calatrava and Zaha Hadid who could inspire anybody. However, classic and modern artists inspire me the most. Monet, Rembrandt, Bernini, da Vinci, Pollock and Edward Hopper come to mind.
What should the general public know about street art? What stereotype about street art/graffiti do you hate the most?
I hate how graffiti and street art are bunched into the same category. To me it's more than just semantics. They are two different movements, with a lot of overlaps. I see graffiti as being produced on the spot, where as street art is prepared elsewhere. When I spray paint a portrait on a wall I would consider it more on the graffiti tip because the photograph is used only as a reference. I find that part of graffiti makes it more legitimate than most other art forms. Your tools are limited and you must have skill and talent to make it happen. It takes years to appear good on a wall when you don't have a stencil or marker to keep it clean.
While graffiti writers stick to their strict rules, street artists have none. Many writers despise the fact that some kid can watch a quick photoshop tutorial, print out a quick reference, cut it up, spend just five minutes on a wall and be done with it. But at the same time, it can be anything, with only the imagination as a boundary. Personally I think the rules of graffiti limit the form, but keeps it grounded. I don't want street art to do too graffiti, as pop music did to hip hop. In my opinion, if you do street art, it better be pretty fuckin' good and creative!
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?
I'm a full time artist, which is a total surprise to me. I graduated at the worst possible time in generations, so I found myself doing odd art jobs to get by. It was a great time to refine my canvas game, which really paid off. I paint everything from pet portraits, to celebrities, architecture and recreations. I'm currently starting to tattoo, which should bring in enough money to cover all my other projects. This way I can produce whatever I want on my own time.
What are you working on now?
I'm currently starting a new series of paintings about life in the street art/graffiti scene. The concept is to make a record of the moments that the artists experience while doing their thing. I'm painting everything from night bombing scenes to permission walls. They all tell a story, and will hopefully immortalize the moment in history. When people look back in a hundred years, I want these paintings to help them understand the movement a little better.
What do you hope to achieve or accomplish by putting your work in the street?
The best part of painting the streets is exposure. People who would never walk into a museum have no choice but to see the art in the streets. So exposure is definitely one of the benefits. But along with that, you can really get a message across with a big public mural. I personally have a controversial political and social ideology. I hope I can one day express those feelings in a way to get my message across without polarizing the audience.
Check out more of ZIMER's work. http://www.adyingbreednyc.com