BRAME UW and I connected via email a few months ago. We’ve been trading stories, videos and flix since then. I put together some of the conversation into an interview of sorts here:
SO, LET’S START WITH: WHERE AND WHEN DID YOU STARTING WRITING? CITY, STATE, NEIGHBORHOOD?
New York City, started in Washington Heights, then Harlem and Spanish Harlem, and focused the last years in The Bronx.
WHAT WERE YOUR MOST ACTIVE YEARS?
1983—1986 for trains, mostly insides. 1989—1991 for walls.
ANY NOTABLE PARTNERS, MENTORS OR INFLUENCERS?
Early years MAR and BRAN “BN” Later years KINGBEE and the UW crew. I was mentored by A-ONE TDS. I can see a great deal of what A-ONE taught me in the abstract paintings I do now. Influences include; KASE2, SKEME, KEL 1ST, SLAVE, BLADE, BAN2, DUSTER, T-KID, CEM2, BIO, PART1, lots of writers from the 70s, and crews including TC-5, TMT, IBM, OTB, RTW, CIA, TNB, TAT, TBS, TVS, TFP, TDS, TF5, TS5/TSF, FC, IBM, UA, MG, TNT, TOP, FX and many more.
TELL THE KIDS ABOUT UW CREW. WHO, WHERE, WHEN, ETC
UW (Urban Warriors or United Writers) was founded by KINGBEE in The Bronx in the mid 80s. Our home line was the 4. KINGBEE welcomed a lot of writers from the subway days and early 90s to paint walls with the crew. Writers who are members or have painted with UW include; VASE, BOM5, BANE, NEV, LADYDI, MERK, DESH, CHASM, DYLAN, JACER, WIZART, CES, YES, PER, COPE2, HOZE, POKE, KOZE, SERVE, NIC, TYKE, JEW, CINE, VET, JEST, MENT, POSE2, SIEN5, EDEC, EASE, PEPE, ECHO, PRE, JAES, NOMAD, SAK, DOVE, ALROC, TEZ3, VISM, HOST, PHYME, PRIME, LOST, ALONE, REZENT, KENE, CRI, JUNIOR, SMASH, SEEM, KERZ, RAZOR, CEE, CLUE, KREO, SHE, PASE, CELO, SHIE, KEMA, GUSTO, EWOK, WIKIT, FRISK, JENER, WILD, KAIS, OKE, CEAZAMAZE, RUBIK, RATH, SEW, HEZ, COSE, ISN, SASINE7, MR7, ARKADIA, PICK, ME3, WED, SELO, AVES, M31, TRUE2, AME, SIZ, and many more.
WHAT CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT YOUR LETTERING STYLE.
My letter style is the BRONX style, with both curves and straights. I explored a lot of ‘themes’ as I would name my outlines like ‘wild west,’ ‘aladin,’ ‘space rock,’ etc. The 80s brought about lots of competition and a more complex style; heavy on arrows, extensions, designs, ads, and backgrounds. Due to the crack down in the 80s, we didn’t see too many elaborate cars running. So it eventually when back to the early days, lots of tagging (inside and out). That’s the progression of life. My letters now days are more organic and efficient. At 44, my tag and letters keep getting better.
CAP LETTERS FOR ALL BUT THE LAST E?
Yes, lot of people notice that. It was out of necessity. I used to have a swirly “E” like a reversed “3.” That E letter style is very popular and I like it a lot. But the reason for a lowercase “e” was to cut down on my tagging time. I cut the “e” down from four strokes to two. The same with my “r” from four down to two. Altogether, eight stroke motions off my tag.
ULTRA WIDE MARKERS? THOSE WERE POPULAR FOR INSIDES ON SUBWAYS. SMOOTH METAL PANELS. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SURFACE OR MEDIUM FOR TAGGING?
Yes, Ultrawides were popular but also the ideal marker because of the immediate impact. They were also easier to carry. The shape of the markers made them easy to slide in and out of your pocket with great ease. For me tagging is about functionality, finding the best way that allows you to do what you want to do, Ultrawides granted me such leisures .I have a couple of favorite surfaces to tag; metal, glass, and porcelain (tiles in subway stations and bathrooms). Porcelain has to be my all-time favorite, it is a silky-smooth surface.
More about Brame
Samuel E Vázquez was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1970. In 1979, his family moved to New York City where Samuel was introduced to graffiti art. Shortly thereafter, he joined numerous graffiti crews from Manhattan, Brooklyn, and The Bronx. Throughout the 1980s his art graced the New York City subways, rooftops, and walls—including the Graffiti Hall of Fame. Today, Samuel works on abstract expressionist paintings.
Samuel has introduced the historic New York City subway graffiti documentary Style Wars (1983. Dir. Tony Silver, Henry Chalfant) at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. He has also lectured about the art and history of tagging at Clowes Memorial Hall of Butler University. Most recently Samuel was a guest panelist for the screening of the documentary The Wrinkles of the City - La Havana (2012. Dir. JR, José Parlá) at The Indianapolis Public Library.
BRAME will be attending the SUBSURFACE Graffiti Expo in Indianapolis, Indiana over the
Labor Day Weekend, September 5-7. Followed by AEROSOL & AUDIO 2014 on Saturday, 20 September, 12p—9p in Flint, MI 48502
He will be tagging blackbooks and other graffiti related items at these events.
Brame is also speaking at New York City College of Technology—CUNY (City Tech) on Thursday, 2 October 2014, 6:30p. Samuel will share about his journey from New York City graffiti artist to abstract expressionist painter. Artist reception following the talk. Presented by the City Tech Alumni Association, the Advertising Design & Graphic Arts Department, and the Art Directors Club at City Tech.