12 Questions With Bishop203
Not all graffiti writers like to buy their paint. But for the ones that do, most writers have their favorite store. However, how many of these writers know the person behind the counter?
12oz is proud to introduce you to Bishop 203 (JAT1), the owner of Low Brow Artique. Bishop 203 is a seasoned graffiti writer originally from Connecticut. Bishop has been a piece of New York’s graffiti and street art community as the man who supplies the paint to the vibrant scene going on in Bushwick and throughout Brooklyn. 12oz got a chance to sit down with him and talk about his work as a writer.
1.When and how did you start writing?
13, when I was in Middle School it was me, my friend and this kid Ricky who moved from LA. Ricky did graffiti wrote FEAR. He was teaching us and we were having fun with it. We hit a couple factories and were just being toys but Ricky was pretty decent. He was actually pretty good especially for his age. No one took it seriously at all. He ended up passing away a year later and that was when my boy Erb and I started taking it seriously. Erb took it way more serious than me. He had balls. I think I really started taking it super seriously when I moved out of Connecticut. When I was 21 I moved out to North Carolina, and that’s where the freights were, and that’s when I really started playing hard.
Freights are almost to me like the best of both worlds. Where it is like still some kind of ‘fuck you’ you’re still doing something you are not supposed to be. Still acting like a 14-year-old kid breaking the rules. But overall it’s chill. Also if you did something and you really liked it, you knew it was traveling. All of North America will see it. And if you did a freight, which I have done plenty, that you just fucking hate, you never have to see it again. It’s gone and out of your life. You don’t need to take a picture, you just forget about it. But freights are also dope because back then, before the internet was strong, you’d see so many artists from all over the country you’ve never had access to.
3. So tell me about the 203 crew.
It was these kids and me and we just grew up writing together. Writing, fighting, skating, just all of it. And we are still connected, some more than others, but we still all got love for each other. My boy Jeb is 203 crew; he wasn’t really a writer just always there. My boy Stark who is still writing out in Cali. There’re so many of us. That’s the only crew I push now because that’s more than crew, It’s a family. I think the problem with a lot of big crews is that they are big into the numbers game and want their crew to be big and strong and have every writer in the world repping their crew. That’s cool, but I always grew up thinking that a crew is like family.
4. Who are your biggest influences?
The Source Magazine back in the day, the back two pages. Growing up man, characters, Dalek was definitely killing it. Cycle, that dude was just killing it back in the day, still is. Influences is a tricky word, I mean they inspired me. There are so many people that I didn’t even jock their styles but they definitely inspired me. Like Totem 2, Saber, Envy and Jeck back in the day. There was a crew called 7LK. Psoup, Gaze. Anybody like DF Crew, Subs, Scribe, those cats. FX, Tats Cru, Bio and Nicer are nasty. That’s a tricky list because I always feel bad because I know I’m forgetting 46 heads that just blew my mind growing up.
When I really started coming about with my own personal style I was in North Carolina. In North Carolina there is no graff scene. So it is just me and the freights and whatever rolled by. Back then it was simple, because nobody was doing crazy wild styles on freights back in 99 and 98. There were a few, but 99 percent of what you saw were bubbles and simples. It was just a lot of experimenting a lot of fucked up stuff. But back then in 98 and 99, it would definitely be like Bisc, Leias and Meres who were heavy influences back then.
5.Did you have a mentor?
Not really. When it came to Bisc and Leias we all worked off each other and even back then they would nibble off me. But now I’m too busy trying to nibble off them because their style has definitely surpassed mine. And that’s a good thing, they’re skillful motherfuckers. Leias doesn’t really paint too much anymore. He is a proper gentleman, got a real job, real family. But Bisco Smith is just killing it right now.
For a while I was doing a character, which I didn’t even notice at the time, but was half biting Dalek’s space monkeys. But my character is my self-portrait. The first time I painted him he actually had a beard on him. It was just me making fun of me. Just being a tall, goofy bastard. I never wanted to be super hardcore with it as far as attitude or feel.
7.When did you move to New York? And how is the scene in New York different?
Right about 10 years ago. Went from North Carolina then I went to Virginia because I just needed to get the fuck out of North Carolina. And Leias had an opening in his apartment.
It is hard to compare because when I was in Connecticut I was so young. So like how we learned, a lot of it was from hopping on Amtrak and going down and seeing the lines. And then we would walk the lines and try to hit them. But the pieces were so mind blowing at such a young age.
Connecticut actually has a fairly dope scene and really good people. There is Rampage out in Bridgeport, right by where I grew up. It is a skate shop and they sell some graffiti supplies too. New Yorkers go out and paint their walls because it is such an ill spot. A lot of Connecticut is just highway for the most part and tracksides.
Virginia had a dope scene in Richmond. A lot of freight-heads, DOS crew was a big crew. Sye, Ace and Elk, those guys were just killing it.
New York has a dope ass scene. The one thing that gets me with New York is the ego and the drama. There is a lot of drama in New York and I don’t need it. But I think New York has the luxury of everyone coming here. New York has the history, it is the birthplace and it has the respect.
8. Are you a fan of all graffiti including street art?
Sure, I follow a lot of street artists. I always sum it up to that there is a lot less ego when it comes to street art. I’ll have a street artist come up to me and ask me how I’m doing. I’ll have a graffiti writer come up to me and tell me how he is doing. Of course, there are exceptions. I’ve met some arrogant fucking street artists and some really cool writers. But that is the way it is supposed to be I think. Graffiti is supposed to be an egotistical game. I just think there’re a lot of motherfuckers hating on people or other writers when they don’t need to be.
9.Who are your favorite writers in NYC right now?
DOVES, HOACS, TATS CRU, FX CRU, JERMS, GHOST and GIZ.
One of the funnier ones was me, Leias and two other cats in New Rochelle. This was way back in the day. I was drunk out of my mind and we got rolled up on by six dudes in the middle of the night. There was only four of us we don’t know where the fuck we are. So me and Leias ask ‘What’s up?’ And they tell us that we were going over there shit. Not a very comfortable moment.
But they ended up being really cool dudes and they just wanted to meet one of the guys we were bombing with because they just wanted to meet him.
So we’re hanging out, everything is cool. Then all of the sudden we get rolled up on by a couple cop cars. We’re running. Two guys I’m with, one of them is chubby and the other is skinny. Both of them could be in the fucking Olympics. Never seen anybody run so fast in my life. So we’re running and we decide to go down the side of this bridge.
One problem is that I’m scared shitless of heights.
So those two guys are gone. And Leias literally had to walk me down like I was 4-year-old kid and risk getting busted because I was scared of going down this bridge. But we made it.
11.How do you think graffiti is developing?
I think it is really awesome. A lot of people hate on it because we got the internet now and it is kind of like cheating, and it is. But the amount of styles that are coming out and the evolution is moving so fucking quick. Like GIF-FITI. Paint a wall, take a picture of it, paint it again, and take a picture of it. It is fucking stupid how cool this shit is and the guy makes a gif out of it.
Also now, we have the Internet to inspire us. It isn’t just your neighborhood or the Source magazine. You got people in New York that has Euro styles and vice versa. Everything is all mashed up and put together.
12.Plans for the future as an artist?
Honestly, ever since I started the shop, I don’t really do canvasses anymore. I still paint walls and all that. I don’t really do canvasses anymore because I feel this (the shop) is my artwork, this is where I put my energy. I just want to keep selling paint, but more than anything keep going with Walk of Art Kids. That is where we are really trying to expand so that we could have bigger classes and just get more kids interested in any kind of art. That would be awesome.
Well there you have it folks. Come check out Bishop’s store out in Bushwick if you can. Who else would you like to see us interview? Let us know.
All photos from Low Brow Artique Instagram:lowbrow_bk
Visit the shop at: 143 Central Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11221