12 Questions: In his own words – DUEL ONEDUEL ONE shares with us some of his thoughts about social media and graffiti, his motivations and the origins of the legendary RIS crew. A Queens native, DUEL is among the few who have crushed the streets of New York “back then” and continue to get up in 2014. He does not shy away from the title of “vandal” but also knows the importance of education and responsibility as his time served in the military shows us.
Introduce yourself and give any crews you’d like to mention?
I write DUEL. I represent RIS and my crew MCI, Most Criminally Insane.
You’re from Queens correct? What neighborhood specifically?
I am from Queens, Flushing area. A relatively quiet area not far from the 7-Line.
RIS crew is one of the longest running and well respected crews in graffiti, what does RIS stand for and where did it originate?
RIS stands for Rocking It Suckers or Rocking In Style. Based on what GHOST told me, RIS was started by LOST. It was originally a “breaking” crew in the late late 70s to early 80s. The crew eventually evolved into a graff crew. As far as I know, the crew is Queens based. Not sure if it was College Point or Flushing where it all began but those two towns are right next to each other so I guess either answer would be right.
What continues to motivate you to get up in 2014?
I just missed it (graffiti). I felt like my graff career got cut short when I left for the military and I missed out on a lot of good years. I don’t really consider myself active, I just do a few things here and there to let people know I’m still around. Plus, today’s scene is nothing like I remembered it. You got all these crazy laws with super stiff penalties to deal with and all this technology to track a person down. I definitely don’t want to deal with that.
Who is your favorite person (past or present) to paint with or someone who inspires you as an artist?
As far as bombing goes, I definitely say JA XTC was one of my favorite partners. We always had a good time racking and wrecking stuff. As far as piecing is concerned, I’d have to say DET MCI RIS. He is one of my closest friends and we always push each other to put out top notch work. I definitely get inspired when I see works by REAS AOK, PURE TFP, Doze Green, Barry McGee, HOW NOSM, Os Gemeos, Finok, and many others. But I got to say my boy REMIO VTS definitely inspired me to expand and reach to higher levels. Just watching this dude hustle game is crazy, but it made me get off my ass that’s for sure.
Has Instagram ruined graffiti?
I wouldn’t say so. I would definitely say Instagram encourages graffiti if anything. I think it’s good for the most part. You can find some pretty inspiring works from many good artists from different corners of the world. I have met a lot of good people on there through it. At the same time, there’s always a bad side to everything, there’s a lot of nonsense, people fronting, internet beef, etc. But that’s the change in times I guess, you just got to do what’s good for you and look past the BS.
You have your name on a few graffiti related products can you talk about those?
Most of the products I have available on my are hand done, canvas, prints, stickers, etc. Typical stuff. The one thing I do enjoy producing is my zine, Secret Society. I like photography, I love art, and I like to expose new artists, or give shine to the underrated in my zine. I like to share what I see, and I like to invite others from different parts of the world to contribute as well. It’s definitely time consuming but fun. Definitely get some good exposure and some networking through my zine and social media sites. I had the pleasure of linking up a gentleman named Phil Foss of TYO TOYS that produced a few products for me like the Matchbox graffiti van and the industrial Sharpie. I also linked up with Drew, a writer from Australia that produces Clique Ink. We currently have a collab going on; I am the first artist to have a custom color with Clique. It’s definitely nice to build, be recognized, and be given the opportunity to get a few products out there.
What if any advice could you give a young writer with hopes of experiencing the success you have achieved?
I would definitely say go hard as you can when you’re young but stay focused in school. You can be as talented as hell but if you don’t have a brain behind all that, it won’t get you too far.
Which is your favorite city to paint?
NYC, it’s the place I did the most damage in my career as a vandal. It also leaves more of an impact when compared to other places I’ve been so far.
What are your thoughts on the closing of 5pointz and the whitewashing that followed?
Well, I only painted there once with VEN AOK, right before it closed. Not much of a legal wall guy. Not knocking it, just don’t to do them often. I think it kind of sucks that it was shut down because it was a place for people to do what they love. Who I really feel bad for are the old-timers, the pioneers. The bombed transit era is long gone and those dudes aren’t going to make a comeback on the streets. It was nice to see them unite and do their thing in peace. But like I said, it didn’t really affect me because I never really spent any real time there so it was no biggie to me.
Nas’ Illmatic came out 20 years ago last week, are you a hiphop head or do you prefer other music genres?
I like hip hop, most definitely, but I do listen to many genres of music.
I’d like to say what up to my RIS/MCI fam. CHINO BYI thanks for all the good advice. SOE TNS, Semper Fi my brother and the 12 Oz staff, thanks for the opportunity. You guys rock!
Thank you to DUEL for his time and effort in working with us and making this possible, it was a pleasure.
All photography courtesy of DUEL ONE