12 Questions: LionsWe recently ran a giveaway with Carnage NYC to win issue 6 featuring photography from Lions’ personal collection. Pick up a copy on their website. Carnage is also running another giveaway to win a black book that features Lions amongst others. More info here.
1. Introduce yourself – your name and any crews you’d like to shout out.
LIONS. BF Crew Prez, VACity, Dethkult, FYC Gang.
2. Describe the evolution of your tag – where does “Lions” come from?
I didn’t think too much of it. I was living in San Francisco at the time. I started writing “Lion” and my good friend, graffiti mentor, painting partner and, at the time, SF roof king “Does 1” made some stickers for me and added the “s.” It just felt more vague and unique, and it stuck. LIONS ONE WHAT!
3. Where can we find your work – in which cities do you predominantly write?
New York City, of course. The streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn. I’ve been painting and spending a lot of time in Paris the past few years, and I’ve done a lot of graffiti in San Francisco as well. Second to NYC, I really enjoy painting graffiti in Paris. I get the same feelings I got back when graffiti was new to me, being in a passionate, crushed out city, getting to explore, and getting to see a tremendous amount of illegal graffiti that is still inspiring. I get the same feeling in Mexico City, but I’ve only painted there a bit so far.
4. Which city is your favorite to paint in?
My favorite people to paint with are the people I’m in crews with. In particular, I enjoy working with the younger writers Atak, Hert, and False, all of whom I consider extremely driven, motivated, determined and stylish. My Gs, young kings and my P.I.C.s
5. Who are some of your favorite writers to paint with – are there any other writers that inspired your work?
I feel very honored to be close friends with OG street kings Cinik, Ojae and a few other older writers, individuals I look up to who inspire me who I learn from and relate to stylistically.
6. Who are your top five writers – all time?
JA, DG, Skeme, Doms, Seen. All these writers have inspired me in different ways throughout my career.
7. When did you first get introduced to tattooing – and how has graffiti influenced your work?
I started working in the tattoo industry in 2007. One thing led to another and at the moment I can’t imagine doing anything else. To me, graffiti and tattooing are completely unrelated. The few similarities I can draw from the two would be my common aesthetic for tradition and an overall classic look. I prefer graffiti to look like stylish, classic lettering and tattoos to look like tattoos, no matter the design. Also, the ability to network effectively amongst like-minded professionals, being in the streets and interacting with people from all walks of life. Living a life you love that you created for yourself through hard work and determination are other common threads between these two endeavors.
8. What are some of your other interests besides graffiti and tattooing?
I consider myself a documentarian as well. A friend and I are currently running and Instagram account titled “neonnewyorkcity”. Peep it. It’s a great archive for all the neon signage I’ve come across and have been photographing for years now. I hope to make a book based on the project one day.
9. How would you describe the current New York graffiti scene – any writers your checking for?
Over the past decade I’ve personally seen a lot of ups and downs here. And right now, graffiti seems to be going strong again. Lots of big nice quality tags and fillins are popping up everyday. I love New York City because you get to see so many classic writers still crushing to this day, while watching younger kids find their styles and develop. Of course I get most hyped when I see my homies up, but I’m always on the look-out for new names doing real fucking graffiti, crushing all over the city and doing it right. Nothing better than witnessing people go off and smash this huge city where you least expect to see them… up everywhere! I’m also into watching the careers of the underdog raw writer – the local hood legend that hasn’t gotten his 15 minutes yet but is always going hard regardless.
Zexor, Panic, Hueso, Vescr, Zombra (Mexico City),Skeo (Paris), Specy (sf) are some of my favorite active writers I keep an eye out for.
10. Where do you see the future of NYC graffiti going?
I see NYC graffiti staying strong. Through social media platforms like Instagram and Tumblr, the resurgence of DIY books and zines, the amazing rate of global communication and information sharing, and of course, NYC’s inherent graffiti history, NYC stays in the limelight and remains the most important city to be up in, in my opinion.
11. What can we expect from Lions in 2014 – any current projects you’re working on?
2014 seems to be moving so fast! I’m very proud of my collaboration with Carnage NYC on Carnage volume 6. We pushed to raise the bar, introducing a new and larger format with unique extras and special promotions. I was able to archive some of the best photos from my personal collection in the best way possible. With so much great feedback from my peers and the writers I look up to regarding the book, that’s about as good as it gets! Producing something classic and tangible in this modern digital age was my goal. Compiling a decade’s worth of 35mm photos showcasing some of the most solid, quality, tuff NYC street graffiti that influenced my friends and I will hopefully inspire and set a good example for young writers worldwide. This year, I’m very focused on tattooing, producing tattoo flash as well as traveling. I’ll be visiting and painting some new cities in Europe this summer as well as hopefully returning to Mexico City. I also have a few plans in the works to produce some new work exploring the fascinating science and art form of holography as well as continuing to study fine art and find inspiration.
12. If you could bomb any piece of property and get away with it – what would you choose?
Ha! I don’t feel like there is much we can’t do if we are focused. My graffiti dream would be to have been an active writer in the NYC subway era. Obviously, it’s when the most prolific graffiti ever done was created and a moment that has continuously inspired me ever since I got Subway and Spray Can Art for Xmas as a young kid – thanks Mom! That said, I am truly grateful to have experienced the timeframe that my close friends and I have been active in and continue to witness in the streets. Graffiti lives, you die. Keep the fire burning.
Follow Carnage and Lions on IG: @carnagenyc + @lions_nyc
Author: Pete Moran Photography: Lions