12oz Exclusive Interview: Cycle
Hey Cycle, could you introduce yourself for us?
I write CYCLE TC-5 IMOK BA DF but also just known as Chris Cycle
When did you start painting?
I started painting seriously around 1989
Why did you start painting?
I had always been into art since I was a youngster. I was attracted to the adventure of writing. Climbing on rooftops, exploring train tunnels, that sort of thing. At the time graffiti was still mysterious, not above ground like it is now with websites and books. You had to go explore to learn about it and find it. Writing was part artistic expression, part action adventure movie. It looked fun.
What was your biggest inspiration to paint?
Progression. To keep progressing and to get better.
Where did you grow up and what was it like?
I grew up in the suburbs of Connecticut about an hour outside New York City. I was close enough to the city where I could get Cool DJ Red Alert radio shows and I could take the train into the city to run around but far enough out that there was still some nature around so you could go climb in the woods and build back yard skateboard ramps.
You have a degree in Art, how do you feel that affects your graffiti?
It’s more the other way around, the graffiti inspires the fine art. When I went to school for art the graffiti came with me and was reflected in my fine art. My color sense, line work, size I like to paint and even subject matter and style was all influence by the graffiti to an extent. To me my fine art work is an evolution of what I started with the graffiti.
How do you feel about the current state of graffiti?
It is hard for me to comment on the current state of graffiti as a whole since I no longer keep track of what goes on on a daily basis. I’m older now so I don’t live the lifestyle I once did. I keep current on what my friends do more than the scene as a whole. DOC will keep me posted on what goes on with TC-5, AREK sends me some freight picture of trains he’s painting. EMIT sends me stuff as well. I look at stuff on Instagram. I see some amazing pieces but I’m not sure who some of the newer people are. I see some crazy styles and effects being done. It’s interesting to see the progression. I couldn’t tell you who is most up on freights right now either. It’s been a long time since I had time to bench. In some ways I actually kind of like it like that though. When I do get to go paint or run into someone downtown and get to gossip it is a nice little break from everyday life. Graffiti now seems like it is a business and not just a culture. With all the types of paint and markers and books you can now buy it has lost a bit of it’s DYI aesthetic and mystique.
How is the scene in New York?
It is most definitely not what it was. Most of the people, places and styles that inspired me to paint are gone now. And what is left from that time is just a shadow of it’s former self. Most of the great home grown talent is gone or retired from illegal work. The quality of what I do see does not seem up to par of what was. Quantity has also fallen off. So much is buffed now. History use to be literally written on the walls but its all disappearing. I do have to say I am excited to see EASY making an epic comeback.
How do you feel doing work for companies like Disney?
Disney paid well. I would like some more jobs like that. It looks good on a resume and in a portfolio as well.
I heard you have a piece in the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), how does that feel to have a piece there?
The Dunny I did a few years back with Kid Robot was one of 5 designs that was chosen by and purchased by the MoMA for their permanent collection. The Dunny figure which was designed by Tristan Eaton and Kid Robot have received accolades for their work in the art toy market.
The MoMA felt that the Dunny was an important enough design concept to add to it’s collection. Whoever was picking which Dunny designs to add felt strongly enough about mine to pick it as one of the five going into the archive. I don’t know when or if it will ever go on display but it does feel good to know something I worked on is in a very good collection.
Who is your favorite artist?
Lets go with Doze Green.
What’s our favorite marker and/or paint to use?
What ever gets the job done. I came from an era before you could buy specialty caps and paint and ink. What ever we could get our hands on we would use.
What/Who is your biggest inspiration?
Music. Music keeps me inspired. I always try to paint to music.
Do you have anything big coming up soon?
August 1st I will have a few paintings in a show at The Highline Loft in conjunction McCaig-Welles Gallery
What is your favorite place to eat in New York?
My kitchen table. I know the cook washed his hands and the place is clean.
Is there anything you would like to say to people interested in getting
into graffiti/fine art/graphic design?
For graffiti, my advice would be keep at least $5,000 in the bank, because if you really, really gonna go for it and try to go all out and be king, the cops will eventually come calling and you’ll need to break that piggy bank open to get yourself a good lawyer.
For Fine Art, I would say get use to rejection and have perseverance. You’ll get turned down for shows, your work won’t sell, you’ll get passed over for projects or funding. It can be disheartening. The Fine Art world is more who you know than what you do. It’s being at the right place at the right time and shaking the right hands. The most talented people are not necessarily the most successful.
For graphic design I would say if all else fails use Helvetica, you can’t go wrong with Helvetica.
Text: Alec aka Cheshire