12ozProphet Feature Interview: Jick
Jick is a man of his word. A precise, calculated individual whose intentions to “get up” lie within a deep rooted desire to preserve the traditional guerilla graffiti mindset; and he chooses to lead by example. A disciple of the omnipresent IMOK and IF crews, Jick became an avid student of the game in his formative years as a writer; but far from a teacher’s pet. With an emphasis on being well rounded, Jick’s carefully executed Fill-Ins, Throw-Ups, Pieces and Tags lace some of the 5 boroughs most legendary graffiti walls and spots, as well as blanketing the entire Metro North commuter and local train tracks. Painting walls along side such legendary writers as Smash137 and WANE haven’t hurt his cred either. The 12ozProphet team sat down with Jick to discuss his motivation, the importance of versatility, what crew means to him, and much more.
12oz: What motivates you to bomb?
Jick: I would consider myself a selective bomber. I’m honestly not out in the streets like a JA, EASY or ADEK, I’m more into hawking strategic long term spots that will have an impact, mission bombing. Something about bombing trains for example comes from a sickness I have always had for doing dangerous shit. Before I got into bombing or trains I did far stupider things to feed that urge. I used to free solo rock climb (without ropes); shit when I was way younger we used to see who could get out furthest on the shaky ice without bitching out or fall in.. I fell in (barely survived that stupid game). I even did that retarded “lay on the dotted line on the highway” game as a teenager. in adulthood i actually see bombing as a life saver to me, because honestly out of all of the dumbass things that I really liked doing to quench that thirst for fear, clipping a fence and mashing out a train in a couple minutes has the least chance of ending my life. Thank you graffiti.
12oz: When did you first write “Jick”?
Jick: I really wish I had a good reason or story behind JICK, the first iteration was JIKZ. The reality is I came up with it in 9th grade chemistry class, technically whilst looking at the periodic table of elements (for the record there is no ji or kz element, dont bother looking it’s just what I was looking at.) JIVE IMOK/DF was probably my favorite writer at the time and I always thought he had the sickest J to I flow in his handstyle so I just gravitated towards that combination. As I got older and tried making my letters work together better I realized that j – i – k was 3 straight lines in a row and fucking sucked to tag so I eventually added a C. Captivating stuff huh?
12oz: You’ve been known for super technical pieces, but never hesitate to throw up a classic NY bubble letter (sometimes even in the same spot); Do you have a preference?
Jick: A bubble letter is more fun to paint than a technical piece. Period. If you don’t have fun doing your throw-up, you need a new throw-up. Having said that, it depends on my mood which one I prefer. Sometimes I am chilling with the crew talking about style, coming up with funny concepts for a wall and it gets me really amped up to go murder a piece, try something new and keep the creative bug fed. Other times I want to grab the ladder and do some shit people will see and bug on. If you’ve ever had that mood in a bar where you just wanna fight…that’s the same mood that makes me want to do fill-ins. Some fucked up adrenaline junkie asshole that is still lurking inside me that needs to be fed. If I have spent too long doing a legal wall, or have done too many pieces in a row, I feel the need to go destroy shit. It’s like a delicate balance that keeps me from going crazy. If I do one fancy burner, I need to go do five illegal spots to make up for it. I think DMAND taught me that.
12oz: How do you define “well rounded”?
Jick: I mean, “well rounded” is obviously doing everything from tags, to fills, cleans, freights, pieces stompers etc. If you don’t get involved in some level in all aspects of graffiti then you aren’t well rounded. But, more importantly you are missing out on the experience of each, because they are all extremely different and have their own important aspects. For example, doing a burner and doing a clean train are entirely different sports in my eyes. Walking around catching tags is way different than doing a crew spell out stomper on the tracks with your boys. They all carry with them much different emotions and levels of fun and destruction. From a purely life experience perspective you are cheating yourself out of aspects of this lifestyle that are both fun and make all the other pieces of the puzzle fit together better. The street smarts and ability to execute you gain from bombing or doing cleans ups your overall senses so when the police cuff you up at a legal wall because they dont believe your permit, you know how to get out of it or worst case you know to shut the fuck up play by their rules to get away. Plus, let’s be honest getting a few beers with your boys and writing on shit that doesn’t belong to you, no matter what it is, is a fuckin’ good time.
12oz: Any opinion on legals?
Jick: I like and do legal walls but honestly its almost a different sport to me, with a few overlaps like baseball and billiards…both have a ball and a stick but they’re pretty fucking dissimilar. An illegal piece or clean train or trackside stomper will always be worth more than a legal piece to me. Graffiti needs to be done illegally and is much more fun to me when it is. The energy i see in an illegal piece of mine has a more natural and perfect feel when I look at the pictures after. When you throw a fatcap on a can and are throwing paint around quickly with that adrenaline level up my letters just dance more, there is more flow and power to how they end up sitting on the train tracks. I typically have a different audience for a legal piece. A legal is meant to be looked at up close in person or on the internet, being scrutinized and yapped about. With most legals in New York, you usually have a limited amount of space with your name in between two arrows because everyone tries to squeeze as many dudes as possible on the wall…and everyone tries to sneak an arrow or two over your line (myself included). An illegal wall is often meant to be seen by passengers on a train so you have a smaller window of time to get you message across. I want to stretch my letters, go big and graphic to make sure that amongst the wallpaper of average sized throwups and simples, the thing that makes your neck snap around is a big blast of color and letters saying J – I – C – K. The other common illegal piece for me is environment sensitive. Breaking into an abandoned hospital or military barracks and rocking a piece on an interesting surface. In those scenarios we try to conform our pieces to the scenes we find.
12oz: Whats your best NYPD story?
Jick: Well if you’re looking for your generic chase story bullshit this aint gonna be it. I was in a bar with a few of the homies near Bryant Park in Manhattan and we see this big polar bear looking wasted dude at the other end of the bar. Dude was just being a big drunken bully pushing around all the yuppie suits…was kinda funny really. Eventually this dude makes his way down the bar and starts blabbing at us, me specifically. So this guy is playing his wasted dude act but we’re breaking his balls back so he gets all lovey dovey and buys a round. Next he goes in on me and starts talking about how awesome I am and how much he loves my work, I’m his favorite…kinda getting weird. Now mind you I havent told this guy anything about me but he keeps telling my friends that I’m the man and that hes seen everything I’ve done. Immediately I start getting worried and confused about what the fuck this drunk gorilla is talking about given my nefarious activities but really how the fuck could this asshole know who I was. Next this guy pulls out a couple pictures of his wife in lingerie, telling me shes one of the most beautiful women in New York blah blah blah and follows with something strange: This guy starts asking me how much money I think we can make together. Now im fucking floored, I have absolutely no idea where this is going but in all of his picture showing I see an NYPD badge in his coat…Fuck. But this guy keeps going drunkenly asking me about making money slapping my chest with the back of his hand and reiterating that I’m the king and how good I am. Finally I ask “dude, what the fuck are you talking about with this making money with me bullshit?!” and he looks surprised and replies, “Porno, how much money do you think we could make if you make a porno with my wife?”………. This drunk cop thinks I am his favorite dude porno star (really freaky when you come to the realization that he’s been picturing your junk the entire time) and he is trying to pimp his wife to make a porno with me for money. Un-fucking-real. This guy has me cornered in a bar trying to convince me to fuck his wife on video, and while banging a cops wife is pretty high on my bucket list this is probably something I need to make an escape plan for. He ended up giving me his card (NYPD card) and told me to call him and that he would take me and his wife out for a steak the next night to talk details. I never called, but I got his card on my bulletin board as a little trophy. I still wonder who dude thinks I am.
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12oz: What does crew mean to you?
Jick: Crew is most important, above all else. I grew up looking at IMOK/DF. I met JIVE when I was maybe 19, and after years of painting, bombing, drinking beers and hanging out I got the call from CORE2 (set up by MONE) that they wanted me in the crew…which made it mean so much more to me. At this point I had already done dirt and been friends with the crew for so long I trusted them and they trusted me and really thats what crew is. If you dont have full confidence that the dudes pushing the same letters as you will stand behind you no matter the circumstance, then there is a problem. Too many times I have met someone for the first time and within an hour he tells me to “get down with the crew”. I never understood that. Asking someone to push your crew is asking them to represent you and your team…anything they do is a reflection on the rest of you and how can you possibly know that you can trust the actions of a man within the first hour or shit even months. SHONE and I had been painting for a few years, and BEZ was like my big brother, but it took painting certain spots in Jamaica Queens with the most important dudes in IF crew before I got the OK to put up their letters. My crew and I hang out more outside of graffiti than we do painting together…they are the dudes that I am closest to in life and will roll with until I pass…anything less and you are just playing yourself or the crew means shit.
12oz: You seem to paint high traffic or well known spots just as often as desolate warehouses; If you had to pick one or the other what would it be?
Jick: Like I mentioned earlier, they are kind of different animals, and therefore I like them both for different reasons. I love dragging a few 12 packs and a flask into a warehouse and getting down with SEKT and MAST, and I get that rush taking the IF crew jetpacks out for a spin and banging some high spots in your face. The thing I can say about the desolate, is that I feel like we are leaving little gems or clues for other hungry writers, or better yet the next generations to come. If you run around the Bronx there are still 10+ VET or SENTO pieces from the late 80’s and early 90’s that just dont ever get flicked and put on the internet machine or in books. It takes footwork and dedication to find the hundreds of hidden gems around the city but that shit pays off when you stumble on that COMET fillin still rocking.
12oz: Who are your biggest influences?
Jick: Growing up on the Harlem Line in the early 90’s I always saw EMIT, JIVE, WINK, GAZE, SUB and NOBLE bangers! There were lots of other crews out killing it then but these were the names I saw and gravitated towards. IMOK crew. I was lucky enough to link up with JIVE , and he taught me a lot of flow and technical things that had always baffled me. He also schooled me on mixing paint, how to blend well and how to hustle a free beer out of anyone at a bar. I always stared at EMIT fills and GAZE’s wild ass ideas on letters. Later on I linked up with STAE2 who in my opinion is one of the best style writers in the game today, he was constantly drawing and trying to take classic style writing to the next level. Now I paint with EWOKone a lot and MAST, both dudes who have razor sharp unique styles. I still learn from both guys, with Ewok constantly breaking my balls to not get stuck in one style and try new things…if I can stress one idea it’s to constantly push yourself and your crew members to not get lazy and stuck in one pattern. When I do a wack piece I know that no one I surround myself with is going to let it slide, but we help each other creatively to get better and enjoy what we do more. I have always looked up to guys like WANE, YES2 and SPone, for just shear longevity of style and presence. When I’m on my troop for new spots and I run into a piece or a fill by any of those dudes I’m never surprised and it’s usually doper than the last joint I saw..that kind of graffiti keeps me fired up to creep and burn even harder. It makes me feel like I’m lagging behind.
12oz: What’s your view of NY graffiti in 2012?
Jick: Honestly I’m a little worried about it. We are the beginning of style writing, and have some killer style innovators from the beginnings of the movement still painting here and there as well as 3rd/4th generation writers with sick styles pushing boundaries (though those are few with a NY birth certificate). One thing I had that helped me emensely was a mentor type enviornment from the crew that I would eventually push. I go to shows or walls here and there and I hear a lot of older style guys complaining about this one or that one biting them or how that they invented everything that ever existed…and just being surly about it. What I don’t see much of is those guys who DID add so much to the style game taking some of the younger guys that they complain about “not doing it right” and telling them how to do it better. I have personally been talked down to a few times without saying who I was at a show or wall simply because of my age or that I wasn’t up on the double R’s or whatever. If no one tells younger kids how to make letters with true style they are just going to grow up looking on the internet and biting the latest trendy techniques and mashing them together without having a solid structure behind it…The Old School has an obligation to teach the younger what the elements of style that they hold so dear are or really they have no right to complain about anything, they fumbled their responsibilities to the game. At the same time, the younger generation needs to put their egos down and listen to criticism and advice…everyone gets better and elevates our city and legacy and all of those things are severely lacking in my opinion right now.
12oz: Whats your opinion on the street art vs. traditional graffiti conflict?
Jick: From a global perspective it is far easier for civilians to understand and appreciate street art than Letter Style graffiti. You can see this in the art scene, the number of 21 year old street artists who “put in work” in the village for 12 months getting fame and money in galleries FAR outweighs the stylemaster graffiti writers who have been trying to achieve recognition for their art in the same scene. I get pictures sent to me all the time from relatives asking why I can’t paint something nice like “this girl holding a red balloon” or a soldier with a flower in his gun stencil. The public doesnt really have to think about what they are looking at to get what is going on in most street art…the picture in the stencil tells the story quickly. Don’t get me wrong, I like some street artists but I think it is far easier to get recognized in some art scene for painting a very obvious base picture than doing letters. It takes lots and lots of explaining to a civilian for them to understand why a letter is a dope letter. Be it the way the “K” dances or carries attitude to a sick connection or even something as basic as a good handstyle. “But you’re just writing a name, I don’t get it, why dont you do some cartoony things like this guy”. The reality is I love letters and I have spent years trying to push the boundaries of bending and funking out my letters because honestly I think it is more of a challenge than coming up with a catchy street art theme is. I also gotta believe that, going along with the public not understanding letters, it is easier to talk your way out of a street art arrest than for catching a tag simply because a cop can understand a kitten wearing a fake mustache and glasses. I just get stomped out for being a degenerate tagger. Also, as a street artist you might get chin checked for disrespecting the rules we follow in graffiti. You’re committing a crime just like I am and you if you put your little sad faced flower over my fill-in we have a problem. For example, I have a piece with WANE and SMASH137 in a well known tunnel in Manhattan, and I recently saw a photo where a “street artist” had splashed some black bucket paint across my piece presumably as part of some arty thing that he was trying to be cool with; and when I find him im breaking his jaw (laughs). i guess that’s the “vs.” part of the question.
12oz: What’s next?
Jick: I have been doing a lot of traveling lately painting in different cities just trying to put my mark and my crew in the eyes of kids that might otherwise never see an IMOK piece in person. I have also been working closely with 004connec.com for the past couple years on the development of the Evolve spraypaint and marker line. I have been really blessed to have gotten down with that project from it’s inception, having input on product development and trying to make products that perform at a level I am amped up to use in the street. I have my own color, Black Majick and or Majick Mushrooms coming out in the Evolve paint line soon but I am super picky about what I put my name on so I want to make sure when you outline a burner with my color it pops harder than anyone else on the wall. I also have a few art projects coming down the pike but I want to wait on talking about those until I am happy with what I have to present. I will always be creeping under bridges and warehouses trying to add something eye opening to a dilapidated environment because I know how pumped I am when I break into somewhere covered in dirt, sweat and cuts and see a fresh well-placed banger from a sneaky writer who came before me. Cheers.
Text: Kenny Beats