Maine probably isn’t considered by many to be one of the East Coast’s premiere graffiti cities. But this state, sometimes referred to as Vacationland, has been a place that has been cultivating writers for decades and is becoming a haven for young and aspiring writers. While some locals see graffiti as “a weed choking out Maine’s quality of life,” as it has been referred to in the local press, there are still those Maine inhabitants who are dedicated to the craft and aren’t showing any signs of letting up. LINK is definitely one of them. His style is influenced by everything that surrounds him. I have been lucky to work with him over the years and I feel privileged to be able to share with the world some collaborative works. If you want to learn a little more about Maine’s graffiti scene, here is a link to an article and short film by journalist Steven Jackson showcasing many of the writers who call Maine their home.
Where you from and what do you write?
I write LINK. The Most Seen, AXtion. 5G affiliated Y*O*G*A. I’m from the North East corner of the United States.
How did you start vandalizing and what compels you to continue? What’s your relationship to graffiti?
I started thinking about graffiti at an early age. I would drive with my folks to one of the bigger towns around my area and was always dumbfounded to see this one highway spot by a local who wrote EMAK. A big legible red fill/white outline, still running I believe. I grew up skateboarding a lot and listening to a lot of punk and hardcore music, graffiti has always been around me in these subcultures but I didn’t get put on to actual “GRAFFITI” as a set thing with rules/no rules and ideals until I was older. Growing up in a rural setting was rad because the amount of new cool new shit to be psyched on was limited but when it came around I jumped to try to get a hold of something different than farming, shooting guns, mudding, and being a hick. I started noticing graffiti more and more in my life during high school. My art teacher noticed myself and my old friend GRIF tagging the bathroom, she thought it would be cool do a free study on graffiti so she brought in this guy from the local Teen Center. He told us about graffiti as it was, not so much the details, but somewhat of the basics. When I graduated, as a gift, my art teacher gave me my first graffiti book, Freight Train Graffiti. I have always had a love for freight because of model trains and my Dad being a train nerd, but getting my hands on this book changed a lot of my ideas about what they could be used for. My relationship with graffiti has changed over the years and will probably continue to change, sometimes I will paint a piece every single day for three weeks straight and then stop for a month. It all depends on the ebb and flow of real life and how I can work graffiti into that. The thing that compels me to continue is that graffiti is ever changing and is basically endless. There are so many different aspects to the game that you could spend a lifetime trying to king each one or try new things out. Its a challenge to try something out of your comfort zone and to be confident about what you are doing, I just like attempting to better hone my skill and see where it will take me.
How would you describe your style? East coast // friendly
Who were you influenced by when you started out?
When I started actually thinking about graffiti as more than just scrawls on a wall I was influenced by local people. I didn’t know much about how to navigate myself through the internet to find examples of things I wanted to try or experiment with so I was very much influenced by the people around me in real life. It was cool to meet people who had their own way of looking at graffiti and also their own way of producing it. It really helped me to be surrounded by a lot of talented people who I could “steal” processes from and combine them with others to make my own style. My good friend PLATO was always fun to go paint with because he was so all over the place and had lots of great unconventional ideas and themes to work with. He really helped me to understand that graffiti isn’t all just clean cut and flashy burners, all elements are important. ESKO was a driving force in how I thought about graffiti as “work”. We have always had a healthy competitive relationship inside of our friendship and I feel like together we really figured out how we wanted our graffiti to look. TURDL really helped me with learning line-weight, and how to flex on people; not only when painting but also when dealing with real life shit. ONIKS and RAKET influenced me on scale and how to properly paint a freight. I remember the first time I went out with them I was mad nervous because we had never met. I was waiting outside my apartment when I heard “Party like it’s 1999” by Prince blasting from a little car, they pulled up and said “whats up mother fucker? get in!!” They took me to a spot and we crushed an e2e flawlessly. I knew it was on right from that point. Those two also played a huge part in my continued love for trains and where they go, what they do, and how they operate. Also what to be aware of when in the yard or at a layup. As far as people who I wasn’t directly connecting with I would have to say a lot of my inspiration came from the lines around where I am from. Lots of old light blue CRLE box’s with lots and lots of history on them carrying people like CURVE, JALE, ERUPTO, HENCE, SIGH, EYE, TRE, BERN, MONE, MES, OWL, GHOULS, SYMS, CAYPE, SB, PEPE, CEMEK, KGEE, THE SOLO ARTIST, CATnHAT, and more.. Endless early ICH pieces as well as old LEARN/JURNE and old under appreciated LACK panels. FONSE, IKUE, JAERO, MORLE and the AX/RB squad.
What writers influence you today?
The homies, and people doing good things and having fun. If you aren’t having fun with this shit then what the fuck are you doing. I don’t have time for people who think they are the shit or people who have no respect or care for tradition or history. I think currently I am more motivated by people who are DOING WORK. Not just in graffiti but people who have an awesome work ethic. Finding graffiti writers who I actually like as people is something that’s hard to do.
What makes a writer stand out to you?
Someone who will finish the fucking job. Someone who is able to make do with whatever they can get their hands on, whether it be a rock or a krink mop. Someone who puts in work and you can see it with your own eyes, not through a screen. “Go bench, you’ll see who’s up.” Someone who has almost little to no internet presence. Somehow a long the line it became OK for people to self promo. With the rise of the entire human race being so invested in the piece of plastic in their hand, I suppose that self promotion is another form of “getting up” but I would just rather not. Its useful to be able to connect with people using this tool but not much more than that for me. In normal life I really enjoy surrounding myself with people who are not arrogant or big headed, and in the world of graffiti the same goes. I respect and enjoy humbleness. Also Someone who is open to all types of people whatever they may be or want to be. Its lame when you meet writers whose work you have looked up to for a long time and find out they are a racist/sexist/homophobic/ignorant piece of shit. Its 2014 get a fuckin’ clue.
Do you find you do better pieces depending on who you painting with?
I feel that some of the best pieces I have done that I am actually somewhat happy with are the ones that I do when I am alone. Nothing beats painting alone because you aren’t rushed and you can do whatever the fuck you want. I think if you are collaborating on a wall or train with other people there is this sort of unspoken understanding that you need to compromise and adjust to the people you are painting with. Its lame when people don’t actually put the tiny amount of effort into making a spot congruent. I enjoy painting with others because I am able to adjust my style to those around me. That being said I think all of my teammates know the deal, and are able to bring the heat when needed. I am comfortable around the homies and it makes it more fun to know that everyone is on the same page.
Has your reason for writing changed at all since you started?
When I started writing I didn’t really have an agenda. I just wanted to try it to see where it would go and if I even liked it. I enjoy involving myself with tasks that I know nothing about. I like learning in general so when something comes along that I can completely immerse myself in, I try to learn as much as I can about it and see if it fits in with the rest of my life. I think my reason for writing now is therapeutic/experimental, graffiti is boring as fuck sometimes so I like changing things up. I do it when I feel like I want to and I try to give myself a time frame to do it in. Graffiti is one of the few subcultures that exists that Is completely free and I enjoy that. Yes of course there are “rules” that over the years have stayed in place and those are definitely important but being able to know these rules so as to bend them or just completely make graff your own is something that I cherish. A lot of people coming up now don’t understand the tradition and the importance of some of the guidelines that have been put in place by their elders both locally, and nationally and its making graffiti a shit show. Do your research, know your culture, love your culture. Its not hard to find out about pretty much anything you want to involve yourself in these days because of the internet, treat graffiti like anything else you want to learn. BE FUCKING THOROUGH
What’s been the biggest influence on your work over the last year? Playing music. I picked up playing the drums and I really love it. I have always played many instruments but getting my hands on a good drum set was something I had always wanted. I spent the entire winter painting freight and playing drums. When playing music you use a completely different part of your brain than drawing or painting or any kind of visual art. (or I do anyways) I think that playing drums is different than a lot of traditional instruments because you are just basically hitting shit. It gave my brain a nice break from visual creation and also gave me a chance to learn something new.
What are you most known for? What do you want to be remembered for?
Smiley and or Frowny Faces 420’s and Yin Yangs/ Peace_no peace. Making people feel good and putting out a lot of work.
What do you think your greatest accomplishment as a writer is? Figuring out where graffiti rests in my life. Its all about balance.
What or who would you consider your biggest influences outside of graffiti ?
That video of Black Sabbath live in Paris in 1970
Tom Penny’s bonus footage from es’ menikmati.
Bronze 56k solo jazz
Stone Cold 3:16
Where’s the most interesting place you’ve painted and why?
New Orleans = Hanks on St. Claude, 3 dollar 12 inch egg and cheese po boys all day, buy two pieces of fried fish for a dollar and add it together. Holler at me later.
What is your favorite era of Graffiti?
Mid to late 90’s and Early 2000’s freight shit. Early A2M, YME and NETWORK panels.
Weirdest thing that has happened when out painting? Meeting a dude named Pierre who lives in the basement of some blown out building in Detroit who was sitting on a cot surrounded by trash in a room with the roof leaking all around him playing a hand held poker game while I painted in the next room over. Shouts out Pierre.
SF /BAY AREA
I have been really into breakfast lately. *2 eggs over easy *Avocado *Kale *Toast *Cheesy Potatoes
What plans do you have for the future?
Travel more, meet more like minded people, play more music, collect more tattoos, put out more zines, just keep shit going the way its been going.
Give some shouts!
People who bench trains that I don’t have flicks of and the homies who have helped me thus far. ONIKS RAKET ESKO TURDL LEARN LACK REPS CHILE CEMEK KGEE THE SOLO ARTIST MWM IKUE KOPH FONSE JUSTIN JMAN PLATO MEC2 SAUTE MAGS LERK FOSTY STATUE1 ABNER
KONG QUORUM ALMONDEYES HEIDI KOI VANE STOE NOCS AKEY TEARS KOI URSULA COOKIE
1 love, jah bless, all punks please leave earth, NF420