It took two meetings, some drinks, a giant Chicago style pizza and a Cubs playoff game in the background, but I was finally able to sit down and talk with the homie RESE One.
Why don’t you start off by telling us a little about you and how you got into graffiti.
I don’t remember exactly how I got into it. I started drawing when I was in 4th grade. I was drawing a lot of comic book characters. Cable was one of my favourites and I drew him a lot. He was interesting to me because he was made up of pieces of metal. Half was metal and half was laser. Kids in school started asking me to draw pictures for them. I started drawing more often. The other kids liked it and even my teachers liked it. Around 6th grade, I met CORE UB. I think that’s when it really started. It progressed from there to doing graffiti. I still worked on other art though. In high school I was in Yolocali, an art program in the Chicago area, for about four years. I started bombing trains when I was 15 or 16. I don’t remember bombing hard until we started UB. I didn’t choose to be a graffiti artist, it just happened. It’s been about 25 years now.
What was the graff scene like growing up in Chicago?
There were a lot of big heavy wars that were non-stop. There used to be a lot of one-on-one and crew battles..We used used to take it to the wall but now no one battles here anymore. Now it’s more fighting and shooting.
Tell me about your crew and how it started? Any other crews you rep?
Back in the day I was part of a crew but not for a long time. CORE, RISE, NOSHOEZ and I came up with the crew UB in 1997 while we were at our art gallery.
Wait, you had art gallery??
Yeah, we had an art gallery where we showed our art. Just regular art. No graff yet. At that time, we all wanted to join this one crew but we got rejected so we started our own crew – UB and 210. From there, we added people on to the crew. Currently there are about 15 of us scattered around the US, Mexico and Philippines. I’m also RK.
How did you came up with your name?
I used to write BEAST. I tried to do different styles and make my style better than others I saw. One day in my freshman year of highschool, I got in trouble by the principal. He took me in the office and I got detention. I was eating a Reese’s peanut butter cup. I’m a big fan of them. I had a friend who wrote RISK and I liked how it looked. I started writing REESE. I changed it REES, RESI and RES and ended up on RESE. I liked the balance and that’s what stuck.
Since I’ve known you, I’ve seen your style change to more abstract and funky pieces. How did you go from doing just letters to your most recent pieces?
I was always into abstract art. I’m an abstract painter and am a huge fan of it. One of my favorite artists is Chuck Close who is an amazing abstract artist. I’ve changed my styles so many times – but lately it’s not just mild changes. I’ve been making huge changes.. big steps. It’s something I’ve been wanting to try for 3-4 years but I was always unsure. I guess coming from the graffiti side, people tend to downplay you because you’re not doing graff – you’re more artistic. But that’s my roots – art – not graff. On trains I still do just graff, sometimes I’ll do a character.
I know you do a lot of legal walls now, but you still get up on trains and stuff?
Yeah, I started off doing CTA trains and along the CTA walls, buildings, bandos, rooftops. If someone said let’s go bombing right now, let’s hit this rooftop or freights or whatever, I still go.
Where have you traveled to do graff?
I’ve been to several states and Mexico. Every city is different. You can go to somewhere like Cali and they seem more rugged, sort of gangsta style. In Mexico it’s easier to go bombing but if you do get caught, the cops will beat the shit out of you.
How do you feel about social media and the graff scene?
Life is growing and changing and social media is part of that growth. Things used to be just on the street. You’d have your dollar cans and a fatcap, get your flicks and go to Walgreens to get your hard copies and put em in your book to show your friends when they come over. Social media is what’s in and that’s the way to get known.
If you could tell the younger writers anything, what would it be?
Keep evolving. Keep drawing. Graffiti is not just letters.
But some people will disagree with you and say it’s all about the letters.
You can still do characters and you still need to practice different fonts and styles to stay fresh and not do the same boring thing each time.
How does graffiti play into your personal life?
I think about it all the time, it’s a big part of my life.
I do office management in a huge fabrication company. Graffiti and art are always in the back of my mind. I use my client’s fabrication projects as another way to do my art.
I also do graphic design for t-shirts, business cards, pretty much anything. It’s a big passion of mine. We always talked about making shirts and now we have all the equipment for silk screening. We’re trying to do shirts and posters and find other ways we can utilize silk screening to expand our art.
Do you have any new projects coming up?
I’m constantly doing stuff and my mind is always working. Everyone is busy with life, but I always try to get the crew together for some walls. Also, we have curated a few art shows this year alone. We want to curate more and have a few in the works.
Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me for Bombing Science!
You’re welcome and thank you for the interview.
Interview by Melissa Brand