I had a chance to sit down and talk with Rise UBC from the Chicago area. Thanks for chatting with me, Rise! Let’s start with you telling us about your name and where you are from?
I started writing Rise back in 2011ish. Before that I wrote Croe, mostly with a C but sometimes as Kroe to mix it up. Around 2010 life threw a curve ball at me and Croe wasn’t resonating anymore. I then decided to come up with a name with a positive meaning and that’s when I started writing Rise.
I was born and raised on the southside of Chicago and currently reside in Northwest Indiana (NWI), just outside of Chicago. We lived in the Pilsen neighborhood up until I was about 17. After that, we moved around all over the place, Little Village, Midway Airport area, Back of the Yards & Marquette Park. The scene was cool back then, I got to see the BTB walls in Little Village, Aerosol Crew and DC5 walls in Pilsen. I would take the Orange line to school in the late 90s, and I got to see ALL KINDS of graffiti there.
I paint all over but mostly in Chicago and NWI. My area is quiet and the graffiti scene in NWI is small and predominantly based in Gary, IN. The state is very conservative and everything that gets painted in the public eye needs board approval from the local governments. Both Chicago and NW Indiana have been more open-minded to public art installations, including traditional graffiti and more street art type murals. Illegal spots are still hit often in both Chicago and NWI but they usually get buffed pretty quickly, and in NWI, usually by civilians.
Can you tell me about your crew(s) and any other crews you’ve been a part of?
I have been UBC since the 90s. We started UBC in high school and now we are in our 40s. It is mostly the same guys, give or take a few. I was involved with a few other crews throughout the years, but they had different missions that didn’t correlate with mine.
How did you get into graffiti and how long have you been writing?
I started writing in high school in the mid-90s. I participated in after school art programs (OG Yollocalli student) waaaaay before I started writing. Some writers in my class noticed that I could draw and paint. One of them printed out an alphabet for me and showed me some graffiti magazines. I was hooked, one thing led to another, and the rest is history.
How about your style and how do you feel your style has evolved over the years/ How have you grown?
At the moment my style is a chopped-up menagerie of images, letters and forms. It started off “traditional”. Fades with highlights, arrows, some kind of background and an aura (force field).
Do you paint both walls and trains?
I paint a bit of everything, but mostly permission walls currently.
Who or what has influenced your style the most?
My curiosity to try new things is a big factor. Askew from MSK said something that really nailed it for me: “My strength in graffiti has never been in being the most hardcore guy, but in trying to change graffiti itself-being interested in adding to the vernacular in some way & push things forward.” Apart from trying new things, I would say that all those people that are thinking outside the box and doing untraditional graffiti are what keeps me motivated to keep doing it.
Who are your favorite artists or writers you currently follow?
There are so many and the list is huge but one that’s been really tickling my funny bone lately is Joram Roukes IG: @joramroukes. I relate to what he’s painting, the cut up images, mosaic like pieces. It’s motivating to see him painting on such large scales. Painting murals of that scale is on my bucket list.
How much time do you put into your craft on a weekly basis and how does graffiti play into your personal life and day job?
I try to draw/paint daily. Usually, I am planning and brainstorming some kind of commission or wall. I can easily put in 40+ hours a week on top of my 9-5 gig, it all varies per project.
Graffiti has been a part of my life since high school, not a day goes by that I don’t think of a color scheme, letter, or character. This year I started Rise and Shine Studio, an LLC so I can apply for different public art projects, murals, and signage as an actual business so I can get a piece of the pie. Some of these projects are non-graffiti related, but I somehow still find a way to put my touch on it and if you look closely, you will see my name RISE in each piece. In the last six months, I have completed twenty commissioned jobs and am always looking for interesting new projects.
What kind of tv shows or podcasts are you into? Any graff related?
I seldomly watch TV, I think I replaced it with podcasts. I always have something in the background at home, studio and car. Some favorites are “This American life” “Radio Lab” “All City podcast” “Legends Thursday” “The Alski Show” “Angel & Z Podcast”.
How about the music you listen to while painting?
I am into all kinds of genres, but a good house mix from Derrick Carter will get my creative juices flowing. Another good one is The Jazz Pit on mixcloud.com, Emmett Hand & Ian Scott from Dublin, Ireland have an amazing record collection as well.
Was there ever any piece of advice you received when you first started out that has stuck with you?
Probably to keep at it. Don’t give up. Set goals and knock them out. I can’t remember where I heard the 5 P’s; “Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance” To any up & coming artists, follow the above and don’t give up.
What have been the biggest sacrifices you’ve had to make for your craft?
The big one is relationships. They usually start off supportive, but once they realize that I am NEVER going to stop coloring walls, it goes downhill from there. My resemblance to Sloth from the Goonies doesn’t help either. Sleep is a close second while you are trying to run a business and work a 9-5 gig.
Besides “know your history,” if you could teach something or tell the new generation of graffiti writers anything, what would it be?
Practice, practice, practice! Don’t get ahead of yourself and start simple, work your way up. Hopefully you can shadow under a writer with more experience and learn the ropes.
How do you feel the internet and technology has affected the scene?
I think it has affected the scene in a good way. Good because it has brought an array of styles to different parts of the globe that you might not have seen before. This motivates artists to get out of their comfort zones and push it.
What is the dream for you or the big goal with graffiti and your art?
In a nutshell, I want to be able to paint for life. There are all kinds of goals in between, but to paint forever is the ultimate goal.
Where is the coolest place you have visited for graff or in general? Any upcoming trips or events?
The coolest place I visited so far was Art Basel in Miami. Mardi Gras was cool for graffiti & street art, party, paint, party, paint, repeat. Currently, I have some proposals out in a few different states for public art projects I hope to complete this year. Also, I hope to get to travel to some other countries for both commissions and graffiti in the next year.
Do you have any crazy bombing stories?
Back in the late 90s we got busted doing some streets spots and were taken to a police station on the southside of Chicago. It was a weird detainment once we got to the station, we really didn’t get booked or put in a cell. We got called a bunch of racial slurs and had guns waved in our face and ultimately let go.
Fast forward about 3 weeks later, were at a house party on the southside of Chicago. I asked the girl who lived at the house where the beer was, she said upstairs in the kitchen. So, I make my way through the living room on my way to the kitchen I start looking at all the family pictures. You know, baby pictures, sibling pictures, wedding pictures and pictures of HER DAD AT THE POLICE ACADEMY!! Fuck! Her dad was one of the cops talking shit to us and waving their guns at us. It was crazy!
Thanks again for talking with Bombing Science, Rise! Do you want to give any shout outs? Where can people follow you and anything else they expect next?
I would like to give HUGE shout out to all my UBC crewmates!! HUGE shout out to my son Logan!! HUGE shout out to all the people that have positively affected my creative path!! And of course, a HUGE shout out to Melissa Brand/LissahhB (@lissahhb) for putting this together.