Germs, Satyr, Goser, photo by Satyr

When I first moved to the Bay Area, the very first writer to show me some love and take me around the city was Germs. Not only is he skilled with the can, but he has the character to back it up. With a career that spans years in the Southwest, Denver and California, his body of work speaks for itself. He’s worked hard to develop a totally unique, trademark style and approach that could only be his own. He was kind enough to take a few moments to discuss graffiti, music and other types of art.

photo by Steve Rotman

Bombing Science: What crews do you push and how did you come to represent each one of them? What do they mean to you?
I push EMT. Earth’s.Main.Threat ~ Every.Man’s.Terror ~CMA~DFM~1810~LORDS EMT has been my day 1 since the 90’s back in AZ. 2017 is the 20 year anniversary and I’ve been reppin it since ’98 I wouldn’t be where I am if wasn’t for those formative years. AOM that was early 2000’s. Medz and Dreos put me on with the Denver boys, great time spent out there. 1810, I got down with after meeting Swer, Vote and Dayser. Those are my aces and kicked with them on the daily.

CMA is a legendary crew in my eyes with the likes of Hablo, Trust, Smoke, Jase, Topr to name a few, “Coolest.Men.Around”, “Call My Agent” DFM came after meeting my partna Resk. We were roommates for 5 years and was a easy transition. LORDS came recently after a few EMT mates got down and also had a lot of good homies and cool folks already I’ve known for years and it’s a great Bay Area crew.

photo by Steve Rotman

Did anyone show you the ropes when you were first coming up? If so, who and how did they influence your artistic evolution?
’94-’95 was when I met the homie Daer, Sore, and Sake. Me and my cousin Cash2 meet those cats at Alhambra High. Daer was always ahead of the curve in my eyes with the clean characters and can control on top of letters and drive, Sore was the Senior so he put me on to old flicks and the way things were and bombing, Cash2 was my original bombing partner so we learned from each other.

photo by Steve Rotman

How is/was the graff scene different in Arizona when you were coming up compared to the Bay Area (where you’ve been active most recently)?
The scene in Phx was somewhat LA influenced in the sense of tag banging but it also had and has a dope south west vibe and feel to it. As for the Bay Area, it opened my eyes to a buffet of different styles that were a mix of local SF/OAK, NY, and the Northwest. Cats coming up from LA also put their spin on it. So many ill writers have come and gone through the Bay that it truly is a blessing to have witnessed it in person.

photo by Steve Rotman

You’ve lost some really influential and important crew mates and friends in the last couple years. Can you tell us a little bit about Vote, Anemal, and Yesm and the types of guys they were and what they meant to you?
Yeah those are just to name a few. VOTE was my ace, he was one of the first cats I met when I moved to SF. Me and that dude hung out damn near daily, Vote was a special dude with an amazing view in life, he would say things that most people couldn’t pull off or get away with, loved Bukowski, his art was beautifully simple and still eye pleasing. He had a carefree approach to painting which I envied, he’d always say to me, meh “art is subjective.” Gone too soon is a understatement. Aneml was just that, a animal! That guy had 2 speeds, stop and go.

Always painting dope spots and a real nice dude, unfortunately I didn’t have the honor to know him many years, another tragic accident. And last but not least YESM, my dude, had friends from all walks of life, from hood cats to artists, he was a passionate guy who loved his son and his friends dearly, always there for you whether it was to fuck someone up or help you move. He would unite people that normally wouldn’t be in a room together. Hand-styler YESM the bumfather RIP. I’m convinced those cats are holding it down up there.

photo by Steve Rotman

If you had to describe your lettering style to someone who has never seen it before, what would you say? What’s the logic/thinking behind how you develop/create your letters?
My letter style has evolved over the years, I’d say in the beginning I wanted to try my best at wild-style that was the hot shit then in some ways it still is. I like legibility with some funk, I tend to layer my pieces from the ground up and pair together colors that create a different look, a lot of times it’s just the colors I have on me so I make due. A good friend once told me, if you can’t read it from 5 feet away then it’s just a pretty picture, “looks expensive”- and that’s all I got to say about that.

Daysr and Germs

What areas outside of graffiti inspire you the most and how does their influence show up in your work?
Honestly I’ve been soaking it up man, mural work around SF and the East Bay helps me think outside of graffiti, I’ve had a few commissioned jobs in the last couple of years, always been a fan of letters and fonts so sign painting has been something I’ve been getting into, and of course tattooing, all those things have helped me with approach, composition, and ideas.

What do you think about this clown just getting elected as our president?

Plan9, Germs, Mike

Do you think as artists we have a responsibility to use our craft to try and affect social change at all? Would you ever use your art for political reasons and if so, why or why not?

Art is subjective and it’s speaks all languages so yeah art can be used for political reasons, pictures can tell a story and be powerful, but I don’t think you’re obligated, if that’s the approach you want to take then go for it.

You’ve been around for a while. What are some of the major changes you’ve noticed in the mindset of writers, between today and the earlier days of your graff career?
When I was coming up it was a different mentality , we soaked our fat caps in nail polish remover till they turned pink, and traded manilla folders with flicks, today as everyone says the internet blew it up. You have got these really cool paint companies and caps, for the most part it still comes down to fucking shit up, but it’s evolved to something fresh I can dig that any way you spin it.

One of Germs’ Murals

If you could’ve told your younger self what to avoid and what to embrace within the graffiti culture what would you have said?
Maybe I would have said travel more and paint different places and also hold dear relationships you never know when they might be gone.

If you had to make a painting playlist, what artists/musicians would be on it and why?
Depends on the mood, ’90s hip-hop, oldies, Chicano soul, surf rock, 80’s freestyle, I can be here all day listing names and bands, but who really cares, you get the gist.

One of Germs’ non graff trucks

How did you come to writing Germs? Is there any deeper meaning behind it?
I went thru a couple of names in high school. Germs came along after I thought the G looked chunky and sat nicely in front, and a S looks dope at the end. My 17 year old mind frame was writing my name every where spreading like germs. Corny, I know.

How do you feel about graff and politics? Has your outlook regarding this stuff changed as you’ve gotten older?
Politics are going to be around as long as writers have different opinions, and influences. crews sway in different directions, graffiti is driven by egos so how can you not, I just try to stay in my lane.

How has graffiti and your street work informed your work in your other artistic pursuits?
It’s irrelevant to one another, it becomes an organic thing that evolves and sometimes you don’t notice it.

A lot of writers have careers as tattoo artists. Do you see any parallels between the two, and if so, what are they? How are the two similar/different?
The parallels between the two is that it’s an art, you are creating whether it’s on a wall or skin, obviously the long term affect is different from a wall, I often use same techniques for my mural gigs as I would for drawing up a stencil. Perspective and composition. I honestly could mostly just do letters before tattooing, tattooing has opened up new ideas and jobs that I never thought I’d be able to do.

Germs and Resk

A lot of people see graffiti as just some immature, childish pursuit. If you had to describe/explain it to these types of people, how would you explain it?
Look everyone starts somewhere you don’t just pick up a can or a brush and just start knocking masterpiece burners, as a writer you’re at a infant stage of where you’re art will ultimately lead. Some of the best artists today at some point took a can to a wall for a tag.

Do you ever see yourself retiring from graff completely?
Honestly I don’t think so, I’ve definitely slowed down some over the years, but I always have a streak or Uni on me at least a scribe. It’s something I thoroughly enjoying doing, and it’s the only thing I’ve been halfway decent at for over 20 years.

One of Germs’ murals

Any last words/shout outs?
Want give a big thanks to you for the opportunity to do this interview, shout out to all my
CREWS! Whadup to my homie &1 down in LA. Silencer, Dayser, SLAPSHOT,
Hablo, Daer, Venk, Roar, 7seas, Ryno, Volar, Natrl, all the SW Emt’s too many to name them all. my AOM homies Dreos and Medz in So. Cal. and Denver homies Jolt, Skape, my homie SWER 1810 in el DF MEX. RIP VOTE, YESM, ANEML, SAZE, BEST my girl Cecilly and my daughter Angie. anyone I forgot. -out

You can follow GERMS on instagram

By Paul Lukes