Alright so thanks for taking the time out to do this interview, can you give us a brief introduction of how you got to this point? When did you start, what crew do you rep and what’s the story behind the title “goomba”?
When I was a kid in the 90s I moved around a lot all over the tristate, I was often wandering the streets alone as a kid, finding myself in graffiti riddled places I most definitely shouldn’t have been and I felt the need to leave my name and let it to be known I was there. I continued writing my name on and off over the years and switched my name up dozens of times. Not knowing anyone else in my area that wrote, I kept it to myself and never took it too seriously. It wasn’t until I moved to Colorado in about 2006 that I started rolling with a crew, developed C2C(Come2Crush, City2City, etc) and started taking it much more seriously. Back then I wrote something different, but always appreciated a character, how they added flavor to a piece, or stuck out and looked unique on the streets amongst the alphabet. The ability to do a dope character always seemed like a necessary piece of arsenal, so I developed a character based on a cryptic self portrait. Around 2013 I moved back to the tristate, around that time I dropped the name I had written for 10 years and came up with GOOMBA(the name comes from the Italian slang term for your most loyal friend. It’s not a monkey, it’s not an alien, or a human, it’s a goomba). Soon as I got back East, i pretty quickly got down with a couple of NJ and NYC crews. We ended up not seeing eye to eye with each other and mutually splitting ways. I currently rep My C2C and AYN families.
Before reaching out to you I watched your YouTube videos and I really liked the couple of videos you posted of doing your work, it shows how much drawing and writing you really do. How many sketchbooks do you fill up on a regular basis with these crazy looking faces and letters? Do you think your mileage is what makes you a better artist/writer? Also, do you ever plan to bring more videos out I see your last one was 3 years ago!
Thank you. Yeah I mean consistency is key and I believe it does come down to mileage. I’m a firm believer in the more you do the more you get(whatever that may be). When I was younger I’d go the dollar store and rack up all the spiral notebooks. I had Staaaaaacks of books COMPLETELY filled, top to bottom, front and back page to page(you’d be surprised how heavy a book gets once it’s full of paint and ink.) I’d write the same tag the same letters, the same throwie OVER AND OVER AND OVER, then try something else, and do it again. I mean leaving no white on the page. It was essential to get a good throwie and tag down, for comfort, for muscle and mental memory, for style, for flow, for evolution, and I was broke af I really couldn’t be wasting the paper, haha .
Over the years who knows where they’ve all gone. I lost most of them moving around and giving them to friends.
That being said, you can’t get stuck on books or rely on them, you need to be able to improvise.
These days I really don’t draw as much as I used to or sometimes think I should. My ideas develop on the wall as I paint, based on all sorts of things like the shape and size of the wall, what obstacles there might be like pipes, divots and what not, the vibe/how I feel in the moment, amount of paint and time/sunlight I have.
As far as the videos, there’s tons of footage that will eventually be chopped and compiled but no dates on that and no immediate plans but there will definitely be more, so stay tuned.
What is your favorite documentary or book that covers the history or major players of graffiti and why?
As far as a book, I’d say hands down “subway art”, it was educational and descriptive, it really covers it all for those generations And truthfully for movies both “Getting Up” and “infamy” are great lessons in graffiti 101 for the newcomers, and a great informative and nostalgic watch for those that are already sitting at the table.
My favorite post of yours is the recent video you did of the truck with your tag on the side, its so sick! Congrats on that can you tell us the story behind how this piece went down? I’m sure you were stoked to see that thing going down the highway.
Yeah, ha, that one isn’t much of an exciting story, but I did that truck with my opposite hand because at the time I had just badly broken my dominant hand. It was a freezing day in January, and my boy had the drop on this lot that was in the cut, he KNEW that the trucks moved around, and that it was an easy lot because it wasn’t active on Sundays and every truck was roasted except for this one, (Which had no door handle, no passenger or drivers side windows,) I’m thinking, it’s freezing in January this truck isn’t being driven anywhere like that. but my homie insisted, and we were there. It was freezing, I was painting ambidextrous, i had no beer, thought the truck was just a sitter, and just when I thought it blew enough a cop rolls up.
We hit him with the “we have permission, take a look at all these painted trucks..” jive, which luckily this clown cop bought it, didn’t press any further, and left.
But hey, that thing is out and about gettin her way around so that worked out in the end.
You seem to hit a lot of abandoned buildings in your area to tag, where do you find these places to tag and do you have any interesting stories about anything that goes down in these areas?
You also hit abunch of high exposure areas, that i imagine leave you open to being caught, have you ever been caught by the police? Congrats on that water tower tag btw, its super badass.
Hell yeah, thanks.
A couple of years ago I was pulling over time shifts, painting bandits, tracks, and dead spots during the day all from one one of the Tristate to the other and shooting out to bomb the streets all night.
The bandos started for me as a place to practice piecing. I do a lot of wandering, I’m always bouncing around, I come across run down compounds and I’ll scope the property for a way in, or make my way in. After doing a few people take notice, start asking me about spots and oftentimes we’ll trade or someone will just let me know about a location that I should check out.
Some of these places are real wild, crack dens, junk boxes, body drop spots, toxic waste, the smell of decomposing bodies lingering, all sorts of shit. You really don’t know what you’re gonna run into, sometimes it’s a music video, ha ha.
I’ve got so many wild stories from some of these spots I don’t even know where to start. Just about everything from stepping on rusty nails, falling into holes or through floors, having to bribe bums, press angry hater junkies for vigilantly crossing pieces, getting dirty blades pulled on you by stressed out fiends(getting stabbed is one thing, but I want nothing to do with nasty bum blades.), running into other writers thinking it’s about to be a possible situation but turns out their homies, to this one time I was coming out of a spot that I frequent and feel comfortable, it was getting dark and the only cars in the lot we parked in was my ride, and two cop cars mating, and the only way to get to the car was to walk right past them.. so I grabbed the bull by the horns. I was with a friend, we were painting with hella scraps that day, and was a little lax about the spot so I was carrying two garbage bags full of rattling scraps and empty’s.. sure enough as we walk to the car , the cops come right up to us and ask where we were coming from and what we were doing. Being that there is NOTHING else around and I know that people frequent the location to take photos, I said We had heard from locals that there was cool ‘artwork’ in the building were doing a photo shoot. Then ask what’s in the bags, it was pretty obvious and not hard to find out what was in the bags, so Quickly and straight up said “spraypaint.”…
This cop looks at me, my boy wild crazy like I was an alien, like who just nonchalantly admits to that and says “what are ya, causin GRAFFITI?!?”
I playfully laughed and said, “absolutely not, it would be pretty childish of us to vandalize property with spraypaint. These are props for our photo shoot that we brought for the authenticity of the shot.”
This guy looks at me, for like ten seconds before saying “well you’re not supposed to park here after dusk, and those buildings are dangerous. You never know who could be in there.”
I all concerned like said, “oh thanks for letting us know officer, we’ll make sure not to be here after dark again.” And left. A bit of a psyche out.
I rarely have any run ins any more, definitely in my younger days, but I move differently especially when it comes to my more high exposure spots. I’ve been popped a couple of times, but never in the act, I absolutely run unless I cant or don’t have to, and I don’t talk once cuffs are involved, so I’ve never had the name jeopardize or become associated with me.
What kind of music do you listen to when you paint? I see Wiz posed in front of your piece for one of his music videos, I’m assuming you didnt meet the guy but it must be awesome to see your art have that kind of reach. Which makes me wonder if you could collaborate with any musician on a music video or something like this who would it be and why?
So the Wiz video was funny, because I was actually directly involved with the shoot. My buddy shot the video, and told me that they needed graffiti in the shot and that they had the location already set. Problem was the city buffed the wall they were shooting in front of and they couldn’t get the clearance to paint the wall in time, so he asked if I’d do it gorilla style the night before the shoot so it’d be there for the shot. Boom! I came out the night before with my homie and we grabbed it.
Hung out for the shoot, gave wiz one of my shirts, and went to the strip club with the whole crew that night to celebrate.
Funny thing is I truly never heard of a wiz Khalifa song before that moment.
I’ve been in dozens of random music videos, commercials, and movies, as well as several collaborations with other musicians and projects since, from Wu-Tang to ReeBok. You’ll see more collaborations coming for sure.
When I paint I usually listen to 80s retro wave, disco, and funk.
Coincidentally an artist I listen to, Tokyo Rose stopped in front of a mural I did that was based off of his record labels logo took photos and posted it on his page. Which I saw , so I hit him up and told him how rad it was that not only was that mural fully based on his labels logo but I was literally groovin to his tracks as I painted it.
We’ve been in contact since and actually have a collaboration piece coming soon.
Pretty wild how things work out like that.
For those out there that are hungry to improve at their craft but don’t know how to exactly what do you recommend? Is there any specific practice or exercise that you have discovered that has helped you over the years?
This takes us directly back to the second portion of my answer to question (2), be like Nike and just do it, like an alien and be out there, to break it down it takes
40% persistence, 30% patience, 15 % self motivation, 10% ability to absorb knowledge, which requires 5% respect (3% to the history & 2% to the future)in order to listen and learn, and 5% humility.
When I was coming up I’d travel far, taking public transportation or whatever I had to do to get to walk jams. I knew I didn’t have a spot, but I’d be there, watching, learning, soaking up all the different techniques, and how they were applied. I was patient, never eager, never stepping out of line as a toy to ask a veteran if I could “get down” . During that time I sought out my own locations away from anything to practice and get my game up. Over time the OGs and veterans began to invite me on the wall to get down. It took patience, time, respect, persistence and in that same token I didn’t wait around for the hand out, i was motivated to go out and get it regardless. And over time the tree ripens and you can eat the fruit.
Any crazy crew travel or jam experiences you can share? Do you travel alot or do you usually just stick to the NYC area?
I travel the east coast and reaching out to the mid west a bit. I bounce around a lot “locally” but I definitely don’t travel as much as I’d like to at the moment, and I haven’t yet been out of the country, but down with the possibility ::wink wink::
One pretty wild Crew jam happened absolutely randomly one afternoon two summers ago.
I had an early start to the day and got done painting a bandit upstate. I was with two photographer homies of mine, I killed this spot, it was early(before noon), I was drunk, and had enough paint for another burner. So I suggested we hit this other location no too far from the first. It’s about a 40 min hike deep into woods, and you come across miles of wall, randomly in the middle of a forest. We get there and I’m all amped up, feeling myself n what not and just as were approaching said walls, I see and hear a bunch of heads painting. Jokingly I’m sayin to my homies “what the fucks goin on here, bout to run some toys for their paint,” yada yah, just bullshittin, come a little closer, I can see who it is and it’s about eight of my crew mates just finishing the buff in time for me to slide in and join. We had the squad so it was beers, blunts, and bar mitzvas in the woods. Pretty dope day.
You seem to like to share pics of other people in front of your work, it really gives the impression that you have damn near covered every square inch of NYC with your tags. How many tags or bombs do you think you’ve done in total? Do you keep a running count or just hit it when you get the chance?
Ha, yeah I definitely don’t or couldn’t keep count. I just keep it moving, and hit as I go.
What I generally post are screenshots of other people’s posts. 90% of what I post is what’s called a “repost” , and the reason for that is authenticity and engagement. It’s authentic because I’m not posting EVERY single thing I do, or continuously posting one spot over and over because I like myself or need to be an internet mogul. I post what the people see, and engage with the people by sharing their personal photo. That’s real life, real engagement. It’s almost rewarding to have someone feature your shots. And for me the reward is that you took the shot. So obviously I’m not “everywhere “ but I’m where you’re gonna be, that’s why the photos surface.
If I post something I’ve posted before, it’s because that’s how many individuals have photographed it.
Any shout outs you would like to give? where can people follow you?
Yeah, shout outs to all the writers out there that see what I’m doin and support the moves. Big up to the whole C2C and AYN families, shout out to my family Milo, StickEmUp, Monster Mike, Miss Mollz, No Dice, everyone that fucks with GOOMBA, and of course thank you and the whole team at Bombing Science!
You can find me and contact me for booking and art inquiries at @G_O_O_M_B_A on instagram, @Jermain Davinci on FB or YouTube
Check out “Counting Sheep Vol.1” on YouTube to watch me on a night of bombing.
You can catch my work on display at:
3rd Ethos Gallery(@3rdethos_gallery on instagram) located at 154 Knickerbocker av. in Brooklyn for their Halloween themed group show from 10/31-11/03.
Keep an eye out for me this December in Miami for Basel.
And as always stay tuned for all my upcoming projects!
Interview by Wesley Edwards