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 (if any), and what’s the story behind “tkid”
What up! Bombing Science. To get to where I am today I have to go back and give credit to my predecessor’s Guys Like Padre2 Tracy168 Nic707 ect ect. I started putting my name on walls back in 1973 as a little kid got caught up in that 1970s Gang life and after recovering from getting shot in 1977 I came up with the name TKID10 while under arrest and still in Lincoln Hospital up in the Bronx. The name Tkid was a combination of BIG T and Kid, which is what my peers called me back then. After that incident I left to outlaw life and became a GRAFFITI WRITER! I got down with Wild Style a crew from the BX and started The Nasty Boyz in 1977 The Vamp Squad in 1980. Currently I rep TMT the magnificent tam and ST6, RTW and a few more..
So to get started the first thing I noticed on your instagram was some old polaroids from 1985 of what I assume is some trains you had tagged. Man you’ve been in the game for a minute now! What are your thoughts when you look back on these images, what kind of memories do you have from this time period? Can you tell us why you dedicated that post to SHY147th?
Honestly 1985 was toward the end of my career on NYC subway trains. I look at those pics and remember a time when it was about getting up and burning subway cars. They traveled from borough to borough, an underground gallery each car sacred and if someone dared to go over you, you go to war and fuck them up when you caught them. You build bonds with other writers and honor them if they die. Shy147 was a cool writer who earned my respect and when he passed I honored him with this car!
What is your favorite documentary or book that covers the history or major players of graffiti and why?
My favorite documentaries are Rubble Kings because it depicts life in the 70s and the culture in which I grew up with. I also enjoy The documentary called The Nasty Terrible Tkid170 which is about me. I also wrote a book with the same title which sold out as soon as it was published.
I’ve heard that back in the day everything was very territorial when it came to graffiti, now it seems like its opened up a lot and writers from all over NYC or even globally collaborate and come together. What do you think of the changes such as this, that have happened to graffiti? Do you think the changes have been overall positive or are some negative?
A lot has changed since the 70s & 80s. Today It’s more like a party and you have people from all over and different walks of life trying to do it. It’s become more above ground as opposed to what we did back in the day. Back then we took pride in that it was illegal and on trains. Today it’s about permission and trying to attract attention on social media and corporate sponsorship, Which is ok but it’s missing that adrenaline rush that came with the chance of getting hit by a train getting fucked up by rivals or chased and caught by the cops. People go over each other and it’s ok. Back then you get fucked up for that. Guess you can say nowadays it’s all kumbaya. Yesteryear was, you fight to write.
I see you post pretty regularly, is doing graffiti your full time gig? If so, how did you spin it into a gig, and if not why haven’t you pursued that business path? Do you think the business spoils the art?
You can say I live a double life. By day I hit my studio and pump out all kinds of stuff. People appreciate guys like me who bring them that 70s & 80s flavor of graff. I have a business LEGENDARY URBAN ARTS LLC I produce genuine Graffiti art for those who enjoy that era that I represent. My Market is worldwide. On the flip side I also enjoy doing the ilegal Night action from time to time. Here there, everywhere. I give back to communities worldwide with lectures and workshops for inner-city kids who frequently find trouble with society at large. My art is my Business and Business is my art, Business is good.
What kind of music do you listen to when you paint? Who is your favorite hip hop artist and why?
I enjoy listening to old school breakbeats when painting but I am not limited to just that, Depending on my mood I can go from Hip hop to Goth, Rock and even shit like ENIGMA… I love all hip Hop there are too many that are good to just pick one. If it fits my flow it’s gonna go..
What I also like about your work is that you do a fair amount of sketching in your blackbook, and you do traditional pieces too. How important do you think the blackbook is to developing your style as a writer?
Blackbooks are our diary, Our bible if you will. This is where we do our planning, we exchange ideas when we let other writers hit our blackbooks, Black books are as important to writers as food and water are to earthlings. Blackbook document a writer’s journey and evolution and become part of their soul and who they are. Need I say more?
For artists that are starting down the path you have already walked, what advice do you give them? Is it simple as pick up a can and go tag some walls and figure it out as you go?
Sometimes it is that simple but most of the time it’s not. You have to Have a passion for this. You have to want this. You have to know what you want to do. What label will you follow, Graffiti writer or street artist Are you going legal or the other way. You need to understand and be able to accept the consequences that come with the illegal. It ain’t easy. You need to be well rounded, open minded and willing to go that extra mile. You have to understand that surgeons were not born with their skills, they learned them and through application and practice those skills develop.
When you were coming up who inspired you and taught you the ropes and who inspires you now? Who are the artists that are inspiring you now?
The NYC subway trains were my inspiration writers like Phase2, Riff170, Tracy168 Padre2, Lava 1&2, Nic707, ChiChi133, FDT56, Checker170, Jimmy HAHA.. Man, so many cats inspired me back then.Today Cats like MODE2 and JON-ONE, BROK3HCTNB, MYST & ALEX, CMP. SWET-Boogie SkemeTMT< Chain3TMT, Serve-oneFBA. These guys are a big influence on me today
I also see that you’ve done a fair bit of traveling over the years,, and I’m curious any crazy travel stories? Did you rough it, or did you have friends to crash with?
I do Travel quite a bit. I’ve been fortunate enough that through the years I’ve developed a network of good peeps that look out for me and let me crash. I enjoy staying with local writers who are dedicated to this culture and who enlighten me as to ways of their customs, community eccentricities, and all pertinent information so that I can be the best writer I can be.
Also recently you did a badass installment piece for the museum of graffiti can you give us an idea of how that went down? What was the process and how did you get such a cool gig?
Yeah, that was an awesome opportunity and an honor to be asked. Allen Ket hooked that up. I have worked with Ket in the past with the Marc Ecko Getting up Contents under pressure Video game and he helped develop the publishing and distribution of my autobiography “The Nasty Terrible Kid170”. I got the call for that around late September and Ket felt with the new installation of the early 80s Chalfant subway cars photo display it would be great if I painted a mural that showed how we rocked in that era to an evolution up to the present. He felt I was the perfect candidate that represented his vision for that era. One of the previous questions you asked was the importance of black books. Well I went back to one of my black books and pulled pieces that I did back in that era and threw them up on those walls. 3 walls 3 Pages, History right there.
Any shout outs you would like to give? where can people follow you?
Shout out to all my Peeps throughout the world.. TNB BOYZZZ worldwide killa Dillas. Yo KET thanks for letting me tear those walls up at THE MUSEUM of Graffiti. Mare139 for being such a cool cat. COPE2 for always being real with me and supporting me and looking out. To all the good men and women who have kept real with me and showed me what real is. And to rest.. I ain’t mad at cha!!! Love all day y’all!!
You can follow Tkid on Instagram.
Interview by Wesley Edwards.