Born in Jamaica, Queens NERDS has been adding his own unique style to every wall he approaches. From train yards to The Bushwick Collective, NERDS has no limits. His passion and dedication to the game is unmatchable. Without further ado, Bombing Science presents NERDS 2DX!
Why “NERDS”? What inspired you to choose that combination of letters?
I was always the bad smart kid in school… lol
When did you start writing?
Shit… I started noticing graff in like 7th grade, but I didn’t start to “actively” participate until High School… So like ’99, but I didn’t write “Nerds” back then… lol
Word, so about 17 years… That’s putting in work. What were the first few words you put up? Or just one prior?
I used to write “PAER,” that was my first tag.
When was the first time you went to prison?
Mid 2000’s… Like late ’05-’07… I was living in Miami, fucking up my septum with that good oil based coke… Selling 8balls and shit… Got jammed up on some charges… …I thought they were small at the time, but Florida’s judicial system isn’t New York’s. I was basically just doing my Charlie Sheen at the time… I felt like I was lucky to get that 18+ months… This was basically the time the pill mills started popping up everywhere… We all were smoking a lot of pills, going out and robbing the dope boys… Smacking $20 rocks out of their hands and doin’ the Carl Lewis… I was glad to make it out of there alive… They can keep that 18 months… It’s a gift… lol.
That’s pretty wicked. When you were in Miami, were you still writing “PAER” or had you transitioned to “NERDS.”
I got the name “NERD” around ’01-’02… I didn’t add the “S” until maybe ’07-’08 when I came back from Florida… I didn’t write much in Miami… The scene was so different… I didn’t have a car either… When I did steal or “acquire” a car… I was pretty preoccupied with other crimes…
What made you decide to come back to New York?
I had nothing left for me down there… So I decided to come back and start all over…
What was the first thing you did when you came back to New York?
The first thing I did was link up with the squad… Start painting again… I felt like I needed to get back to a sense of normalcy… And that felt like the only way.
What kind of spots do you and the squad like to hit?
It really all depends on the mood I’m in… Sometimes it’s something very thought out and well planned… Sometimes I have to drink a lot and I’m just like “Fuck it.”… I try to keep it diverse… Most of my squad would probably agree… We all like to challenge each other, keep us all developing.
Those shredded layers you paint are staggering, what inspired that idea?
Honestly, that idea all came from me doing collages on that fine art shit… I had like garbage bags full of ripped paper in my house… One day I was blackout drunk and started visualizing these fonts all stacked up… The idea just started really basic and then developed fairly quick… Especially once I started free-styling the colors… I’m not one of those writers who has crates of paint at their house… I’m usually working with rattlers and shit I find in my back seat… lmao… No sponsors. So it just made a lot of sense to stagger them… Especially when you’re working with quarter cans and 1 good cap… Hahah. Just gimme five scraps and I’ll smoke anybody…lol… I’ll blow cans up if I have to… lmao.
Lmao, word. That’s what’s up. How long did it take to paint that mural at the Bushwick Collective Wall in 2015?
That was actually the first non-graffiti mural I’d ever done… And at the time the biggest piece of work I had ever done… I painted it on a scaffold in the rain after work everyday for three days straight… I like a challenge… lol.
Spoken like a true savage. What type of opportunities have you had to travel different places for both galleries and straight up graffiti?
In the last few years I’ve traveled a lot… Exploring different abandoned buildings on the east coast… I fell in love with that lifestyle immediately… The isolation spoke to me in some sick way… lol… I’ve been invited to a few different festivals… experienced a lot of different cultures… Met a lot of white bitches with fat asses… They’re out there… lol.
Speaking of abandos, was that phone actually working? Or was that just for the ‘gram?? Lol. How’d you even find that place?
Lmao… Nah that shit was actually working. Deadass… made some local calls on that bad boy… Abandos are a dangerous game, especially going at it alone. If you want to find them, then you have to open your eyes… They’re all around… Keep your ears to the street and keep those clippers handy… lol.
What do you think about social media and graffiti combined?
I’ve always said that the internet itself is a tool… A tool improperly used can be dangerous… With that being said a lot of good writers careers have done well because of social media… Myself included, but I’ve been doing this when social media consisted of Bombing Science magazine and ArtCrimes.com… lmao… The internet has created a lot of hybrid styles… Which I’m all for, but a lot of the community and history has been lost… I feel like it’s a double-edged sword… Styles with no master… Street art is the entitled, ungrateful offspring of graffiti… Like the crazy dad who finally makes sense when you’re older… lol.
Who would you say has influenced your style the most?
At this point in my life, I get influences from all different areas of art… That’s a loaded question… Growing up in Queens I was mentored by a lot of old school BMK crew… Optick/ Smend… As I grew up traveling around the city, I became more aware of the variance of styles… SLOPE from BK had a lot of styles… SETUP.. I was definitely influenced by ESPO and his gates…. I never wanted to feel one dimensional in a specific style… As I got older I pushed myself to be diverse… So at this point I don’t even sketch anymore… It’s just a bag of tricks at this point… I like it like that… I’m a mystery, wrapped in an enigma, rolled in a big ass cigarette with coke on the tip… Hahaha.
From your story about Miami I can tell things were pretty wild. What was a wild experience you had in NY?
A few years ago when I was shooting my video entitled “No Invite” I went to Yonkers to search out a ‘bando. I had never been there before and had no idea how to get in…(**Side-note** At this point I had been on a three day cocaine binge. I had about 2 G’s left tucked in my sock. I was really fucked up… You know the type of fucked up that every line of Coke do you do falls out of your nostrils because your septum is just overworked…) Anyway I find the entrance to the building through a basement window that had about a 12 foot drop to the ground … there was a chain attached to the wall a few feet from the window that I grab and climb down. Meanwhile I had no idea how I was going to get out of the building when I was done nevertheless …But Fuck it though……I made my Way to the third floor. I found a wall with good light and started to unpack my paint (But If You’ve never had the unfortunate pleasure of spending three days with no sleep doing cocaine like Marion Barry… Chances are you will begin to hallucinate.) All of a sudden I hear someone say “Hellooo.” I pause while going through my cans and there is the voice again “Helloooooo??? “with some weird accent. At this point I couldn’t tell whether I was hallucinating or if this was really happening. There was the voice again, “Helloooooooooooooooo” with a weird Russian Polish-ish fuckin’ accent. So all of a sudden….I couldn’t tell you why… haha… I just yell Out ..”What’s Good Nigga!!”…..I still don’t know if I’m hallucinating or not yet or if it’s the fuckin’ boys but I’m wayyyyy to fucked up to be analyzing the situation that deep…haha… The dude yells back “Hey hey hey!!!… I’m lost, I can’t find the way I came in!!!”….about 45 seconds later he comes around the corner into the room I’m in… He’s one of those German/ Polish/ Russian /Mediterranean Merrill wearing photographer urbex dudes… I tell him the way I came in and he tells me he tried it and can’t climb the chain. He’s extra flustered… I tell him “Relax… I got you…” I show him the room where I climbed in through the window… I climb back up the chain on some American drugs ninja warrior shit and dead grant out the frame of the window off with just my feet. I grab his hand and lift him to a point where’s he’s comfortable enough to scale the chain… (I swear just reliving this story is fuckin’ ridiculous…lol.) I shimmy back down the chain, he’s extremely grateful… He says something to me and gives me a salute lol, (the type of salute you see Afghanistan kids give American soldiers…lol.) I trek back upstairs to finish the piece I started… About 1 hour later it gets really dark really fast… So I make my way back to the room to climb out. It’s fuckin’ freezing, my hands are cold and stiff, the chain I have to climb is like an ice cube, and I’m totally gassed. I don’t have the energy to climb it… I start walking room to room trying to find one loose plywood board on any random window…I’m kicking shit..trying to get out by any means… I don’t even give a fuck about the cops at this point I’m freezing… Any booking is better than death…#deadass… I sit down and light a cigarette and evaluate the situation. All of a sudden a flash light hits me through the elevated window and I hear that weird ass Russian/German/ Polish niggas voice…”HELLO!?!?!?!”……I just break out laughing… (It turned out that garbled foreign shit he was sayin’ to me as he went out the window earlier was him letting me know he was coming back with friends later)..They throw down a rope ladder and climb down. We give each other pounds and exchange language neutral expressions of respect and gratitude. I climbed out the window and never saw those tourists again…karma, huh?
When have you gone to bookings and got placed in the same cell with someone you knew?
Every time I go to jail or booking or whatever I always end up with a story. I’ve got more stories than the fuckin’ bible…lol. Sometimes when I’m about to tell a story even I know how unbelievable some of this shit is…lol
So, it’s maybe 09-11…hahah…whatever. I’m walking down 62nd on the east, fresh new chrome uni. At the time I was flipping everything from dimes to biftys of green straight delivery style. I even had a beeper on some late mid 90s clockers shit (Dope Spike Lee Movie.) I just ground the tip down of this brand new uni silver from my mans “Geo” at the Scrap Yard…
I’m approaching 1st ave and there’s a fresh mailbox… I roll up on it, bust off a quick handstyle. Exclamation, swirl, all that… I keep walking… All of a sudden I hear this whistle start blowing crazy…!!!!!!!!!!!….!!!!!!!!!!!!…..!!!!!!!!!!!!!!…
I turn around and 2 bike cops roll up on me fast as fuck… Did the power slide and everything..Baywatch shit… At this point I’m literally on the curb standing on the sewer grate… Out of pure instinct I drop the marker in the gutter… “Where’s the marker buddy?….Where’s the cans?…Turn around …You think we didn’t see you?” I don’t say shit… They look around for a while and see it in the gutter…(* I fucking swear to you*… They brought a fucking police tow truck to lift up the grate and retrieve the marker like it was a fucking CSI investigation no lie.*)… They ship me to the precinct… From the precinct to the Tombs (my 2nd Home)… Once I make it To the second cell I’m tired and there’s no open space… I see this dude layer out across a big piece of real estate….I walk over and I don’t know why but the first thing I see is his sneakers… Some Black shell toes with rainbows stripes…(I know a nigga with those kicks…I’ve never seen anyone else with them, but they’re obviously not the only pair in existence.) His shirt is pulled over his face to block the fluorescent lighting…I tap him on the shoulder.. “Ayo…Slide down a little bit nigga…” He pulls the shirt off his head…..NEMZ ..muthafucker!!!!!! …We start bugging out… The CO is telling us calm down and shit…He got wrapped up in some other shit (that’s his story to tell..hahaha.) Anyway it turned out he’s already been here for like 24hrs. By the time we reach the lawyer cell we have been together for hrs… (Btw Shout Out To Azel Cs..Lower East side Boy…there isn’t a a bookings I’ve been in that he doesn’t have scratchies/ lighter tags u name it.) We go up to see the judge, some of his family was there and they’ve met me on different occasions…lol. So when they saw me there they thought we were co-defendants…hahahah…Let’s just say I wasn’t that welcome at the family house for a while…hahah.. #deadass… lol.
Anyone you want to give a shout out to?
First and foremost none of this would be possible without ME… So let me start by thanking myself… Big Shout Out To My Ace.. DIM TIS CSF… I never would of been in this game if it wasn’t for him… Shout out to The whole TIS Familia…SENO, SEAK, NEMZ CIR, and my nigga EONIS out in Atlanta… My 2dx family state to state…DEK, SMASH, SANS, RUKUS, MINUS, SNEK, Smirk, CRIS, ETHEK, REUP out in Baltimore and SKIZM… All My CSFamily…Brooklyn!!…GIGS, FRESH5, SLUE… All my WATCriminals…USEE, LEER, GASE EK, BIRD… My Dude RANT in Ohio… My Man CAKED WPK..”Aka” Brick Tosser…..The team is huge… Also Shout out to the homies EVAK, EGORE, CENT… My nigga OVER NFG… And Of Course The Great JIN’S 5MH…..Shout out to Queens… And Last But Not Least… RIP BAK ,RIP ZNO ,RIP PANAS, RIP YEAH ,RIP CEFR…. You’re truly Missed… We’ll paint again soon…..💯…I’m Out.
You can follow NERDS’s on his Instagram
Written by Nathaniel Villano