Interview by Cian Walker
Bombing Science– So a quick introduction- What do you write and what crew(s) do you rep?
I write "Never" and I occasionally write "Troubled" whenever I'm in a really shitty mood or when I'm going through an emo phase. I don't rep any crews, nobody likes me………sorry
Bombing Science– Where are you from and what's the scene like where you live?
Never- I'm from Atlanta but I just recently escaped from there and now I'm in Brooklyn, NY; cops here are genuine assholes and I have little to no respect for them…seriously, this city is in a police state. I've heard of people getting arrested in this city for carrying a sharpie in their pocket!!! As for Atlanta, well…..I left…..but I will say the more I travel to other US cities I realize that there was a lot I took for granted about the place in terms of how chill the scene was there, however they just formed a "graffiti task force" and I'm curious to see what kind of hilariousness that brings. All in all Atlanta is a pretty cool city, I grew up in the area so I just needed a change of scenery. Most of my friends down there left years ago and I guess I got lonely. I have a lot of friends here in NY, so here I am.
Bombing Science– What was your introduction to the world of Graffiti? Did it begin with a slow realisation that it interested you or was it love at first sight?
Never- I first got exposed to graff when I was a little skater punk in middle school. I used to skate at this spot in Atlanta called the "40 yard" and coincidentally it was also a spot where people painted (now it is a luxury condo highrise). There was another spot called "The Dirt Factory" that I would hang out at too, which is now a yuppy outdoor shopping mall. Aside from being into skating I really enjoyed aimlessly wondering up train tracks and exploring crazy places. I started actually painting around 2000'ish after I screwed up my knee really bad and pretty much had to retire from my skating days. I'm really not sure when exactly to deem the first that I started because I went through a lot of crazy phases when I was young. So to answer your question, it was a slow realization that it interested me.
Bombing Science– Do you have an ideal painting experience?
Never- I guess a wall that isn't rough ass brick that I have to spend 5 hours buffing would be nice every once in a while. I think my favorite experiences are when I'm actually getting to paint with someone who doesn't speak English, that's always fun. Its a good experience being able to collaborate with someone beyond language and cultural barriers.
Bombing Science– Tough question I know but who are some of your favourite artists- graffiti and otherwise?
Never- Yeah, I hate questions like this; too many options and I'm really scatter-brained. But I'll give it a shot: I'm a big fan of Aryz right now, after I made a trip to Barcelona a couple of summers ago I was very inspired by his massive paintings for the fact that they are original, conceptual, and they are freaking HUGE! I'm also a fan of Smug, he is a super nice guy and his photo realistic work is ridiculously accurate. How & Nosm have always been innovators. Os Gemeos are up there on my list. And I like Roa's dead animals. And uuuuummmmmmmmmm…..Jeremy Fish is a good illustrator.
On the letters side of the spectrum; I really dig the work of Bonzai, Berst, Askew, Asesr, Ensoe, Bacon, my homey Paser, and Peeta with his 3D skills.
Bombing Science– Are there any particular goals you'd like to achieve in your graffiti career?
Never- Paint something I am actually happy with for longer than a couple of hours. All my friends gave me the nick name "Mr. Never Satisfied" because of how critical and insecure I am about my own work. I dont really have any set "goals" other than to just keep pushing myself. It'd be nice if I could afford to travel more. I guess I need to meet someone that can hook me up with buddy passes, does that count as a goal?
Being that I'm aware there are several other writers out there who also go by "Never" (a few who I have already spoken with), I think it'd be pretty funny to unify us all and start up some kind of a crew.
Bombing Science– What is your opinion on the current state of graffiti, both locally and internationally?
Never- There are a million things I could say, but I just prefer to keep to myself. There are a lot of amazingly talented graff artists in the world and I hope to be able to travel and meet some of them and see their process.
Bombing Science– Do you prefer to paint letters or characters?
Never- Depends on my mood. Lately I've been a lot more into pushing my character work. If I am trying to communicate some kind of message in my work then I do characters, if I don't have anything specific on my mind at the time then I aimlessly do letters. Once I feel like I've painted a similar letter outline a couple of times then I switch my focus to characters. I recently had to get my eff'ed up knee operated on and then my leg got infected from the surgery and it sucked, ever since then I've had a lot of things on my mind so I've been pretty focused on sketching characters. I just recently re-gained the ability to walk normally so I have a lot of character sketches that need to be painted.
Bombing Science– Regarding the characters, do you try and inject them with a narrative that might have a universal comprehension regardless of the viewers bias or background or is it more of a personal exorcism of internal issues?
Never- This is a really hard question for me to answer because I have gone through a ton of phases with my character work. Lately its really been more of a personal exorcism than anything else. I started out copying images from my old comic books onto walls. Not too far down the road I decided to take a stab at photo realistic portrait work. I spent a pretty long time painting either pictures of people I'd find online or I'd paint some random dude's face I'd see stamped in a newspaper or something. There were a couple of instances where I took pictures of random homeless people I would meet underneath bridges and I would paint their portraits. I kind of wish I'd stuck with that as a recurring theme because there is a huge homeless population in Atlanta and I used to spend a lot of time talking with them; I guess I just wasn't thinking too much into it at the time. The more I painted portraits the more people would ask me if it was some celebrity. I hated when people asked me that. Around 2004 I decided to start painting portraits of Ken Lay (he was the main guy behind the Enron scandal). I painted that asshole's face many many times, and then when the Enron trials started I noticed a publication had taken a picture of one of them and published it. It made me feel good to feel that I was bringing a little bit of attention to a big political issue that people tend to ignore. Unfortunately though, it was impossible to find an image of that guy with any sort of expression on his face so it got redundant after a while. Around 2007 I started painting blowfish in obscure locations, I did that for a couple of years but it became a bit redundant as well because I couldn't inject them with any kind of personality. In the last year, I've really tried to shift my character work to be completely original in its source. I don't want to use any found imagery, I want my characters to be completely based on my illustrations. I've been struggling to find a recurring character I can work with for a long time, right now I have a thing for owls so thats what im painting a lot of at the moment. Maybe I'll stick with it, maybe I wont. Who knows…who cares…
Bombing Science– Animals and nature seem to feature heavily in your work- any particular fascinations you hold within the natural world?
Never- No, not in particular. I just got tired of painting people and wanted to try painting animals, they are actually a lot more fun to paint. Since the recent surgery I had to do, I've been sketching owls with saggy eyes, bandages over the right knee, and blowfish spikes growing out of their faces. I guess its pretty easy to get the references there.
Bombing Science– You've had a hard time with that knee- is it expected to be a recurring problem? That must be an absolute nightmare for a writer…
Never- I have to get another surgery on it at some point, and when I do I'm expected to be on crutches for at least 3 months. The first surgery wouldn't have been that bad if my leg hadn't got infected, but shit happens. As for this second surgery procedure, well, I'm putting it off. Especially now that the cheap insurance coverage I had back in Atlanta does not cover me up here in NY. Even with health insurance its absurd how high of a deductible you have to pay to get any kind of medical treatment in America; but that's a whole other discussion. My right knee will randomly pop out of place when I am walking down the street and it is very painful when it happens. I can't even think of what would happen if I attempted to run. For the most part, my knee hasn't been bothering me too terribly much the past few weeks, but I'm not taking any chances with it. Hilariously, my other knee is starting to do weird things now as well. So I cant wait to see where that ends up in the future. I get the feeling that I'm going to be a really grumpy old dude when I get older.
Bombing Science– I know you're never satisfied but is there are a particular collaboration or production that you've worked on that stands out as a particular favourite?
Never- There is a character I did last summer that was my interpretation of an Atlanta crack-whore, it looked completely different from any character I'd ever done in the past and that was the turning point in which I started drawing characters that were based off of my illustrations rather than based off of my photography or found imagery. Aside from that, there is a wall I did with my buddy Eras just before I got surgery. He only really does characters so every time we painted he would always do a character and I would always do a piece, which was cool and all, but I felt like there wasn't very much "collaboration" taking place with that. Every time I proposed doing a character next to one of his he'd shoot down the idea because him and I had a totally different technique to painting characters. He moved to Seattle several years ago but was in Atlanta for a visit and we were working on a wall. I wanted to do characters but he wasn't having it. So I started out painting a piece, then we got into an argument and I won, so I erased what I had started and we reached an agreement that he would continue painting his portrait of a girl sleeping and I would fill up the rest of the wall with snarling wolves, bears, and cougars. Being that he finished his character way before me, he ended up filling in some of the outlines I had started. The turnout of that wall was a big breakthrough for us, and I like it because of that; even though I soooooooo could have painted it better…
Bombing Science– Having travelled a bit- is there anywhere that stands out from the crowd? Whether it be the graf scene or otherwise?
Never- Well, I've only really traveled just up and down the east coast, a little bit in the midwestern US, and a bit around Europe. I fell in love with Barcelona and Berlin. Those two cities are amazingly progressive with the work that comes out of them. And the general public out there is much more relaxed about people painting in abandoned buildings. I felt like I was in heaven. Other than that, I am really anxious to see Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires as there is some very interesting work coming out of those two cities.
Bombing Science– From your Flickr I gather that you've experienced some difficulty from the "Graffiti In A Gallery" scenario- what's your stance on all this? Commercialisation of graf etc…
Never- As for as the "graffiti in a gallery" scenario, if a graff artist wants to put up some work in a gallery then I don't have a problem with it, its good to diversify your body of work. The main appeal of graffiti though is the placement of it which is what makes it what it is. So when a graff artist puts work up in a gallery they need to innovate a little bit to make it work. Because doing a paint marker piece with splatters in the background usually doesn't translate that well in to that atmosphere. A lot of my friends back in Atlanta are heavily involved in the gallery scene, and I would get a lot of offers to get involved in art showings. But unfortunately for me I just don't really get much enjoyment in painting canvas. I wish I did, but I don't.
As for the commercialization of graffiti, yeah its annoying but at the same time, its evidence that graffiti is finally being recognized as a legit artform. So it doesn't really bother me that much, its kind of funny to me.
What pisses me off is when photographers take mugshots of other people's graffiti work around town and sell prints of it in some high end gallery while knowing absolutely nothing about graff culture. That aggravates the shit out of me! When any other type of artist creates a work that slightly resembles another artists style they get ridiculed, yet when some dooshy photog snaps a dead-on photograph of someone else work and sells it as their own, no one seems to give them any shit for it.
Never, thanks a lot for your time!