Name: Modus

Crews: Letters First, The Seventh Letter, Writer’s Bench, OTM

Location: New York City

What started it all: Oddly enough, I didn’t really like graff as a kid growing up. Growing up in the hood, I used to think graffiti was the visual representation of everything that was wrong with my neighborhood in the 90s: drugs, gangs and violence, etc. My whole perception of graffiti changed once one of my ride or die friends came over to my house the summer before 8th grade and showed me Style Wars for the first time. It was a wrap after that. Like Case2 says:, ”Oh, that looks all right. I’ma go every Sunday now.”

Why Modus: Like many writers before me, I went through a bunch of other names. But long story short, I decided to write Modus after hearing an anchor on the local news talk about a rash of bank robberies committed by a kid who I actually knew growing up. We went to the same church my mom used to make me go to as a kid lol.

He was a seriously good magician (at one point held the world record for eating a lightbulb in the fastest time) and in fact used the art of magic and deception during his bank robberies. The anchor talked about the robbers “M.O,” and the methods he used to get away with these bank heists. I studied a bit of Latin in middle school so the term Modus Operandi automatically clicked in my head. For me, graffiti is all about the various methodologies and ways of being we develop and use to get over. Like Espo says, there really is something to The Art of Getting Over.

On Style: While I’m more interested in the act of painting than the end result per se, style is still PIVOTAL. If you don’t got style or at least a concept behind what you’re doing on the street, is it even worth it? Style is something that takes years of hard work, dedication and an honest love for the craft. Also it’s important to know that style never exists in a vacuum; it’s something that’s passed down from one generation to the next.

I think my style is a reflection of my generation: a generation that witnessed the birth and spread of the internet into our homes and around the world. While I’m a New yorker at heart I’d say my style is a hybrid of various influences both domestic and abroad. With that said, my style is heavily influenced by NY and east coast originals like Wane COD, Rime MSK, Rath UPS, Host18 DYM and more.

On painting in NYC: Painting in NYC right now is a trip and a half. To be honest, between Covid, the social unrest we’ve seen this year and an economy on the brink of collapse, a vacuum of opportunity has opened up on the streets. The police have their hands full and the city is cutting back on anti-graffiti programs, as a result the city is CRUSHED right now. With that being said, DON’T SLEEP. Painting in NYC is still no walk in the park and is arguably a lot more difficult in the 21st century than it was back in the graffiti’s heyday. Nonetheless, we’re definitely seeing an inkling of a graffiti renaissance in NYC. Big ups to the Covid bombers gettin it in and keeping the streets live.I do wish however that more writers in the city would branch out and do more than just fill-ins. The streets need more illegal pieces and burners. Some folks are out there doing it but we definitely need to see more.

Favorite places to paint: Uptown via Bronx, Mexico, Brazil, Cuba, Ghana.

On the future of graffiti: It’s only going to get harder as the surveillance state grows so we have to prepare. Nevertheless, I do hope writers continue to innovate and find new ways to get over. Technology will obviously have a major impact on the evolution of graffiti and it will be interesting to see the tools that writers add to their arsenals. I’m also totally interested in seeing how hacker culture can positively influence the creative outlook and process of graffiti. Guys like Katsu and folks from the now defunct Graffiti Research Lab have been paving the way and are totally onto something. At the end of the day, I’m trying to catch wreck on all your smartphones, laptops and bitcoin wallets. Anonymous, we are legion, let’s collab.

Also i’m excited to see how the community will grow over the next few decades. Graffiti (in the style wars/street bombing sense) is growing in places that have not historically had it like in Africa and parts of Asia. The talent coming out of these places is simply incredible and will only continue to grow. Also, let’s be real, the future will be brighter if graffiti was less hypermasculine and more women participated in the culture. Hope to see more women hitting the streets in the years to come as well.

Closing words: Let’s not squander this opportunity and moment in time: let’s go big and go all city. We writers are the best representations of the culture, so let’s remember that and be our best advocates. Big shout out to the my graffiti families: The L1st gang, The Seventh Letter Family, The Writers Bench Crew and last but certainly not least OTM crew. I’m forever indebted to my mentors: Wane, Rime, Meres as well as writers who’ve influenced me immensely: Host18 and the DYM fam, Dceve Smart Crew, and too many others to name. Big ups to all my bombing partners and friends: Habit, Chare, Klaus, Knor, Sigue, Forte. Big ups to my kuzzin Keazy STS, Sike N4F, Souls, Risky, Nab, Jamoe. My boy E Solo and all of Team Rocket. And all writers in NYC who are out doing their thing and inspiring us all.

Follow MODUS on instagram