As part of my efforts to provide more insight into the world of graffiti, I have begun to reach out to graffiti writers in Philadelphia of whom I have immense respect for. For my first of what will hopefully be many interviews with Philadelphia’s finest graffiti writers, I interviewed REKER. REKER is an awesome guy with remarkable talent, and he was nice enough to answer a few of the questions I had for him about what he does.
Chris of LOLadelphia.com: How long have you been doing graff?
REKER: I started when i was about 18 or 19, but I only tagged up poles, payphones etc. I only knew the people on my block, and in my neighborhood, and they didn’t write graffiti. I’ve been a fan since i could read it, but had no one to do it with, or show me the ropes. When I attended North Catholic, I met a bunch of writers, and thats when i started seeing blackbooks etc, and really practicing, and starting to bomb more. I was never really heavy with it, just here and there.
Chris: How did you get started in writing graffiti?
REKER: I started bombing harder around 2005. I’m a late bloomer. Around 2005-2006 I met this dude “KENES” doing his thing in North Philly, where I was a lot. He was an amazing artist, and huge graffiti fan, and had just formed a crew with the guys he was doing piece walls with, “ANT 5”, “BARK”, “DESIL”, “MIDAS”, & “REPOZ”. They were tough on me, and even though we hung out, drank, smoked and everything else, they didn’t let me touch a piece wall till I got GOOD, or at least showed I was getting better. Meanwhile, I went on routes with dudes I met through graffiti, like CAZE, BARK, YNK, PADAE (my twin brother), and a few others, and kept bombing. The SCK crew finally let me start rocking walls with them, and now, although the crew is smaller, I run it.
Chris: Is there any graffiti piece you have done that you’re particularly fond of?
REKER: There’s one I did about 2 1/2 years ago near 2nd and Diamond. It’s a bad neighborhood, and we decided to piece in the alleyway behind 2nd street, on this huge wall. We went at it like a legal, but we didnt get permission. The piece I did was so intricate, and had so many colors, and I also painted Underdog on the top, showing the graffiti game, that I respected graff, and I’m not stuck up, or claiming to be king, and I’m STILL learning to perfect piecing, and especially hands. But I liked this piece because at the time, my pieces were still kinda bad, but for some reason, I guess I just liked the hood environment, we stayed and painted well after dark, and it came out bangin, and is still living.
Chris: How do you feel about the people who argue that graffiti is nothing more than senseless vandalism?
REKER: Here’s what I say to that: graffiti IS vandalism. But it’s far from senseless. If a gang member writes his gang sign on a wall, he’s claiming territory. It’s another world, but it’s his world, and it makes sense. He’s not saying “Oohh, lets write on this guys wall just to piss him off.” That’s senseless. And with writers, we write on walls because it’s a small, underground scene to most, but for writers, its HUGE. We all have different reasons why we pick up a can. Some of us are striving for attention, some of us have anger and rough lives and it’s the best way to get it out, just as an artist would. When you write on something that’s not yours, and the owner doesn’t want it, YES its vandalism, but I could go on for hours about the city leaving TONS of abandoned properties around, and half the graffiti that winds up on them, looks BETTER than before. But i wont get into that.
Chris: Who are some graffiti writers who you have a lot of admiration and respect for?
REKER: I will start by saying I wasn’t old enough to see the ones who started this, but props to JS, MB, RAZZ (RIP), BABYROC, ESTRO, BRAZE, BX, DISCO DUCK, KOOL KLEPTO KID, CORNBREAD, KARAZ, SRS, DENSKE, EZ, JAP, and there are too many more to list. Everyone who started it, and created it, and kept it a never ending trend. Growing up and today, I admire the whole IYA squad, especially KAIR & OZ, the whole ESC squad, especially MAD, KID, HOTHEAD…..KADISM, AGUA, CAEM, RAME, KAEX, NATEROCK, ADS, BARK, CAZE, BARD, DERM,DISTORT, BAM, SAEZ, SEW, PAST, DAN 1, CED, SLOE, NYCE, POSE 2… there’s just too many to mention! I’m definitely forgetting lots of writers at this moment, but they know who they are, and so does Philly.
Chris: Can you share your best graffiti-related experience, and your worst graffiti related experience?
REKER: My best experience was with BARK, NATEROCK and ADS. We decided to do big block letters, painting with a roller. We weren’t planning on doing it from the roof, and bending over, we decided to do it from the ground up. So we had two poles, duct taped together, making something like a makeshift 20” long pole, maybe bigger or a little smaller. But anyway the whole ride there we had to hold the stick outside of the car as we drove, and two cops who drove past us almost snapped their necks wondering what we were doing driving around 2:30am with that pole, but didn’t pull us over. This was also a great El view. I cant say where it was, but we had to walk in through a fence, in this shitty yard, with dogs barking, and no other way out. We climbed and stood on top of these tractor trailers. We had a 5 gallon bucket of white paint also. Trying to dip the roller stick in the paint bucket, then balance it while it wobbled, and put it against the wall was TOUGH ! Not to mention walking on the trailers metal roofs made it LOUD. It took us about an hour, and I am surprised no one found us.
I would like to extend my personal thank you to REKER for taking the time out of his day to answer a few of my questions. Stay tuned to LOLadelphia.com for more interviews of Philadelphia’s best graffiti writers!