As part of my effort to provide more insight into the world of graffiti, instead of merely posting only pictures, I have been interviewing some of Philadelphia’s best graffiti writers. About a week ago, I interviewed the immensely talented and all-around awesome dude REKER, then yesterday I interviewed the gifted and equally as awesome PADAE. Today, I will be bringing you the interview I did with YNK.
YNK wrote graffiti in Philadelphia for a little under ten years, and has recently moved to Detroit. Despite that, YNK had a lot of excellent things to say about Philly graff, Detroit, and the world of graffiti in general.
Chris: How long have you been writing graffiti?
YNK: I’ve been writing graff since 2004. Serious with my steady name since late ‘07.
Chris: How did you get started writing graff?
YNK: I got started watching my cousin do tall hands in all my notebooks and I wouldn’t pay no mind. Then eventually I started to notice that I liked his letters. Since then. I blame him.
Chris: Is there any graffiti piece you are particularly proud of?
YNK: I’m proud of a lot of my pieces. I’m a big critic to my own stuff, so that sometimes gets in the way. One night me and my boy FORM tuk went on a route through Spring Garden and wrecked shit. Well later on that night we wound up painting the bottom right fountain of the Philadelphia Art Museum. I was unsteady at first but long story short we made a lil buzz off it. That’s a spot I’m PROUD of.
Chris: Who are some graffiti writers whom you have a lot of respect and admiration for?
YNK: As far as respect goes I respect almost every writer who paved the way for writers like me. I respect my crews TMH OCP TUK SCK PMS. All them guys are thorough. I admire KLARK’s work, PRE,SEW,DASAR,REKER,NYCE,PADAE,CROWN,DRAMAwp,END,AKNEW,LOBO…i admire all these guys work.
Chris: How does Philadelphia’s graffiti scene compare to Detroit’s?
YNK: Philadelphia’s the birthplace of graffiti. It’s safe to say almost every kid picks up tagging eventually. even if it’s for a day or two. We are so used to it here . It’s all over and it’s hard to avoid seeing it. In Detroit it’s different. You wont see buildings destroyed with tags . Instead you see straight-letter/pieces with legible letters that ANYONE can read. But the graff IQ of Philly writers is about applying to all surfaces. Windows,poles,mailboxes,walls, etc. in Detroit the main focus is giant abandoned walls getting hit with big noticeable pieces.You wont see many things other than walls being written on. I’m not used to that.
Chris: What do you miss most about Philadelphia?
YNK: I miss Philly graffiti overall. The old tags that have longevity, the writers that I have bonds with that are not just graff-based. The dudes I just happen to bomb with. I miss sessions at my boy REKERsck ‘s crib. Zoning out and evolving our styles night after night with REKERsck and LOBOtuk. Keeping hip-hop off life support! I am enjoying Detroit but Philly is where it all started.
Chris: What is your best and worst experience you’ve had writing graffiti?
YNK: My best experience? I’ve had countless nights of getting away with what i was doing. I don’t have a best experience. I’ve had the best experience altogether, if that answers your question. The whole graff thing has kept me from doing worse things. I’m known for what i do. I got love for graff, that’s a great experience.
My worst experience? Lets see, i was on South Street it was me and this dude ADENfyk we were just catching tags nonchalant. Next thing you know, two bike cops spot us and start to pull that U-turn. I already peeled off fast. These cops didn’t stop chasing us for about a half hour. I would run four - five blocks at a time thinking it was over. Nope! Here they come from far away like i had a tracking device on or something. I got away.
Chris: Do you feel like graffiti and graffiti writers are misunderstood by the general public? Why or why not?
YNK: I feel like the public doesn’t know shit about graffiti. It’s something they don’t know about because they only see it. They won’t dig deep to try to connect to the reasons why someone writes graff. It’s illegal. I already know that. I also know that there is some ruthless self-taught talent that comes with graffiti writers. It’s the best of both worlds in a sense. I don’t think they realize that it’s something people will fight for/over. We practice each of our letters evolving each bend, each corner, structure, color scheme. It can take a lot out of you. But at the end of the day it’s important to realize. We love it. We did/do our homework on this shit. We practice,(some of us do anyway) we take the risks, criticism, consequences, wins, losses. It is what it is. We are misunderstood.
Thanks for contacting me for this interview! I want to say big ups to my graffriends: LOBOtuk, THE TWINSsck, NYCEr40, FORMtuk, BARKtuk, ENCfkdmob, RASANatp, TALENTHard1,and a few others obviously. R.i.p SYZERkmd & HELLOtuk. You guys are missed. Peace.