FIVE QUESTIONS WITH JULIAN GILBERT AND RUSK
1. When we began to talk about doing a show, I believe you were already planning to release a zine. How much work had you already done on it?
When Rusk & I first started talking about working together the initial plan was always to put out a zine but the idea was never to release it at the magnitude it ended up being, I was just thinking it would be some little xerox thing we’d put up online and just sell a couple copies, maybe. But everything came together very organically. When you and I first talked about a show, Rusk and I had been working on this for around five months and the talk of an actual show gave us a wrap up date and goal to work towards. Otherwise it’s more than likely we’d probably still be working on this and it would just never end.
2. Is this the first collection of material that you’ve published?
I was published once before in a book of party photographs put out by a real publishing company many many years ago and I’ve had some pictures in a handful of friends zines over the years but this is the first time I’ve ever put out anything myself that was just about my photos. This is just the beginning of an ongoing series I’m working on with plans to put out a bunch more zines and then hopefully compile them all into an actual book sometime down the road.
3. Over what time period were the photos taken?
I’d say the first time Rusk and I ever went out together was sometime around December and we were going out shooting and painting up until about 2-3 weeks before the show.
4. Is RUSK hard to keep up with?
Sometimes but not really. I mean, Rusk is insane, like crazy insane. But I guess most graffiti writers are. You have to be at least a little crazy if you really want to go out in the streets and paint some shit. I don’t paint anymore but I used to so I mean I know what’s up. I believe life is too short to be scared or have fears. Everyone is scared of something, but once you stop being scared is when you can really start living.
5. There is a functioning streetlight in the exhibition. It is heavy, powder coated bright dandelion yellow, and riddled with machined protrusions that have collided with my head several times over the past few days. Where did you get that thing, and how does it work?
The street light is interesting. I’ve had that thing for probably around seven years now but not up until around November was it actually mine. My old roommate who I lived with for just over six years was the original owner of the light. He told me that he dated a girl whose father was the mayor of a town in New Jersey and that he hooked him up with the thing, or so the story goes. When my roommate moved out he left it behind so I kind of claimed ownership of it. Adding the light into the show was a super last minute idea of mine, like I came up with it the week of the show, to give the room some depth so it wasn’t just flat things on the wall and also to create more of an environment in the gallery. I didn’t even know if it worked and luckily my homie is really great at these kinds of things and he made a little circuit board himself and switched a couple wires to get it working like a real light.
1. This is the police. We have you surrounded.
Peace! See ya! Smell ya later! Deuces! Adios, hasta nunca.
2. How long have you been writing? Where and how did you get your start?
From the first second I could hold something to make a mark with, I started writing, doodling, and scribbling. I started liking graffiti from seeing it everywhere I would go as a kid. I would see it lurking on tracks, at abandoned spots, in the streets, in the cut, and everywhere in between.
I mostly taught myself to paint. I just really liked writing, and kept practicing styles until they started to look good. I didn’t meet writers until I had already been toying it up for a couple years. When I was in high school, I wound up linking with some jersey heads who put me on to a couple things, and progress sped up. I wrote a little in jersey for the little bit I lived by there, but didn’t start going in until I came to NYC. I learned to bomb here by walking around day and night at all hours, just seeing what I could do, at what times. I got some bits of knowledge through kids from uptown, the LES, and BK, that helped me stay safe. Now I just love slipping between the cracks and leaving my mark, pushing spots a little to try to do things bigger and better than I did them before.
3. Did you have any reservations about making the transition from street to gallery? How do you think it turned out?
I usually stay really low key. Putting things out that show a little more than what you see in the street is very different for me. The zine started as just a few pictures and developed really organically between Julian and I. I had a lot of fun working on it, laying it out, getting it printed, and getting the show together. When things progress naturally like that, you just have to go with it, take opportunities, and enjoy not knowing what’s next.
I’m still putting in work though. This was a great experience and a lot of fun, I think it turned out well, but I don’t think it will change too much for me for now. I’m just going to keep grinding, and keep painting.
4. How did you get together with Julian?
I met him through some of the fam, we started chilling, and we click well when we work together. He is a solid dude who knows his shit. Like me, Julian is psychotic and antisocial, so we linked up and got psychotic and antisocial together.
5. Do you think we are far from a day when police surveillance is so advanced and widespread that graffiti could disappear from NYC entirely?
Never! Surveillance is getting pretty heavy duty, with tracking license plates, CCTV, retna scans and all, but the truth is that people will keep getting up and getting over. Getting spots to run is always a challenge, but it will probably get harder in the future. Even if things only run for a few hours, the spirit is there and people will always keep writing.