Name: Rath One
Crew: UPS, COD, 3A & KMS
City/Country: New York transplant.
When did you start writing?
I started practicing in 83, more interested in the drawing aspect of it as thats what I already did during school hours anyway. Bubble letters were my go to too impress my class mates, my war drawings with tanks and planes really only hit with a very limited crown of classmates. From there I started getting up a bit here and there. Starting with markers, then short cuts cans (they were little mini cans for model painting). And did my first outside piece on 86.
What’s graffiti for you?
Graffiti, as in Style Writing, is the styling of letter forms; with the aim of fame in one or more of its myriad forms.
My biggest early influence was better graffiti; Dondi, Skeme, The Chrome Angelz to name a few, and local Boston Writers of the 80s, Remote, Jester, Srone, Sway, Mass, Sick, Kon. After a long while I realized writing becomes too self referential if is only inspired by itself. So now I take inspiration from my surroundings. Graffiti is essentially the combining of shapes and shapes are all around me. Whether its physical objects, or negative spaces, our world is awash in color and shapes. My policy is: steal to own not to borrow. So I make an honest effort to own what I make. If I see something I like, and it makes me think I want use it, I try and reverse engineer it to its basic elements, to learn what it is and why it works and then try and reinterpret it. I was taught that if you cant re-explain a concept in your own words you don’t really get it.
Tell us about your city, how is life and graffiti there?
I moved to my current city when my daughter was born, specifically to get out of the city and add a little calm room to breath. So life in my city isn’t bad, and its mostly getting better slowly. I live close enough to NYC that most writers do minimal dirt here and still primarily target the the 5 boros.
What keeps you still writing?
I haven’t done a master-piece yet.
What first made you interested in graffiti and how did you end up on that track?
Older friends put me onto the concept. I think I was drawn to the visual excitement of graffiti, but also as a kid I wasn’t too stoked on adults setting the agenda. I gravitated towards activities that were independent of adult rules; BMX-ing, skating (oh so poorly), wandering around late at night when most people are enjoying sleep. Graffiti was pioneered in large part by kids, with no adult rules.
What trends are you seeing now in the graffiti world that you don’t like?
I think the trend I see that I don’t like is Im getting older and participating as actively as I would like to be is getting harder.
What do you do when you’re not painting?
Creative life and family life are hard to juggle so when I’m not painting I’m worried about not painting enough while also being a family member, when I’m painting I’m doing the reverse. I like to do family stuff, work on the house, play some Xbox and make NON graffiti artwork.
How would you describe your style?
I try and create dynamic pieces, that take the space they’re in into account. I want to provide the right balance between visual harmony and dissonance, so your eye can move through the piece without getting bored by repetition whilst not being overwhelming by extraneous elements. My style goal is to continue to grow. Forward ever Backwards Never!
Can you remember the first piece you did?
Yes, the first piece I did on private property said ELF, I did it on my middle school, in Newton MA. I snuck out of my house walked to school, shook as hell. Sketched the letters in chalk, which I laid on super thick which caused some issues of the paint not sticking to it. Because I’m a terrible criminal when I was done I decided it would be a good idea to stash my bag with my left over paint and my sketch book so if I got stopped on the way home I’d be evidence free. Well my simple ass went back the next day to retrieve my shit and it was gone! FUCK ME, I was pissed at myself for weeks. Toys doing toy shit.
Letting the world know there should be more of me.
Do you adapt your pieces and tags to the spot/surface?
“dominate your space”
What do you think about the new generation of writers in your city?
As an old fart I think my input is mostly useless. When I was a kid all the adults around me lamented at how things were better back in the day; for various reasons. I think as you get older at a certain point your ideas get less fluid and become more set and immovable. Weather I like the new generation or not they’re gonna do their thing. I never really had a mentor; which made writing a struggle to get information and technical skills; so my wish is for the younger generation to seek counsel with older writers to at least keep a connection between style eras and histories.
What are the best and worst aspects of graffiti?
The best thing about graffiti to me is: it can teach you work ethic, goal setting, follow through, and discipline, all valuable life skills and under the guise of good fun with some real danger to make it feel realer than a classroom lecture.
The worst thing about graffiti to me is it can get away from some people, and add to, or increase the pace of ones self destruction.
Who do you paint for?
“I’m not a biter, I’m a writer for myself and others, I say a B.I.G. verse, I’m only Bigging up my brother Bigging up my borough — I’m big enough to do it I’m that thorough, plus I know my own flow is foolish So them rings and things you sing about, bring em out It’s hard to yell when the barrel’s in your mouth”
– Jay Z
What writers have inspired you?
Im inspired by a lot of writers for various reasons. I like versatility, dedication and risk. If you demonstrate any of those qualities you’ve probably inspired me in one way or another.
Can you ever feel tired of graffiti?
Only with the politics. But I can never be tired of drawing painting letters, its an infinite universe of potential if you get bored its probably because you’re a boring person; free your mind and your hands will follow.
What do you hope people will think and feel when they see your stuff?
That’s a tough question. The easy answer is; people, as in writers, I hope they see a writer who’s dedicated to the craft. People as in civilians, I hope they can get past ‘graffiti as a negative and enjoy some color on an otherwise mundane surface.
Spray Paint: Molotow
City: Any city the police are easy to bribe and don’t like to shoot black people, so NO favorite city.
Markers/pens: Molotow one4All
Surface: Raw concrete
Cap: I’ve always loved the Fez;
If i’m on a social media platform its @Heavylox