Tag Archives: Lois Stavsky

Speaking with Shroom

This past summer I noticed some illustrated postals down in the Village signed “Shroom.” I was quite impressed. When did you start creating stickers? I began last year. I was 17 and a senior in high school.

What inspired you to start drawing on stickers and getting them up?  I was always very interested in the graffiti culture and I wanted to be a part of it.

What is your first graffiti-related memory? The first pieces that I remember are those I saw while riding the subway. They stayed in my mind.

Where were you living at the time?  In the village, near Astor Place.

What are your preferred surfaces or spots for posting your stickers?   I don’t really have any preferred surfaces, but I post most of my stickers in the Village and in the general downtown area.

 How do you get your materials?  I order my stickers from the post office and I just buy the other materials like sharpies and black pens.

Do you work alone or with a crew?   I usually work alone but I have a friend who also does stickers. He uses the name “Stop the Nonsense”.

Have you ever been arrested?  No, not yet. I run pretty fast.

Have you ever exhibited your work? I haven’t yet, other than some projects at school. But I hope to soon.

How do you parents react to what you’re doing?  They’re very supportive. My dad owns a gallery so he’s interested in art and I’ll always show them a new piece after I’m done with it.

What percentage of your time do you devote to sticker art?  I’d say around 20%-30%.

What are your other interests?  I enjoy playing trombone and I’m also on the ultimate Frisbee team at my college.

How do you feel about people removing your stickers from public places and taking them home?   Well, we are vandalizing, so it’s understandable. Just about anything goes. And my stickers tend to vanish quite quickly. But I don’t like it when people paste their stickers or art over other people’s work.

What do you see yourself doing five years from now?  Honestly, I have no idea. I could be in Africa or I could be in graduate school. We’ll see.

Well, good luck! And I look forward to spotting more of your stickers on my next trip down to the Village.

Interviewed by LoisInWonderland; transcribed by Karo Devero

Speaking with Gee WNR

You are probably the youngest sticker artist I’ve ever interviewed — and one of the most passionate. When did you first start getting up?  I started tagging and bombing when I was 10.  But two years ago, I got into stickers.  I was 13.

What got you into bombing? My next door neighbor got the idea after playing Marc Ecko’s video game, “Getting Up.” It seemed like fun.

Where were you living at the time? I’ve always lived in South Philly.

Back to stickers. What inspired you to create them?  I started seeing stickers around town and I liked the way they looked.

Have you any first sticker memory?  The first sticker I remember seeing downtown is Bob’s robot.

Any favorite writers or sticker artists?  Lots… Among them are: Nose Go, Underwater Pirates, Nise, Boner, Agua…

What materials do you use for your stickers?  Anything I can find – Sharpies, decos, postals.

Have you any favorite spots?  Nope. Any spot is cool with me.

How do your family and friends feel about what you’re doing? My family prefers stickers to bombing.  My friends respect what I do.  But some of the kids in my neighborhood rip my stickers down.

Have you ever been caught? I was caught tagging on a subway platform.

What happened? The cops wrote my name down, and called my mom. 

How’d she take it? She flipped. 

And then?  I changed my name. But I soon got bored tagging. I decided that stickers look cooler.

How do you feel about folks removing your stickers? It gets me mad, but I try to ignore it.

Any other passions? Skateboarding and abstract art.  But it’s mainly graffiti. I feel like I have fallen in love with graffiti. It really isn’t about me impressing people any more. It’s me having fun with it, trying new variations all the time.

Have you ever exhibited your artwork? Not yet.

I’ve noticed that lots of the Philly artists collaborate. Have you collaborated with anyone? I’ve collaborated with SO many people underwater pirates, dash, rog/sloth, revilo, vampy destroy,  meem, odd ball, zerock, grim, gebe (gebat), wtf, shy, brown boy wonder, seek, yerp, froot,  scram, fat cat, feens, what, esp1, res, tot, markese the mop, fen, thomo, hekar, lisk bot, cyclone, zeso , brucie BC, t-gunz, zigy, radius, el toro, bob, toasty, tool, harth, komo, mad roo bean, steal, dip, scram and seek in wnr aha. And if I forgot anyone else – and I know I have – I’m very sorry.

Does the Internet play much of a role in your passion for stickers?  Yes, I’m always checking out Flickr to see what’s going on here and in other places like NYC. And I follow 215 GRAFF, a Philly blog,

What do you see yourself doing in five years? Not sure. But I know that it will be something related to art. 

Good luck!

Interviewed by LoisInWonderland



Speaking with Tyler

It was about a year ago when I first I noticed your colorful clouds and zany characters on the streets of the Village and SoHo. Now I see them all over town. When did you first get into creating stickers?  I was in my senior year in college at Texas State University. I took a course in screen printing and one of the assignments was to create an image that represents you. That’s when I came up with the idea of drawing a cloud. The response to my image was so favorable that I soon I found myself drawing clouds on stickers and getting them up.

Did you grow up in Texas? I did. But now that I’m living in NYC, I can’t imagine moving back there. I just love the energy here and the freedom I have here to express myself.

What’s your first graffiti memory? Seeing Daniel Johnston’s images on the walls of Austin, Texas.  Johnston is also a musician.

Any favorite street art or sticker artists?  I love A.S.V.P. for their passion and persistency. I also love Red Nose’s dogs and KRSNA’s bizarre characters. I’m a big fan of Shepard Fairey and Jilly Ballistic.  But I’d have to say that my greatest inspiration is the late Keith Haring. He’s the number one influence on my characters and colors.

How do you get your materials for your stickers?  I buy lots of my drawing materials at Pearl Paint and the United States Postal Service is a steady supplier of stickers.

Have you any favorite spots? I like getting up in the West Village and at the Candy Factory in SoHo.

How do your family and friends feel about what you’re doing? My mom doesn’t understand it.  She just worries about me getting caught. My friends love it.

Have you ever been caught? I was getting up some stickers on the 6 train platform on the East Side when two undercover cops approached me. “Do you do this all the time?” one asked. I told him that indeed I did. It is my passion – in fact. He then gave me a $25.00 ticket and said, “You’re lucky we’re not arresting you,” with the implication that if I weren’t a nice white guy from Texas, I would have been.

How do you feel about folks removing your stickers to take home with them? I used to hate it.  But now I love it. It’s part of the conversation.

What percentage of your time is devoted to sticker art? About 50%

Have you made any money from your art? Not yet.

So what do you do for money? I work as a personal assistant.

Any other passions? Musical theatre – for sure!

What role does the Internet play in your passion for stickers? It is the one place I always check out to find out what other sticker artists are doing.

Have you ever exhibited your artwork? No. But I recently sent stickers to San Francisco-based street artist Jeremy Novy for a traveling exhibit.

What do you see yourself doing in five years? Still putting up my stickers, licensing my art, and working as a graphic designer.

Good luck!

Interviewed by LoisInWonderland


Speaking with Kosbe

Your stickers are among my favorites.  I love your characters and messages.  When did you first get into graffiti? Thanks, Lois. I appreciate all you do…  It was back in the early 90’s in Chicago. I was just starting the 7th grade.

What was your inspiration at the time — when you first started getting up?  I was attending a magnet school a block or so away from a shop called Untitled in Lincoln Park.  They used to toss me free graf magazines, and I got to see what was happening in NYC. I was inspired by the lettering styles of writers like Zephyr, ARAB and others… Thanks, Untitled!

What was your main spot back then?  There was a bus depot across the street from our school. We used to sneak over there after school and catch tags on the insides of buses. Until I was in high school, I got up mostly with tags on buses. It has always boiled down to the tag for me.

And when you were in high school?  It turned into everything: freights, train stations, the streets. My prime years of getting up in Chicago were around ’96 –’97.

Were you on your own?  No, one of my first bombing partners was this kid who now writes Phuct, FTR. He was way better than I was at the time.  But now he’s more into music, being a father and raising his daughter. We still stay in contact.

And then? I met my first mentor, Drel KMD BTC. He introduced me to straight-out bombing.  I followed him everywhere. He was like a big brother to me. He showed me everything I know about writing graffiti, hollering at females, dealing with the cops. To this day, he’s my oldest and closest friend… I love you, man.

What was Chicago like back then?  I grew up in Logan Square, a pretty rough hood at the time.  Our neighborhood had a whole bunch of gangbanger characters. I was amazed at how talented some of these gangbangers were at doing these elaborate gang graffiti tags with roller paint and stock caps – when they weren’t shooting others or just trying not to get shot.

How’d you survive it? I hung out with the local writers, Harp DST CTW, CMOR, SCRAM, IROK, ERIK CMW. We were lucky being the writers in the hood because it gave us a pass lots of times in tough situations. Sometimes we would go visit crews in other hoods like the STN cats on Fullerton and Avers.  We used to get stoned with them and then have to troop our way back to our neighborhood. Chicago was no joke back then.  Rest in Peace, KEDS STN.

Any other Chicago writers come to mind? My homie SEGE, the guys in the RGS crew, SPY UEMF. EGS (the first Cosbe), Fonzo, Melon, Dekaf, Basket Kase, KC, SIPS, MENS, PORKCHOP, ZEN, DIGS. And I got down with DST, my homey Rex’s crew.  I have a long graffiti history in Chicago, probably one of the hardest places to be a writer right now. I’m glad that the new book The History of American Graffiti has finally given the city its overdue props. 

And these days – here in NYC? What’s your favorite means of expression these days? I’m trying to focus on more formal figurative and abstract art… stuff more along the lines of fine arts. I’ve always had a strong interest in that, as well. But graffiti will always be a hard habit for me to let go of. It’s something I’ve dedicated lots of time and energy into and it’s something I’ve been doing for more than half my life. It’s not like I can put it on a job resume or something. It’s always going to be a great means of expression for me. But as I’m getting older I’m starting to focus on other things. That’s probably why people don’t see me up in the streets as much as they used to.

Have you had any formal art education? My first year out of grade school, I got a scholarship to the The Chicago Academy for the Arts, a private alternative high school in Chicago. But I dropped out.  All I wanted to do was draw comics and graffiti.  I ended up in one of the worst high schools in Chicago, Carl Schurz. I dropped out during my freshman year, bounced around alternative schools and then eventually got my G.E.D.

How does your family feel about what you do on the streets? Because I started writing and getting into trouble so young, my mom used to have to pick me up a lot from jail. She worried about me and tried to talk to me. But she knew I was hardheaded and I wasn’t going to stop.  After a while, she just stepped back and let me go though it alone. No one was coming to bail me out. I love her for being there for me through all my ups and downs. Kids, treat your parents with respect. They are all you got in this messed-up world of ours… Love you, Mom!

What was it like to be arrested? It always sucks. I think the system deals too harshly with graffiti. We need to have special programs for kids who get arrested for graffiti. I would like some day to help to develop such programs. Doing jail time and community service isn’t teaching you anything except to try harder not to get caught the next time.

Why do you suppose you continue to get up in the streets?  Old habits die hard.

Do you work with any crews? Too many to name, but I got mad love for all of them…ASA, DST, CTW. GP ATM, THC, J4F and Hobby Horse, just to name a few.

Have you ever exhibited your work in a gallery setting?  I currently have a piece in Martha Cooper’s Remix at the Carmichael Gallery in LA. I’ve also been in several art shows here in NYC and in Chicago.

What about books?  My sticker work has appeared in lots of books lately – Martha Cooper’s Name Tagging and Going Postal and DB Burkeman’s new book, Stickers: From Punk Rock to Contemporary Art. I also have a cameo in Nick Zinner’s book, I Hope You Are All Happy Now.

How do you feel about folks who remove stickers from public spaces? My labels get peeled a lot, so it’s no big deal. I wish they would ride, but they are just stickers. And that’s actually how I met Martha Cooper. I noticed that someone had been removing some of the first stickers that I’d been putting up in the East Village.   Whenever a new sticker went up, within a day or so it disappeared.  Then one day I saw a woman removing a favorite Overconsumer sticker I used to look at on my way to work. I went over to her to ask her what she was doing. She introduced herself as Martha Cooper and told me about her interest in sticker art and her upcoming books. Since, Martha’s been such an awesome and supportive friend. I thank her for that. She’s a great person.

That’s a great story!  I’m glad you met up with her. As a Chicago native, what do you think of NYC? I’m a fan. I’m just really into the rhythm of Manhattan. I like the pace – all the cars and bikes – and people running all over the place. I love it and I hate it – all at the same time. I have really bad asthma from all this city living, though.  So I don’t know how much longer I’m going to keep up with it?

How do you feel about the role of the Internet in this whole street art thing?  It’s created an entire generation that can’t focus. Everything has to be under two minutes now. It’s scary to think where we are going with this whole Internet thing. We are losing touch with what’s important, and that’s stopping us from enjoying the small things in life.

Who are some of your favorite artists? Degas, Egon Schiele, Kieth Haring, Basqiuat, Laylah Ali, Chuck Close, Mike Giant, Barry MCgee, Daido Moriyama, Kara Walker, Martha Cooper, Vaughn Bode, David Choe, Albert Reyes, Banksy, Ari Marcopoulos, Harmony Korine, Weirdo Dave, Anthony Lister, Ray Potes, Eric Beltz, Sam Flores, Doze Green, Edward Gorey, Dumbo, Futura2000 and Dondi —  just to name a few.

What about sticker artists? Any favorites? SURE ATM R.I.P. You will always be an inspiration and someone I respect. I will never forget you. Overconsumer, Rex (thanks for the sticker knowledge) Taki 183, Cost, Revs, Twist, Faust, Dceve, Edec, Ader, Desa, Baser, 5003, Hobby Horse, Infinity, Neck Face, Adict, Pez, Goya, Smeer, Jare.  Those are some I can think of at the moment.  

What do you see yourself doing in five years?  Living some place quiet and remote  – hopefully near a freight yard.

Good luck!

Interviewed by LoisInWonderland

Speaking with Jeffrey Korn of Smart Crew

Your character is identified mainly with your throw-ups that became part of NYC’s landscape about 10 years ago. They were everywhere – on rooftops, on walls, on trains…in tunnels.  But lately I’ve been seeing your stickers around. When did you first start creating stickers? I started early on…at about the same time I got into graffiti.  That was back in 1995. I was 19.

What got you into the whole graf scene?  I was bored. I needed something to do. It was like a game.

And what about stickers? What was their appeal? It was an easy way to get up quickly.

Where were you living at the time?  In Howard Beach.

What was that like?  I hated the neighborhood. It had no flavor. There was no culture.  There were only two writers – me and Shaz.

Gee, how did you first discover graffiti? I was about 10 years old when I discovered Subway Art by Martha Cooper and Henry Chalfant among my mother’s books.

Getting back to stickers, what are your favorite surfaces? Any surface where they’re likely to run for a long time.  I like smooth surfaces like glass.

How do you get your materials? DCEVE is the mastermind of all sticker supplies.

What about SMART CREW? For how long have you guys been together? Since the mid-90’s.  In 1997 SMART CREW was born – when the two crews “SM” and “ART” came together.

How many are you? About 25.  But not all of us write. Just about 10 do.

Have you ever been arrested?  Not for stickers. But many times. I lost count after 10. I was reckless.  I didn’t care.

Can you recall one specific arrest? In 2001, they threw the book at me. I got hit with a $10,000 fine and I spent a month at Rikers.

What was that like?  It was boring. I did lots of reading and pushups. I stayed out of fights. There were lots of homeless people – who just wanted to warm up for awhile.

Has your work ever been exhibited? It’s been in a few spaces but I don’t go out of my way to get my work into galleries.  I was also featured in a few books like Peter Sutherland’s Autograf: New York City’s Graffiti Writers.

How does your family feel about your passion for graffiti?  My mom and wife love it. They’ve both been supportive. My dad is indifferent.

Have you made money from your art?  I’ve made money selling hats and working for a hip-hop company – doing designs.

What is your main source of income these days?  I play poker.

You must be quite a pro! Any other interests?  I love basketball. I’m an avid Knicks fan.

How do you feel about folks removing your stickers from public places and taking them home?  I think it’s a good thing. It ensures that the stickers will live forever.

Any favorite writers?  Dr. Sex.  He killed NYC in 2005. I killed it in 2000-2001.

What do you see yourself doing in five years from now?  I’d like to have enough money to play poker when I want and paint when I want – do what I want at my own leisure.

Sounds good!

Interviewed by LoisInWonderland