When traveling between Boston and New York, GYER is a name that will haunt you. His name can be found in any city he visits wether it be in white-out & etch tags or crushing tracksides with full color pieces; however he chooses to express himself that evening. For someone who’s name is so public, there is very little known about the man behind this moniker. I am privileged to share with you some private thoughts and images from beneath the busy metropolis where GYER has dedicated his time and energy onto hundreds of square feet of untouched concrete. I was lucky enough to been shown this location and travel with GYER as he did some much needed maintenance to some recent works. This undisclosed location is a gallery of pieces for those who are so dedicated to their craft, they have to seek out a place where the runoff waste of a city accumulates . It’s great to see such positive energy given to a place completely overlooked by the world.
[vimeo width=”640″ height=”480″]http://vimeo.com/70564227[/vimeo]
Where are you from and what do you write?
I’m from Providence, Rhode Island, USA, and I write GYER.
Who were you influenced by when you started out?
When I first started I was mainly influenced by the writers i saw up in my city: Seaz, Lead, Sloe, Cyphe, Ased, Resto, Jumbo, Spoke/Wizart were the ones I really saw up in the street. Aside from Providence tho, my friend Nezstor had this european book called:Graffiti Art 13: “Graffiti Auf Zugen” by Oliver Schwarzkopf. His mother had gotten it for him when she was traveling, it was all trains, a lot of 90’s transit stuff from COS crew (Colors On Steel) Razor, Aner, Hitme, Crush, The Crazy Dentist, ect. We were very young and we used to look at this book all the time, the pages were bent from being borrowed and lent out, looked at, and mishandled. It had a big influence on me.
How did you start vandalizing and what compels you to continue?
I started in high school because I was bored. Nobody I knew was doing it, and nobody encouraged me to start, but I liked the different tags that I saw up in Providence and I thought the whole idea of it was really interesting. I started small, writing different names on things with sharpies, and spraying fabric paint around my neighborhood. Carrying around a marker wherever i went became essential, and not long after i started writing I met other kids who were doing the same thing: Hyze, Lang, Amek, Jeal, and Nezstor. Meeting up with these people back then was important for me, not just in terms of graffiti, but as time went on they have all become very close friends of mine. I remember Hyze lived on the other end of my neighborhood at the time, even on nights when we had school the next day, he and I would both sneak out, get on our bicycles, and meet up to go write. Those early days of being toy were the best and the most important for me, I got to see more of my city back in those days than many people do in a lifetime.
As for what compels me to continue, I still really enjoy it. There is no conclusion to graffiti, there is always something more you can do, somewhere else you can go. It keeps me busy and engaged with my environment, and thats enough for me.
How would you describe your style?
American, East coast. I got into writing around the time when the internet was still developing, but it was already this big thing. I didn’t know about graffiti websites or stores for a while, I remember someone we knew told us about a graffiti website called Nicekidnice.com maybe around 2005. It’s gone now, but it was all Rhode Island stuff on there and I really loved looking at all the old photos, especially the pieces. I never knew back then where any of the piecing spots were so being able to go online and see all the styles really helped me to get an understanding of my city’s history.
I was always very attracted to the chunky, bold, piecing style in New England, so years later when I moved to Boston I was exposed to a lot things that had a big impact on me. I didn’t know anyone when I moved there, but my boy Shaed eventually linked me up with people from the GOA and SDF crews: Kesh, Jyro, Geopo, Serio, Gnome, Jury, and others. These were local people who were more or less the same age as me. The scene up there was kind of dying down at the time due to how aggressive the vandal squad was/is, but nevertheless spending time with these guys allowed me to gain valuable perspective into the city’s rich stylistic history. The “No Neg” piecing style that evolved in Boston during the late 80’s and into the 90’s was something I really loved, and it had a tremendous impact on me.
These days I’ve opened up a bit more and am doing different things with my letters. I want my style to be readable yet funky. I am always trying to figure out new and interesting things to do with my graffiti, I try not to plan ahead too much, but rather to just see where it goes.
Where’s the most interesting place you’ve painted and why?
I love painting in tunnels. Going deep underground and painting nice raw concrete walls, no sunlight, with only a head lamp to illuminate the pitch black darkness. You can find storm drains sometimes, look up through them, and hear the city happening above you. Things tend to run longer in spots like that, not very many people go through the effort to find them so they don’t get played out as fast.
what makes a writer stand out to you?
The passionate ones stand out the most.
Has your reason for writing changed at all?
I never had a singular reason for writing. Although when I first started it was really just about myself, writing my word so that I could see it up, and just having fun with my friends, but as time went on it became more of a dialog with my environment. When I eventually got better and learned can control I really wanted to paint pieces, so I guess improving the quality of my own work might be one reason why i continue. Also I’m always interested in the future, where I’ll go, what I’ll do, who I’ll end up meeting. Writing graffiti has always put me in very interesting situations, has taken me to some very strange, beautiful, far away places, and has allowed me to meet a wide variety of people, some of which I’ve become very good friends with. So I suppose the main reason I’m still writing is to see where it will take me next.
What writers influence you today?
I’m influenced by a lot of people, mostly by my friends since they are the closest to me. Aesthetically, I’m affected by a lot of styles, both old and new, but influence is something I’m in no need of. I’m inspired by so many other things outside of graffiti that I tend to enjoy being motivated rather than inspired. As far as modern graffiti is concerned, I really get a lot of motivation from the transit that still gets done. There is an energy and liveliness in painting trains that is impossible to replicate anywhere else. I like seeing the work of people who take bold risks. Also people who travel a lot, people who lurk in weird areas and leave cutty tags, people who are clearly putting forth effort into whatever they’re doing motivate me.
Have you ever caught a charge for painting?
What do you want to be remembered for?
I’d like to be remembered for being a good person, that means more to me than being talented or successful. Too many people these days are assholes, so I try not to emulate bad behavior.
What’s been the biggest influence on your work over the last year?
Travel. I’ve been making an effort to see more places and experience different cultures while i still have the time.
Providence, Oakland, Atlanta, Montreal, Berlin, Zurich, and Bern are some of my favorite cities.
TOP 5 Favorite Pieces
1. Oppenheimer panel by Opak (WUFC/SDK) is probably my favorite.
2. All the great old pieces from Boston during the golden age of style. OD, KBN, 5AV, IC, AMPM, BSB, IMOK crews all had vicious styles and produced so many gems, so it’s hard to pick just one.
3. Pretty much any piece by Razor (COS)
4. Any Ichabod YME/(T) panel. the consistency and amount of his graffiti is really motivating.
5. Aerosol Art by Mode2 (The Chrome Angelz) I really like the way he painted his characters, he and his crew had a very raw, classic, timeless style.
Any graff-related injuries?
Just a lot of scars, both physical and mental.
What plans do you have for the future?
More traveling, more graffiti, better graffiti, photography, zines, paintings, drawings, books, exploring, rock climbing, spelunking, whole cars, break dancing, cooking, sex, motivational speaking, hiking, camping, moments of clarity, ect.
What made you agree to this interview ?
Sharing is caring.