I have not posted an interview in a while. What better way to start it back up then a quick Q&A with one of Boston’s heavy weight graffiti champs, JIMBOE.
JIMBOE and I go way back. I taught him everything he knows. We’re like best friends and shit… Actually, those are all lies and he’ll probably kick my ass for saying so. If he doesn’t, his people will. JIMBOE has been doing the graffiti thing for way longer than any of you new jacks, and shorter than a lot of people who wish they could piece like him. He’s a humble, well rounded individual who holds his own with out showing a bit of fatigue and the same can be said about his pieces. Our paths crossed a while back and he had the decency to let me ask him a few questions:
AS: I’m a fan of graffiti names that originate from traditional names. They seem unique some how by being so plain. What made you to take the name JIMBOE?
JIMBOE: Jimbo is a nick name I’ve had since I was a kid. -As a real person, way before graffiti. I screwed around with some other names, but none of them ever took off. It just seemed so much more natural to write the name that I’ve had for so long. It was tough for me to end with an “O” so I put an “E” on it to allow for more shapes off the end.
AS: How did you get caught up in graffiti?
JIMBOE: Graffiti kinda fell in my lap… When I was younger I skated(skateboard) a lot, one of the parks I frequented always had hardcore shows and some of the people that chilled around there wrote. It was someone I knew, knew someone who put me on. I never really seriously persued actively painting until I met a few people and learned shit from them.
AS: Strictly burners or do you mix it up?
JIMBOE: I don’t know if what I paint are burners, but I try. I do both I guess. I keep telling myself that for me to stay “relevant”, I’ve gotta have shit out in the streets, spots, or freights. I like spending time on something that will be public and get run time, but I also like to catch tags and do stuff that if seen will make someone be like:”oh shit, dude was here.” Sounds cheesy, but I think that you’ve gotta have one to have the other. Plus, I can paint pretty fast, so it’s easier for me to do something of good style and quality illegally.
AS: You get pretty technical with a lot of your work. Is it largely based on sketches or are you always pulling from a mental inventory of tricks?
JIMBOE: It’s a little of both. I sketch sometimes.. either full pieces or just a few letter forms. I tend to work out a few letters, then freestyle the rest off of what is already there. If I’m doing something serious like a big production wall, I’ll draw out the whole thing. I can usually pull off a good freestyle piece, but I keep sketches around just incase. Plus the people I paint with, constantly inspire me to step up and try new shit.
AS: Change with the times or keep it O.G.?
JIMBOE: Civilian or graff? I like to think O.G. I’m a true old man at heart. I’m still young-ish, but feel like time and stress is catching up. I like to yell at other people for having their music too loud, but play my shit twice as loud. I drive slow. I don’t know, I’ve been in the same place for a long time -Townie status. I like for what I paint to have an “old school” panel look to it, but I am constantly inspired by new shit.
AS: You prefer night missions or day spots?
JIMBOE: Any time painting is good for me. They both have their plusses and minuses.
AS: Ozzy or Dio?
JIMBOE: Ozzy with Sabbath all day! WAR PIGS!!!
AS: Everyone has their outlandish story about painting trackside. From rabid animals to homeless sex, any good ones to share with the kids?
JIMBOE: Kinda long, but good. I was out at a freight spot with my buddy Jarno from CT, for this spot you can park down the way then walk up to the lay up. So we get in and its a real long single line, from start to finish we laced it all the way down to the back. At the end is a road to a warehouse, when we got back there, a state cop whips in kicking dust and looking with the spot light. We run back the other way to the yard entrance, another state cop, same shit wild west status ripping in with the spot light. We climbed up a TTX boxcar to scale a barbed-wire fence, the fence collapses, I fall get all cut up, run up the hill into a housing development. Cops everywhere, a helicopter, ditched the bags and hid in a compost heap/tool shed on the other side of the complex. After waiting for about an hour, we slink out amongst the craziness to go get the car. Swing back through to get the paint then go home. Crack a beer and turn on the TV to see that on the news, all the shit we just went through was because of some guy who broke into a house, KILLED a lady with a hunting knife, robbed her for pills, and then ran down into the freights to hide in a box car.
AS: You hold down Pound For Pound, any good non incriminating fight/beef stories?
JIMBOE: My lawyer has advised against answering this question.
AS: Your approach to piecing reminds me more of European panels than a traditional American approach. Is this something you have worked to develop or just you natural approach?
JIMBOE: I’m not sure if it was a conscious decision; I know it all goes back to New York some way, but I’ve always liked European stuff. I feel like the people over there wanted to show the originators how they do it, and by doing so made it a bit more intense.
AS: Do you think graffiti is just for walls, trucks and trains or does it have a place on shelves with the other commodities?
JIMBOE: That’s the million dollar question. Personally, I want it in the streets. Graff is a different beast in the streets. Here’s the “artsy” answer, it seems more natural and spontaneous in the streets. For me, graff needs those external issues; beef, buff, weather, etc. However, I’m not gonna hate on anyone who’s doing it right in the galleries and other places. I don’t mind it so much if I know the person who’s making it happen has put in the work at some point or is still out painting. Hey if you can get paid to do something that is fun for you in the first place, more power to you.
AS: With the surge in commercialism and products directed towards the graffiti sub culture, have you seen something positive come out of it?
JIMBOE: Define positive? It’s more socially acceptable because some middle aged house wife went to the Art In The Streets show… All that means to me is her kid will probably wanna paint, go put paint on a credit card and screw something up that I did a while ago. Here’s the cranky old guy, I feel like the market is over-saturated and could stand to be thinned out. It’s a double sided coin; if people are visually interested in what’s happening, then they want me to paint their building. The other side is someone who hasn’t payed dues, put time in, or learned how to paint, but wants to paint, because they rented the Banksy movie, will take up space.
AS: Is Wu-Tang for the children?
AS: Shout outs?
JIMBOE: To the squads: PFP and YL!! Thanks to the people I paint with, drink with, and will throw punches with me. Also, to the misses for putting up with this shit.
Always gotta thank the misses. Thanks for your time and keep killing it!