Hip Hop Has Soul is a new and fledgling enterprise, therefore we don’t have a lot of fancy departments that proofread and edit things as we pass them up along the chain of command. Turns out I learned a lot more than I bargained for after interviewing the inimitable SNOW. not only did I get a first class look at the art and culture of graffiti, but I got a hard lesson in journalism as well. Sometimes the authors writing these articles get it wrong, and it’s only right that we go back in and correct our foibles.
Corrections Question #2 [Background] Snow got serious w/graffiti in 1982 (NOT ‘72) Question #3 [Influences] Jerry Gant who wrote “2 NASTY” “Jerry Jinx” & “Jerry Rules” Question #4 [Mentors] When I went to work for Todd McFarlane Toys The president of the company Anthony Billotto and I became really good friends and he became kind of like a mentor to me. He & his cousin Ken ‘Zen” Rip had over 60 years of experience collectively
This weeks article is one that I’ve been looking forward to publish ever since the inception of it entered my mind. I got to chop it up with a living legend, one of the quintessential architects of graffiti (in my eyes) & I want to make sure this reaches as many people as humanly possible. That being said the link down below is roughly 48 minutes long & I know in this day & age of instant gratification a lot of people wouldn’t last 4 minutes most people would scoff at 8 minutes -so needless to say the full run time might be an impossibility to some. Fear Not I have taken this into account & honed the entirety of this interview it’s small palatable bites.. basically I put all my questions & his answers in writing, & though I’ve condensed it you’ll basically get the gist; & who knows you might even be intrigued to give the interview a listen; knowing that he has elaborated a lot more in the audio/visual version of the interview.
So with no further ado, Hip Hop Has Soul presents...
THE “SNOW” INTERVIEW
Background / History
Where did you grow up?
S: Patterson, New Jersey but I also had family in The Bronx, NYC where I would spend my summers growing up.
What was the graffiti scene like at that time?
S: Well having started tagging in 1978& not getting serious until 1972 (as serios as u can be at 12yrs old) at a time obviously before internet I got to see & was exposed to so many facets of the culture most importantly getting to see styles blossoming & developing right before my eyes. Truly a time like no other.
Influences & Inspiration
Who were ur Top 3 influences? (you can interpret it how you want, it doesn’t necessarily have to be writers -ambiguous ?)
S: ROM from Patterson, my unofficial mentor “KULL” from Patterson, & “DUE” was another unsung style master from Patterson who I would say influenced me.. ..but then there was the Newark collective like “PRINCE” NRG, Jerry Yams who use to write “2 NASTY” “Jerry Jinx” + “Jerry Rules” & “TAME” of the legendary ARTIFACTS Crew; so many great & stylistic influences that I’m hard pressed to pick only three.
Did you have a mentor? someone who guided u in the early days...
S: Like I mentioned before “KULL” was an early mentor to me (whether or not he is aware) but also when I went to work for “SPAWN” Todd McFarlane toys The president of the company, Ken Xena, & I became really good friends & he became kind of a mentor to me. I worked w/them for about 7 to 8 years, wearing many hats I inevitably learned a lot. Ken (Who has since passed away) & his cousin Tony Velado had over 60 years of experience collectively & I used my privileged position to soak up all the information & experience I could from them both.
Style & Process
How would you describe your style of piecing?
S: Arduous! *(check the video @27:00 for the full answer) *Well Worth It*
What’s your process when starting a new piece of work?
S: I take into account the theme which the client themselves might want, composition in which I want to present my work, ideas & inspiration I want to bring to the table (regardless of when they came to me) & this is all before I even commit pencil to paper. I never had anything to prove, now more so than ever, anything I work on has to come from a real place. If I’m not passionate about what I’m creating, then I see no point in bringing it to fruition; not to say my process is always like this because as I’ve taught you adaptation is key -in all aspects of life not just art.
Opinions & Advice
S: I know you to be an extremely opinionated man, especially when you’re passionate about the topic that is being spoken about; so you don’t have to answer this if you don’t want to but)
What’s your opinion on the current state of the art form which you have given your life to?-graffiti [Meaning the blurred line between “urban art” legal walls, murals & all the hoopla surrounding it]
S: I feel, just like in music, there are too many middlemen mucking up the space in which the creators do their thing. *(Watch the interview for a full breakdown & analysis)
Do u have advice for any entrepreneuring young writer/bomber who hopes to one day graduate to piecing at a caliber like yourself...
S: Learn the history of graffiti because you’re not going to be able to take it anywhere if you don’t know where it’s been, & learn the rules so you can inevitably break ‘em. Draw up a blueprint & follow through on your plans, yet at the same time don’t be beholden to that plan because if I’ve learned anything; life is all about rolling w/the punches.. Regardless of the obstacle in question, reaching the other side as unscathed as possible; while still holding true to some version of your plan.
The takeaway for me it’s clearly evident and If I had to encompass that entire interview into one word it would be; ADAPTATION
It’s what I am all about, guess you can call it my LIFE’s GOAL; or at the very least the Standard in which I steadfastly live by. For if I cannot adapt to the constant & ever changing requirements of the world (that truly are mostly hurdles that can be overcome), then I wouldn’t be much of a trendsetter would I; nor would my talents still be sought after to this day.
Your response to a problem is what’s most important, because they are inevitably going to arise; as we all know life isn’t always sun beams & rainbows. It’s what we make of a cloudy day that tests one’s resolve. Are you going to bitch & moan because it’s not a perfect day for painting, will you paint anyway regardless of the weather attempting to steer you from your goal; or will you stay home & sketch so that at the opportune time you can produce something even better.
To find yourself a bit overwhelmed at times is understandable, but you gotta MacGyver that shit out; or end up relegated to being just another blip on the screen.