The guys at Mass Appeal interview the New-York Yes2. Short question, long answer!via Mass Appeal

We talked to Bronx native YES2 about his famous handstyle, but we could have just as easily done an entire interview on throw-ups, piecing or his extensive travels. The man has done it all. A notorious bomber, tireless explorer, documenter and proponent of graffiti culture, YES2 has been active since the mid ‘80s. He released a Montana can in 2013, has been cited by younger hotshots such as JURNE and MIKE as a major influence and his artwork has been exhibited around the world. In recent years, YES2 has been further perfecting his craft by working on new paintings in an undisclosed location.

How did you develop your handstyle and who were some of your influences?

I got into graffiti from seeing it around in the early 80s, on the subways and on the highways. At that time the subways were destroyed, insides were destroyed. I couldn’t make out too many of the names, but I remember sitting there trying to decode it and being really intrigued by it. I grew up in the East Bronx, the end of the 6 line, which is heavily UA, MPC and another crew called IA, who were big piecers, big bombers, nice tags. Back then a lot of the people who did pieces also did throw-ups and did a really good one and did tags and did a really nice one. I liked all of those things, so I always tried to do them and at different points focused more on tagging or on throw-ups or on pieces.


I wrote probably four different names that I never really did shit with outside of my neighborhood until I finally came up with the YES2 name, and that was at a time when I really started venturing out and concentrated on getting up more methodically. At first I was just emulating what I saw, trying to make my name look like whoever. I remember seeing MACK from TATS CRU, he had a really aggressive, sharp tag. To this day, I would say, one of the best tags. Another guy who had a similar pointy, sharp, aggressive style was SHAZE. It looked like it was written fast. BIO TAT had tons of tags up in the streets at the time. Of course EASY and JOZ and JOSH5, I remember seeing them up everywhere.

On Westchester Avenue, which I was on a lot at the time—it’s underneath the 6 line—I knew every little fucking piece of graffiti from staring at it all day. One day I came through there and JOZ and EASY and another guy that used to write with them sometimes, SINONE, happened to come through the night before. Holy shit! Everything you could hit, they hit. Every spot you could write on, they wrote on it. To see that they did all of that in one night was really cool, inspiring and awe-inspiring. They just walked through like machines and fucking hit everything.
I never really had any kind of mentor until I was getting up already. There was WEB from Brooklyn, who I had met over the years. He is probably the one person I could cite as a direct mentor. I would go to his house and look at his albums and he would explain shit to me and I would just watch him do stuff, painting with him, and it would rub off on me.


How has your handstyle changed over the years?

I noticed that the guys that were really up had one or maybe two styles, like a logo. I would pick one and just go with it, and that one would evolve.

The main one I do is the vertical one. I saw two different people do that: JAM2, who was maybe a late ‘70s, early ‘80s writer, wrote it primarily vertically and really nice, always with a fat cap. Simple, but nice. It looked like he did it fast and it looked aggressive. PASS also did a down PASS, and he also did a box around it. On a store gate full of stuff, those stood out, so I started doing my tag vertically. But more so than from evolving my style, it was doing it fast that made it evolve.

I remember one time, I was doing what we used to call motion bombs in the 90s. The train would stop to let people off and we would jump down from the other side and do a tag, or sometimes you could do a throw-up. I was doing my name and I was doing it fast, just on instinct; I didn’t stop spraying and connected it. I realized that’s a pretty good way of doing it. I started working on that, getting it to look good.
I always liked stuff that looked like it was done fast. I can’t write my name slow. It just looks weird to me. My throw-up, the outline, I have to do it fast. If I do it slow, it probably won’t look like I did it. My throw-up used to have different bubbles coming off the side and different shapes on it. One time I was doing a throw-up on a highway and I was putting up the first outline to do a fill-in and I skipped a couple of the extra little bumps that were on it. I realized that it looked good and did it like that from that point on.

I always had one horizontal, which I don’t do too much bombing with, I usually sign pieces with it. The vertical is more for bombing. Around ‘99, 2000 I was doing those and I was bombing with MISS17 a lot at the time. She was doing them, too, and SEMZ was also doing them. VEEFER of course has been doing them. We were doing them a lot more than the horizontal tags at that time, because the city had not really started buffing shit yet, and those tended to fit in at the sides of the gates where all the other tags stopped and you wouldn’t be able to fit a tag going across. They would just slide right in and stand out because they were different.


Do you have any favorite markers or other tools?

My favorites are the Uni silver paint markers with the chisel tip or the ball tip. I like silver markers the best, because they just glide on the surface and I can work fast with them. The Krink silver squeezers are really good and also the homemade shit that you can make out of shoe polish. These I used to like for insides, the Griffin. It has a wand for shoe dye. Not the best thing, but the wand glides, it’s like a little sponge ball, there’s no resistance. Anything that goes fast works for me.

Over the years I’ve developed a discerning eye. I’ll see certain spots and either the vertical tag will fit perfectly or it seems like a spot that the buff won’t notice, so it’ll just blend in and only writers will notice. I always like in-between spots, like in between two roll-downs or in between buildings. A lot of the moldings in between doorways on older buildings look really cool. The backs of those green boxes that are on every light pole? Perfect for a vertical tag. I like surfaces that look a little dirty and dilapidated.

I like New York fat caps or the Rustoleum orange dot caps. The stock cap that comes on the Rustoleum, the new one or the old one, they’re both good to me. Or the stock cap that comes on Belton, it’s really dope, it’s like the Rusto stock cap. I like those because I don’t care about my stuff looking super clean. I like a little fuzz, a little organic line. The New York fat cap is the best for tagging. The line is so nice. The Rusto fat cap is similar, just has a little more force. But I can just use a New York fat cap and a Rusto stock cap, that’s it. All the other million different caps, it’s beyond me.

Any paint is good, I can use whatever. When I have the choice I use either Rusto or Montana, but there’s so many good paint companies that are just made for writing now. If you were able to use the stuff back then that sprayed like shit and that was drippy, it’s cake with all the new paint.


What’s the best part about bombing with tags for you?

It’s quick, you don’t have to stand there for a long time. You do a tag and you move on. You don’t have to think about it very much, just do it and go, do it and go. It’s almost therapeutic when you get to do a shitload of tags somewhere. It’s a quick release.

I have no problem doing a solo mission, because then I’m the captain of the ship. If I want to stop I stop, if I want to go I go. I don’t have to worry about anyone else fucking up. You play it cool, and if you’re just one guy walking around you can blend in. But of course going with a good partner is good, too, to have a lookout. The social aspect of going with other people? I don’t give a fuck, I’d rather go by myself.

If I’m somewhere where I don’t live, I really get loose. Being in a new city where you don’t have one tag, you go into robot mode, machine mode. If you go out every night, all night, for a week, or however long, it starts to build up. In a lot of cities overseas it doesn’t seem like they care much about the streets. It reminds me of back in the days here. You get a flashback and the old feeling: I have to be part of this! Take Rome or Athens, this shit is insane! How could you not bomb? You feel the vibe when you’re surrounded by it and it doesn’t feel like you have to hide from a camera on every building and a vandal squad. You can just go in.


What does it take to become a good bomber?

You definitely have to have balls, you have to have the will to do it. Anyone could do it if they wanted to. If you have that desire to do it, you can do it, you can just walk out and do it. But you have to have that desire, you have to have a certain kind of something fucked up in your head to go out so many times over years and years and years and keep doing that shit. But more so I think you have to be smart, you have to play it cool.

If your shit looks good that’s a plus, but you could be the worst dude ever and get your name up all over and you’re the king. You got a good tag, you got a good throw-up—that’s it. Doing pieces is a bonus. That’s fancy-decorating your name. But if you’re up with tags and with throw-ups, you can be the king. That’s the essence of graffiti, getting your name up. Making it look good comes later on.



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