Thinkspace Gallery is proud to present UR New York taking over the galleries office for Destroy’ed and Rebuilt. UR New York is the New York-based duo Ski and 2esae, in anticipation for the show we have an exclusive interview with the duo discussing their artistic mission, a perfect day in New York, and their creative process.
SH: How did you guys meet and start working together?
Ski: 2esae and I met in New York around 2006. He was going to court for graffiti and I was working for a newspaper doing Merchandising and Sales. We started hanging out a lot and realized that we had similar work ethics so we started painting together. We began selling small art pieces in Soho NYC around 2007 with a few friends and we were fueled by the love we got from everyone which lead to me quitting my job and spending the next 4yrs standing in Soho finding myself thru art.
2esae: Me and Ski met thru the art of graffiti, at the time circa 2006-ish I was bombing the city, and Ski was filming a graff video at the time. A mutual friend told me he wanted to film me and at that time I was facing a 43 count indictment of graff charges; so last thing I wanted to do was meet anyone new none the less to have myself being filmed. Let’s just say I’m very glad I agreed to it, I got me meet my best friend and business partner.
SH: Who were your artistic influences growing up? Who are you stoked on right now?
Ski: Growing up in New York I was into graffiti and only graffiti. My favorites were and still are GHOST, MQ, TRAKE, KET, SEEN, JOZ&EASY, VE, SEUS/SPOOK, GAZE, SUB to name a few. Today there is so much great talent which continues to inspire me but I will not mention any names with respects to the ones I may forget.
2esae: Maaan that’s a loaded question I’m super inspired by the greats from Mucha to Rauschenberg, Magritte to Calder, way too many to name as for right now I’ll always be stoked on my NYC graffiti heads but in a finer aspect people like Bk the artist, James Bullough, Distort, to name a few.
SH: What is your creative process? Can you walk us through a day in the studio?
Ski: When I’m in the creative zone I think about what I want to say. Meaning, what do I want you to look at, and how do I want you to feel. Sometimes it’s as easy as mixing some colors and images but other times I want to go deeper into the piece. We start with a warm or cool palate, followed by some line work to create volume and depth and then the magic starts happening once we lay down the first image which sets the tone for the piece.
It’s a series of back and forth flow of creativity when we’re building our scene piece by piece. Our image library is very extensive. We document every detail in our days which finds its way into our work from people to a lamp post, cars, water towers, and all types of architecture. Sometimes you create the piece and other times it’s the piece that creates you. Either way, I love finding every piece within and all the challenges that go along with it.
2esae: Shit my creative process truly is dependent on the type of day I’m having. Most the time I stay up late conceptualizing, at times so many things rush thru my brain that I can’t physically do anything, so I become overwhelmed and stare at my studio walls for hours. Other times I can blink and already see the work finalized. So those pieces usually get completed
fairly quickly, I like to get it all out on the canvas while it’s still fresh in my mind.
SH: A part of your artistic mission is to connect with youth and encourage self-expression; in that kind of work every kid you meet is important but do you remember a single incident that changed you in some way that you could share?
Ski: As a youth growing up in NY, I was exposed to things I care not to talk about at this time, but they were fucked up. For some reason, I gravitated to graffiti as a way to channel my inner frustrations and thru that I was able to express myself. I created an identity and ran with it. I tried so hard to move up the ladder but the more I did, I realized I needed to do, know and learn more. The only problem was that is no one older than me was willing to show me the ropes, so I was forced to figure things out on my own. My friends and I grew up watching video graff or graffiti magazines to show us style and also gave us an insight on how to paint trains and this is how I learned. In PS84 I had an art teacher who let me use spray paint and she changed my life and I want to be able to do that for others.
Since art came into my life it’s given me a platform to where I can be an outlet for others, which is why we formed UR New York in 2009. It stood for individuality and being happy with who you because you are your greatest asset. I want to be able to help young kids embrace their creativity thru art and marketing.
2esae: Why wouldn’t any artist dedicate a portion of their brain power and influence to inspire and activate the youth! I feel who better to show these kids a way of expression brighten up their lives a bit and explain to them the business side of things at the same time having fun. One incident that truly changed me was third grade career day, one of the artists from Marvel comics showed up and blew my mind I was never the same after that.
SH: What’s your perfect day in New York?
Ski: My perfect day in NY is waking up and it’s as warm as you wearing your favorite sweater. I get a coffee and roll 2 joints. I enjoy one with my coffee and the other for when I walk the bridge into the city. I walk around for a couple hours and take a lot of photos and eat random NY food like pizza, bagel, smoothie, latté and of course plenty of Snapple ice tea. After I walk thru SoHo to see if I see anything interesting to buy from my local artist friends, I then go home and roll another couple J’s. At this point, I’ll either stay at home with my 2 dogs or go out and paint. Either way, it’s a great day.
2esae: Definitely summer time. I enjoy June, my birth month, Gemini season the weather’s usually perfect. Maybe a long bike ride exploring some sort of abandonment writing my nome de plume or positive affirmations on the way.
Then some more exploration at night maybe a rooftop or two, I truly enjoy being places we are not supposed to be in!
SH: It seems every artist is born with the desire to create, but what was the moment you decided it would be your life’s work?
Ski: They say that if you love what you do you’re never working. I’ve always loved creating whether it’s legible or not, written or sculpted, but when I learned about Marketing it changed my life and helped me put being an “Artist” in perspective.
2esae: I truly think it was in third grade after career day, I remember going to art class that next day and swiping a Picasso book and a stack of construction paper going home and recreating all of Picasso characters. I came back to school the next day and my teacher was so impressed she took me up stairs to the 6th graders to offer my drawings for sale which I ended up selling them all for 3 bucks a pop!! So ultimately I’d love to be able to inspire as many kids as I can and assure them that if art is their passion it is possible to be successful at it.
SH: What’s worse a paper cut or splinter?
Ski: For me a papercut. Splinters can be taken out but papercuts linger.
2esae: Splinters suck! We are truly self-sufficient building our stretchers screens etc, I also really love found weathered material usually made of wood hence why I usually more often than not end up with one or more splinters on the regular! So fuck you lil tiny shards of wood!!
SH: Rays or Original Rays?
Ski: Neither. Too much cheese for my taste. I like Gino’s near W4, Grand Ave pizza in Astoria, Jimmy’s on Amsterdam Ave to name a few.
2esae: Funny thing is as sensitive as my eyes are I never wear shades, don’t want to block all the beautiful colors of life!
SH: Are you constantly on the hunt for awesome found objects or only when you have a particular piece in mind?
Ski: I think that lost object find you. Even when your looking for it, it’s always been there waiting. It’s when the pieces come together that a piece is made.
2esae: I am constantly on the hunt for everything new ideas, adventures, knowledge it’s all intertwined let’s just say I never turn off this life we live in every aspect is truly a work of art!!
We invite you to the opening reception of Destroy’ed and Rebuilt this Saturday, May 28th from 6-9pm. UR New York’s new works will be showing in the Thinkspace office, so make sure to explore the entire gallery to see all of the fantastic artists showing this month. For more information on our current exhibition visit the Thinkspace Gallery website.