HOW AND NOSM: BROTHERS BOMBING

DIRTY CHATS WITH HALL OF FAMERS, GRAFFITI ARTISTS HOW AND NOSM, VIA THE SPICY AGUSTINA WOODGATE — RESULTING IN AN UNLIKELY MEETING OF MINDS, AND A KICK-ASS CONVERSATION, WHERE WE LEARN MORE THAN JUST A THING OR TWO ABOUT THE SPANISH-BORN BROTHERS.
TEXT Agustina Woodgate
PHOTOGRAPHY Kerry McLaney

 

 

AW: HOW DID YOU GET STARTED WITH GRAFFITI?

H&N: Skate boarding with a bunch of older friends and they were skating and tagging at the same time. We didn’t know what graffiti was or anything, we thought it was some sort of skateboarding riding or something. It had no meaning to us, but we copied them and started doing it and they were doing it all over the city. The idea was to spread it, so we were spreading it and spreading it and eventually one of our old school friends introduced us to a Martha Cooper book, Subway Art.

 

AW: HOW OLD WHERE YOU?

N: Like four…. (laughs)

N: Yeah….. we started walking when we were 6 months….

H: You started graffiti when we were 12, in 88??

N: Yeah, 1988.

 

AW: TOGETHER?

N: Tagging at the same time. My brother did his first piece like a week before mine; I guess he got spray paint first.

H: You were at a girlfriend’s house…

N: We then realize there is more behind it, than just tagging a name. We started doing full pieces, burners? Wild stuff! We started stealing paint and practicing – painting illegally. Soon we got to meet other graffiti artists from the biggest city that was close by.

 

AW: THIS WAS IN DUSSELDORF?

N: Yeah. We are from a little town a few miles away from this and they were painting a lot all over the city and we just copied. Back then there was no internet. Graffiti magazines weren’t coming over there so the only way to learn about stuff was from mouth to mouth and see what other people were doing.

H: Like black and white copies of some magazines that someone brought from over seas and we would pass it on.

 

AW: AND THEN YOU GOT INCLUDED INTO A CREW?

N: Skate boarding we quit as soon as we started smoking so much weed. We got more into the graffiti, full on. We where going out to paint every weekend.

H: Stealing paint.

 

AW: YOU HAVE TWO DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS. YOU WRITE IN A VERY PARTICULAR WAY…

N: We are what they call “Old School” but I don’t see it like that. Other people say it. We started doing regular pieces and then soon we started doing 3D pieces that became quite popular. For a long time people associated our work with that kind of stuff.

H: A lot of photorealism.

N: It was kind of learning the tool, you know…mastering the spray can, copying pictures.

 

AW: AND THEN LITTLE BY LITTLE ALL THESE SURREALISTIC DRAWINGS?

N: I guess so… We were doing a lot of commercial work out of NYC with a crew called Tats Crew, and copying pictures on a daily basis for money was getting trendy. It was taking a lot of creativity and was taking away all the fun, you know….

H: We were doing straight commercial stuff, painting by numbers or traveling around the world painting subways.

 

AW: YOU GUYS DID A LOT OF TRANSPORTATION?

N: A lot.

H: Over 60 countries

 

AW: WHY?

H&N: This Is the origin of it. If you’ve done it then there is nothing better than seeing your name…

 

AW: IN MOVEMENT…ON THE GO.

H: Yeah! Haha It’s hard to describe why, it’s a total ego trip, just for you, nobody understands and you don’t get anything out of it. It costs you money but you can travel. It makes no sense for most people, they think it’s stupid but once you get one, you want to get another one and another one and another one…

N:Then you can travel to countries where no one has been. And you want to crack the system. They got the video surveillance and moving sensors but its just so professional already to a level that you just paint.

H: It’s like a mission. Like organized crime.

 

 

 

 

AW: PAINT AND RUN?

N: Not so much running – these painting don’t take more than 10 minutes. Again, you learn how to paint really fast and really elaborate and that reflects on the walls.

 

AW: BUT THE WALLS ARE SO MEDITATIVE AND WITH SO MUCH WORK.

N: Oh yes, of course. Way more intricate. You got no time when you do illegal.

That’s how we started doing a lot of legal stuff too, because we were painting straight illegal stuff: trains and walls all over the city and our walls. We were getting more and more complex and then it was taking too much time to do murals out in the night. We then started going to spots that are called “Hall of Fame”.

H: Yeah you know…. there are some legal spots where the city lets you…

 

AW: YEAH WE’VE GOT THE HALL OF FAME HERE… BY I-95 TOO! SO EVERY CITY HAS A HALL OF FAME?

H&N: Yeah, in Europe yes.

H: NY has one….but I think the city is tearing it down….Too many accidents there.

N: Are we answering your questions or are we talking about?

 

AW: IT’S CONVERSATION… KEEP IT CASUAL. TELL ME ABOUT THE POINT IN NY.

N: The Point Community center? Well we don’t really work there anymore, but our crew has had an office since 1995. It’s in a very bad neighborhood and there were a bunch of people that wanted to open a community center.

H: Artists, actors and others… they all got together and opened a community center with a grant. They wanted art but they didn’t want classical art, they wanted NY born art and that’s how they reached out to all of our crew members. We used to teach graffiti once a week to the kids. Then they offered us a space and we had an office there. We have been doing this for the last three years or so…

 

AW: DO YOU LIKE CARD GAMES?

H: I like them but don’t know many…

 

AW: YOUR DRAWINGS ARE LIKE CARD CHARACTERS TOO ME…

N: Yeah… cards of the same color…

 

AW: I AM A GAME ADDICT.

N: You play poker?

 

AW: BIG TIME GAMBLER.

N: For money?

 

AW: ABSOLUTELY! IT’S NOT FUN IF NOT…OR FAVORS! I GAMBLE FOR FAVORS, A GREAT WAY TO EXCHANGE.

N: Are you good?

 

AW: I PRACTICE…

N: I don’t play so I’m not going to test you… I don’t want to owe you a favor…

 

AW: OR MAYBE YOU DO… YOUR PAINTINGS ARE SORT OF MIND GAMES TO ME. LIKE A PUZZLE.

H: There are a bunch of stories in there… yeah.

 

 

 

 

AW: ARE THEY BASED ON ANY STORIES?

N: Experiences, things we have seen. Iconic images that always reappear in our paintings, Like diamonds and fish.

H: Yes… the technique we have is when you look at it, it’s like a continuous line, as if we never stopped the can and a lot of graphical design… to make it abstract….

You gotta really look for a long time to figure out one character and then when you follow the eye it turns into a leg of some other character. People like to stare at our walls and try to decide what it is.

Most of the time there are some stories in there but some other times it just makes no sense.

 

AW: DO YOU PAINT IN RELATIONSHIP WITH THE CITY YOU ARE IN?

H: No no. I don’t really like that. When we went to Argentina, we didn’t want to paint something about Argentina and its politics. For us it has more of an impact if something is totally different – it has a bigger effect.

 

AW: I ALSO SEE INDUSTRIES AND FAVORITES IN YOUR DRAWINGS? ANY INFLUENCES WITH MACHINES???

H: Yes, we have classic cars.

 

AW: WHAT DO YOU MEAN? BIG ONES?

H: Yes. Race cars.

 

AW: YOU GUYS RACE?

H: Yes Flag? Racing in the streets.

N. He has a ’68 Camaro and I have a ’68 Firebird

(he shows me a picture of this dog in his car)

 

AW: HOW DOES YOUR COLLABORATION WORK?

H: Usually he starts somewhere. I start somewhere. And then we switch up. For the huge wall in L.A. he did my scotch and I painted his scotch. We mix it up, then we connect.

 

AW: WITH CONVERSATION OF WHATS GOING TO HAPPEN ?

N: Not all the time…when we are painting on the streets we are just doing whatever. We look at the wall.

 

AW: BOOKS?

H: I don’t read that much. I used to read a lot but that just drove me crazy, too much knowledge! Sometimes it’s ok if you don’t know too much.

N: And the pages in our walls…. we really don’t do that in murals but we do it in our paintings. It brings texture.

 

AW: STENCILING?

H: Yeah cereal boxes… used cardboard….

 

AW: IN THE STREETS EVERYTHING BECOMES FUNCTIONAL

N: The whole Graffiti and street art…well the term street art, is whatever, its kind of funny… but you know what I mean…. They take our techniques…

H: There is no graffiti anymore. Graffiti to me is tagging and subways….

 

AW: GRAFFITTI AND STREET ART?

H: Graffiti is lettering to me. Usually on subways.

This is not it… and I wouldn’t call it street art cuz it ain’t in the streets… It’s Parking Lot Art.

 

 

 

 

AW: STICKERS?

N: Yeah.. sometimes we did it.

H: When you travel in a city during the day time… you put it up…

N: But is much better to use a nice fat cap tag. It’s better and more aggressive.

It’s part of an art form in the graffiti culture. Tagging is very important, the hand style…a really nice handwriting sometimes can look better than a piece, you know?

H: You can imitate a photograph but they don’t have style. You can tell by the way they write.

You have to be very free in your handwriting…it takes years, it takes a while.

 

AW: PRACTICE MAKES THE MASTER.  PRISON?

H: Both. In Australia, South Africa, Germany, France, Italia

 

AW: OH YOU ARE TOURING THE PRISONS AS WELL….

H: Yeah … it’s not that easy any more. Now you can google my name.

 

 

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