Uncapped: Beneath the Paint with AMUZE
Graffiti can be traced back to Ancient Egypt. Making the above piece entirely too apropos. Once a week, our new “Uncapped” feature will focus on graffiti artists who are following in the footstpes of the fore-fathers like Kilroy (1940s), Bird (1950s), Cornbread and Kool Earl (1960s) moving right along to the NY Subway Train Reign (yeah, I just killed that title- you wanna use it, ask) of PHASE 2, STAYHIGH 149, STITCH 1, SNAKE 1, RIFF 170, JEC STAR, BAMA, SJK 171,
C.A.T. 87, TRACY 168, CLIFF 159, and IN ( KILL 3 ) etc.
Everything that started before us is history and history should be shared. Graff included.
Give a Lower East Side welcome to Queens native, AMUZE who is continuing the graffiti legacy despite trains being off limits (sort of).
BOWERY BOOGIE: Describe your ultimate mission.
AMUZE: As far as an ultimate mission…I got to be honest it’s more for personnel satisfaction…What I do is really for myself…if people like it that’s cool…if not that’s cool too.
BB: What was the spark or inspiration behind writing? How did you get your name?
AMUZE: The spark of inspiration behind writing at first was for fame…I never got up like lots of the writers that I grew up with. Plus I was never willing to climb and get crazy spots because I hate heights. I took a long break for a few years. So that didn’t help. But as time passed and the paint and caps evolved so much my goal was going for quality instead of quantity…so instead of bombing I stuck to piecing more as a goal and that’s pretty much what I have been doing over the last 2 1/2 years…Nowadays I rather get recognition over fame.
I got my name with the help of a childhood writer who wrote DAY…figured it was funny and used the letters AUDIE because he was a big influence to me and so was BREEZE which is how I got the Z…that’s everything.
BB: Word. Favorite place to paint?
AMUZE: My favorite place to paint currently – even though I only get to paint there twice a year – has to be the Junction in Brooklyn. I have been fortunate enough to paint there four times already and usually paint nicer there than anywhere else due to the pieces staying up longer there than anywhere else. I also like to paint at Tuff City and Graffiti Universe with my brothers from the Bronx.
BB: How many pieces have you created, and which is your favorite?
AMUZE: I have done roughly 70 pieces in my life give or take…starting in ’91-’92 doing a handful which were pretty bad…then really getting into it in 2007 up until now taking roughly a 3 year break in between…I would probably be over 100 at this point, but my work schedule can be so crazy at times my painting time is cut really short. I would like to do 50 pieces in 2015, and have already done. 50 is going to be a pretty hard number to reach, but I will try. As far as a favorite, probably in the last few years was the Spider production myself and the boys did in Brooklyn and also the DG memorial I did at The Junction.
BB: How do you feel about graffiti artists going commercial a la UR New York?
AMUZE: Everyone has their own ambitions and goals as far as what they want to do as an artist. There are lots of people taking art to another level as far as whats going on currently. But I will continue to do what I do with the guys I paint with because what these other artist are doing on the commercial is not my cup of tea.
BB: Is it selling out by going the gallery route?
AMUZE: I would not say that is exactly true. Most writers, if given the opportunity, would go the gallery route. Some writers do nothing but galleries. As for myself, I would never close the door on an opportunity like that. I know plenty of my friends that have done it.
BB: Tell us one thing you want people to know about you outside of being a graff artist.
AMUZE: I have always loved art. I got into art first because my grandfather was into painting. [Then I] went sort of the rebellious way of going the graffiti route at a young age. Even when I was bombing early on, I would still draw other things besides graff like portraits, still life, and even commercial art. But graffiti art to me will always be number one in my heart.
BB: How can people follow your work?
Amuze: My instagram is @161river.
BB: Amuze, much respect for joining us. If ya’ll wanna read a little more about him, check out Amuze’s part of the tribute to NWC’s DG, a world famous graffiti veteran who passed away tragically last year.
Stay tuned for more dope artists continuing the legacy on Uncapped.