Uncapped: Finding the Inspiration with Staten Island’s PREZ ONE

Posted on: June 17th, 2015 at 9:22 am by
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Back again with our weekly graffiti-laced series, Uncapped. For this installment, we hit Staten Island to link up with PrezOne of NWC.

BOWERY BOOGIE: Getting in a barrage of questions in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…Ready?! What’s behind the name? Dead Prez? Tell us how it all began for you? How old you were…any favorite adventures of graff you want to share?

PrezOne: Behind the name PREZ is a guy who adheres to no one’s rule or law. The name Prez arrived in my lap as a relation to an old family joke. My mom always used to ask me if I thought I was the KING because I always marched to the beat of my own drum. KING was already taken, so Prez was close in line (by no means am I a king). At the age of 10 or so, I was really awakened by my late Uncle John Stringer (RIP). He was an amazing artist who was mainly into comics, along with anything [in the] war [genre]. I always looked up to him and admired him due to his eccentricity and wild, but subtle attitude towards things. He was always showing me things I swore were the coolest, and he always had fun stories about war, or talked about fuck the government yada yada.

I also could not, at the time, help staring at the amount of graff that existed in the late 80s into the 90s on the streets of Staten Island walls. I still, to this day, can look at a Staten picture, and be 90% on point to its location. Those years were the best. From that point forward all I wanted to do was draw and write my name over and over and over again on anything I could… my parents house even (lol!)… I wanted to say “FUCK THE GOVERNMENT” just like my uncle always said. I wanted to rebel and somehow that all started my love for graffiti. By the age of 14, as a freshman in high school I was already attempting painting walls on the regular, it became an obsession, a plague, an all out hunger for constant growth to today.

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BB: Wow. A sincere thank you to all war Veterans out there. If only they could all be as appreciated as your uncle. I feel the same way about my father and grandfathers. I’m 100% with you on the rebelling part, too. I’ll let you borrow Rebel Know for a day if you want. No? (Laughing). Ok then. Who are some of the artists that inspired you?

PrezOne: As far as name placement due to inspiration with other artists go, it’s a tough question. Tough because (1) I appreciate every artist for the simple fact we are all in the same family, and (2) I never like to play favoritism. So the real inspirations to me were the people I had real connections to; the people I actually knew, and the people who were doing big things in the graff and art scenes. I don’t call myself anything other than artist so I don’t name specific inspirations because everyone is an inspiration in my eyes in one way or another. The only ones who are not an inspiration are the cocky and egotistical … even if what they produce is head over heels killer.

BB: I hear you. Just want to quickly mention that you’ve been on Boogie before for the DG tribute – how are you holding up since that awful tragedy?

PrezOne: Yes, I’ve been on Boogie before, for unfortunate reasons, but we move on and never forget, especially people far and few like Jason. He is truly missed by many, including myself. I’m just glad I was blessed with a friend like him, even though time does not always allow keeping people very close in the physical, we always stayed in touch. I do miss the random rants and conversations about everything from a-z. RIP DG.

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BB: That was a tough one to partake in. Thank you again for being part of it. RIP DG. I know it’s hard, but moving on back to you – you have an incredibly impressive skill set.

PrezOne: I appreciate your compliment on the skill set I have acquired through many, many years of hard work and dedication. I am informally trained, meaning no training! Zero. Zilch. The streets were my classroom. From the jump, I always NEEDED to be better, still do (I say need because like a drug addict needs its fix, this is my drug… art). I never went to art class, an art school, or even had the luxury of any guidance, my parents did not allow it. They felt art school was a waste of time and education. I would be inspired by whatever it was at the time, and just go for it and try. Trial and error was my teacher. I’m not only speaking in graffiti terms, I mean in all aspects of my artwork. From foundation to light and shading and colors and all that … all of it I see as a challenge. I love a challenge. I love creating, I love producing, and all those motivators were steam to my engine.

BB: Looking at your body of work (below) and hearing now, it seems like you are well rounded as an artist so why is graff your main focus? Or is it?

PrezOne: Being well rounded is important to me, as an artist … not just a graff artist. I feel it is my responsibility as an artist to be as best at my craft as I can be. It is my responsibility to grow and, hopefully, inspire the upcoming youth. Graffiti out of all my trades in the art world is hands down my number 1. It will always be my roots, my blood, and my main form. It speaks 1,000 words without saying one, it flows off my finger tips like air out my lungs, it’s just a natural gift that says “Fuck you,” and “Fuck the system” all at once. Graffiti has no rules like all the other art forms have in creating, I like no rules. Graffiti is not something anyone can be taught, well at least the greats won’t ever come out of a classroom. It’s yours to find the gift within, unlike other genres which you can be trained in day in and day out. Lastly, it’s just simply part of my culture. In life you are nothing you call yourself, unless you are well rounded at your craft, and that is why I take it so seriously.

BB: Do you have a favorite piece?

PrezOne:  I don’t have a favorite piece, as I hate most of ’em, there are a few I can say “WOW” I do like that, but I will always be my worst critic. Favorite to me is just a word I try not to use. (Smoking Bud, now that something I can call favoritism on (lol). That’s part of my drive to continue to challenge myself I guess. I don’t know many artists from bottom level to top who can really say they love their own creations. We have an image in our heads, and if the production is not to the T… then it’s a fail to ourselves. Failing is not what I like to do, but it is what I’m good at (lol). Being humble is what carries me through, and always reminds me next time will be better.

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BB: You hate most of them? That’s insane. Cut that out! What is next for Prez?

PrezOne: As far as next goes, I guess this [interview] is next, physically, but next is always an open door. There is no blueprint to myself, as I just flow with whatever way the wind takes me. I don’t like plans, I don’t like to conform and depend on anything or anyone. I am a sole flyer in a big sky so to ever hear me say whats next up is a rare situation, unless it is a small window of excitement to a challenge! Next is what colors I need to pick up, and what spot I’m going to try and paint. Next is the outline I have to create, and the day I will be able to paint it.

BB: Where will we find you in 10 years – a vet or retired?

PrezOne: In 10 years, I hope to still be here, whether I have a following or not. I’ll still be painting, drawing, creating, because the day that stops is the day I’m either dead, paralyzed, or handless. I can never see myself idle, maybe because art is a disease I cannot control. In 10 years, I hope to grow even better, more technical, and more advanced. At the same time I hope things are better in the future rather than worse, because the tides are changing, and the world is a scary place. Art will always be my escape.

BB: Prez, much respect for joining us and for your candidness. You really laid it all out on the table and held nothing back.

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