REZ x BUGN
We caught up with graffiti artists REZ and BUGN in Brooklyn as they work on their new pieces to discuss their work, the current state of graffiti and their views on New York while also sharing tales of the 90’s.
So what was the first name you wrote?
R: I don’t know, I wrote some horrible ones I’m sure but I had the same name since probably 14 or 15. So really I guess it was Rez , I mean it was the first name I started to do things with.
What’s that name?
R: Rez, then it was Rezone. Then I added “or” “Rezor” to make it more interesting for my letters.
So Aesthetically, you change your name?
R: Yeah, pretty much. To lengthen the name.
How has your style developed since you first started making art and has anyone played a role in molding your work into what it is now?
R: Yeah pretty much anybody I’ve ever painted with because you know, you paint with some good guys and you learn things. Bugn and his brother Hark were a big influence when I was just getting started. They were really good and were willing to help out and show the right way to do things. Cool guys and look I’m still painting with this dude 20 something years later. How has my painting changed since I was young? I sucked when I was young, Now I’m okay.
B: I love that he said “okay” thats modesty man. I love that.
R: I have my good days and bad days.
You started at what age?
R: I did my first piece at fifteen(1987). I wouldn’t say I really got started until The 90’s but you know I started in the 80’s but I wasn’t doing a lot. I was just tagging. Before that , in JHS , we would have black book sessions after school. But It’s hard to say exactly when I started.
It kind of grows organically, you start, you like it and then you actually meet one person who’s into it and it just accumulates over time the more you work right?
R: Yeah, I mean everything you do, In my opinion, and this goes with anything; The more you do it the better you get, the further you want to push yourself. If you’re not pushing yourself, then there’s no point to it as far as I’m concerned. You gotta be frustrated at some point if you’re going to make better art.
So you’re about to have a daughter, how much are you going to influence her into art?
R: Well, I said this to Bugn; if she has any interest in art, I’m gonna push it you know. She can do whatever she wants but if she’s interested in art, I’m going make her into a beast.
B: The other day, we saw one of the guys who paints here he had his teenage daughter help fill in the paint. It was the best thing. He showed up, got real busy one saturday and she was there like just filling in saying “What color do you want dad?” You know it was great. It was really cool. And that’s the thing, original graffiti artists were you know, like 13, 15 year old kids. Now, they’re older, they have kids of their own and this is really the first time that’s ever happened. You know, graffiti art isn’t an art form that’s like 200 years old, it’s from 1969 at its earliest. So these are the original guys.
It’s traveling through generations.
The original guys are still alive. In 50 years you won’t be able to have access to the original people and it’s an interesting thing. And what’s so interesting is, on a journalistic level you can still talk to the original guys and understand where it came from, what it was like, what it was all about then because graffiti also changes every 10 years. Now, it’s changing fast.
What would you say it’s changing into?
B: Well, there’s more people doing it everywhere. It’s global, I mean there is action. There’s what’s happening here at this wall, going down across the country and every single continent. It’s just –
B: Yeah, I mean it used to be a regional thing. It used to be the Bronx, and then it was Brooklyn and then it was the whole city, and then it was LA and Chicago and Miami and Amsterdam England and France; quickly. In the 80’s it was international but it was so DL. There was no magazines yet. See, in the history of graffiti, it was a photo trade and black books. If you wanted to see graffiti from NY you had to have the actual photographs.
The magazines were a big step because the magazines could bring style, that’s when I met Rez. I was getting those mags.
And now social media makes everything different.
Bugn: It’s lightening. Our pieces right now have been published 5 times, 10 times a day, and they’re not even done. Thats how fast it is. The speed of evolution is going to move real fast because innovation over here is going to spread and get picked up and pushed. It also means… it’s good. It means a bunch of things.
Hey Rez is graffiti about fame?
R: Well no, not for me anyway.
B: Ha! I love it! For me it’s not about fame. I mean, I like the recognition and I like knowing that I’m putting out that has a positive impact, but to me..
You don’t do it for the fame –
R: –To each their own. Even if no one was seeing it I’d still be doing it. I mean for some sure, but for me it never really has been about that. I agree with Bugn , the recognition is good but its not why I do it.
B: I like the idea of contributing. Art has a positive impact and I’m into that. Being recognized feels good, it’s nice but I don’t know.. I forget what we’re talking about. I’m gonna go paint.
What do you love about New York the most?
R: When I was young or now?
R: I used to love New York, now…not so much. You know, I think New York has lost a lot of its character. But you know it’s still a cool city, but it’s becoming just a city for the rich.
I think that’s fair to say, before it was a lot more exclusive in what New York used to offer –
B: What he’s talking about, it’s also–In our lifetime we’re in our forties. In our neighborhood, what we’re seeing; twenty years ago this was the lower east side. Now you can’t live there. It’s moving so fast. This neighborhood will eventually be for millionaires only. It’s moving, moving, and moving.
R: I have nothing against the neighborhoods getting better, but they should be better for the people that were living here first. It should’t take new people moving here for the neighborhood to become better. The rents go to high and the people originally living there need to move out. Something’s just not right about that.
What do you think really needs to happen?
R: I don’t think it can happen, it went the wrong way. I don’t think you can pull it back.
B: That’s Gentrification.
B: The value of the rent goes off the roof and the people can’t afford to live there anymore. If you own a house you make the money back but for all the people renting, they get fucked. So it’s that; he’s right. You can’t live on the run. It sucks, it’s just crazy.
R: I’m sure a lot of people like it.
Why do you stay here?
R: I don’t have a choice right now… I mean I have a choice but my family’s here, I’m about to have a baby, life comes into play.
Would you have rather grown up somewhere else?
R: No, because I grew up in a great time of New York. When NY was raw, I mean raw. And I love that.