Fresh Paint NYC, an archive and resource for graffiti and street art worldwide. First created in 2010, Fresh Paint NYC has amassed an index of art that can be viewed as an encyclopedia of tags, pieces and commissioned works throughout the last decade. If you don't already know, then check out his Instagram and website for a history lesson.
His books, 'Fresh Paint NYC' and the limited run photo journal 'The Instagram Archives' have made him a staple in the NYC art scene.
We reached out to get his take on the role of technology in street art and to discuss his approach to documenting the culture.
When and why did you decide to start documenting street art/graff?
Summer 2000 - I used to try to paint graffiti and always would take photos with a film camera. All my photos were 4x6 prints before digital and never considered saving any of them. So I either gave them away or tossed them away over time. Eventually where you got your film developed they offered a CD Disc of your prints. I remember thinking long about it like what's the point of having my pictures on a CD for the computer. Sharing photos over the internet was primitive but eventually Flickr came along. I think today in the back of my mind i'm constantly trying to make up for throwing those pics away. As far as taking a lot of photos in present day, the rapid turnover of spots is what keeps me interested. Walls get buffed so fast, toys are too thirsty to go over other writers. It's pretty much expected once a wall gets painted it's lifespan is limited so gotta get those flicks.
Who do you consider your biggest influences?
As far as other graffiti photographers... James & Karla Murray first made me realize you can put all your effort of running around taking photos into a direction. Also I'm always influenced by countless photographers that are always on the move. It's easy to get caught in a hunch and say you’re bored, but I still feel there's still endless amounts of stuff to see and photograph. Keeping everyday new and exciting as the first day I became involved is what I strive to keep going for.
What are your favorite things to document and why?
I like documenting changes in the streets. I have a lot of older pictures of places that no longer exist or that have gone under drastic change, I never took these pictures with the intention of saying, i'm gonna compare this picture to what it will look like 10 years from now. Today I force myself to do this but it’s not the same, all the gems are gone. Seeing a building you pass everyday for 10+ years get the graffiti cleaned off the side makes you say damn... Then you see the building get knocked down and a new one go up, damn thats crazy. Witnessing the evolution of a city with your own eyes is a trip. I never expect anything to stay the same forever but I also never stopped to consider what the future has in store for a place. Now I pay closer attention and any older buildings that missed the buff or are still standing while everything else around it has become glass condos, you know it’s time is up very soon.
How has the way you document art changed over the last 10 years and how has technology played a role?
Technology has only made the turnover rate faster. No more checking to see how many exposures you have left. No more waiting to get your pictures developed. No more running to buy a new pack of AA batteries. Now I have to answer DM's on Instagram explaining to kids why I didn't post their graffiti. Wild turn of events.
How has social media helped Freshpaintnyc and what do you think are the best forms of media to create exposure?
I have been running my website for a very long time, but don't feel the need to push it on anyone. It's there and I enjoy updating while having coffee in the morning. I like sharing where i've been, what I see and do on a daily basis. I suppose Instagram is the best form of exposure at this point. It's a waiting game to see what's next if there is a next.
Are there any art shows that you've been to recently that exposed you to new artists that you weren't aware of?
It's a tough one, the art world is very crowded. There's so many artists out there. If I was to just pick a name out of thin air without getting into a whole thing about it, I think Sam Friedman’s work is pretty cool.
Do you feel the loss of 5 Pointz has hindered the graffiti movement and do you think the Bushwick Collective is picking up where 5 Pointz left off?
There's no comparison. 5 Pointz was run by graffiti writers for graffiti writers with the intention of helping writers out. I’ve seen generations of kids that sat in the loading dock drawing in black books every single day after school. Meres (who ran 5 Pointz) would help these kids and countless amounts of writers at once on the walls. I’ve seen a few become big names on many walls all over today.
Bushwick Collective seems to be a "heat of the moment" thing now that murals are in demand. I feel the murals are a marketing ploy for the real estate. If this wasn’t true where were the murals before the tenants and businesses 10 years ago? There was some good graffiti actually on some of those walls when it wasn't the focus of attention, how come none of it was preserved or acknowledged. But hey, if everyone's happy then so be it. Too many politics involved with all that. 5 Pointz had a legacy going back before it was called 5 Pointz. That era can never be replaced or duplicated, it’s just not the same.
As someone who has been involved in the street art scene for almost 2 decades, how have things changed from when you first started and has it been a positive change?
Everyone’s getting older, the buff is heavier & laws are tougher.
If a kid wanted to learn more about graffiti and the culture, what would be your advice to them?
History is the most important thing about graffiti and you can’t force the history on today's generation of kids and expect them to appreciate it the same way guys that lived it 20+ years ago did. However, if you must, practice on paper a lot and pick a name that hasn’t already been used.