This interview was conducted in February 1996 through email for Art Crimes and was edited by Brett Webb. Thanks go to Reas for taking the time to answer all of the questions and get this thing going so quickly! Interview © copyright 1996 Brett Webb, Art Crimes. Do not republish without permission.
Art Crimes: When did you start writing? How'd you get
Reas: I started out writing in staircases of these buildings with friends of mine around 1980. It was something we did for fun,like sneaking into abandoned buildings some older guys told us about. [It was about] tags and the basic bullshit and that you had to have an original name. I picked Flash from that movie Flash Gordon. The 's' was a lighting bolt. Then I came up with Ninja and some other crazy shit. It was me and my friends and we didn't know that much and we sort of interpreted what we saw being done around us as best we could. At that time I wasn't travelling very far or anywhere by train. It wasn't taken serious but [it was] probably the most fun time. We weren't even in Junior High, everything was new.
When I got to 8th grade in '82 I was introduced to trains. I met a writer who wrote CIST ONE in the hallway. He invited me to go tosome layups in Brooklyn and introduced me to a lot of writers in the school:SEK, REC, ARC, KEPSTER, IE, DASHER. These guys all knew more than me about what I was getting into. They had better handstyles. SEK was really good at piecing. I was really hyped on the whole thing. I could draw so I could piece, but I was being introduced to styles I couldn't comprehend.
Every morning I also rode the train, the cc and the a, to school. So now Iz the Wiz, Min, Quick, Sr, Python, Bo and all the writers from those lines were catching my eye. And some days I'd go to the 1 line and see CIA, FBA, RTW or TNT's latest work, or whoever, roll through and just sit waiting for the next train.
The moment I saw that Sab Kaze by Tack and Kaze with the shark roll up I freaked out. It was brand new and they drew a shark character in a style I'd never witnessed. The whole thing blew my mind. By that time I had been hitting insides and done some crummy outside pieces.
School was shit so I focused on getting good at writing. That whole early era was a very rough ride. A lot of beef I couldn't handle. A lot of going through turbulance, but I continued. Everyone had beef everyone wanted to rob each other. And down in a subway tunnel there's no law. And even if I got out of there OK the chance your piece or throwups and insides get gone over were 50/50. There was no room. So you usually had to go over something. And guys that did lots of throwups treated them like their pieces. Eventually whoever sticks with it stands out and you become known. Most people get bored, quit and fade out. I'd say by '85 I was starting to get some good notice. By '87 I stopped to come back in '89 and rode the trains out.
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