What’s going on man, for those who don’t know you, go ahead and introduce yourself
Hello everyone, my name is CYFN PC Crew. I’m a Graffiti writer from Chicago.
How was life growing up?
I grew up on the northside of Chicago. I was mostly into skateboarding from about 6th grade until the end of high school. I got introduced to graffiti when I was around 12 years old through skateboarding. We used to pick names and go around writing our names on mailboxes, stop signs, and dumpsters in my neighborhood with magic markers. Sometimes the way we approached letter combinations was so different before I learned traditional graffiti.
At around 18 I came to the unfortunate reality that I was better writer than skater, so I decided to focus on that. Sad day to say the least. My ankles can’t handle it anymore though. I can still watch skate videos for hours on end though.
What prompted you to take up art in the first place?
I’ve been an artist my whole life. I really think that type of thing chooses you because there has been times in my life where I wish I was able to trade that type of talent in for other things but it doesn’t always work like that.
I got into drawing at around two years old. I’m an only child and I was always left with paper and a pencil to draw things. As a young kid I was really into drawing transformers. I would lay on the living room floor and draw all day long. When I was young I drew a fish from memory and taped it on my wall and my Dad freaked out. He couldn’t believe that I did that at such a young age. Was a good feeling to say the least.
When I was in grade school there was this indian kid in class and we would draw the Simpsons characters and try to out do each other. Back then we would get pencils from the school office and play a game called “pencil pop” whoever broke each others pencil first was the winner, so sometimes people would pay us in quarters or in pencils to draw them.
Art always has been a constant my whole life. It’s like this urge that you need to come out of yourself and sometimes just the act of doing it is better than the end result. It’s therapeutic for me to say the least.
How were you able to transition from drawing transformers into Graffiti?
When I was younger my parents were Jehovah Witnesses and they would take me to church with them at the time. There was this kid there Joey who wrote Febl for Tfd crew who would have tags all over his bible pages and shit, now that I think about it it was hilarious. We started talking and he noticed that I was drawing these Bboy characters in my notebook and asked me if I wanted to go bombing on Saturday morning. I was like sure I’ll bring the eggs!! Lol. And he was like what? I didn’t know anything I was super toy. This was around 1992 I think.
That weekend we met at Harlem station off the blueline and he jumped off the tracks and busted some tags on the billboards and then I kind of figured stuff out and was like “oh that’s what he meant”. Again I really didn’t know anything at the time I was so young. Everyone started young back then.
He took me to Tfd meeting at independence park to meet Rok and Jinx and then to all these different neighborhoods off the lines to do stations. I wrote Fatel for Tfd for a very short time after that. Back then everything was covered, this was pre-buff Chicago so there was so much graffiti.
Was Graffiti a big movement when you were growing up?
Yes, definitely. There was so much more of it everywhere. Back then buses were rocked too. There were some crews and people that just focused on buses and some on bombing lines and some piecing.
When I first started out I was mainly a bus writer in the beginning, just learning how to tag and have a good handstyle. I was in a handful of crews in the very beginning and had different names back then. Eventually I started painting and doing fill ins and stuff. Most people probably remember me for being in a crew called TMS it was a crew based off the redline but they also had people on the southside as well. This was around 1995 I think.
What or who influenced you to create your abstract style?
For me, I noticed my stuff was looking very geometric and I was tired of making things so perfect and rigid. I wanted to create a more organic/fluid style. More like something that I can improvise and go with. Right now my current style is very melty and drippy but by next year that could change. I believe in small change as each peace develops you kind of change the small things and before you know it when you look back a year or two later it looks totally different.
What are your favorite colors to blend together?
Man, I think that can change at any given date. I usually like mixing blues and greens. I’ve been thinking of creating more warm/red pieces as of late. I also like purple and blue together.
Is there a specific meaning behind the name CYFN?
I hate my name honestly but it just stuck with me. Most good graffiti names have vowels to balance out the other letters so it sits better and has flow 4 to 5 letters. Sometimes common names do this best. Once in a while I’ll see a cool name I haven’t seen or thought of before that breaks this mold and thats what keeps graffiti interesting to me. I’m always constantly looking at other peoples styles and my favorites change monthly.
Growing up I used too see Orfn from CAB crew and Flyn from Car crews stuff here and there. I liked those letter combinations at the time. I’ve had a bunch of different names when I first started out more than like 25. You’re trying to find yourself and what fits and that takes time and experimentation. We pick these names so young I always wish I would have thought of it more.
How did you link up with the guys in PC crew?
I kind of fell out of graffiti at around 23 years old. I was mostly like a tagger/bomber dude back then but I was always drawing pieces in my notebook since ever. Most of my friends at the time that I went out with bombing were like oh I’m too old for this now or had other responsibilities and just quit. Again back then people started a lot younger some never stopped but a lot of people did.
The buff didn’t help either it was like nothing was riding more than like a day or two. There wasn’t no one to feed off of or see up it felt like the city was like this sterile hospital it was depressing. I always liked seeing a door covered in tags it made me feel like people lived in the city like it was this living organism.
Piecing was like unfinished business for me. It was the one thing that I never did with it, that I knew I was capable of doing. Back then I was always taught that before you can get on a production wall you had to have dope tags and be a well rounded writer. I always told myself if I ever got back into it, I would get into piecing. I wanted to be able to push myself artistically and I knew doing that would keep me interested.
I saw Amuse at one of his walls when I was staining insides on the redline so I decided to stop and introduced myself. It turns out I hit up one of his books when he was younger and he put me on to the new paint and what was going on with stuff. Things were so different now with new paint and the internet. At that time I also ran into Polack from Xmen and he introduced to a lot of people I hadn’t seen in a really long time so that kind of was my resurgence into the whole graffiti thing.
I had been painting any open wall I could when I got back into it around 6 years ago and I linked up with REPOS PC through flickr because I was always painting the Augusta wall. I started painting with him and people in the crew I had always like their stuff and was able to feed off them artistically and eventually after a couple of years I became part of the crew.
What do you do to keep yourself motivated and interested in your work?
Traveling as much as I can and trying to push myself to paint and learn more. Staying humble and always knowing there is room to improve. Never think you’re the shit because once you do that’s when you stop progressing and its over. If I had more time I would paint a lot more than I do currently but adult life always take precedence at the moment.
In 2016 now, do you think graffiti culture is dying out?
Not at all, but I do think it’s changing. Graffiti is becoming more of an industry now kind of like skateboarding in a way. Now that they have a product to sell (the spray can) it’s opened up a lot of doors I’ve never imagined that would be opened and some artists can definitely make a living off their artwork.
I’d rather embrace the change and stay current then sit and complain about how it used to be. There are pluses and minuses with how graffiti is changing with the advent of the internet/commercialization/how styles are learned and such. Which can be a whole other conversation within itself that could be very lengthy.
We are beginning to see a lot of more galleries become more accepting of graffiti and street art. Do you think by doing this, galleries are displaying graffiti/street-art in a more positive way?
You know it depends, sometimes yes when they get credible people. I’m in no way the ambassador of graffiti or street art so this is just my opinion loI.
But I don’t like when I see someone who uses the whole graffiti story to sell their artwork but no one ever remembers who they were or what they did and then you find out it was fake or blown out of proportion or painted for like a year or two with just the intention of getting into a gallery. Just feels like the intentions are not pure. But again thats just my opinion. There are a lot of notable galleries doing it the right way too which I respect.
I definitely see more of an influence with Graphic design into the newer styles that currently coming out. mostly with the effects. Street art and Graffiti and definitely fusing together more.
Chicago has been developing a strong presence in the graffiti scene over the years. Who are some of your favorites currently?
Man, too many too mention. I’m afraid I’ll leave someone out. lol. But some of my favorites lately would be: Labrat, people in my crew, Tubs, Wendl, Apheks, Amuse, Cove, Antck, I really like what Ruben Aguirre and Max Sansing have been doing lately. Man too many to mention but those are some that stick out at the moment.
How was it being able to paint at “Art Basel” one of, if not the biggest art fairs in the country?
I like it, it seems like the new Scribble Jam. I wish I would have started going a lot earlier. Writers from all over the world come down to Miami to paint for that week. I usually paint most of the week and check out the art shows at night or towards the last couple days of the trip. Cuban and Panther coffee is the shit! Man I wish I had one right now.
When it’s all said and done, how do you want to be remembered?
As a loving son to my mother and someone who was always true to themselves and did all that they could with the time they had left. Life is short. Thanks for the interview. Peace out!
Written by Nicholas Rud