First NYC street work in 2002
Leaf & Wood - What year do you consider that you started taking graffiti seriously?
OZBE - I think I started bombing in ‘02. Since I went to art & design and took the train to and from school everyday. I wanted to see my name on roofs I would see. I could say that I started taking it more serious in high school. But started doing graffiti in ‘99.
LW - What do you find more self rewarding? The finished piece or the process of creating?
OZBE - I love the thrill of the bomb. The adrenaline of being rebellious and breaking the rules helped me get through dark times in my personal life. It still does. But the reward of seeing the spot the next day after its done also feels great. Especially the acknowledgment of my peers. I personally think all graffiti artists are egotistical maniacs wanting to see their name everywhere.
LW - Insights on how you handle a career, family, and graffiti at the same time in your life?
OZBE - Graffiti becomes more difficult for the person who has life goals and cares for their loved ones. Graffiti has always been my favorite vice to let go of demons.
LW - Does cannabis play a role in your creative process, before, during, after?
OZBE - Cannabis has helped and has also made things worse. But I love it. It helps my anxious days. I feel like it does get my creative juices flowing. Sometimes I would have a blunt lit while doing a rooftop, or while doing a production. I’ve learned to not be so dependent on it as I got older.
LW - Do you have any personal rituals when it comes to smoking?
OZBE - I always loved the process of buying it, buying Dutches, and rolling it up. I guess it’s a ritual I took from growing up in the hood and in the hip hop culture.
LW - We all build from the past, who has inspired you? Mentored you? Where have you taken artistic inspiration from?
OZBE - I love seeing my pals go hard in the paint. I aspire to be my own version of Ces, Yes2, Seen, and Kaws. I love the fact that we can make something out of nothing using creativity. All it takes to be a great successful artist is to take risks and follow your heart in my opinion.