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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

B Bop Graffiti

B Bop Graffiti

Graffiti artist B Bop started with markers and stolen paint cans when he was eleven years old. He’s 21 now and has gotten the most out of his ability to create fantastic images. B Bop sits down with The Mass Media and talks about his Somerville roots, freight car taggings, a budding entrepreneurship and how his love for the rush of “bombing” will never grow old.

The Mass Media: Approximately how many tags have you done in your lifetime?B Bop: Thousands and thousands of them. At least 20,000.

TMM: When did you first start drawing graffiti?B Bop: I started when I was 11. I started with markers then got my first can of paint and went to my aunt’s house in Somerville and did my first bubble throw. I did the outlines and I thought I was the man. [Laughs] When I was leaving, these older kids asked me what I was doing, I told them and they took me under their wing.

TMM: Why did you start tagging?B Bop: I don’t know; I just liked to draw. I started writing my name on light poles, street signs and mail boxes, things like that. I thought it was the coolest thing.

TMM: Where do you go to tag?B Bop: I go all over Boston, to Newbury St., Sullivan Square and the Brighton train yard. I go up to Burlington, VT with my friend Chili who writes up there. I go down to Queens a lot with my buddy Take1 and he hooks me up down there with a lot of legal walls. I’ve gone to New Jersey to write too.

TMM: How has tagging affected your life, either in a negative or positive manner?B Bop: From a negative stand point, people confront you and your family, and they ask ‘What’s going on? What are you doing this for?’ From a positive stand point, I’ve met a bunch of people and kind of networked my self. I’ve made a name for myself, a name people recognize.

TMM: Right now, your tag name is B Bop. What other names have you used in the past?B Bop: I’ve changed it up a couple times over the years. I started as “Mes1,” went to “Zephyr,” and then changed to “Rukas.” I switched it up a bunch of times. I took B Bop a few years ago because my Nanna calls me B Bop. I said ‘I like that name,’ and it stuck.

TMM: What is the biggest or most intricate piece you have ever accomplished?B Bop: The biggest piece I’ve ever done was the whole side of a freight car, which is about 73 feet long and 10 feet tall. I used small rollers to do the outlines of the lettering and big rollers to fill in the letters. It was a drawing of my name, “B Bop.”The most intricate piece I’ve ever done was a bass musician. Me and this kid Syke drew him from the waist up playing his bass. I drew musical notes coming off his bass and it was awesome. It came out to be about five feet tall.

TMM: How do you get all of those details in your pieces, like the bass musician?B Bop: Well, there are “fat caps” which spray four fingers wide, there are “german thins” that spray a finger wide and there are needle caps, which spray about one quarter of an inch wide. It’s really all about the pressure you use. After a while, you just learn how to bend the letters, which makes everything just flow.

TMM: Is there anything that you like to listen to before you go out and “bomb?”B Bop: Actually, I do like to watch this video called “Style Wars” which is about bombing, or tagging in New York City. It’s about people painting trains and how there are beefs between different writers. It just gets me in the right state of mind.

TMM: At what point in your life did you realize that you could parlay your talent into an entrepreneurship and be successful?B Bop: About two years ago a buddy of mine went up to Massive Records in Central Square and noticed an ad they had up looking for someone to paint the walls inside the store, so he called me. So I went down there, I ended up painting the walls and Massive Records really liked it. I painted a big train that looked like the Red Line on the wall and it said the name of the store on it. I did a bunch of characters and a couple pieces, which is what you call an intricate drawing. Pieces take two or three hours each to do.The owner had me come back every other week to do the sliding doors on the CD cases, just to put characters on there. They ended up paying me $50 and a few DVDs, but it was cool because they bought all the paint for me. At that point, I sat down and thought about it and said ‘I can do this for a lot of different places’ and I really started cutting back on going out and painting.

TMM: What are you working on right now?B Bop: The Lieutenant for the Asphalt Assassins wants me to airbrush his helmet, along with the rest of his crew. He sent me a couple rough sketches and I’m going to draw up a couple canvases and see if he likes them. I’ll find out whether or not he likes them on March 17th, which is when they are having a party for the start of the season. I’m going to show them what I have so far and see if they like it. If they do, I’ll be having a lot of work on my hands very soon. I’m not too sure about prices yet, I’m not too pricey. I’ll probably charge $25 – $30 for an article of clothing or helmet to be painted. The price really depends on how much you want done. The most expensive piece I have ever done cost $300. It was the full front and back of a hooded sweatshirt and a matching hat. The guy from Asphalt Assassins, his wife has a salon in Brockton and she wants me to put a bunch of girls getting their hair done on the walls. I told her I would certainly think about it. It would be good because it’s a legal wall, a private piece.

TMM: Can you see yourself taking this to the next level, turning it into a career? B Bop: Yes, I think so. If I can get this thing with [Asphalt Assassins] that would be a real big step, that would be glorifying, but there’s a lot of pressure, because there’s a lot of demand and a lot of guys want work done.

TMM: Are there places you can go and “bomb” where it’s not illegal to do so?B Bop: On Washington St. in Boston, there’s a competition where people do different pieces and the best one gets to bring their crew back to the wall and they get to do the whole wall and it stays up for a year. After a year, it gets painted over and they have the competition all over again. Usually the American Latino Alliance wins the competition.

TMM: What is the rush like for you to go out and knowing that if you get caught, you could be in a lot of trouble?B Bop: The rush in unbelievable, I can’t describe it. That’s why I think I’ll never stop painting because I know how it feels. You can be painting a train, step back and say ‘damn, I can’t believe I just did that.’ Just knowing the fact that people are going to see it and say ‘wow, who did that?’ makes you feel great.