Read a conversation with Wane TC5 COD from New York, spotlighting the past
Born in London WANE and his family moved to the Edenwald section of the Bronx when he was 6 years old. He was introduced to graffiti living only one block from the elevated #2 train and 7 stops from the end of the #2 line yard. Instantly the color and energy of the artwork that was scrawled all over the city at the time drew him in. He didn’t know exactly what it was or who was doing it, but he knew he wanted to be a part of it. Being so close to where these ingenious artworks were created if there was a train that caught his attention he’d wait on platform until it passed by again so he could really soak it all in. After studying this visual language that was all around he began to understand the bright colors, shapes with letters and how to read it. Soon after he began to recognize the names and start figuring how it was done he and his older brother started writing. While most kids were in to sports, WANE found himself looking to hip-hop, punk, freestyle and graffiti. At this time they had a neighborhood crew and club house (the Players) and all these things were part of it, everyone wanted to have a tag or write but it was when they saw it on the trains they realized it was serious.
Once he was old enough to ride the subway he started document by taking pictures. At that time kids would take their pads and pens after school and stand on the platforms, scribbling out what they saw on the trains trying to emulate styles. WANE breaks it down like this “Back then you had to do it traditionally, if you didn’t do a train you didn’t get respect.” In the beginning he says it was scary, you’d hear the stories of police beating up writers, rival crews robbing you for your spray paint and people getting electrocuted on the third rail. It seemed like you had to be super tough to do it. When you started writing you had to build heart, get down with the crews and once accepted by a crew you would learn to steal can’s, tag, do throw up letters and wild-styles. Getting chased and hiding in the dark waiting for the cops to leave was all part of writing. As a writer/artist in NYC all these things had to be accomplished as well getting your name up hundreds and hundreds of times, but to get fame and be remembered “you had to be good, really good.” Looking back WANE says it took years to understand what it took to do it right, “…when I look back at the writers that were older than me, I would never forget them, because when they did it, they all did it without having someone to show them. They pioneered this new art form and created an entire renaissance doing so. That’s one of the main reasons principles you have to remember. Every ‘ism,’ every arrow and letter form.”
Since his first live experience of painting a subway he was hooked, “that was it, it never ended, I always wanted to paint.” The city in the 80s was still showing remnants of the 1970s writers and you didn’t go over it as there was a heavy level of respect. In the early nineties WANE made the transition from trains to walls, and since then he has never stopped painting. He has travelled the world, most recently to Brazil, documenting it along the way. “Nowadays people know you have to document your work, they know the brands (of paint), what types of caps for what cans, it took years to understand.” All of this was learned during these formative years so the following generations could survive the art using and building their knowledge. Now with the dominance of the internet, you can see pretty much everything that’s going on. Back then you had to be out there to see it.
WANE had some pretty cool things to say about Rooftop Legends….read on