Rob Fenton: Whatchu write?
Easy bro! I write JENGR.
RF: Any associated crews?
J: TPW! Shout out the boys
RF: So, we’ve just now spoken and you’ve just been released from the cells for the night. What happened, where are you?
J: I’m just back at the flat now. I got gripped out tagging last night on a boozy one – stupid really. I was totally oblivious, catching a reach, I see a car and think nothing of it, next thing I know I’m on the floor in cuffs. The bastards ripped my favourite coat! They weren’t messing about.
RF: Oh shit, that’s mad! Whereabouts were you?
J: Well I’m in Rouen at the moment bro which is a nice little city in the north of France. I got pinched in the centre of town somewhere… Recollection is a bit hazy ha
RF: Ah okay, so do you originate from there then? How well do you know the city?
J: Ha ha no I’m from Stoke originally. I was just out there visiting family. I’ve been out there a few times now but this is the first time I’ve ever painted out there – good start eh?
RF: That makes sense, I thought there was something you’d been sitting on all of this time. What’s the scene like there? Could you have easily blended in to things to avoid getting pigged then?
J: Yea man there is a strong scene out there – I can’t say I’ve seen too much outside of the city centre but there are plenty of bits around the town and the motorways are hammered. I was just being pissed & cocky, I think exercising a bit of due care & attention would’ve helped on this one.
RF: How do you normally navigate missions like this, is there a plan or is it more seek and destroy once you have a spot in mind?
J: Yea man it’s more the latter in all honesty which can have its drawbacks, evidently. Maybe I could do with planning things a little bit more but it’s always just a spur of the moment thing for me. I don’t always have the energy and feel I have to take advantage when it’s there you know.
RF:That’s really interesting. You’ve been involved in the scene for a long time, before we get into that, at the tender age you’re currently at, what’s your main objective for graffiti nowadays?
J: Hmm, that’s a tough one to answer, man. As I’ve alluded to above I’m not really all that calculated with my graff ha. It’s something that I love but I try not to put too much pressure on myself with where I want to go with it. Of course I want to keep progressing my style and getting my name about, and keeping it there as my creative outlet you know?
RF: I respect that openness, a lot of graff heads would be extremely obnoxious whilst answering that question. ‘I’m here to tear the space up’ etc etc … ::yawn::
So tell us about your introduction to the scene? How old were you? Any pivotal memories?
J: I first got into it man when it was just a fad in early secondary school, maybe around 12-13? I think it seemed to just capture my imagination in a particular way… I was just drawing on fucking everything back then ha ha, still am… I remember reaching out to my mate Arms on Flickr with a real bait message asking to link up and he kindly got back to me and then I suppose that was my way in to “the scene”. I think I properly started painting and going to jams etc. when I was 14 or so?
RF: Crazy! I remember I started around a similar age, whilst at High School. There was absolutely zero scene at that time, and no paint shop. Infact I was told by family members that it was still all car paint and people used pieces of cardboard to achieve straight lines ha ha. It fucked me up when I learnt there was this multi-million pound industry and culture going on.
It sounds like there was stuff happening for you though that I wasn’t exposed to, you mentioned Arms, what was the scene like locally when you were getting into it, who was about it, what came after that first encounter with Arms?
J: Yea man there was a legal wall in the town I grew up in so I remember some big writers passing through and hitting that. I remember one of my favourite walls early on was a big wall with Sega from Manchester, and maybe another writer, can’t quite remember… It blew me away though, the colours, the style, the scale, it was fucking ace. I remember a few of the NFA lot hitting it, Raek & Floor, and then obviously the Stoke boys who I now know well. A real mix of properly interesting styles. I guess for me also the internet was a heavy influence on me when I was growing up and not just in graffiti, so I was constantly online looking at shit on forums like Bombing Science & 12oz etc…
RF: So it sounds like you didn’t have to travel very far to observe some incredible UK work being laid out in front of you? Were those guys inspirational to you? Who did you, and I guess do you look up to in the culture? This could be in regards to work ethic? Style? Hand style? Biggest hitters etc
J: Yeah most definitely, I’m really lucky to have had that on my doorstep. I don’t know whether I’d say they were inspirational stylistically, at least looking at my work now compared to those guys, but it was definitely inspiring for me just to see what was possible and the levels to the whole game. Ah man, who I look up to is a tricky one… Definitely locally my boys Arms, 3N & Cerls, these lot have helped me in all kinds of ways. Back in the day I used to visit Liverpool a lot and all the old NSA stuff had a big impact on me. Then of course generally in the North West / Midlands seeing NFA bits, YGA & 42, NHS etc.
RF: Yeah those heads certainly know how to bring their styles to the forefront. I recall seeing some of them show up at that legal wall you have in mind. Some of the collaborative walls between Raek & Qryps at the time were mind altering and completely different to anything that was happening elsewhere in the UK. Especially the southern styles!
[Above – Raek & Froyd, 2009]
What’s your preferred sub-section of Graff would you say? A well constructed piece or a dirty chrome? A poorly completed handstyle all over the city or several well produced handstyles in a few locations? Form or function? Ha ha
J: For me I’ll always love tags & throw ups, purely because it’s so fun. You do it and forget about it, get that quick buzz, your name’s there and you’re gone – did anyone see you? Who’s arsed. I respect piecing it is obviously what graffiti is all about, but in all honesty I’m no fucking good at it and I find it hella stressful. I love it all the same though man.
RF: In my youth I always tried to be more about the presence as you’ve mentioned. I guess now that I’m older my whole outlook is different. As you’ve said you love it all, as I do. But, have you ever considered just locking the piecing off for a good while and concentrating on the illicit stuff? You hear of writers taking 5, 10+ years off of graffiti and coming back as heavy hitters rejuvenated, but not as many writers admitting to what they fully enjoy whilst in the game and just concentrating on that? I say this as I know writers who exclusively chase steel and have no interest in anything else. Is painting pieces deemed as just art due to its very nature, that being completely opposite of the adrenaline buzz you talk of…
J: In terms of locking anything off I don’t think it is ever that much of a calculated approach for me man, I just do what I enjoy, and if I’m with my boys I’ll go along with whatever – I’m easy, ha. I suppose though if I’m going out on my own then it’ll more often than not be out bombing, or hitting a spot I’ve had my eye on. I don’t think I’ve ever really properly pieced anywhere on my lonesome, so maybe that gives an idea of where my priorities are at.
RF: Nah that is perfect and what I was interested in. I know I’ve been guilty of pursuing the wrong thing for a long amount of time is all. I would wonder why my work wasn’t getting any more interesting and technically sharper when what I should have been doing for a good few years is just paint more during the day or at least bigger stuff to change that. It seems so obvious to me now but back then, when the local scene was in its infancy there was nobody for me to discuss that with.
So what’s your preferred tool of the trade? Colours? Chromes? 400mls or 750mls? Fat caps? Skinny caps? Any particular brand? I see a lot of marker pen tags going up across Manc and Liverpool too, there’s a whole pen scene online and in print, do you have a more desirable brand to write with?
J: In terms of colours I’ve always gravitated towards blues & maybe greens? I think that is due to football allegiances as much as anything which is fucking ridiculous but it is engrained into me ha ha ha. Can’t go wrong with a classic black fill / white outline, nothing revolutionary there. I don’t know though man I’m terrible with colours, I fucking hate going into paint shops, it spins me out looking at a wall of colours, my brain just doesn’t want to know ha. Whenever I sketch it’s always just an outline and the colours are an afterthought – I guess that’s something I’d like to improve on you know – develop a bit of an understanding for what works. For pen tags that’s an easy one, it has to be the big uni paint markers, PX-30 is it? Silver or black. I’ve never fucked around with the super messy things – that all seems kinda long.
RF: So you’ve got no interest in mixing colours in the freezer or boiling your own black oil buff proof ink on your mum’s stove then? Ha ha
J: Ha, not at all brother, I’m a millennial I’ve got tik tok dances to be learning hahaha.
RF: Ha ha ha, ‘man’s a good dancer stillll!’
I hear that though, I’ve always enjoyed when others do it as it saves me the mess but I just cannot be arsed with the rigmarole of it all. It certainly is a few clicks above my passion that’s gotta be said.
Speaking of making moves, we’re in a brand new year now, what’s the motive for 2022?
J: Yeah man! I’m optimistic about this year. I’m hoping to get out and do a bit of travelling, I’ve had a few changes with my personal circumstances so that’s freed me up a little… I’ve got some friends & family dotted around Europe so it would be good to get out to them. I’d also love to get out and see some of the States, and bringing it back to graffiti, a lot of the stuff I was looking at growing up online was stuff from across the pond and it’d be ace to go out and see the scene in person and get a real feel for it. I’d love to hit some freights over there.
RF: Sounds rad mate! Seems like you’ve got quite the year ahead of you for sure! I’m excited for you! Interestingly, in my last interview with another writer, Enver, they also discussed the positive effects of the US scene on them growing up too! It seems the States is the Mecca to graffiti writers.
How do you feel about passengers out there? I know Chicago & NYC’s steel scene is a notoriously difficult but sought after system to obtain, are you about it?
J: Yea man it seems the standard is real high out there… A lot of good stuff, although a lot of samey styles too – I think the real hitters stand out though, as is always the case. Panels over there it’s not something that’s really crossed my mind in all honesty, maybe one day? I think the freights have more significance to me as they’re what I spent hours trawling the forums looking at when I was growing up – kind of a bucket list thing you know?
RF: I’m sure you will. This year feels like it’s got a lot to offer, so I’m rooting for you!
You’ve been all over, where were the best places you’ve painted?
J: Yea man I’ve been about a little bit but maybe not painted as much as I’d have liked to. Barcelona is obviously amazing, my boy lives out there and I’ve been out there a couple of times.. But for me going out to Melbourne, Australia was a real eye opener. Just in terms of styles, coverage and just the whole vibe. The standard is just so high out there and it felt like it really set a new benchmark for me you know, in the same way seeing those guys years ago hitting the local legal wall that I mentioned earlier.
RF: Any stand out names and pieces?
J: Hmm, in terms of standout bits I remember seeing a few Renks GSD bits that were absolutely killer. Caper / Capes, a few Utah & Ether bits too. In terms of the real up heads there was a writer Shake that was everywhere with a real solid throw up. Another guy Pork / Pawk that was everywhere, huge blockbusters, dubs, tags everything, just pushed it to a level that I hadn’t seen before over here for a single writer, with my own eyes at least anyway.
RF: Immense, sounds inspiring! I’ve still yet to go there. It’s on the list of places to visit though for sure. Any plans to head back?
J: Yea man I’d recommend Melbourne to anyone but especially for graff heads – it’s unreal out there. Side note i’d also recommend the documentary Jisoe for anyone that hasn’t seen it for a jokes / insightful look at Melbourne graff, the guy was a hard panel writer and a fucking nutter, it’s a good watch. I’d like to get back out there for sure man, whether it’s to stay out there or just as a holiday I don’t know but would love to revisit for sure! I’d like to go back when it’s hot. I forgot the seasons were different and booked a flight in June and it was fucking freezing when it was like 30 degs over here ha ha.
RF: Ha ha, nightmare but that’s so British of you, I love that!
Any pet peeves when it comes to Graffiti? What are some things you’d consider are do’s and don’t…
J: I dunno man. I suppose people taking themselves and the whole game a bit too seriously is a pet peeve? I mean of course there are (varying) levels of time and risk that go into what we do, so of course that needs to be respected, but at the end of the day it kinda doesn’t really mean anything. Then again what does? Ha. Deep.
RF: Anyone you wanna give a shout out too?
J: Ha, yea shout out to my crewdem TPW and anybody who’s keeping the scene moving in Stoke and in the North. I feel like graff is in a pretty good place at the moment and things are lively, it’s good to see! Let’s hope it stays that way.
RF: Share some wise last words
J: Love, peace and fuck the Police!