Niles Rockwell Throw Back Thursday Interview.
This #TBT interview is featuring Niles Rockwell. Niles is based in Tacoma, WA and has been an active graffiti writer for a number of years. If you know him and his work then you’re probably familiar with the north end streets of Tacoma which are littered with his artwork.
TCS: What do you write and what crews are you running with???
Niles: Niles Figilsworth Rockweezy the 3rd, KOF 2FTC
TCS: How long have you been into graffiti?
Niles: I first started to pay attention and try to scribble my name on shit around 1995…my teachers assistant showed me my first alphabet…i walked home that day and drew my birth name on peoples garage doors and trash cans with a set of washable markers…those were some of the best days for graffiti for me, my entire view was what was under 3 bridges and on the route home from school
TCS: What does the word graffiti stand for you??
Niles: Graffiti stands for a lot for me, it’s a damn shame that I don’t really know what it is, most the time all it is too me is the way I got hooked, a style that is almost always present in anything i do. Graffiti has given me a lot over the years, and there are times when I can hardly see a difference between my graffiti persona and my normal life.
TCS: Do you think mural art is a part of graffiti??
Niles: This question is tricky for me to answer, on one hand I don’t feel it fits with the literal meaning of graffiti, as it lacks the danger and the illegal activities, on the other hand it’s been the primary focus of my time as a writer. So if I was to say no, then I would discredit myself and prove that interviewing me is pointless…however, if I say yes, I’m sure there are plenty of readers who will find it offensive and do everything they can to discredit me on the guestbook…
so I guess, yes it is a part, but it isn’t fundamental… that is to say graffiti could easily exist without it, yet I find it fun and rewarding so I’m glad that it is what it is…whether or not that is graffiti is up to debate, and I’m not sure which side I would take.
TCS: Any big influences as you were growing up?? Who and why??
Niles: There have been so many influences on my artistic/graffiti career… a good portion of my influences have been unrelated to graffiti, artists like Ralph Stedman, Bob Ross, Da Vinci, and Bosch…there are countless others though those are names that jump to mind. I have always enjoyed religious artworks and use it often to help me find subject matter that has stood the test of time. As far as graffiti goes the list is endless, in the early years I took a lot of my influence from the localized scene, from korpse and Eliot to jugs deal and plus…a little later my focus was shifted towards the port
and watching the rails, I pulled influence from people like crae and worms, triel, mber, jaber and countless others. Around this time the internet made studying graffiti a simple task and at that point the influences truly became too many too name..
TCS: legal or illegal??
Niles: Another loaded question…. I personally don’t think of legal murals as graffiti…they are art…but for lack of a better qualification its lumped into the term graffiti, i personally prefer doing pieces/productions, however I’d rather do
them on a train or near the rails then on a legal wall. Yes, I am aware that I did do quite a few legal over the years, but access to walls shouldn’t be ignored just because it’s legal, it was a carefree way to paint while it lasted, and if we still had the garages I’m sure I’d be doing plenty of legal still.
TCS: Favorite type of surface to paint?? And why??
Niles: trains…. The Choo-Choo. I don’t know what else to say. Metal is king.. They are a connection to the rest of the country, they allow time to do pieces but the feeling of getting over…which is yeah, it’s the best…I also enjoy the ritual of painting trains, and the fact that even in the same spotyour experience can change with every trip…one night a spot can be empty, or workers on the rails, engines in the yards…all of the X factors make the experience that much more fulfilling…i also enjoy the fact that trains are such versatile canvas…from monikers to e2e productions…
TCS: Have you ever been caught or close to it??
Niles: I’ve been chased a handful of times but never caught. Allot of that comes from the fact that I don’t take a lot of risks when it comes to graffiti, I’m not much of a bomber, and what bombing I have done was generally in pretty chilled locations. The most recent near incarceration experience I’ve had lately was a night out with a couple of fellows who will remain nameless at a train spot that will remain location less, anyhow we drove around trying to find some cars getting bunk spots with shit cars all night, and then we finally ended up in a spot that was usually pretty steady and we decided we needed to get at least one car that night so we found a shit car that was worth painting…I had a uneasy feeling the whole time, and finished my piece in about 5 minutes while the people I came with were still filling their letters…I told them to hurry so we can get
out of there while I walked a couple cars up to the end of the line…I was digging in my pocket looking for my lighter to light a smoke, and I noticed a guy standing about 5 feet from me in the shadows of the trains…a foot race ensued…and some other legal implications that don’t need to be discussed, we all got away gladly…
TCS: How do you like Tacoma’s scene now compared to when you started??
Niles: Well its kind of hard to say, growing up there was a lot that I wished I could be a part of…it meant something to meet a new writer too me, or to get a throw up in my black book…these days I don’t even have a black book…so it’s hard to say if the
scene has changed or if it’s just us who have changed, it’s obviously not the same people involved, and so for that there is a bit of an empty feeling… it’s also strange to me that there are very few Ta
coma writers don’t know…at least the active ones a lot of the mystery is gone from the scene seeing as somehow I’m apart of the scene I think this is a god point to talk shit about my spaces impact on the graffiti culture…I know for my part it was very difficult to meet a writer, now days I can’t count how many “writers” send emails asking to become buddy buddy just because they live in this area and know how to toss empty compliments…
TCS: Anybody that catches your eye as of now??
Niles: Locally?….and I think the question implies that this isn’t someone who has caught my eye in the past…so I guess I need to be current…so… hum I like wonder creature… and kurs fuck it I don’t know I don’t leave the house enough to keep
TCS: What keeps you painting??
Niles: Fuck all these questions are so introspective…I wanted to make superficial poop jokes the whole interview and you fuck me over with this shit that makes me dig deep inside myself…I know why I still paint…I like it, but I don’t know why I still paint graffiti…or why I still care about graffiti at all, painting offers me a way to be me…I’m a pretty unremarkable person without art…I’m socially retarded so i rely on pretty pictures to speak to people for me…i know, sounds pretentious, but there is little i can do to avoid it…
TCS: Will you ever actually call it quits??
Niles: Quits…nah i doubt it, I’m sure I will keep painting for long enough to fall off countless more times, I’m sure I will do art all my life, and I don’t see it possible to stop using graffiti…its hardwired in my brain…however…people change, it’s what I’m told anyways. I’ve tried to quit graffiti in the past, even recently I’ve thought that maybe it was time to move on…then something starts to stir, and thoughts start forming and then i paint again…
TCS: Any last words or shout outs??
Niles: Ugh more thinking.. First and foremost my lovely Gina, family, friends and crew….people I’ve painted with…if you don’t know you better ask somebody:
JRAT-CLONE-AURAS-REPOS-KEGER-DEAL-EJAY-DRAST-WORN-DEKOR-KURS TEMS-SUM1-JAKAL-DKOY-JOLTS-CABLE-MODEM-BURN-CHARMS-WEIRDO-LI MIT
F-DESDE- its 4 a.m. and hard to list all these people so I know there are plenty more, I’ve been smoking weed all day…so my thought process is shorting out but now it’s time for last words… I smoke weed all day i don’t give a fuck all I do is smoke weed smoke weed all day every day damn Auras just buffed his shit again when I’m older i hope people call me OLD MAN NILES…write that shit down… STOP FUCKING TAGGING NEAR TRAINS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
YOU ALL NEED TO BE WIPED UP WITH TOILET PAPER YOU WORTHLESS SHITNUGGETS Clones a hobbit i love Hermoine…you know the little British chick in harry potter…fuck yes watch Frasier… Niles Crane is so neurotic it makes me giggle… I wonder how many new haters I will get from this interview. Just in case it’s not very many yet…90% of Tacoma graffiti is shit….there. J-rat is easily the stupidest person I know that isn’t legally retarded… I have an art show in just over 12 hours… and I still haven’t slept, so if anyone saw me at U.W. that night…and I didn’t seem “all there” yeah lack of sleep…and i smoke weed all day too many people take graffiti too serious, cool the fuck down…drop the tough guy bullshit…how hard can you bang when you are painting a watermelon pink bubble? Repos…what can I say…his name says it all…if other people painted like he does…fuck tacoma would be crackin too any little kids reading this that for some reason look up too me DONT I smoke weed all day if i leave the house its because of art all the people who knowme…sorry i never called… and I’m not going to call tomorrow either im too busy smoking weed all day chuuuuuuch.
If you like what you saw here you can see more of Niles work in our artists page as well as follow him on Twitter.