"I am trying to be part of the solution" - @TurtleCaps
How long have you been leaving your gems of art around New York?
I started writing graffiti in 1989 and kept serious with it until 2000. After a hiatus, I went in the direction of street art when I created my TurtleCaps character in 2009.
What was growing up in New York like? How did it influence your art?
New York in the late 80s and 90s really holds up to the cliché that locals remember as “old New York.” It was a time of beepers, Andre the Giant, the birth of the internet, and some of the best hip-hop ever. I was lucky to grow up hanging around future legends like Keith Huf, some Kids and the original Supreme skaters, but if not for my boy Jones Keefe introducing me to the graffiti culture, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
What attracted you to the medium of graffiti?
In the beginning I simply liked seeing my name up. When Jones started bringing me around older guys like Cost, Dash, Hush and SP, I saw the appeal of crews and the level that graff could be taken to, outside the public’s perception of just vandalism.
What inspired the concept of the turtle?
Originally it was meant to be a joke. I heard about some writers making money off this thing called “street art” so I googled it and saw murals of pretty girls, animals and characters. I thought huh, anybody can make a character. After a year of unsuccessful attempts, on Halloween 2009 I threw Mickey Mouse feet on the turtle shell, added a spraycap as a nod to my graff roots and the wind-up key on back. A friend came over while I was painting it and asked how he could buy one. I sold him a canvas later that week, dropped my 9-5 life and since then, never looked back.
How do you hope people perceive your art work?
However they want really, as long as it invokes some sort of emotion. Over the years I’ve gotten all types of messages ranging from people telling me I suck to those that love my character, but at some point you learn to tune it all out. I’d rather get the positive, nostalgic response, but you can’t please everyone all the time.
How do you want to change the world?
As TurtleCaps gains more attention, I’ve been mixing sea turtle ocean life into my murals and canvases in hopes of raising awareness about preservation. For a while now, I’ve reduced my plastic use and cut down on overall waste, a lot of which people don’t realize where it winds up getting dumped. This is what I mean by “trying to be part of the solution”. If people can take away something aesthetically pleasing from my work, as well as a positive message, then that’s all I can hope for.
What does unity mean to you?
A world filled with less haters.
You can find TurtleCaps work all over New York’s five boroughs. His playful character is a part of the underground graff scene, and a legendary piece of history for the big Apple. Learn more about Turtle by following him on instagram at @Turtlecaps