Graffiti/Street artist TurtleCaps began making a name painting the walls of what would become the famous 5Pointz project in Queens. 5Pointz has come and gone, but the art of TurtleCaps is as present as ever. Splitting time between the walls in Montreal and New York he's as busy as ever. Luckily we caught our friend with a few minutes to answer our silly & serious questions. Please enjoy 9.5 Questions with TurtleCaps.
1 - Many would consider you a founding father of the 5Pointz project in Queens. Now that it's been painted over by ownership, what are your thoughts on its history?
Well, i wouldn't say of 5pointz, but rather the original legal wall program established for years before that. It was handed down to Meres who revamped it as 5pointz, but the history has been lost over time. I'm not sure many people even know we founded the legal wall program there 9 years before Meres came into the picture. But with that said, everything comes to an end and that building had its cycle. In my opinion, that place became a crutch for writers and artists to "get up" in NYC without paying dues or risking their ass (aka "the old New York"). Since when did repeatedly painting a legal spot get you famous? Many referred to this place as the graffiti mecca, when in actuallity, I consider all of New York City the real mecca. Graff and street art will always survive there beyond legal walls and the ones that actually earn it are the ones you'll know of.
You split your time between New York and Montreal:
2 - When you're in NY what do you miss about Montreal?
Montreal has a chilled out vibe, a relaxed lifestyle. It has tons of spots to hit, alley after alley you can roll up to and just paint. It's a lot easier to get away with stuff and there's beautiful French girls everywhere.
3 - When you're in Canada what do you miss about New York?
New York is home so the obvious like my fam and crew in Queens, but there's this energy about the city that's electric and now every time I touch down back home, I have a greater appreciation of it. It's the so called melting pot of the world, something's popping every night and the 24 hour access to everything is unmatched. It's home ya know..
4 - Short list of living artists you're really digging right now?
5 - Art form you'd practice more or learn if you had time?
Sculpting. I had been interested in taking TurtleCaps 3D for a long time now and recently started experimenting making my own resin figures (with the help of a certain skilled designer). Adding on to the turtle to form my various characters is challenging but im getting the hang of it with every one I produce.
6 - Short list of dead artists you're really digging?
Since I was young I was always into a broad spectrum of art history players. From Vermeer to Dali, theres so many masters. Alphonse Mucha was always one of my favorites.
7 - You can ship one celebrity into outerspace to surely get captured and probed by aliens....who do you put on that rocket?
No brainer. Shia LaBeouf. He ruined the Transformers series then infected Indiana Jones. He has one of those faces I just wanna punch.
8 - Can you share a bit of the history behind the Turtlecaps character?
TurtleCaps was born on Halloween 2011 after I decided I would spend the night at home painting. I had been experimenting with street art for a year prior, mainly messing with spraycan x Star Wars crossovers, but that night my creative juices were flowing and I tried something different based on the same concept of popart mash-ups. Someone passed by asking me to come party that night and they saw what I was working on. A few days later, on the street off the 7 line subway, I posted up a wheatpaste of the basic TurtleCaps character. The same guy that had passed by Halloween night, saw the wheatpaste and showed up at my place asking if he could buy one off me. I painted a basic turtle for him, got paid and realized at that point I had found my Mickey Mouse. I flipped it into an ice cream cone and hit the LES with a bunch of pasteups and girls immediately connected with the dessert ones. From that point on I began to morph the character into different objects, getting more and more creative with each design.
9 - If you had access to any landmark you could put up a mural on...what landmark would you choose? Anywhere in the world.
I was originally thinking about the Empire State building or the great wall of China, but upon further reflection I would have to say the pyramids at Giza in Egypt. I would paint top to bottom TurtleCaps on each side.
9.5 - I draw the most inspiration from __________________ .
Graffiti. Regardless if my subject matter is street art nowadays, TurtleCaps was born out of my 25 years of graff. All those adventures operating in the shadows led me to this point in life, somewhere I never imagined I'd be when I threw my first tag on Hunterspoint station in 1989. I take the same mentality I used to go bombing with to never get caught and apply that to putting up my character now. Even to this day, when I paint a legal wall or commission mural, I'm emptying spraycans and it takes me back to the days when I'd empty cans running on train tracks, doing illegal pieces and street bombing all night (not to say I don't partake in those activities nowadays). The time and the face may have changed, but the goal is the same... Get up as much as possible.
YOU CAN FIND TURTLECAPS HERE: