Cernesto: Queens on a Roof

 Interview by T.K. Millls Images by @acool55

'This Earth, and the things that have come from it, have really moved me and inspired me. I try to reflect it back in my own language, my art. It’s just trying to bring something beautiful into the world. And something new.'


 When did you start painting? When did you get into art?
Cern has been my graff tag, since I was twelve years old in 1990. I started doing graffiti around then and several years later, I started to experiment with art as its own thing. I combine the two and have been going with it ever since.

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Given your art transcends easy placement in one genre. Where do you see the distinction between graffiti and street art?
Graffiti has its own vernacular... its own language that is graffiti. It’s got its own school and history and development for writers… and I think street art is everything else. Maybe graffiti falls into that genre for terminology sense, but they are different things.

So what got you into graffiti? Did you ever do any art before that? Or was it just you kinda hanging out with your friends and you picked up some cans?
Graffiti to me, was my gateway to hanging in New York. Everyone was writing on shit, and many of my friends were doing it. It got me hooked and I learned to style and develop it in the flow. That’s how graffiti took off for me.

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From 1990 to now, how has your style evolved? Was it a conscious evolution or did it come about organically?
As a graff-writer, at the time I had classics like hand styles, throw ups, straight letters, and wild styles. I took all that serious. My piecing was alright, but when I tried to draw, and do other art I brought those elements together. I started to blend all these different things that I was learning and doing. But you know graffiti always set me off and so I always had a deep gratitude for it, and it kinda like really pushed me towards most of my other visual creative things.

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What’s the origin of the name Cern?

I had some other tag, that I realized that someone bigger and badder wrote. I was trying to find something unique that no one wrote and no one had ever heard of. A friend of mine suggested a Sern, but I thought that was predictable. I went with a ‘c’. Over the last 20 something years I’ve seen other people pop up over the planet with the name, but from New York you know it’s me. To me, it’s like hip hop names. Cern One, Cern Rock, Cernesto… whatever cool variation.

How do you decide which color palette to use?
It depends on the situation. Growing up in New York, where everything was gray or red, I just wanted to add a little funk or floral, but it depends on the series and the moment.

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On top of painting, you make music. When when you are making music is your creative process similar or different to when you are painting?
Comparable. I think with visual art and audio arts, I work on different series and different languages that I use in both. And both of them have their comparable degrees, relative to their mediums.

Did you an artistic philosophy or mission behind your work?
This Earth, and the things that have come from it, have really moved me and inspired me. I try to reflect it back in my own language, my art. It’s just trying to bring something beautiful into the world. And something new.

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Some people distinguish between muralism and street art, or street art and graffiti, but it seems like you comfortably flow between all of them what's your position?
A view point that I’ve been working with in art and life, is that that a lot of it is just languages. If I speak graffiti, I am speaking graffiti. If I am speaking in a language,… singing in some language… if I am speaking a figurative painting … if I am speaking floral to abstract… it’s just different… languages and modes that sometimes blend and translate from each other. I feel blessed to be around getting to do a lot of different stuff.

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To me, your art has a movement, like a language as you put it.
It’s like the slowest animation… I feel like everything is a kind of motion in a way. I look at art sometimes, like it has some light slow movement. However it’s going to be seen throughout the day, at different lights, at different angles, as does everything… Most of my work I feel keeps it moving when you are looking at it.

Guiding Lights by Cern


He is on Instagram @CERNESTO on SoundCloud Cern One

Copyright Thirdrail Art 2019