This week Spray Planet had the opportunity to sit down and get better acquainted with one of our newest friends: JEKS One. Wait ‘til you check his work! Super technical burners; large-scale portraits of celebrities like Stan Lee, Hugh Jackman, and most recently Ken Jeong; crazy realistic paintings; and even hyper-stylized typography – it appears that our friend JEKS can do it all! From humble beginnings, to an enormous vision - what exactly makes this guy tick?
In this exclusive interview JEKS talks to Spray Planet about his favorite part of the creative process, influences and inspirations that fuel his creativity, and finally, how he made the jump from painting traditional graffiti letter styles to much more complicated, realistic portraits and murals.
HISTORY OF JEKS, His Crews And Background
Spray Planet: Let’s start it off with a little about yourself: What you write; What crews you rep (if any); Where you are from.
JEKS: I am JEKS from Greensboro, North Carolina. I rep the crews: UM Crew (Unlike Most), GNK (Going Nowhere Krew), and Permanent Vacation Crew
Spray Planet: How old were you when you first got exposed to the graffiti culture and how exactly did it happen? (Older siblings? Neighborhood? Friends?)
JEKS: I was introduced to graffiti in my early teens through a friend in Boy Scouts actually haha. I started with skateboarding and putting up super shitty tags around Winston-Salem. As I got more educated and into the culture thanks to meeting some established writers like EVADE, SCAR, and JAT to name a few influential OGs, I started piecing and became more active and consistently painting freights and walls.
Spray Planet: Boy Scouts? HA! Definitely didn’t see that one coming! So, give us a little insight on the name JEKS (origin/meaning). How and when did you start writing it?
JEKS: I started writing JEKYL in the late 90’s and it just ended up turning into JEKS over the years
JEKS Creative Process in Graffiti and Realism
Spray Planet: When you’re working on a wall or project, which part of the creative process do you tend to enjoy the most? (Sketch? Fill? Outline? Background? Detail? Shading?) Explain.
JEKS: My favorite part has always been the outline and the process of constructing letters with the can. I never really bring a sketch, so I never really know what’s going to come out of me. That creative process is such a high for me.
Spray Planet: Briefly explain to us how being submersed in the graffiti culture has changed your life? (For better? For worse?)
JEKS: I can confidently say that graffiti saved my life.
Spray Planet: What is your favorite color to work with when you paint? Why?
JEKS: Chrome, chrome, and chrome. It’s quick, consistent and powerful.
Spray Planet: If you could dictate the specifics what would your ideal project be?
JEKS: My ideal project would be any project that involves letters as well as realism/portraiture.
Spray Planet: Speaking of realism/portraits, your portrait work is absolutely amazing. How long have you been doing portraits? How did that jump from painting stylistic graffiti letters to realistic portraits happen?
JEKS: Thank you. It really all came about with me just taking a stab at it. My brother NOIRS GNK got me out of a funk and pushed me to paint realism juxtaposed with his patterns and textures on a couple of projects we worked on together. I got more confident in my ability with every piece that I did. I was always so fascinated with large portrait/realism murals and decided to just try it almost 2 years ago. I’m still learning as I go. Honestly, I don’t really know what I’m doing most of the time… I just know I love doing it.
Spray Planet: What is your favorite place in the world where your graffiti/artwork has taken you?
JEKS: My favorite place my art has brought me is most definitely Bogota, Colombia. Thanks to my brothers CEOS and PEAR, I was able to spend a total of 15 days there painting and taking in the culture and rawness. It was my first time out of the country. It was scary as hell and I loved every second of it. I can’t wait to travel out of the country more and more in the near future to paint and experience more cultures around the world.
JEKS Influences and Future Plans
Spray Planet: Who/What are your main influences and inspirations when you paint/create?
JEKS: I get inspired by pieces that make you stop in your tracks and pick your jaw up off the floor. There are so many artists out there doing the same thing over and over that everyone else is doing over and over, including myself. But those artists pushing the envelope, trying new things and broadening the gap between everyone else and them, that’s what really inspires me.
Spray Planet: What kind of projects (without giving away too much) can your followers and fans expect to see from you in the very near future?
JEKS: I have some cool projects coming up this year including some more mural festivals and hopefully some more graffiti jams. I’m just going to continue to stay busy, travel as much and possible and try to keep turning heads with my work.