Today modern aerosol Graffiti seems very common. It’s difficult to walk down a city street in Albuquerque without spotting a tag scribbled onto a stop sign or a handstyle sprayed onto the back of a bus stop. With so many new artists filling their bags with paint to hit the streets everyday it’s an honor to be able to sit down and talk to MUERTE, an O.G in the New Mexico graffiti scene.
Muerte has been painting for the last 22 years, and steadily for the last 13. He draws inspiration from the New York graff styles, taking different letters from different boroughs and making them his own. He grew up in Santa Fe when there was only twelve or so other writers, but the town was just too small to paint. “People wanted to fight you if they knew you wrote graffiti too, and a lot of it was more gang related than being about the art.” says Muerte. So he moved to Albuquerque when he was 21.
Here he would meet Joe Lopez, he’d go spend time at Joe’s house and watch him sculpt and drink wine. Through Joe, Muerte would meet IRO, a graffiti writer that lived just around the corner. Iro would encourage him to paint every day, it was at this time his love and dedication for the letters, creativity, colors and concepts of graffiti took off. They painted walls mostly, since back then you had to earn the right to paint trains. Soon he met Chale and Saigon, also influential in his graffiti career, pushing him to do more canvas work. Muerte would continue painting, and steadily built his name. In a good year he'd paint up to 120 trains which would then travel around the country spreading his name to anyone that might catch a glimpse. In his earlier days he wrote Rey, but after catching flak from other graffiti writers saying the name Rey was already claimed he decided to change it to something more unique. He chose Muerte because it’s in Spanish, and only six letters where most popular graffiti names are only three or four.
Muerte has seen the Albuquerque art scene change a lot over the years, “People are more excited and involved with art nowadays, which makes it more fun for everyone.