Amoeblog


Graffiti Vet DEMER Combines His Two Loves With New Jersey's Graffiti Comix: Amoeblog Summer Graffiti Series Part V

Posted by Billyjam, August 9, 2009 12:30pm | Post a Comment
DEMER

Amoeblog: DemeRock, or Demer as most address you, can you briefly give your history and a bit about your legendary NYC crew, The Wallnuts, for folks who may not know about you and your rich graffiti legacy?

Demer: Well, I'm originally from New York City. I started writing in the early 80's, hitting NYC subways. Then, after the city won the train wars, I retired for a few years. Then in 2001 I came back and I haven't stopped since.

Amoeblog: So starting out during the New York subway graff days is going back a while, right to the roots of NYC graf history. What year exactly did you start?

Demer: i must have startedDemer around 1982.

Amoeblog: Wow! And you still actively go out and paint! I know one time about two years ago I went out with graffiti photo-journalists Jim and Karla Murray, who were shooting you and your work as you painted on a Sunday, which you told me was a regular day for you to go out and do your art at various spots. How often do you do graffiti now-- every Sunday?

Demer: When I was hitting trains it was an everyday thing. We lived it back then-- from when you got up in the morning until you went to bed. Sunday was, for some reason though, a big graff day for a lot of people.

Amoeblog: Can you tell me a bit about your recent graff trip to Greece?

Demer: Oh, that was incredible. I do a lot of work with the great people of Sabotz80 Spraypaint and their US distributor and incredible street artist Logan Hicks is a good friend. The opportunity was given to us
to go over to Greece, to visit the factory, to see the new colors and paint lines they are producing and give our input into what they can do to make the paint better. It was a business trip but we got to really enjoy it. Logan took some great photos and I got to do a lot of painting with the local writers, both walls and trains.

Demer and 14 other graffiti artists on last year's Concrete Alchemy tour

Amoeblog: And what about that graf tour last year, the traveling Concrete Alchemy?

Demer: Graff has taken me a lot of places. I have done a lot of things but this was possibly the best thing I have done in my life in relation to graff. I went into it not knowing half the people, [feeling] not sure how we were gonna work together, but it was a great experience. It was put together by Peter Krisko from the Albus Cavus Art Collective. We got to paint n do shows all over the Eastern Seaboard-- NYC, NJ, Baltimore, Philly, Washington DC.

Amoeblog: Was it always your dream to have graff supply store or how did it come about?

Demer: My dream was always actually to own my own comic shop. I was workin a regular 9-5 and just hating life beacuse of it. I was in France and my friend Detone and I were talking about it and he said, "Just do it now...go for it!" Then on the plane ride home, my wife and I were talking about it and she said the same thing, so I said OK, let's do it! I quit my job and opened the shop.
 
Amoeblog: The concept for your store -- comics and graffiti -- is so perfectly matched, yet no one else has put the two together, right?

Demer: Nope. We are the first graffiti /comic book shop in the States, if not the world.


Amoeblog:
Do you find that all or most graff heads are also comic book fans?

Demer: Actually, fewer than you migh think. I don't have a lot of crossover in the shop. One of the biggest comic fans and best writers, besides me, of course, is my boy Snow QM8.

Amoeblog: With such a prevalant public war on graffiti in NYC and NJ cities, are there many stifling regulations that affect you, like is there an age restriction for selling spray paint out of Graffiti Comix?

Demer: In New Jersey I'm not really sure if there is a law on the books the way there is in NYC., but I don't sell paint to kids under 18 (wink,wink).
 
Amoeblog: With an ingrained history in graff culture of "boosting" (stealing) spray cans, do you have to lock up supplies at store? I know you have that funny poster you made of a shoplifter getting terminated.

Demer: Nope, luckily the guys have respect for me and the shop. They know what's good for me is good for them, so to hurt me like that wouldn't be good. Plus there was one incident early on where there was a rumor someone lifted paint from the shop. I dealt with that quick and made an example. But it later came out that it wasn't true.
 
Amoeblog: What do you sell and what are some of the most popular sales (black books)?

Demer: Paint, as always, is number one in sales. We carry Sabotaz80 -- the best paint on the market today. [Also] black books, graff magazines like Day In the Lyfe and No Trespassing, graff DVD's, markers, ink...and of course, new and vintage comics. We are also proud to have one of the largest collections of canvases and drawings by graff artists from around the world in the shop.

Graffiti Comix

Amoeblog: How many art shows have you had at your store and what were the themes of some of them?
I remember the train and truck models one -- and was there a sneaker one too?

Demer:
We have done a few. There was a truck show, a sneaker show. We did one where all the work was based on what we call throw ups: a throw up is a quick, two color, usually bubble styled representation of the writer's name. We have done a show where a crew of writers from Australia showed for the first time in the USA and we have done shows with no theme at all. We are working on several different upcoming shows, both in the shop and in different venues.

Amoeblog: Last week I asked this same question of O.B., who runs All City in Dublin, Ireland, which sells graffiti supplies, but I am curious to hear your take on it from an East Coast perspective: Location, location, location -- how important is that old adage in the case of graf stores? Do people usually travel to wherever supplies are?

Demer: I have found that writers worry about two things: the price and who they are buying from. I try my best to keep the prices for what I sell as low as possible. I could charge more, but I think that as a writer I know I didn't wanna pay a crazy amount for paint or markers, if I had to pay at all. One of my competitors in NYC actually called me one day complaining my prices were too low and that I should raise them to be in line with them! I couldn't believe he called to say that, but it just shows you the mentality out there is greed, greed, greed. I love graff, so I don't need to get rich off one can of paint. The other point is that writers know they can come into my shop, ask questions about the product, and they know I can answer them from experience using the product. I don't try to automatically push the higher priced item because it's not always the better one. People know they can trust me, so they come to me.
 

Demer in ad for Graffiti Comix in Belleville NJ

Amoeblog: Would you recommend opening a store like yours to others, or must it be strictly a labor of love?

Demer: No, No. No. No other shops. Just mine! LOL. But seriously, if you wanna get rich you won't be in it long at all. This is a big labor of love for me and I appreciate the graff community [for] supporting me.

Amoeblog: What, in your opinion, is the essential difference between Euro and US graff?

Demer: Euros used to be all about backgrounds and their letter styles suffered for it, but that trend has definitely changed over the last few years.

Amoeblog: What about the difference between NY/NJ East Coast and West Coast graffiti styles?

Demer: They went the same route, mostly, as the Euros, but that has also changed in a real short time...some of the best letter styles are coming out of the West Coast right now.

Graffiti Comix
 
Amoeblog: What books, mags, and websites is your art published in?

Demer:
Wow, luckily a lot: Burning New York by Jim and Karla Murray was a huge one for me.They are great people and I felt blessed to be included in their incredible book. We have been published in Graphotism from the UK, Day in the Lyfe here in the USA, Wanted from Spain, Explicit Graffix, Graff It and a whole lot more. The web's a funny thing. The best graff site out there has to be Art Crimes. But a lot of the other websites are forums which have become a breeding ground for punks and cowards and little kids to become Internet tough guys.
 
Amoeblog: How can one find out more about you & your store?

Demer: Graffiti Comix is located 400a Washington Ave., Belleville, NJ 07109. Our phone number is
973 759 1110 and our email is: graffiticomix@gmail.com. You can find us on MySpace. And I just want to say a big, huge, enormous ups to my man, the best DJ and journalist in the world, Billy Jam. Thanks!


DemeRock in action + interview from Overspray 1.0 by VideoGrafProductions

Relevant Tags

All City (10), O.b. (2), Jim & Karla Murray (2), Logan Hicks (1), Demer (2), Demerock (1), Graffiti Comix (2), Concrete Alchemy (1)