Jaber is a hardworking graffiti artist respected the world over. Although he is incredibly diverse with his letter structure, he is mostly known for his ninja head icon, which he manages to put up EVERYWHERE. Jaber has a generous temperament and the Infamy Art team are all big fans, so we thought, what better artist for our very first interview?
What is your name and where did it come from?
HELLO ! I am known as the WHITE NINJA, or JABER or JABS. I come from California, the northern part, but I have lived in Washington and Oregon as well.
How long have you been writing?
I have been a graffiti artist for over 20 years. 92-93 Is when I started writing illegally and by 95 I was pretty much addicted to writing my name all the time. So that may make me seem old, but I am young at heart. And I can climb a fence like I’m 18 playa.
Are you a part of any art collectives, crews, or teams?
At this moment in my life I am not in any crews or collectives or teams. I am a one man band when it comes to my Graf career. I do have good painting partners from all over but I do not write crews. I am in a business with my buddy SLOKE for mural jobs and live painting but I don’t really consider that part of the graffiti I like to do.
What do you think you are best known for, how would you describe your style?
I am best known for the throwie I do which looks like a fast Japanese Anime head of sorts. It is a mutt of old New York subway characters made popular in the 70’s and 80’s. Instead of lettering throw ups I enjoy the icon. I would describe my style as versatile. I enjoy doing different styles. I think people know me for the gothic sharp letters that I do, but if you hunt around you can find hundreds of different letter combos I have done in my career. Right now I am doing more shape oriented designs. I enjoy the concepts and the art of the “LETTER”.
Does the ninja head have any special meaning or value to you?
Well it represents me pretty well. I think the meaning is different for everyone who sees it. For me, it means I came through. It has become bigger than I ever thought it would and I just do it ‘cause I like to.
How many Ninja Heads do you think you have painted?
Man, that’s a tough one. Maybe a few 100 thousand, maybe more… I do A LOT on a regular basis and when it comes to trains, I think the numbers could be pretty big.
What’s your favorite brand of spray paint to paint with and why?
I like RUSTO a lot because it lasts! But I like MTN and KOBRA for burners. I love FRESH PAINT Silver, it’s the brightest and fastest I have used. I really use all paints ‘cause I am cheap like that. I do whatever I have to do so I can paint more!
What are your favorite colors to use?
I enjoy Black fill-ins and Off White outlines. I also like Silver fills and Black outlines so you can focus on the letters.
What kind of nozzles do you tend to use?
All I want is NY Fats and Stock MTN caps. Mostly NY Fats…
Do you have a favorite marker?
I only really like Streaks, Black and White colors (editor’s note: Sakura Solid Markers are also called “streaks” or “streakers” and are available at our site InfamyArt.com)
You leave the house for a night mission, what are you bringing?
Water toilet, paper, Silvers and Lots of Black spray paint. Unless I am doing pieces, then its whatever I can grab. Most of the time bucket paint and a roller ‘cause most of my pieces are roller fills. ROLLER FILLS = CHEAP!
Why do you write Graffiti? Being an active graffiti artist requires a lot of energy, What motivates you to keep getting up night after night?
I like to create stuff. Graffiti is something I can do by myself with little money and have instant results. I always feel like it’s therapeutic to go paint something. Although it is a little self centered, I think it’s a good way to let off steam and vent. I think most Graff artists, if they didn’t paint would probably get into worse trouble. Not to be a dick, but I could totally see myself committing a murder. Its not that I am a bad person, far from it, I would actually argue that I am doing the world a favor by taking out scummy humans; like a suicide squad of sorts. I am lucky I paint so that I don’t have to dwell on negativity and through a smaller crime like graffiti; well in a way it saves me.
You have enough paint for one Burner or several throwies, how do you use the paint?
I do THROW UPS because it really is a numbers game. I paint plenty of burners but people remember repetition all day!
What kind of project gets you most excited? (i.e. Legal walls, crew productions, wholecars, freight bombing)
For me it is FREIGHT BOMBING and lurking in new cities. I love track sides in a place I have never been. I love roof tops too, but they get buffed, so I prioritize my missions for smart locations and fun stuff. Above everything, I want to enjoy my painting with no chases or assholes hating on my work. Also, passenger trains! There is no better feeling in the graff world than going to do passenger trains. It is like crack to me. I will do more, must do more, and dream of it often! That is why I love to travel to Europe.
You have painted a lot of freights over the years that you have been writing, What do you love most about painting on trains and what is your favorite type of train to paint on?
I love the fact that it will move. I can paint tonight in Los Angeles and it will be a freeway shot tomorrow in St. Louis. It is pure MAGIC! My favorite used to be the P.F.E. which stands for Pacific Fruit Express, but they are all gone now. They changed to the ARMN line or got scraped. The ARMNS or BNSF Reefers I do not like these days because too many novice writers go over them like it’s a fucking legal wall. So I stick to the lines that are not yet saturated with garbage. Recently I have enjoyed the Inter Models (they are the low stackers that fit the storage containers on top). I love the circulation and the flat surfaces. I love all trains, but you gotta pick your poison!
What do you think of Instagram and what impact has it had on you as a graffiti artist?
Well, I cant hate on it because I sell a lot of stuff through that app, so any tool that allows artists to make money is good. Also it increases my ups, and everyone else's for that matter because so many people are taking photos these days. If you have a lot out there you will get a broader audience everyday, just because so many people take so many photos everyday and share it to the circles they live in… It also sucks though, because its easier to steal ideas and “get popular” without really putting in work on the streets. Kids skip a lot of steps these days. When I was younger, to get respect you had to be up on the streets, have a good hand style, have freight presence, and have some burners under your belt. These days you just need fancy paint and some followers and people know who you are. There is a false sense of entitlement that comes with modern day writers, and maybe Instagram and other online sites are the cause for that. It also makes the culture less sacred. It used to be so secretive and cool. Now its like a fad or a trend, but whatever, that’s the way of the world. I like Instagram but it waters down the culture as a whole. Saturating the digital feeds of random humans who want instant gratification. They immediately get bored and think “EHHHHH”. 20 years ago we would flick it, develop it, and show the homies and gawk in awe on some new style culture shit. Like, “THIS FOOL JUST PAINTED THIS WITH FUCKING CANS... I WONDER WHICH ONES? I WONDER WHERE AT?" The mysteries are gone. The secrets are known…. Insert frown face here…
You’ve painted with a lot of people, any artists in particular you enjoy painting with?
Right now I am painting with “VHUE” a lot, he is super passionate about this culture. I always love painting with “SLOKE”, I think he is the last of the wildstylers. So many to name, but here is who is on my mind today: “VAGUE” from Houston, “EXAUST” from Chicago, “CLOWN” my old roomie, “FISHE” if he shows up, “VERSUZ” when we make the time, “HIER” is always a solid partner when he is not getting pussy… “DEMOS” from Canada, “PIN K$P” when we link up. I was an honor to paint with “GIANT” for a bit and “KATCH” in Hawaii. Love my boy “MEAN” in Hawaii, even though we didn’t paint much together. I miss my old partner “SHAPER”, my buddy up in Utah “KUHR” is a funny homie to paint with. “GRAVES” and “VIDEO” in Seattle. “AWARE” is a good partner to have because he can choke out anyone. Partners change all the time, I go solo mostly.
Do you have any big projects we should be looking out for?
I am submitting for a mural project in LA that is BIG. I am going to Europe in the summer for a clean train mission. I am working on a feature film about trains as well as a series on Graff Lyfe. Yep I spelt it like that for a reason. I am also doing more fine art shows, so keep an eye out.
In interviews people always ask the artist ”Do you have any advice for the beginner?” Beyond the obvious response like “practice more” - What sage like wisdom can you offer the neophyte regarding the culture, codes and ethics, safety tips, tools and techniques, ect?
I think before all that stuff, kind of check yourself. Think before all that stuff. No matter how cool you think you are, I promise others don’t care as much as you do. Meaning, they have no idea what work you put in regardless of online support. So when you talk to people, just be cool, be chill, be nice. This world is all about networking and no one likes to network with a dick. After that, I would say PRACTICE… yep, just practice more. I would not advise going over people on trains, or really anything unless you can do better than what was there. Really look into your heart and figure out if you can out paint that person. Legal or illegal, just respect other artists as much as possible. Also, try to have fun in all the work you do. If your not having fun get another hobby. I am in I for the long haul so you will see me again. Also, its an aggressive life, you may have to fight over art… yep that’s what it can be. So be respectful out there and have fun!
Any last words:
I AM HOPING YOU ARE ALREADY FAMILIAR WITH MY ART BUT IF YOU ARE NOT I AM A HARDWORKING GRAFFITI ARTIST, I RESPECT THE CULTURE AND OTHER WRITERS. I LIKE STREET ART TOO... YEP I SAID IT.... I LIKE STICKERS AND WHEAT PASTE AND STENCILS. BUT SOME OF IT IS JUST DUMB. I THINK ANYONE INTERESTED IN THIS SUBCULTURE SHOULD "KNOW YOUR HISTORY" AFTER THAT I THINK IT ALL FALLS IN PLACE.
I DO HAVE A LITTLE CLOTHING LINE WITH MY GIRL "ONAKA CHAN" IT IS 2ninjas IT IS NOT A BIG DEAL BUT WE HAVE FUN. LOVE YOUR LIFE AND GO PAINT SOMETHING!
- JABER AKA THE WHITE NINJA