Jesus Saves Interview
In some circles, talking about God, in a positive way, is taboo. In a similar way, any positive conversation on graffiti has always been taboo; so why not mesh the two worlds? New York graffiti writer, Jesus Saves is working hard to successfully mesh the two worlds and spread his version of the gospel all over the world.
Like all things, in life, there are ups and downs; he took the time out of his day to talk about life, graffiti and the gospel.
The main thing is that we keep moving on. This man is definitely doing that.
JESUS SAVES interview.
by Matthew J
Every artist has a story to tell, what particular story is “Jesus Saves” trying to tell us? And why should people listen?
Jesus Saves: There once was a kid named “Spain” from Brooklyn lived on Knickerbocker Avenue between Hancock Street and Jefferson Avenue, above a pharmacy. At the age of 15 (1990), he was selling drugs on Broadway and Cornelia Street where the J-train run with his long time friend who he met in P.S. 274 (public school) . “Spain” left the drug selling and got into smoking weed. “Spain” also started breaking into apartments and sticking people up with a fake plastic gun which resulted in him doing time in Rikers Island. In 1995, “Spain” received Jesus Christ and his life was changed for the better. All of a sudden he began praying reading/studying the bible, preaching, ministering and giving bible studies in his room. All the street activities and bad influences were gone; the stealing, fighting, fornicating, and hatred were all gone. “Spain” attended a Spanish Pentecostal Church in Bushwick and started preaching to the youth. Why should people listen to the story? Because it’s true I have witnessed it all… in case you don’t know that kid from Bushwick name of “Spain” is me.
What is something you KNOW people think when they see Jesus Saves? What do you HOPE people think when they see Jesus Saves?
Jesus Saves: Well according to what some say there were times when they would be feeling down or after having a stressful day they see Jesus Saves and is like “Ahhh”, what a relief or “wow, amen”. Sometimes they would say, “Man, when I saw that Jesus Saves tag it made me smile.” The thing is that once they see Jesus Saves people know that God is touching their hearts and to know that there is power in the name of Christ would be a message that can stick with their memoires and hearts forever.
How big is the Christian community within the world of graffiti?
Jesus Saves: It’s far bigger than I could imagine. Christian graffiti is not only happening in the United States but also in Puerto Rico and in many parts of Europe. There is a Christian graffiti crew which is well known – The Gospel Graffiti Crew.
Who are some of your favourite graffiti artists?
Jesus Saves: Ja, VFR, Yes2, Miss17, Lady Pink, Fly, Daim, Loomit, Miss Van, Meres, Tracy168, Zimad, Fafi, Indie, Shepard Fairey (Obey), Revz, and Taki 183
Recently, you had a graffiti-related run in with the law. Care to comment on that?
Jesus Saves: Yeah, I got permission by a resident who lives in this housing project to go on the roof and get videotaped for a DVD. Next thing I know after 15 minutes of being up there the police pop out of nowhere with guns drawn , screaming “don’t move”. I got bagged and I thought I was facing jail time. During my wait to see the judge, I got on my knees and started praying, all the while people were looking at me as if I was crazy. I prayed for a miracle. I know I might be facing few months or maybe a year but still I was trusting in God. Sentencing came and the judge gave me 5 days because this was my first arrest by housing police not by street or transit police, for if it was either of them I wouldn’t be doing this interview. “Thank you, Jesus!” I replied. The Lord answered my prayer.
What is your philosophy on graffiti?
Jesus Saves: Well all I know is that graffiti is one of the most powerful tools and its today’s era time and generation of today’s modern graffiti art which is widely known and so big in the whole face of this earth.
Graffiti is universal and is a lifestyle. In the 1500’s artists like Michelangelo, Leonardo di Vinci, and Raphael were famous for their religious art; their work was universal. Times have changed now and graffiti is one of the main art forms in the world.
How does a typical day in your life look like?
Jesus Saves: Working in 2 jobs. Monday to Wednesday, I work for a cell phone company. Thursday to Friday wed cell be walking around in the Bronx advertising food products. It is a comfortable job for me. On Sundays, I go to a Church that speaks Portuguese; I’m learning Portuguese and German.
Other than that I sell my own t-shirts and canvases.
Ok, tell me a bit about your line of “Jesus Saves” t-shirts. How did that whole t-shirt concept come about? What inspired you to create the shirts? Where can people contact you to buy those shirts?
Jesus Saves: I met an old school writer SST, in the church I was attending who has been involved with graffiti since the early 70’s. He would paint on trains and tag (”SST”) everywhere. Now for over 20 years he has become a professional graphic designer and has worked for many people and places, including PNB Nation. Through him the Jesus Saves logo came about; he snapped a shot from a tag I did awhile ago and it was a rap. He made the silk screen it packed it up in a paper roll that says “Jesus Saves”. He also designed a nice [Jesus Saves] ticket tag design in a way that is attracting people’s attention in the United States and overseas. Here is a site that I’m still working on. People can leave comments or a message about the t-shirts @ www.jesussavest-shirts.blogspot.com and www.myspace.com/jesussaves03
Earlier, we touched on your run-in with the law. You’ve had a “rough patch”, these past few weeks YET, you didn’t let it get you down. I respect that because it is so easy, for a person, to quit when times get hard. Surely your faith got you through this, but what kind of mind-set do you have when times get hard?
Jesus Saves: It’s not easy these days because I have problems with family members and then my ex-girl was spreading lies and rumours about me which caused problems between me and some of my other friends.
It was hard because she was a person I was really close to and all of a sudden we went from being best friends to not speaking at all. I’m still holding on no matter what because the more things seems to get worst the closer to Christ I’m going to get and the more I pray. At times, I feel like a boxer. I gotta keep my guard up because if I don’t I’ll be beat down and knocked out. If I fall, like any boxer, I get up before the referee reaches the count of 10.
I believe that God didn’t put us here to be losers but for all of us to be a winner no matter what situation takes place. I’m a child of God and a winner… I have victory in Jesus!!! That’s it.
What kept you going? What would you like to say to anybody who might be going through some difficult times, right now?
Jesus Saves: I would give them advice and as a believer and a man of faith I would advise people to pray. Just do it!!! Liquor and drugs will make it worst; they will depress people and then suicidal thoughts could take place, especially if somebody suffers from emotional stress.
My advice is to pray before anything and to seek help, counselling or therapy. It’s also good to talk about your feelings with people you can trust and understand you. Before seeking help I pray first because God comes first before anything and He is in control. Nothing is impossible for God. For those who suffer and have no hope or nowhere to run to, I suggest coming to Christ. I got on my knees one night and prayed. I locked my door and turned off the lights and as I started to pray I also started crying and let out all my tears to God. I asked him to make me new and cleanse me from the inside-out. When a person cries and lets out their pain, they end up with a happy and a healed heart. Yet, if that person hides their pain through laughter and jokes, they are just building up more problems which can negatively affect their health.
What I say is true and it takes place a lot out here in New York. My last bit of advice is for people to stop searching for the love which this world could not give you, but only God can because God is love pure and perfect.
Let the past go: it’s time for a fresh start mentally, spiritually, and emotionally…I DARE YOU TO BE DIFFERENT!!!
Final question: Do you have any plans to “get up” in Canada?
Jesus Saves: Of course, not only is it my goal to travel all over the world, but I also have plans to piece and paint across certain parts of the U.S. and Canada. A friend of mine has family in Canada, so we can go and visit Canada anytime. I have thoughts of doing a piece with the Canadian flag inside the Jesus Saves outline and at least 7 walls of piecing murals. I would be happy to shot some flicks and videos. I will go up [to Canada] soon but, I’m not too sure when.