Spiderman is a myth. A unicorn is a myth. People that have unverifiable existences are myths. With just how anonymous Mythny is, he has chosen the most appropriate name in the game. Mythny has been a street provocateur for 30 years.
As early as 6 years old, he started tagging “Casp”, short for Casper. “It was a nickname I was given, because of my complexion.” Myth said, “I grew up in a black/hispanic neighborhood. Although, I'm mixed race, they always assumed I was white.”
He grew up around graffiti and has always been obsessed with public art. The idea of publicly expressing oneself has always been in his peripheral. His “uncle” was Shorty 5 who was later a member of Blade and Comet’s crew “the TC5”. Myth witnessed those guys work, and later knew members of MPC; like Rook, Slip, AD, and ELF. He was never any good at it, so he became a fan and an observer.
In 1986, while in a youth detention center, Myth along with a group of other kids were selected to participate in “City Kids Speak on Liberty”. He got the chance to meet and work with Keith Haring on a banner of Lady Liberty. Myth said, “Keith changed my whole perception of public art at the time.” Later when he was released, he joined City Kids and eventually became it's president. He befriended and painted with Keith Haring often. He also painted a mural with Kenny Scharf in Union Square.
Myth started doing political vandalism at 14, using just words and stickers. By the late 90's, he became obsessed with street art. Once he had a smartphone, he was taking and posting pics of the art he saw. Myth wanted to be a part of this again, and started dabbling with stencils of mythical creatures. In 2012, Mythny was born.
He doesn’t see himself as a street artist because he’s not doing it for any artistic purpose. His whole goal is to raise awareness, engage and provoke the public to think about various issues. He has no interest in fame or recognition. Myth also has no desire to do art shows. The only time he participates in exhibits is for charity.
I got a chance to ask Myth a few questions and his answers reminded me of themes found in comic books.
Kristy Calabro: What was your first piece of street art as Myth?
Mythny: It was a Unicorn Stencil. I quickly dropped the mythical creatures because they seemed arbitrary and I don't really do anything arbitrarily. It didn't speak to me. The first wheatpaste I did was Galactus quoting Karl Marx...
“Superman is about being a hero, a good person, and an inspiration to others and deals with the complex nature of identity, secret or otherwise.”
KC: You might be one of the most anonymous artists out there today. Why is that?
M: The decision to be anonymous goes back to my love of superheroes and clandestine revolutionary movements. All successful superheroes and revolutionaries conceal their identities. At first, I wanted to be anonymous because I was emulating that thinking and of course adhering to the graffiti mindset. As my work began getting recognized the temptation to be like "Hey, that's mine", was kind of overwhelming. I have some ego issues. This is going to sound douchey, but I'm a pretty recognizable figure in my non-MYTH life. I have a concern that if I get wrapped up in the hype of MYTH, I will lose focus on the mission and start to chase fame. Doing this is not about me and I want to keep it that way. I've recently made the decision to no longer sign my stuff. I'm not sure why I even ever did in the first place. According to HOST ( a well known Brooklyn graffiti artist) I have "No name in the game" anyway, might as well make it official. Haha.
KC: You deal with a wide range of socio-political issues. What are some that you incorporate in your art? Which issues do you think are the most important?
M: I see all the issues I deal with as interconnected. It's all about the destruction of capitalism and the end of imperialism. I try not to get bogged down by lifestyle politics. I don't think one is more important than another.
KC: How do you choose your characters and quotes?
M: It's generally pretty random. Just stuff that’s in my memory or on my radar for some reason. Once in awhile, they're site-specific or related to current events. When I'm in other cities or countries, I try and have the pieces be relevant to the locale. I'm going to Montreal soon and all the pieces are of Canadian characters and the word bubbles will be in French with quotes from and about Canadian issues.
“Batman operates outside the law to bring justice.”
KC: What are your thoughts on the constant battle between graffiti writers and street artists? Lately, there has been so much destruction of murals and other art on the street of NY. You recently went to Shoreditch. In London, street art seems to last a lot longer. Why do you think that is?
M: I think it's absurd. It's such a dumb thing and it's really a one-sided battle. It's not just London where Street Art rides longer; it's everywhere outside of NY. I don't want to make assumptions as to why that is. The only thing I can gather is that NYC graffiti writers seem to think that the public space belongs to them. That they are the only ones allowed to participate in vandalism. It's something I have to deal with all the time and I often find myself wasting time arguing about it. It's funny because every time I get roped into one of these inane arguments, it's always the same thing. I get called a hipster transplant and all this other stuff that's just completely false. I've been committing vandalism since I was five, I’m from the Bronx and have lived in every borough, except Manhattan. I try not to ever view any group as a monolith, but graffiti writers are generally pretty ignorant to anything outside of their insular world.
“The X-Men choose to do the right thing, even when faced with prejudice and injustice.”
KC: You’re doing a collab with Abe Lincoln Jr. Can you talk about that and who else have you collaborated with? Are there other artists you would like to collab with and why?
M: Yup. Stoked about that one. Abe's been at this stuff for a long time and I'm honored he asked me to get down. We linked up doing Resistance Is Female and hit it off. We're doing a piece where I have Spiderman as Jordan, wearing a “Black Lives Matter” t-shirt, dunking on Abe's American Taliban characters as defenders. I'm really into it because I'm always looking for ways to incorporate humor into my work and Abe is a master at it. I've collaborated with She Wolf a bunch, Boys Lie, Lungebox, Coloquix (below), you (Kristycnyc), and D7606. Coming up I have collabs with Mows and Camila Rosa. LMNOPI and I are trying to figure out a way to work together. As far as other artists, I don't know really. I don't have any in mind. I generally take it as it comes.
KC: Any particular street artists that you admire and why?
M: Oh, there's so many.... One that always stands out for me is GATS. I've always admired his desire to not be in the public eye, to stay anonymous and continue to redefine what graffiti can be and it's potential to be a voice of rebellion.
“In Spiderman, along with great power comes great responsibility; having power and using it in a socially and morally responsible way. Being a hero even when there is no reward.”
KC: Why don’t you ever want to profit off your art?
M: There are a few reasons. One, I'm an appropriator, so I don't think it's right to profit off of someone else's intellectual property. It's also not my goal. I don't want to be a part of the commercialization of resistance. If there are people who want something from me I'll trade or do it for free.
KC: What would you want your legacy to be? What would you like to be remembered for?
M: Haha. My legacy, huh. I guess I would want to be remembered as someone that pushed revolutionary theory.
KC: What do you hope people get out of your art?
M: My hope is that when someone comes across one of my pieces, that it inspires them to think, research further the subject matter and it moves them to engage in political action or at least make progressive changes in their own lives.
This past weekend I got the chance to go “day pasting” with Myth. Look out for two new pieces in Brooklyn and the upcoming collaboration with Abe Lincoln Jr. which will be up in Harlem. Also, Myth is about to leave his mark on the streets of Montreal!