Preserving Brooklyn's Identity w/ Peter Paid


Artist //

Peter Paid

Posted //

April 23rd, 2021

Photography //

Shane Allen

Interviewer //

Shane Allen

While keeping it true to where he is from, Peter Paid pays tribute to the iconic imagery of hand-painted signs and lettering. Spending his career early on as a subway graffiti writer, and then becoming a sign painter, Peter has never looked back. With his undeniably fresh style, Peter is revitalizing an art form frequently viewed as utilitarian, and flipping it into beautiful fine art.

Populist got to spend an afternoon visiting Paid’s studio, talking about his early days as a graffiti writer, as well as his years of painting some of iconic Brooklyn signage.

How did you start writing graffiti?

Because I grew up literally right across the street from a very well-known train lay-up (The express subway tracks where out of service and off peak trains are parked. Usually overnight. I definitely noticed it earlier...

But It was around 1983 that I was really like “Hmmm, I think I want to get into this.”

I had a classmate who I sat beside that was already writing around the neighborhood, and he explained to me what a “tag” was. I remember taking a marker, sneaking in the staircases of the building I lived in, and taking tags up by the roof. Not long after I graduated to spray paint, and eventually traded the staircases for tags around my neighborhood and ultimately up to the lay up to hit trains. My close friends all followed suit, and together we had somewhat prolific careers for a few years.

So, when was it that you stopped bombing trains?

It’s crazy that I actually know the date. January 10th, 1987. It’s the day that I got my learner’s permit to drive. It was a pretty eventful day aside from getting my permit. I was with my main bombing partner “IT” (eye tee) and another writer who we occas