Not every artist can boast a career of over thirty years; even fewer can claim to have transformed their passion into a profession. Jeroo is a unique artist in this regard. He started with a pure love for style writing and has now become renowned for his large, vibrant murals and meticulous attention to detail. But there’s much more to his story. We are thrilled to introduce the 26th Montana BLACK Artist Edition can, ‘Brunhilde,’ featuring this Stuttgart native. From facing legal consequences for his graffiti to selling over 100,000 books on the same subject, Jeroo’s journey is a testament to his versatility and humility.
In the midst of coming from a gallery opening to planning his child’s upcoming birthday party, we seized the chance to reflect on Jeroo’s three-decade-long journey of working with spray paint across various mediums.
Interview with graffiti artist JEROO
Montana Cans: Hey Jeroo! Thanks for taking the time; I assume you have a busy schedule.
Jeroo: Sure, it is a pleasure! Yeah, I am in the middle of things right now.
Montana Cans: Speaking of, your choice of color represents a shade that sits somehow in between – is that your favorite color?
Jeroo: Actually, it is a color I have used quite frequently. Brunhilde is neither a violet nor a blue; it works well with many other colors and covers superbly, so it is a versatile shade that I like to combine with darker outlines. I want to create depth in my work, so I need some middle ground, too.
Montana Cans: Makes sense; you have a system with the colors!
Jeroo: Haha, no, not really. Of course, I know how I want to utilize colors in my compositions, but I never had classical training in chromatics; I am 100% autodidactic, and most of my experience was learning by doing rather than analyzing. Nowadays, complementary contrasts play an essential role in my art, but I often build my works around colors like Brunhilde, which range somewhere in the middle. I begin with this single color and extend it with shades in lighter and darker directions.
Montana Cans: OK, colors play a significant role when approaching a work, but how you apply them is also important, right? How relevant is the technical dimension to you? Do you need a certain level of craftsmanship?
Jeroo: I am not a fanatic, and I never do cutbacks. The ratio of outcome and speed during the painting process has to be effective. I like colorful and impressive visuals, so a certain level of craftsmanship is undoubtedly relevant. Sometimes, I enjoy doing simple silver pieces, but I generally like pieces with lots of effects, shadows, 3Ds, and another layer on top to create some depth. I like playing around with proportions; the whole composition of my work is essential to me. That’s how I describe my graffiti style.
Montana Cans: Interesting, you call it graffiti! Did you transcend your output to something that ranges under urban art? Like, from letters to figurative murals?
Jeroo: It is still graffiti for me! And no, I did not transcend anything: I come from style writing and still love writing graffiti. Period. Yet, I make a living from my art nowadays, so I create works in public spaces that speak to a broader audience more intuitively than just the graffiti community. I like to do commercial projects, often receiving positive feedback from average people, but I will always be a graffiti writer. Street art is my job these days, but I am as much into styles as I was 30 years ago when I began my journey. The only aspect I transformed is that all the techniques I use in my murals are deeply rooted in my graffiti career. My murals started as background concepts for my pieces, which eventually vanished in the commissions. But whenever I can, I include letters in my murals as well. When experimenting with characters, I aimed to become a well-rounded writer who could do anything in all craft disciplines: tags, throws, pieces, characters, and murals.
Montana Cans: And canvases?
Jeroo: Yes, exactly. However, I mostly use cans in all my works, whether on massive walls or small canvases. And I only use two kinds of caps, the Montana Level One and Level Six.
Montana Cans: Oh, word?
Jeroo: I applied a graffiti mindset to everything I do, including painting characters. Portraying humans was complicated for me initially, so I started experimenting and freestyling with colors and animal motives because it felt more accessible to try out ratios and dimensions. Soon, people started recognizing my birds and crystals through my ductus. I extended my graffiti game to regular people. I recently did a style piece for a commissioned job, and some ordinary people recognized me only by my effects. “Wait, are you that guy painting the swans around town?” That amazed me.
Montana Cans: Recognizability is a good call. Not only is your style unique, but you are one of the few writers who revealed their identity – how do you feel about that? For a writer, that is very unusual.
Jeroo: Well, I never had a master plan to stay anonymous, and after doing the book, it just evolved. Of course, I had some legal troubles after getting busted many years ago, but since then, I have started going legit, so I did not see much to gain from keeping my identity undisclosed. At some point, I wanted to turn graffiti into a job, and since then, I never looked back.
Montana Cans: Your book “Graffiti School” is another subject I wanted to address. Can you talk about that?
Jeroo: I published the book in 2013. It is still available, and throughout the years, it has become a genre classic of educational graffiti publications. It has been translated into several languages, including Chinese; we have sold more than 100.000 copies by now.
The only aspect I transformed is that all the techniques I use in my murals are deeply rooted in my graffiti career.Jeroo
Montana Cans: Wow, that’s exceptional! What was your motivation to come up with the project? Was it the classic Hip Hop ethos of each one teach one?
Jeroo: Yes and no! Back then, I worked as a teacher, so education and graffiti were two major topics in my life that I just wanted to merge. On top of that, I saw a need for this mixture, considering the professional level. Either professional people with little actual graffiti knowledge or the other way around, good writers giving horrible workshops were the status quo. My idea was to support beginners in getting behind that tricky phase right at the start a lot quicker, which, I believe, is in our best interest as a culture.
Montana Cans: And how was the feedback?
Jeroo: Of course, there was some controversy. Some hardcore writers claimed I demystified crucial elements of the culture and that you can only be real if you learn graffiti through the streets. Today, I still receive positive messages from all over the world, which inspire me greatly, for instance, from the Philippines and Iraq, to name a few unexpected countries. I would have never thought that, and I am proud of that. Books are overly crucial in countries where there is restricted access to the internet. Looking back, I see the timing to publish this book was right.
Montana Cans: That sounds wholesome! Is there anything you want to add?
Jeroo: Thank you. I am grateful for this opportunity; I am happy where I am now. I come from graffiti writing and am rooted in the culture, but I like to have one foot in the art business these days. After all these years, this development feels like a natural next step.