It’s rare for a writer to earn respect in the streets and trainyard alike, but with his ever-evolving style and commitment to cutty spots Jaber has done just that. Instantly recognizable thanks to his iconic “Ninja head,” he’s a self-described “white guy from the Bay Area” striving to stay up and keep it fresh. We sat down with him at Art Primo HQ last week to discuss the joys of painting phalluses and his drive to take bombing to the extreme. Get to know the self-proclaimed “White Ninja.”
Art Primo: Who are you and where are you from?
JABER: I write JABER, or El Ninja Blanco, or the white ninja, or sometimes people call me dick. I never write that, but I paint ‘em.
AP: Well, drawing dicks is definitely graffiti at it’s most basic.
J: I love drawing penises, I’ll be honest. For example, if you’ve seen the movie Superbad, I didn’t think the guys drawing dicks all the time was at all strange or a joke.
AP: Oh no, I totally know what you’re talking about!
J: I saw it and I thought, “Yeah, draw more penises.” That’s what I like to do.
AP: Same. Anyways, what crews do you push?
J: The only crew that I’m closely associated with is Indecline, but I’m really a one-man crew.
AP: The stuff you do with Indecline is sick! So, how did you first get involved with graff and what inspired you to start writing?
J: Well, I started skating and tagging in the early ‘90s but I wasn’t yet a writer. I remember watching live painting at Bill’s Wheels Skate Jam and meeting some of the old school dudes from HNR like KOLAGE (@Jason_anderson_1891) and DEVR. Later the same day I saw piece in a tunnel, and from that point on, I knew that was what i wanted to do. I think it was 1992.
AP: What’s your favorite mop or marker?
J: I’m not really good with mops. In the past I was using Marsh but now I mostly stick to Meanstreaks. Currently, my favorite marker is just the standard Sakura Solid.
AP: What products would you bring to a desert island?
J: A scribe.
AP: Who are you most inspired by?
J: Everybody is inspired by the people they hang out with and paint with, so at the moment it would be people like AWARE. I have a few other buddies that are really good and inspire me... NEVER is a beast, and SRIL (@Srilart). Both of them are inspiring because they paint good murals and make great artwork. I’m a more of a quantity guy– I do a lot, but it’s not always my best effort. Those guys are on effort levels and inspires me to do quality rather than just quantity.
AP: Are there any younger writers out there that catch your eye?
J: All the writers killing it and painting every single day! In my area I see SAVEK and he is a beast. His tag is a cross between “savage” and “havoc,” which is pretty much what his graffiti looks like- it’s crazy. You know who else really inspires me? It’s this dude who writes 125. He has been painting trains for years, and he does whatever he wants to do. Everytime I look at his IG (@number125king) at six in the morning and he’s in the yard, I feel inspired. I’m like, “Well, he’s older than me. If he’s in the yard why aren’t I? I should be in the yard if he’s in the yard!”
AP: Do you have any pieces you painted in your long career, that you were like damn, that’s my favorite piece, or favorite spot you hit?
J: Yeah, I mean, any clean train that I finished has a place in my heart. I did more innovative stuff in the late ‘90s… back then I was doing European looking stuff. Nobody really likes that shit but I love it, people’s opinions vary so much on art and that’s why I do all these different styles. Someone might like this and someone might like that and it might not be what I like, but that’s okay. I was proud of a piece on the Olympia bridge because it was in a spot that doesn’t look like you can get up there, but I did. High spots are always good and they look really presentable.
AP: What do you predict for the future of graff?
J: Graffiti is becoming more accepted because of the crossover between street art and graffiti, although graff isn’t yet as accepted as street art is. The Banksy movie opened up people’s eyes, which is good but also it saturated the market and now there’s more and more people writing. In the long term, more people are going to do graffiti and it will be accepted more as fine art. I hope that some of the people who have put in work on illegal pieces and spots over the years finally get recognized and paid for their talents.
AP: How do your other hobbies or interests influence your art?
J: I am into film and that influences my lettering because when you view things on film they look different. For example, if you have a drone shot you get a different perspective from the film and learn to use bigger and better colors and letters that are more simple. Graffiti is easier to digest through film rather than photography. I have a few hobbies, that’s why I like to draw dicks. I like to make people laugh, if i can make people laugh, then it’s worth it.
AP: What advice do you have for the young kids starting out?
J: Go out, have fun, try not to be an asshole and don’t get caught! That’s really it. Graffiti is a different world now and people perceive things differently, talk about things differently, and share things differently. Try to contain your ego because the graffiti world has a lot of egos in it. If you can contain your ego, you’ll go a lot further.
AP: Any last shout outs?
J: Thanks to Art Primo and the city of Seattle, I love you. That’s it.
AP: Thank you, man.
J: Was that interesting enough?
AP: That was tight.