by Lazarus Lynch
"As I strolled through New York's East Village Easter Sunday morning, I discovered a brick wall that immediately drew me in... I looked at the bottom of the wall and for the first time noticed those six letters: HEKTAD."
As I strolled through New York's East Village Easter Sunday morning, I discovered a brick wall that immediately drew me in. It was unlike any other brick wall I passed by that morning; it was a wall with a message. The message was powerful, yet subtle enough that I almost kept walking. I stopped to take a closer look at the wall. I studied it as though I were standing in front of a classic art piece at the Museum of Modern Art. The wall was covered in beautiful colors that made the shape of a heart. The brightly covered heart was huge covering up the surface of that black wall.
I decided to take a picture of the wall and share it on my Instagram Stories. I pulled out my iPhone, stepped back, and took the shot. I looked at the bottom of the wall and for the first time noticed those six letters: HEKTAD. I typed the letters into my stories and there it was: @HEKTAD._OFFICIAL. I mentioned him and posted the picture. Hours later, I got a message from HEKTAD saying, "Awesome shot." I quickly responded, "Dope art." HEKTAD sent me an invitation flyer promoting a recent mural at 39 Spring Street. I responding that I would try and stop by -- and I did.
When I arrived at 39 Spring Street, I saw a group of people standing around, talking in front of the mural. The front of the building was covered in bursts of paint -- highs of blue, pink, red, green, and yellow, similar to tie dyed tones. At the center of the wall were two doors with a heart painted on it. Inside the heart were the words, I Choose Love. Inside the building were more paintings from HEKTAD both on the walls and in frames. Each pieces was signed by the artists name, HEKTAD.
When I finally met HEKTAD, he was leaning against a car outside. He was dressed humbly with a baseball cap, a t-shirt, and jeans with dried paint on them. I congratulated him on his work and asked if I could interview him. He kindly agreed. Here's a snippet from our interview:
LL: Where does the name HEKTAD come from?
HEKTAD: HEK is my graffiti name. TAD is the crew I had growing up in the Bronx. TAD stands for Toy's Aint Down. We were artists (a.k.a. vandalis). I stood with the crew. We used to paint on everything.
LL: When did you start making street art?
HEKTAD: In 1982. I came back to it. I had children and stopped for a while but I'm friends with Banksy and he told me, "Man, now is the time." I would say he helped me get back to doing street art.
LL: Where can people find your art?
HEKTAD: It's all over... I put a piano at the bottom of the Brooklyn Bridge a few years ago. My work is at (former) Yaffa Cafe in the East Village, First Street and Houston, West 23rd Street Wall... it's all over.
LL: What keeps you going as an artist?
HEKTAD: It's an addiction. I just love it. I love painting, I love sharing my work with people... it's love for the work.
LL: What advice would you give to young artist?
HEKTAD: Don't think about the money. Do it for the love. Whatever you do -- music, art, cooking -- do it because you love it. People loose it when they think about the money. Think about your craft. Also make a name for yourself.
Follow HEKTAD on Instagram.