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8305 Six Forks Road, Ste. 203, Raleigh, NC 27615

With a client list that includes Reebok, VH1, Nike, Davidoff, Red Bull, and Zino Platinum, it’s easy to say that UR New York has taken what some would view as a hobby and turned it into a passion-driven career. Fernando Romero and Mike Baca, the creative team that comprises UR New York, have a bigger mission they hope to accomplish with their work beyond making a living—they hope to use their creativity and art to inspire younger and up-and-coming artists. Both Romero and Baca spend just as much of their time reaching out and exposing younger artists to the world of graffiti and expression as they do creating their own art. Both men began as graffiti artists before teaming up as UR New York. Baca, known also as 2ESAE, and Romero, known also as SKI, teamed up and formed the art collective UR New York.

Cigars & Leisure: You said to us, “Our work doesn’t scream graffiti; it screams environment.” Can you elaborate on what you meant by that?
Romero: “We target old New York. We try to preserve the integrity of the city without losing sight of where it is.”
Baca: “We are products of our environment. We knew New York when it was urban decay. Instead of just focusing on the graffiti aspect in our painting, we create the entire picture—paying homage to the New York we’re from.”

Your motto, “be who you are” is a consistent element in your work. Where did that mantra come from?
Baca: “It came from seeing everyone at college running to work with a scone, coffee, or smoothie in their hand. That’s when I thought of ‘UR’ and ‘be who you are.’ Don’t be a sheep; be who you are! The ‘UR’ in our name could mean ‘urban renaissance.’ ‘UR’ could also mean ‘underrated’ as in the underrated artist who never gets a chance.”

What advice do you give to those who want to turn their love of the arts into a career that will support them?
Romero: “I would tell them to try to be different. Don’t be constricted to one thing or one subject. Try to be versatile and stand out with what you do. How do you stand out? How do you maintain your identity? It’s trial and error.”
Baca: “Literally, be yourself and make sure your ideas are never compromised. That’s what they think of when they think of UR New York—we’re about being consistent and being who you are.”

How has your art allowed you to give back to your community?
Romero: “We look to give back in whatever way we can through art. It’s a long ride, but it’s something we’re diligent about.”
Baca: “If we can give back for the rest of our days, we’re happy. It’s fulfilling.”

What advice would you give to other aspiring artists and creative types?
Baca: “Work hard. If you love it, do it. Don’t be scared to ask for help. Show initiative. Get dirty. Pursue everything.”
Romero: “My one piece of advice to anyone is to learn marketing. Anyone can sell art. A basic marketing class will teach you the basics. It’s not about creating the art—it’ll come naturally.”

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