Scratching the Surface: Cernesto

February 24, 2015 | Aymann Ismail

ANIMAL showcases a different street artist regularly in our feature, Scratching the Surface. This week, we profile Cernesto.

CERN, CERN One, Cernesto

Decade you were born in:
70s, baby.

City you currently live:
New York City.

Drugs or natural highs?
Blowing bubbles underwater and lasers.

How did you get your name?
My friend Bruce in 7th grade suggested an “S.” I thought a “C” would be less common in a time when everyone and their brother was a writer in Queens.


Why do what you do?
For a long time, before there was any larger exposure beyond what local people experienced in the streets, the idea that I could inspire anyone like other artists had inspired me. Bringing a glimpse to another world or vibration with the language of art or graffiti was a big motivation. Many artists in the early 90s in NYC changed my life by showing me how far people could take style and vision and make dark parts of the city magical. I’ve gotten to do some amazing things, and have surpassed my own dreams at times. The feeling that I can develop something more positive is a great inspiration.

How does your mother feel about your art?
“Weird” or “pretty” are the most used words.

Are you making a living off your art? How’s that working out so far?
I have my days. It’s an amazing feeling for people to want to look at things you make. I hope to put songs on iTunes soon as well.

Fuck the art world or embrace the art world?
If they’re down for a threesome with the world I’ve been in, that would be fun.

Do you bring your smart phone into the bathroom with you? Why?
I do hope to step up the selfie game. #cernfie


Do you ever feel like giving up?
I did do a big “Give Up” in straight letters once, but every day is another story, and I think I’m just getting started.

Suggest an artist to follow.
Moronorio and Addi Somekh