By Carolina Pichardo
Q. Will Teez in the flesh!
A. My name is Will Alicea. How you doing?
Q. How long have you been Uptown?
A. I’ve been Uptown since grade school. Lived in a couple of other places, but Inwood has pretty much been it. I love it up here. I’ve seen the neighborhood change and a lot of the people that have come in. Like anything else, some of these changes have been cool and some of it not so cool.
Q. Will Teez is…
A. I run an apparel company called, Will Teez. I’ve been running it for a little over two years. It will be three years this Summer/Fall. It was just an idea that I had to promote myself, the things that I wanted to do, and other artists as well.
We started with neighborhood t-shirts of Inwood and Washington Heights, but this is only a part of it. The main thing is to provide a forum for artists to get their stuff out there. T-Shirts are a great venue, because it’s art you wear on your chest. So people can experience someone’s art, appreciate it, feel good about wearing it, and at the same time share it with other people.
The website is www.willteez.com
Q. Will Is Not a Graffiti Artist?
A. A lot of people think that I’m some old-school graffiti artist. First of all, I have a problem with the label artist, because it states [it] simply as if you’re not. It separates people from the creatives, when I think that everyone is a creative. I don’t believe in the specific label. I came up during that [graffiti] era and appreciated all of that, which is why I had this idea that will express that urban art. So let me bring it via a venue that’s obviously art. It’s kind of like; “You think this is cool, but not so cool when it’s randomly on some building. Well, maybe you’ll think it looks cool on your chest?”
I’m just a dude that had an idea and I ran with it. No, I don’t write graffiti or consider myself an artist. I’m just, Will Alicea.
Q. Anything else?
A. I’m working with several, long-term friends and well-known graffiti artists. Also, with a brother that I met and worked with in college, Picasso. We worked on some t-shirts designs and I promised him [back then] that I would put his artwork out there. There’s also Marthalicia of M-Squared Art Production. I’m currently working with a local artist and music producer, R.thentic. I’m trying to get his artwork/designs on a couple of sweatshirts and on the website as a “Will Teez Presents” thing for this Summer/Fall.
I really think that artists have to work together in whatever way possible. There’s something to be said about collective economics. Working together makes things easier. That’s why I want to make a brick-and-mortar, artist collective space for that up here for us to meet, share resources and get support. I can’t change the rents up here, but we can make a good place for artists to show their work and come together.