My name is Ramiro Surita III and I am from The Bronx, New York. I am the Gunners Mate First Class onboard. I’ve been in the Coast Guard for 13 years and onboard the Munro for 2 ½ years.

Many of the folks onboard do different things onboard to entertain themselves while we are underway, from playing instruments to playing cards. I grew up during the “Nintendo Era”, so I love playing video games. I listen to music, play cards and dominoes but what I really like to do is draw. When I do get the time to draw, I sit at the first class table with my pencil and markers and turn on my MP3 player and see what happens.

I started drawing as far back as I can remember, when I was around 5 or 6. I’m pretty sure I was scribbling on everything else I could before that, but you’d have to ask my mother.
I would trace out of my Tom & Jerry, and Looney Tunes coloring books. By the time I was 7, I could look at the picture and draw an exact copy of what I was looking at. By the time I hit 3rd grade I was creating my own comic books, and would read them to the class at the end of school before we went home for the day.

Hip Hop was just starting out, Run-DMC was on the radio and one day at lunch recess and I was looking at the trains that went by my elementary school when I saw something that changed my life.

I could see train cars with colorful pictures of names and designs and I was fascinated. That was when I learned about Graffiti. I started trying to draw letters and after seeing movies like “Wild Style” (named after a style of Graffiti) and “Beat Street,” Graffiti was all that I wanted to do.
Back then, there were Break-dancing crews and Graffiti artist crews. While I was in school listening to the teacher talk about Michelangelo, DaVinci, Picasso, Van Goh, I was thinking about the great artists of my time, Seen, Lee, Tracy 168, Lady Pink (the first major female graffiti artist).

By the time I got to high school I was really good at lettering and doing graffiti. I would go out bombing (when we would go and put our artwork out on walls in the middle of the night). I did it for years with my friends that I wrote (did graffiti) with. Most of the time we didn’t have the proper permission from the Parks & Recreations Dept. to spray paint the handball court walls.

We’d get caught, go to court and have community service for a week or two. On some occasions we would have permits to do them.

My mother enlisted me into the Coast Guard in June of ’95 since I was undecided about going to college right after high school and 3 days after my 18th birthday in August I was in Cape May.

Beginning my recruit training, while there I made the traditional decorated Ditty Bag (pretty much a cloth laundry bag) where I drew on them for my company commanders.

To me Graffiti is an art form. It’s a form of art that uses a can of spray paint and a wall instead of a brush and canvas. The only difference is the style. There is a lot that goes into graffiti. A lot of people see it as vandalism, but it isn’t, scribbling on a wall with a can of spray paint or writing on a bus with a marker is vandalism. I’ve done work on store-fronts throughout the Bronx, my room growing up and my brother’s room after I joined the Coast Guard.

Many of my shipmates ask me what do I think about when I do my drawings and all I can say to that is that it depends on how I am feeling, or what I am listening to, or what I might be thinking about. Sometimes I might see something or think of something throughout my day and write it down to draw later.

I’ve drawn Tattoo designs for some of my shipmates, I’ve done drawings for my wife and I’ve done drawings for my daughter’s room. The picture of me with the pencil is when I started working on my latest picture for my daughter’s room.

The reason for my drawing while I am underway is to help the rest of my time onboard pass by easier. It gives me a chance to relax and just zone everything else out for a little while, a little bit of peace and quiet.

I think about my wife and daughter, wishing that I was with them.

Some people stop by and look at my work, I’ve even helped some of my shipmates learn to draw. I tell them that it isn’t that hard to learn to draw it just takes some imagination, dedication, and practice. I tell them that I didn’t start this yesterday; I’ve been drawing pretty much my entire life, that I have put a lot of practice and time into my artistic talents. They can do it too if they put their mind to it.

GM1 Ramiro Surita III

P.S. To my 2 special ladies waiting for me at home, I miss you and love you both. I’ll be home soon.