Jerry Inscoe aka Joker was born in 1969 and raised in Washington DC. He began writing graffiti in 1985. And with the little knowledge he had from a few friends who had been to New York and a few photos they had, he gave himself a name and began down a path that he never realized would keep him occupied for over twenty years. As a pioneering member of MCA, Joker put in work when DC was at its most treacherous. Known for impeccable letterforms and dynamic blends, his work represented what graffiti should look like. Joker studied the regional graffiti styles of various cities and incorporated them into his repertoire. In addition, his stylized execution of classic graffiti art mugs would influence younger writers in DC for many years including RUST and KIER.
He studied design at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh from 1988-1990. After years of moving from city to city and learning more and more about the art form, Jerry settled for a bit in the San Francisco Bay area and began learning techniques and styles from the Bay Area’s finest. These teachings would mark the beginning of the style that Jerry has become known for as a graffiti writer. He also became the leader of the Transcend Collective an “abstract graffiti” crew that became infamous for its experimental, hybrid aesthetic take on graffiti and its options for painting styles. Highly influential nationwide, his style has evolved from well-executed standard graffiti fare to high-end graphic art. Heavily influenced by Deconstructivist architecture, Jerry Inscoe dissects and reassembles three-dimensional space within an elegant framework of smooth lines, soaring arcs and sharp angles. Tone-on-tone colors and neutrals exist in crisp definition, often set against a background of smooth wood grain.
Today, Jerry continues to move in a progressive direction with his mural work while giving way to canvas and wood as his surface for gallery pieces, showing his work in DC, LA, San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle, Pittsburgh, Montreal, London, Hamburg, Amsterdam, Osaka and Tokyo. He’s been commissioned to create work for companies like Burton, Osiris and Nike and been featured in several magazines and books over the last few years.
(Mural by Joker in collaboration with Shok1 and Remi Rough)
Currently he lives and works in Portland, Oregon. As a productive member of society, he has designed typefaces, worked for big corporations like Nordstrom, is obsessed with high-end cycling, and raising a family. He also has been blessed with many commercial assignments such as snowboard design for Burton, design work included in the original Nike Presto launch campaign and his on-going passion with tattoo design. Artists who have collaborated with Joker outside of his crew fam, include Cody Hudson, Dalek, Giant and Jim Darling.
At first glance, Jerry Inscoe’s work appears to be a formal extension of a Deconstructivist style of typography. Letters are fragmented and sheared, stretched and re-formed with precision. It’s a science of Postmodern typographic abstraction, one that is characterized by unpredictability and controlled chaos.
Born out of the mid-eighties street art scene in Washington DC, Jerry’s work evolved over the years and matured, shifting from the early New York-influenced models to a more abstract and idealistic take on what Graffiti could be. He incorporated aspects of his undergraduate design education and a myriad of other infuences into his work, including architecture and industrial design. This infused Jerry with the desire to create highly original work that did not conform to the aesthetic standards of traditional graffiti and street art.