Thoughts on Graffiti? (1 Viewer)

Romanriff

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My only born talent in life has been drawing. Ever since I can remember I've been great with a pencil but I never drew enough for some reason and I feel like I could have been even better now. Used to write graffiti and recently got back into it but this time I stepped away from lifeless tags and throw ups and I'm trying my hand at drawing again this time I've been trying to do moniker style drawings but with greater detail. I wanna hear your guys thoughts on graffiti, street art, monikers. Do you write? Thoughts on Graffiti?

Those links aren't mine by the way.
 
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Older Than Dirt

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I started tagging in NYC transit stations as a visiting teenager in the mid-'70s. By the time the '80s started, i was living on the Lower East Side with a pretty well-known graf writer, HAZE/SE-3. Through him, i became friends/enemies/acquainted with most writers active in the '80s. HAZE mostly wrote with RTW [Rolling Thunder Writers] dudes.

When they had extra paint, i would tag along and do throw-ups. The paint i got was always either silver or white for fill-ins, and black for outlines; they kept all the colors. I mostly did a big skull and crossbones like the attachment. That's an A train i think, done at Grant layup.

Usually it would be with a cartoon thought balloon. The thought balloon would say different shit like "Watch Your Back!", "Don't Pay!", "Jet-Ski Today!" [went jet-skiing at the shore], "Eat At Leshkos!" [the LES coffee shop where i was steam-table man for most of 1981], basically whatever. This one has no thought balloon, but it's the only pic i have in a digital format, i have lots of slides i should scan someday.

OTD_Skull.jpg


I also did a thing where i labeled every part of an entire side of an A train from end to end, like "Window" with an arrow under each window, "Door", "Bottom", "Top", "Conductor Booth", etc. This took several hours.

I hated elevated lay-ups, i am not great with heights, but i loved the underground tunnels and yards. I was used to walking subway tunnels because i liked to do that when i was drunk.

Grant layup (A trains) in Brooklyn was the main spot i hit, with HAZE, QUIK, MIN-ONE, IZ THE WIZ, and SACH, all RTW. I also did a whole bunch of noontime bombing with HAZE at the City Hall layup, a full extra station under City Hall station where they used to lay up rush-hour Rs during lunch-time.

We would go nuts in there, but the solvent smell from all that spray drifting up from the lay-up ghost station into the active station above, in the middle of the day, would eventually lead to cops, and then you'd have to run down the tunnel. Going uptown, if you were smart, since the next station to the south was very close and they'd be waiting for you there.

One time we popped up the emergency escape hatch onto the street in Chinatown, slammed that shit down, put a couple garbage cans on it to make it hard to open, and strolled away.
 
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Older Than Dirt

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I guess i should state my graf name, after all that: i wrote BEN-WA (my train throw-ups were never the name, but i did tag outsides and streets. Spray tags, not no miniwide shit yo)

A priceless moment: Meeting some hard-rock at some graffiti opening at some art gallery. The usual "What you write?" interrogation.

I go "BEN-WA."

Dude says "Yo, i seen you up on As and Rs. That's some Star Wars shit, right?"

My guess is he meant Obi-Wan Kenobi, but he was with his large crew, so i was like "Bet."
 

Romanriff

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Dude... That is amazing! What I would've given to experience NYC graffiti in the 70's and 80's let alone NYC in the 70's and 80's. I always respect people who have original style throw ups especially when they're a symbol or character of sorts.
 

Older Than Dirt

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As you probably know, one of the rules of graf is that all paint has to be stolen, or "racked" (from the display racks they keep spray paint in). Paint is usually locked up these days because we stole so much of it, and now in NYC its illegal to sell spray paint to anyone under 18 or 21 or something.

The usual technique was: everyone had a big baggy black M-65 army jacket. This jacket has a waist drawstring. Tie that up tight, zip up about 3/4 of the way, fill upper portion with cans of paint, 12 cans will fit pretty easy. There is also a drawstring at the bottom for the really ambitious. Some stores you could just fill a duffel bag.

Go to the grocery store and steal the caps off a bunch of cans of Easy-Off oven cleaner. These were the original "fat caps" that make the paint go much wider than the standard "skinny caps" that come in the can (keep those too, for outlines and details). Fat caps are the key to throwups, and essential even for many letter styles. Nowadays you can buy all sorts of fancy special graffiti fat caps; we did not have that shit.

Of course, you can't pay to get in the system. So you have a bunch of kids, B-Boys, longhairs, and punks, of mixed races (always a sign of trouble), dressed all in black (not at all common then), jumping the turnstiles with duffel bags of paint, at the last station on a train line (where they lay up trains overnight), so cops get called right away, and you have to move fast.

Walk off the end of the platform into the tunnel. Turn your black army jacket inside out, so the overspray goes on the inside so you don't get grabbed on the way home. Work gloves, same reason, and the system is very very dirty. Run down tunnel to the place where there is a stairway down to lower levels, go down to the giant lay-up. Get set up, paint lined up on the third rail wood cover, get bombing.

MTA workers ("work bums") come, chase them away, or hide depending on numbers. Cops come, hide under trains or in conductor booths (all trains have the same keys, all writers have them), or if there isn't time to hide, run like fuck down the tunnel to where it comes out of the ground, climb down, hide in someone's yard.

Go out the next day to see your shit run, and take pictures, and hang with other writers. Smoke as much weed as possible, and do a little "illy" (angel dust/PCP) and acid from time to time; drink a shitload of cheap beer. Have enemies; cross them out, toy them (write "TOY" over their name, a grave insult), and go over their shit.

A whole lost world, killed when Mayor Koch put attack dogs and barbed wire fences on the yards, stopped laying trains up in the places we bombed and putting them all in the yards overnight, and began "the buff"- special acid-washing train car washes that meant you would never see your shit running, because they would only run clean cars. And lots of arrests by the "Vandal Squad", though they never really got anyone major.
 
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Bushpig

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And lots of arrests by the "Vandal Squad", though they never really got anyone major.
They got me! I'm far from major though. I'm from Pennsylvania. Used to do stencils and stickers. On a day trip to NYC with a buddy. Never anywhere without a stack of Priority labels. Slapping around Manhattan. Get busted. They saw me slap two labels on light poles or back of signs or some shit.

I haven't really done anything since 2009 when I left PA (minus a 7 layer stencil portrait on canvas for a gift) but I miss it. Fuck, I used to Zen the fuck out while cutting stencils. That may have been my favorite part. I have a attack of old x-rays still. I need to get cutting again.

One of my only surviving slaps! Protected from elements for at least 10 years!
20200515_154251.jpg
 

Kenada

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I think with most of society it’s seen as vandalism, but I personally feel that graffiti is an awesome way to express you’re views. I love going through areas with lots of graffiti it gives the area a sense of culture and tells it’s own story. I’ve never tagged myself but I’d definitely be interested in trying my hand at graffitit. A good example that I think most people know of is banksy his stuff can be found a lot of places around the world. I’m not sure if youve seen the documentary about his 30 day trip to New York. However if you have you know that a lot of the stuff he threw up or displayed was taken down, tagged over or stolen, shortly after he put them up. I think graffiti got a bad wrap when it was first coming to when people more or less were trying to get there name or tag on as many spots as possible. If the world was more open minded they wouldn’t view graffiti as vandalism but instead see it as a way for the community to express what it stands for.
 

roamingsnake

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Oh man, I used to be super interested in graffiti. Tried my hand at sketching designs a couple of times just to get a feel for the style, but it never clicked with me; I mostly do portraits and surreal body horror, not so much with the lettering.

There was a point in time where I was watching a ton of videos documenting evolution of street art and the culture surrounding it in certain cities, a couple of documentaries about some bigger names, some stuff about stencils, etc.

Whenever I find a spot with graffiti, I always try to snap a picture. There's this one building across the tracks from this one Patco station in NJ that has stuff up from years ago, always love to see it when I'm going into Philly. Also a ton of graffiti at old foundations in the woods; you see a shit load of art in the Pine Barrens because there are so many defunct factories and brick buildings just out in the middle of nowhere, some with amazing detail. Always love finding new spots.
 

Gibbyotrl

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Ok, I love the art. But I have question... Didn't the paint cans make giggly noises in your coat when you moved...lol
I've been trying my han
20171103_180333.jpg
d at some mural type shit to make the old and forgotten look better. Here is a old water tower in our park I was learning on.
Just art, not graffiti. I'm too old to be running from the cops...lol
20171103_180333.jpg
20171103_180333.jpg
 

Older Than Dirt

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Got it. It is good fun, vandalizing, and committing art at the same time.

Most of the people that bombed trains in NYC in my day are either dead, or pretty famous artists. So there's that.

I mean, you're gonna end up on a slab in a morgue anyway; might as well take your shot in the meantime.
 

Solfinger

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Graf is about the rush... mostly while doing the thang. It’s a moving meditation. Very little concern about the end product, that’s just gravy. Wavy gravy if you practice enough. More often than not the buff will break your heart. Sometimes in less than 24 hrs, before it even gets flicked. That’s why the freight scene is so trendy. If you respect the numbers and markings, your shit will run longer and get seen.
 

Solfinger

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I would rather be humbled by another writer going over me, especially if it burns. Hell, even toy shit doesn’t bother me too much, at least someone is putting in work, and hopefully getting better. Making a public drab grey wall more colorful is always better than not.

The buff is the worst. It’s SO fast. I speculate it’s not municipal workers answering a complaint, but local hero doing their part to keep underneath a bridge boring beige.
 

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