Thursday, 17 May 2007

The BANKSY bandwagon

In recent months the press has been inundated with stories about BANKSY, the "graffiti"/"street artist". These include reports of his "art" selling for literally hundreds of thousands of pounds,and more ridiculously, to celebrity customers like Brad Pitt. BANKSY hysteria has swept the world and everyone and their grandmother seems to be jumping on the bandwagon. Even local councils have come under fire for removing his work. Unbelievable. Was his work not conducted illegaly on public and private property? Does that not make him guilty of criminal damage? Apparently being the new darling of the moronically whimsical art world exempts you from such laws. So, while BANKSY is canonised by the art community and pseudo-hip celebrity world, real graffiti writers (who generally have very little respect for BANKSY)continue to be arrested, fined, locked up and demonised. Bravo!
BANKSY's website.
BANKSY wikipedia entry.
Banksy painted over.

INFAMY documentary part 10

INFAMY documentary part 9

INFAMY documentary part 8

INFAMY documentary part 7

INFAMY documentary part 6

INFAMY documentary part 5

INFAMY documentary part 4

INFAMY the documentary part 3

INFAMY the documentary part 2

INFAMY the documentary part 1

I have a real treat for you today; arguably the best graffiti documentary since the legendary Style Wars. "Infamy" revolves around the individual stories of a group of writers from all over the USA, aswell as one Joe Connolly; a self appointed anti-graffiti guerrilla. An incredibly informative, entertaining and important work on the subject. Enjoy.

Saturday, 5 May 2007

Parisian Graff

Some pics from a recent trip to Paris:
FLASK and TRAN throw ups


Amsterdam Graff

One place where graffiti seems to be alive and kicking is Europe and Amsterdam is home to vibrant and well developed scene. Here are some pics from a recent trip of mine:



MALE (?)


Thursday, 15 March 2007

Monday, 12 March 2007

Myspace used to hunt down graffiti writers

Authorities in Los Angeles California are using the social networking site Myspace to track down writers. One writer was charged after admiting to offences when confronted with pictures he had published on the internet. This news piece (read here) also mentions a company called graffiti tracker inc (graffiti tracker) who offer local officials services in high-tech tracking, analysis and elimination of graffiti.

Thursday, 8 March 2007


It seems graffiti has well and truly become synonymous with vandalism. For years goverment officials and police have lumped graffiti in the same category as acts of wanton and violent destruction on public and private property. In the UK, it is considered an Anti Social Behaviour (ASB) and subsequently is associated with crimes like mugging, begging, drunken disorder and criminal damage. This has created an idea in the public mind that graffiti is dangerous. The Home Office claim that people feel unsafe in areas covered with graffiti, one official described it as "visual mugging". The irony here is that most areas that have a high concentration of graffiti, usually lack the funds to clean it up and are typically places where there is already a high level of crime. It is also important to note that it was born in areas of New York and Philadelphia that were already very delapidated and dangerous; its practitioners usually poor and frustrated youth. Surely graffiti was artistic expression carried out by kids who had no other means to do such things. During the eighties, Mayor Koch of New York stated that these kids should involve themselves in the arts available at school, yet during that time he consistently made cut-backs on art facilities in public schools. There is a vicious cycle emerging, the authorities clamp down, the writers resort to more drastic measures to continue producing their art. As trains are cleaned almost instantly, some have even begun smashing the windows of all the trains in a yard to make sure their painted train is forced to run. Are the authorities producing a more and more frustrated group who are beginning to engage in these acts of violent and destructive vandalism?

Wednesday, 28 February 2007

New pics from west London

Tags by FLASH and OZONE who recently died in a tragic accident in a Barking tube yard.



Inquiry into death of two writers

Two writers died this January, hit by a speeding tube train whilst evading security in Barking train depot. An inquiry has been launched into the deaths of the two known as WANTS and OZONE, BTP have denied any wrong doing. All over London fellow writers have been paying their respects with R.I.P tags on walls and trains around the city.
Here is the Guardian article published following the incident:
and news of the inquiry:

Arrests in London, UK

The past few weeks have seen a string of arrests in the Loughton and Ealing areas of Greater London. A new intitiative called "Operation BusTag" has lead to an alleged 571 arrests since April. Increasingly, arrests for vandalism have lead to the conviction of suspects for other offences, mostly minor, including possesion of cannabis. This only helps to feed the idea proposed by the BTP and Home Office that graffiti is somehow a "gateway" crime which will inevitably lead to more serious offenses such as drug trafficking.
Follow these links to read the full articles:
Ealing Times and

Tuesday, 27 February 2007

Forced removal

The city of London in Canada is undertaking a new scheme which is practised in Toronto and many cities in the U.S.A. whereby property owners are obliged to remove graffiti from their buildings or face fines. If it isn't removed in time it will be done by the council and the owners will have to pay the bill. Full article

Thursday, 22 February 2007

Some current graffiti from east London

EINE........................................ TISM

bombed wall............................. VIBE
BICE OKER.............................. bombed doorway
4 retired carriages sit atop a disused and crumbling railway bridge in Shoreditch. The trains are being gutted and turned into studio space by a group called village underground. To find out more visit: Village Underground
This wholecar was done by legendary London writer FUEL.


By 1987 Britain fully initiated its "war on graffiti" with the setting up of a "graffiti squad" which was closely modelled on a similar group in New York. It began as a small subdivision of the British Transport Police (BTP) made up of a handful of officers dedicated to stamping out graff. These days the graffiti squad is a highly trained group who study and analyse graffiti down to the minutest details in an attempt to recognise styles that band together different writers. They have amassed thousands upon thousands of pictures and have stored them on an extensive database. Their aim is to infiltrate the various active crews and have them brought before the courts where writers can be charged under the Criminal Damage Act 1971 (section 1). Penalties have characteristically become more and more severe and judges are frequently punishing to the full extent of the law.

For a full breakdown of the punishments that apply to those caught for graffiti offences (including the draconian maximum sentence of 10 years), visit;
Criminal damage

Follow this link to the BTP website to see exactly what their stance is. Some of the information they gave about the nature of graffiti writers is a little outlandish.


Tuesday, 20 February 2007

A brief history

The late sixties and early seventies saw the transformation of graffiti from humorous or political scrawlings on walls and public lavatories, to a worldwide subcultural phenomenon and, some would argue, an inventive new art form. The urban areas of Philadelphia and New York City gave birth to a group of individuals that would take their chosen names, or "tags", and attempt to cover the city in them. The first writers which are now popularly recognised as the originators of this practice, known as "bombing", are CORNBREAD and COOL EARL from Philadelphia, and TAKI 183 from Washington Heights in New York City. Of course, pinning down the definitive "first" writers would be almost impossible and there were in fact many writers active before these three such as JULIO 204 in New York, however, the prolificty of these writers, in particular TAKI 183, propelled graffiti into the public eye. In fact, TAKI was the subject of a New York Times article on July 21, 1971 titled "TAKI 183 spawns new pen pals". Following years in New York City were marked by an explosion of new writers that began mercilessly bombing the city's streets and subway system. Graffiti developed rapidly from simple tags, to larger letters that soon incorporated various colour schemes, highly stylised letter shapes, back grounds and effects like 3D shading and complicated "fill ins" (the patterns painted inside the actual letters). As the years passed it changed from being simply a way to get your name seen around the city, into an artistic and regulated form of expression. The next 10 to 15 years saw a the emergence of an extremely talented and innovative, as well as prolific, group of writers that included the likes of; BLADE, SEEN, IZ THE WIZ, DONDI, LEE, LADY PINK, FUTURA 2000 and many, many more.




Naturally not everyone considered this new wave of activity a pleasant art form, in fact many became incredibly frustrated and even disgusted by the sight of trains covered top to bottom in brightly coloured letters. Of course, as the number of writers went up, the amount of available painting space went down and many true and dedicated writers had to compete with inexperienced and untalented fly-by-nighters who were desperate to get in on the act, effectively ruining many train lines with childish scribblings and crossing-outs of better "pieces". The authorities came under pressure to curb what the majority of the public saw as nuisance, despite the rather whimsical interest of the New York art scene.

In the early eighties, Mayor Koch declared a "war on graffiti" and immediately set about an aggressive clamp down on the city's flowering subculture. He set up what came to be known as the "buff", a process of washing the trains with a special chemical spray which ironically didn't always eradicate the paint sometimes merely fading it and leaving the carriages looking more ragged and unpleasant than before. Regardless, hundreds if not thousands of pieces were "buffed" and the train yards which had previously been easy to access, became veritable fortresses protected by barbed wire, round the clock security and snarling guard dogs. This era marked the beginning of the end and is captured poignantly in Henry Chalfant's 1982 documentary, Style Wars.

Despite retaliation from the writers themselves as well as many ingenious tactics they employed to continue accessing the train yards, painted carriages declined steadily and come 1988, they virtually stopped running all together. On the surface it seemed that Mayor Koch had won his war, however, it wasn't enough to stop the art form spreading explosively all over the globe. The eighties saw graffiti infect almost every corner of the urbanised world, including Great Britain which in recent years has mounted its very own "war on graffiti".