The world of graffiti artists is based on the premise – “you suck until you don’t”. Getting into the inner circle of artists with style isn’t easy. There is no room for wussus. Develop your style, know that there will always be someone better than you, and get a cool name, or your message is messed up before you start.
There are times when a street artist can’t see beyond his own paint can. Get a grip, you aren’t going to be calling a limousine rental anytime soon to usher you around town. It takes bravado to stand out, but it also needs to be reigned in with a little humility.
Why? Because you are acknowledging people whose language is generally ignored. When a graffiti artist puts him or herself on a wall, fence, sidewalk, or boxcar, it’s to be heard from the realm of the silent. If you break through that barrier, you deserve every moment of effort and passion you put out there. However, the local authorities might see it differently.
It’s not unusual to hear a graffiti artist tell about his/her stint in jail. Too often as a matter of fact, has the expressive street artists bent the law to speak his truth. Yet within the artists’ community a stint in jail is like a badge of honor – a rite of passage.
Utah and Ether
Famous for their color bump and free flow writing, these two began stamping in the early 2000s. They left their signature on subways throughout the NYC system and then took off for other corners of the world to do the same. They traveled Europe and gained some notoriety and earned the moniker of the Bonnie and Clyde of the graffiti world. When they returned to the US in 2009, they were immediately taken into custody and started serving sentences for vandalism.
One of my personal favorites – maybe because he was the epitome of the rebel within. Tragically Nekst passed away in 2012 while doing what he loved. His graffiti writing has been highlighted in the documentary film Reasonable People where light is shed on, and insights given to his funky flow.
His throw up has it all. He has the writing, the flow, the funky color, the message all going in his art. He’s already given so much, but still has some good years ahead of him to get his great hand style and cartoonish illustrations on thousands of more walls. Sender’s work is a stand-out, unique expression of the language that speaks so loudly through his vision. He’s not sloppy and doesn’t appear to give a rats’ butt what other graffiti writers are doing – he’s just doing his own thing.
Known as an inter-railer, this guy’s reputation outstrips most. He has been known to leave his mark on subways all over the world. His work can be seen to his great delight, but nonetheless the dismay of local security in the undergrounds of London and Amsterdam.
Who is your favorite graffiti writer? Is he or she well known or someone that hasn’t left the confines of your city (yet)? Leave a comment below and let me know – I’m always looking for good talent.