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Graffiti in Its Own Words


All grown up: From left, TRACY 168, 2001; CASE 2, 2006; and MICO, 2006.  

Graffiti Forever

They declared victory, but it was a farce. The graffiti moved off the subways and went aboveground. Now it’s on rooftops and churches all over the city, and it has become a private-property issue. There is etching and tagging with acid, and now it is more of a problem.

Hugo Martinez
Graffiti is much more prevalent than it was in the early seventies. It’s on every building in the city. It’s much more than 11,000 train cars! Nowadays graffiti is about appropriation. Slamming that shit on there quick so that you don’t get busted. It is not about making some landlord’s property prettier.

I think what people are doing today is really destructive. I feel conflicted about even having that opinion. I don’t see any artistic value in etched windows. This glass costs thousands of dollars. I’m going to be 40 years old, and I’m a property owner. I tried to have some semblance of couth with what I did. Today, they go and do throw-ups on rocks.

Ironically enough, my full-time job today is in the New York City court system. And we get graffiti cases all the time.

I used to think the acid etching wasn’t graffiti, but it’s the only form of vandalism available today. It’s a smart way to get up on trains because it stays there. They’re not gonna replace the whole window.

COCO 144
When I was out there, it was a misdemeanor; now it’s a felony. It takes a lot of balls to be a writer today.

I think these guys are doing what they are supposed to be doing. If you want to be a true writer, a true rebel, you have to make do with what you have.

The Museum of Modern Art showed something of mine. The Brooklyn Museum has pieces in their collection. The Museum of the City of New York has pieces in their collection. The museums are the last stop on the subway line.

In 2003, I made the cover of Sotheby’s auction catalogue.

COCO 144
Sounds kind of crazy: I’m almost 50 years old, and I’m still painting, and I still live for it.

C.A.T. 87
My cell phone has a graffiti screensaver!

Graffiti is much better off today than it was ten years ago. Because of the Internet, it has become so global.

Richard Goldstein
It has now moved onto freight trains that go all across the country. The idea is that your name travels.

It has expanded, gone across the world, and come back in many different forms. Is it as good today? Can’t answer that. The objective has changed.

Jeff Chang
What now exists is a massive global art movement that some people call “neo-graffiti” or “post-graffiti.” There are literally hundreds of galleries around the world that support so-called street art, and a rapidly growing market of buyers.

This movement is about movement. It is about reinventing itself. And it’s about the streets.

I own a few businesses, and when people bomb my windows, I’m the guy that goes out there with the bucket and paints over it. But I do it with that coy grin on my face, like, “Shit! Payback!”


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