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Free Subway Rides Courtesy of OWS

Photo courtesy NY Daily News

No free rides? Occupy Wall Street disagrees. Members of the movement claimed responsibility for chaining open the emergency exits at 20 subway stations this morning.

Members also posted the service advisory posters pictured above; one  encouraging straphangers to walk in without swiping and one advertising the general strike planned for May 1st.

Check out for more on the fare strike!

Introducing Graff Cal NYC

Writing this blog has turned me into an avid follower of graffiti and street art culture here in NYC. I enjoy checking out new work and meeting artists, so I try and make it to as many exhibitions and other events as I can. It’s not as easy as it sounds, though. As hard as I try to find out about them, I find myself missing things only because I never heard about them. There is no unified source of info about street art and graffiti events on the web. This is why I decided to create Graff Cal.

Graff Cal is a super simple website with a calendar of graffiti and street art-related event listings. It’s mission is to compile all of these into one place and we’ve teamed up with Fresh Paint NYC to make it happen.

The site is still a work in progress, so look for big updates soon. See you at an opening!

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Underbelly Project Gets a Book

If  you are not yet familiar with the underground subway art “Underbelly Project,” you should check out this New York Times article.

If you are familiar with the project (and you are a big fan like myself) you will be excited to hear that the organizers, Workhorse and PAC, are putting together a book.

Since the existence of the project had been announced publicly in the Times article, the NYPD has arrested people who tried to find the entrance to the abandoned station and those who made it inside have reported that the work had been defaced. Luckily, the art was well-documented before the project was publicized and the organizers have an extensive collection of photos and videos.

Over 100 street artists from around the world were involved; several of them Subway Art Blog veterans, including: Posterchild, Jason Eppink and CASH4.

We Own the Night: The Art of the Underbelly Project is expected to be 240 pages and is set for release on February 7th, 2012.

Pre-orders are available now on

NYPD Catches Moustache Man in Action

I regret to report that the gentleman behind the moustaches was arrested, the NYPD announced Friday evening.

Moustache Man’s iconic cursive has been appearing in more and more stations and has gotten an increasing amount of media attention recently. Unfortunately it also got the attention of the NYPD’s vandal taskforce aka Vandal Squad who has been tracking his work over the past two months.

Our friend, who was only trying to make New Yorkers smile, faces charges of Felony Criminal Mischief, Misdemeanor Criminal Mischief, Making Graffiti and Possession of Graffiti Instrument.

The real crime here is that the police department wastes so much time and money tracking down street artists instead of concentrating on real criminals.


Subway Art Blog—Refreshed!

There’s something different around here! I pushed out a site design update today with a bunch of new graphics and icons.

The first thing you may notice is the new header. From now on we will be using this space to feature the work of subway artists. I asked one of my favorites, Amitai Plasse, to design the first of these new headers. Above is the original drawing straight from his Moleskine notebook.

You can expect to find new artwork featured every few months. Check out Ami’s website for many more awesome subway drawings!

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VH McKenzie’s Battle Against The MTA Goliath

This is the story of VH McKenzie, who, like many others, saw a city MetroCard as an intriguing art instrument, and then fought for the right to use it.

The East Village artist has been creating watercolor or oil paintings on city subway cards and selling them on Etsy alongside other original works, creating what she calls “a world where the eccentric downtown East Village of NYC gently rubs shoulders with the ragamuffin heart of the Caribbean.”

VH Mckenzie's MetroCard art.

However, her subway card artwork raised the ire of the MTA, who sent McKenzie a letter urging her to stop selling them until she gets a license from the agency to do so:

“While we at the MTA are flattered that you recognize the value of our brand to consumers, please understand the MTA has a well-established product licensing program which markets authorized versions of such products. While we have no record of your firm requesting or being granted such authorization, we are prepared to initiate discussions with you about acquiring a license from us.”

“That ain’t gonna happen,” McKenzie wrote on her Tumblr, referencing the recent Single Fare 2 show as evidence that the MetroCard art scene is alive and well: “A full-scale gallery show is permitted, at top-notch prices of $100 per card, but my handful of offerings on Etsy, and at a lower price, are not?

Mark Heavey, the MTA’s chief of marketing and advertising, explained the issue last week to the Village Voice‘s Runnin’ Scared blog: “Whenever we find someone profiting from use of our trademarks, we must strictly enforce and protect our trademark rights. As a public entity, this is our obligation. And the issue is not the size of the infringer (individual or corporation), but the principle.”

The story seems headed for a happy ending, we’re glad to report: after her story was picked up by news outlets across New York, McKenzie wrote a followup post on Monday stating that she had exchanged emails with Heavey. With some changes to her Etsy shop, he claimed, “you may continue to do what you are doing.” (That is, once she creates some new works of subway card art to sell – she’s currently all sold out.)

“I wish you continued success with your ‘fare card art’ project,” Heavey told McKenzie; “the media does love a good David vs. Goliath story.”
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Subway Typography Book to be Republished

Subway enthusiasts and typography junkies have a treat in store! MIT Press is republishing a book called Helvetica and the New York City Subway: The True (Maybe) Story. Previously only available in a limited edition of 500, the book is a study of the subway’s signage system written by historian and graphic designer Paul Shaw. Shaw’s composition spans the entire history of the subway–from the terra-cotta of the original subway lines, to the the hodgepodge of signage left by the three separate subway companies, through to the work of pioneering design firm Unimark International and finally the uniform Helvetica signage we have today.

Helvetica and the New York City Subway: The True (Maybe) Story is set for release in March. Check back here for a full review next month!

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Subway Art Blog – Second Blogiversary

The Subway Art Blog turns 2 today! In commemoration of this momentous occasion, above is the first image posted here on that fateful day, many moons ago. It has been a wild ride with hundreds of posts, tweets, photos, podcasts, videos and we are just as lesbianic as ever!

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