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New Items in the Subway Art Shop

SubCulture 2: Etches and Scratches

The second zine by Subway Art Blog focusing on super-permanent etch and scratch tags in the subway.

NOXER: No Love

“No Love” is the first zine by notorious graffiti writer NOXER DOD. With over 20 years of writing behind him, NOXER’s debut zine is packed with 20 pages of illustrations. Each copy comes with a bunch of inserts like: a photo print of a NOXER truck, a Noxington dollar bill, and assorted stickers.

DRAG sticker pack

A surprise pack of handmade stickers by DRAG O2D and friends.

Subway Art Blog’s 4th Birthday Celebration

Believe it or not, Subway Art Blog turns 4 this month. To celebrate, we are having a party in conjunction with Goodbye Hello, a photography exhibition by Mike Ion and release of Carnage zine #3. I will also be releasing two zines: my own SubCulture #2 and NOXER DOD’s first zine, No Love.

I will be giving away limited edition posters to the first 25 people that stop by the event and mention Subway Art Blog, so come visit, have a beer, buy some awesome zines and check out some great photography!

Graff Cal has all the details.

NOXER DOD on the Subway

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Black Book: NOXER x DAM GIRL

I originally met NOXER and DAM GIRL through another member of the NYC graff crew DOD (Department of Defense). The crew’s refined style comes from decades of experience in the game. NOXER alone has been writing graffiti for a total of 23 years. He is probably most well known for his appearance in the bombing documentary, State Your Name.

More DOD after the jump. more »

From the Ashes

 

These photos are getting old now, but so worth mentioning. In February I spotted this unique tag at Delancey Street. ATAK had carved his name into the countless layers of paint on this I-beam. By doing this, he created graffiti out of layers and layers of covered up graffiti. Pretty neat.

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Response to The New York Times: Cities Report Surge in Graffiti

The New York Times recently published an article about an upsurge in graffiti in cities across the country. I have kept a close eye on the graffiti of the J train for the past few years and I agree that the amount of graffiti in my area has increased, but I can’t disagree more with them about the cause of this increase.

The officials interviewed in the piece come to the conclusion that the cause for the upsurge is “a tough economy.” As someone who has had a window into the secret world of graffiti for a good while, I feel I am coming from a strong position to be making these observations. Contrary to the beliefs of the interviewees, I believe that it has little to do with the economy and everything to do with the internet and the wider acceptance of graffiti as an art form.

Is this graffiti's place in art history?

Graffiti exploded in New York in the early 1970s. Kids from every race and economic background were writing their names on walls and subway cars across the entire city. The vast majority of the early graffiti writers ranged in age from about twelve to eighteen; that would put them in their mid 50s today. Like Rock & Roll before it, graffiti has become more widely accepted by society because the generation that grew up with it is now adult. Even though not all of them are still bombing, their kids are growing up in households that are more accepting of this phenomenon.

Even art institutions are starting accept graffiti onto their walls. The recent “Art in the Streets” exhibition at MOCA is the first of its kind—a major museum survey of graffiti and street art. This is a huge jump towards accepting graffiti into the history books as a modern art movement and yet another reason graffiti is on the rise.

Another contributing factor to this upsurge is the Internet. The widening availability and affordability of digital cameras hasn’t hurt either. Don’t get me wrong: graffiti has been fairly well-documented since the early days, but never has it been so public or available. When I first started paying attention to graffiti, I was barely able to understand any of it and very few names stuck with me. This was the case only until I started browsing through Luna Park’s flickr photostream and eventually posting my own photos for the community to educate me on. With the growing popularity of photography sites like flickr, an extremely transient art form has suddenly become more permanent. Graffiti pieces can now live on long after they get buffed or dissed or weathered.

Take subway artist Jilly Ballistic for example. She has said her stickers could last as little as a couple hours and as much as a few days if she is lucky. What’s the point? Ballistic posts all her work to flickr where it can live long after it gets torn down by the MTA. Jilly is a new breed of artist that relies on the internet to get her work out there.

The same applies for graffiti writers as well. While many of them do not post photos to flickr themselves, they do pay attention to the site to look at photos of their work posted by other users. This gives writers new incentives that didn’t exist a short time ago.

I am convinced that graffiti’s association with economic downturn can be added to the long list of stereotypes about this art form. There is more at work here than just high unemployment and slashed maintenance budgets. If The Times widened its scope, this article might have been very different. it would be plain to see that graffiti is on the rise because Graffiti is on the rise.

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To demonstrate how much graffiti has popped up over the past several months, lets look at this one wall that is viewable from the J train:

The first time I flicked the wall in December 2010, SHIFT and EGGYOLK had throw-ups on it.

 

By the end of December, I was surprised when OVERUNDER and CASH4 roller pieces appeared on the top of the wall.

 

A couple months later, VIL and BAK had dissed the SHIFT piece—these guys have serious beef.

 

The wall had stayed the same until June of this year when BOWS and RAST painted this huge, colorful mural.

 

Most recently, SYKE has covered up RAST. It’s unclear if this was due to beef between the writers. My guess is no, because SYKE got a shout on the top left of the mural.

All photos by Jowy, through the windows of the JMZ.