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New York City’s War on Graffiti

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/adam-mansbach/nyc-graffiti_b_2527074.html by Adam Mansbach Thirty years ago — at the height of New York City’s “War on Graffiti,” and in an act of faith utterly incommensurate with the city’s public demonization of graffiti writers — a group of teenagers named SHY 147, DAZE, MIN and DURO met with MTA official Richard Ravitch, and proposed a deal. Give the writers of New York City one train line to adorn with their vibrant aerosol murals, and they would leave the rest alone. Let them paint for six months, then let the public vote on the merits of their contribution. Ravitch suggested that if the writers want to contribute, he would give them all brooms, and hostilities resumed. The subway’s exteriors have been art-free since 1989, but the war has never really ended. New York City remains rigidly opposed to the very aesthetic of graffiti — even if the art in question is perfectly legal. Today, advertisers have learned to faithfully, if flavorlessly, appropriate graffiti’s ethos of logo repetition, as anyone who has ridden the train lately can confirm. In the city that incubated the most important popular art movement of the 20th century, the message is clear: public space can be yours, if you pay for it. Unless what you put there reminds them of graffiti, that is. I learned this last week, when I tried to buy space to advertise my new novel. The silver walls where “burners” used to blaze are now for rent; anyone willing to pay fifty thousand dollars to a company called CBS Outdoor can buy advertising “stripes” for a month. For considerably more, one can “wrap” an entire train in product messaging. “The issue,” CBS Outdoor wrote in an email, explaining why my proposal had been rejected, “is the style of writing. The MTA wants nothing that looks like graffiti.” Admittedly, my book title is rendered in colorful, flowing letters, by the Brooklyn artist Blake Lethem. Admittedly, this would not have been the first time Mr. Lethem’s work had graced a train. But what exactly is the rubric by which the MTA judges a letter’s graffiti-ness? At what stylistic tipping point does a word becomes impermissible to the same entity that has approved liquor adverts depicting naked women in dog collars, and bus placards featuring rhetoric widely condemned as hate speech against Palestinians? And if the NYPD defines graffiti as “etching, painting, covering or otherwise...

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2012 T-Shirt Design Entries

Here are the 2012 T-Shirt Design Entries, please vote your...

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T-Shirt Design Contest

T-Shirt Design Contest

New York Graffiti T-Shirt Design Contest – Starting on Nov 1, 2012 We are looking for graffiti artists around the globe that will provide us with their style piece with the words “New York Graffiti” or “New York Graff” or just “New York” either on paper [blackbook style] – OR – as vector art as EPS file then upload your design & release form documents to New York Graffiti using the form below (for paper drawings scan it in high resolution format at 300dpi) (and for standard vector EPS files just upload it using form below) We are using a digital printing process on the T-Shirts so use as many colors, gradients and transparency’s as you like. Please sign our release statement and just upload it using form below. Winners will be selected by users through an online voting system, and NewYorkGraffiti.com judge panel will make the final decision based on lettering style, colors and creativity. Winners will be announced 1 week after the closing of the polls (20 designs submissions minimum needed to finalize contest, will run until 20 entries have been submitted) , users may submit up to 3 designs per contest. Winner’s fees will be sent via PayPal (so if you dont have an account, sign up for one before submitting your designs). Use this opportunity to make some cash with your talent. ALL ENTRES MUST SUBMIT AN ARTIST RELEASE FORM WITH THEIR ENTRY TO BE ELIBLE FOR THE PRIZES. 1st Place Winner – $300 USD 2nd Place Winner – $125 USD 3rd Palce Winner – $75 USD DESIGN SAMPLE BELOW Upload your design & release form documents to New York Graffiti using the form below. To select multiple files please use any browser but IE. TitlePost content or file description Description (optional) Upload Your Files Your Media Files Visit the NYGraffiti TShirt Shop for Graffiti Shirts &...

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Remembering…IZ the Wiz

Remembering…IZ the Wiz

Michael Martin, Subway Graffiti Artist Iz the Wiz, Is Dead at 50 “This is it…..This is it…” By WILLIAM GRIMES Published: June 29, 2009 by the New York Times In the 1970s and ’80s, chances were good that anyone traveling the New York subways rode at least once in a car emblazoned with “Iz the Wiz.” Cryptic but euphonious, often abbreviated to the ultraminimal IZ, the signature could be seen all over the subway system: fat capital letters spray-painted on a door, below a window, across an entire car or even along the full length of a train. Iz the Wiz was a legend among graffiti artists, by almost all accounts “the longest-reigning all-city king in N.Y.C. history,” as the graffiti Web site at 149st.com puts it. In other words, Iz put his name, or tag, on subway cars running on every line in the system more times than any other artist. Michael Martin — Iz the Wiz — died on June 17 in Spring Hill, Fla., where he had moved a few years ago. He was 50. The cause was a heart attack, said Ed Walker, who is working on a biography and documentary of Iz the Wiz. “Look at any movie shot on location in New York from the late 1970s to the early 1980s, and you will very likely see an Iz tag,” Mr. Walker said. “He told me once that in 1982 he went out every night and did at least a hundred throw-ups” — letters filled in quickly with a thin layer of color. “People can’t fathom it.”  Michael Martin, known as Iz the Wiz, was a prolific embellisher of New York subway cars, including this one painted in 1982. Not everyone was appreciative. His career put him on the wrong side of the law — he was issued summonses on several occasions — and of New Yorkers who regarded graffiti as vandalism, not art. But he was a hero to generations of taggers. Mr. Martin started out spraying graffiti on walls and buildings when he was 14, using the tags Scat or FCN, for French Canadian National, although he was not Canadian. He soon graduated to subway cars, specializing in the A line, the longest in the New York subway system. He painted his first cars with the tag Ike — his nickname, Mike, minus the first letter. In 1975, in the 68th...

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Remembering…Stay High 149

Remembering…Stay High 149

Wayne Roberts, ‘Stay High 149’ in Graffiti Circles, Is Dead at 61 By DAVID GONZALEZ Published: June 12, 2012 by the New York Times Wayne Roberts was a pioneering 1970s graffiti writer known as “Stay High 149” who borrowed the haloed stick figure from the title sequence of the 1960s television series “The Saint,” put a joint in its mouth and turned it around. His “Smoker” tag, or signature, turned the heads of legions of imitators and admirers, including the anonymous teenagers who slipped into train yards at night to paint whole cars, as well as Norman Mailer, who featured him in his book “The Faith of Graffiti.” Mr. Roberts, who disappeared from the scene for some 25 years until he was rediscovered by a new generation of fans and artists in 2000, died on Monday at Calvary Hospital in the Bronx. He was 61. The cause was complications of liver disease, his sister Pauline Noble said. “He was incredibly influential for generations,” said Eric Felisbret, founder of the graffiti archive @149st and author of “Graffiti New York.” “He set the pace for how to do an elegant tag and set yourself apart from other people. It was like corporate branding.” Mr. Roberts was born in Emporia, Va., on Oct. 20, 1950. He never knew his father — not even his name — and moved to Harlem as a child with his mother and his younger brother, Eddie. The family moved to the Bronx in 1966. He recounted on his Web site that by his late teens he was working as a messenger on Wall Street and smoking about an ounce of marijuana a week, earning the Stay High nickname. In his subway travels he noticed other tags — TAKI 183, JOE 182 and PRAY — and followed suit with his own creation, according to his site. He said he could hit as many as 100 trains a day and twice that at night, when he sometimes did larger pieces. “In 1972, Wayne was 22, and he was taking the train to deliver all over the city,” said Chris Pape, a younger graffiti writer and co-author, with Sky Farrell, of Mr. Roberts’s biography, titled “Stay High 149,” published by Gingko Press. “He rode empty trains all day with markers in his pocket, and he wrote everywhere.” Mr. Pape said the Smoker figure was a departure from the tags of...

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