September 14th, 2009
This is a followup to our August 22nd, 2009, Blog, “(Email) conversation with a graffiti artist –”REAL graffiti” vs permission walls”
I ended that Blog with:
Then I asked him about the Toronto graffiti “TOFU tagger” and I can’t wait for his response…
Well today “A graffiti artist” responded.
Rather than bury his writing as an update or a comment, I thought I’d give his reply the prominence it deserves. That is —a Blog in its own right.
I believe what “A graffiti artist” has to say is both important and relevant —especially in light of me conducting a graffiti survey in downtown Hamilton only yesterday. Also his comments regarding graffiti’s relationship to hip-hop are timely as well
“A graffiti artist” clearly disagrees with me about Toronto’s “TOFU tagger”. Readers will recall that I don’t feel that the tag “TOFU” has anything to do with soybean but rather is an acronym for “Toronto F*** You”. T.O.F.U. (Only the “TOFU tagger” knows for sure)
So this is a cut-and-paste from an email I received today. The only difference between what follows and his original Flickr email is the cleaning up of a few typos.
From: A graffiti artist (note: not his real alias)
Subject: Re: Something else.
It’s been a while, I finally got some free time to send you a couple replies.
I think its great that you are studying graffiti and exposing it to others who might not get the chance themselves to see it first hand. One thing I can say is that yes you are definitely studying another culture, I would say a sub-culture. People don’t really understand what graffiti is and why people do it.
Everyone does graffiti for their own personal reasons, some do it for fame, some do it because they enjoy destroying things and some people do it for the love of the art. Some even do it as a drug to get high off the adrenalin. Climbing a highway sign in the middle of the night can definitely get your adrenalin going but it’s not something you can count on, you will always be trying to top the high you had last time and eventually it will backfire. The real reason behind why graffiti writers paint walls is because they are looking for a voice. They are looking to make some kind of impact in society with what little power they have.
It started out as one of the 4 elements of hip-hop. When I say hip-hop I mean the hip-hop culture started in the late 70’s not the rap music you hear on MTV. That’s commercialized rap made to make money. The 4 elements of hip-hop were break-dancing, emceeing, DJing and graffiti. A lot of it is still alive today but not in the mainstream, real hip-hop music is underground and you would never hear it on the radio or tv.
This was their way of expressing themselves and they created an entire subculture that still lives today worldwide. Graffiti today has a lot less meaning, and most people do it to get their name up and get respect in the community. Just like that tofu guy you pointed out to me. People want to give it more meaning than it really has, tofu is just another graffiti writer, who chose a clever name that people would question. He writes in plain lettering so the average person can read it but it has no special meaning to it, he’s just putting his name up for respect and recognition. The regular citizens think there is something behind this and want to make it into something it’s not for their own enjoyment. It makes the story more interesting.
Anyways, I need to get going, I’ll try and send you something more meaningful later, but right now all I can say is keep up the great work, I really like the photography and artwork as well!
Without civil disobedience and graffiti in our streets, the world would be a very lifeless boring place to live.
Here’s something for your research… one of the most legendary pieces of graffiti was recently removed by L.A. authorities. I’ll send you some interesting links, in some of the pictures you can guage how large this pieces is, if you look closely at the letter “B” you can see the artists sitting down. A city that can’t afford to pay its teachers, but they spent millions of dollars removing artwork from a sewer drainage that no one can even see! Unbelievable!
Take care for now.,
Here is a photo of the LA River graffiti that “A graffiti artist” was referring to. Now it’s all one massive white patch.
Description and image courtesy of graffiti.org
“Saber did this amazing piece on the LA River. It took him a year and a half to complete. It was done with rollers, and you can see it from the air. It is one of the two largest illegal roller pieces ever done (that we know of) “.
You know people, I can’t begin to tell you how much more clearly I see the world once I decided to dig out my own news and let mainstream Traditional Media fall by the wayside. I haven’t turned on the television in weeks (give me the REAL of YouTube). As for newspapers, gah!
I know what “A graffiti artist” means by the adrenalin…
I find that I have an addiction to “I wonder if”… Researching sea turtles. Researching humans. Same three words. “I wonder if”…
“I wonder if”…
The (I wonder if this is real…) Mississauga Muse