First, I’d like to say that I don’t like the term post-graffiti, or post-graffiti age. I think that it is important at a time when there are many influences from other art forms: painting, sculpture, photo, design, etc, as well as the influence of media on graffiti, and vice-versa, in a cyclical fashion so that media and advertising informs graffiti, graffiti informs these things, they are adopted into media outlets (television, print campaigns, etc) and in turn reshape graffiti as a response to them, and so on and so on…it’s important to call graffiti what it is: graffiti.
If it’s illegal and it’s main focus is the letterform(s), it’s graffiti. Calling it post-graffiti takes away from the potency that graffiti has as an illegal art form. We shouldn’t feel the need to re-describe what we do in light of aesthetic changes. What is important is the urgency and power that graffiti has, regardless of the image quality. I think that is the real power of graffiti and what distinguishes it from other art forms; this, and that it is letter-based.
I think the progression of graffiti is interesting to watch. The speed at which ideas are built upon is incredible. Style choices / style homages are the normal; regionalism is less prevalent. That’s exciting to see, and also begs the question: Where do style and references come from, and is it important to ‘cite’ primary sources? To what extent does the ‘citing’ of secondary, tertiary, quaternary sources actually lead to development of new styles? Are these in fact new styles, or a sort of bastard style hybrid in which the style lineage(s) are near impossible to sight directly? Perhaps this is what is referred to as ‘post-graffiti’. Perhaps this a question to be sorted out by the graffiti historians-to-be! Half kidding, I think the recognition of graffiti as a legitimate art form will in fact lead to it’s inclusion within modern art history rhetoric.
As to my own work: it’s an exciting time to be a graffiti artist…I think it always has been though! What we do is dope, it’s ours, it’s learned on the train tracks, in the train yards and on the streets of our cities. It’s ours for the keeping! There are so many dope and inspiring writers out there. In fact, I think with the speed and progression of graffiti in this day and age, there has been a marked interest and return to “simpler”, more traditional letter forms and styles. New techniques get applied to old formats: behold, the age of the visual remix! In my own eyes, I find myself drawn more and more toward “older”, more traditional styles as I continue to write. I think the current aesthetic of graffiti embodies both a “no-holds-barred” approach with respect to color/size/inclusion of non-graffiti references, as well as a push to keep things simple: a shape-based approach to letter-making. These two things can be opposing and complementary at times, and it’s interesting to see these concepts in others work, and to feel the push and pull of each in my own. In the end, I gravitate towards the “reserved/less-is-more/dont-lay-all-your-cards-out-on-the-table” side of things.
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Freedom has been white washed from the pages of NYC history.