I worked with a team of “Fly Movement” (make a link) members including Terence Nance, Kaba Fattah and Stephanie Colley to create a dynamic snippet of graffiti culture and the tagging scene in New York City.
The artists included:
Siloette—originally from Phoenix, Arizona—is one of the front runner female graf writers of her generation. Her style is extremely ornate and pops out at you with funky colors and bold shapes and outlines. Females have always had a minority position within the boisterous male dominated culture of hip hop but over the years there have been many women who have demonstrated utmost talent immediately truncating any misogynistic belief or practices in the industry of urban culture.
SCIEN—hailing from Lille , France did his first graf pieces in the late 80’s. at that time there was a paucity of references to graffiti on the streets of Europe thus making him a pioneer of his craft. He and his wife formed a crew entitled the 123Klan Graffiti crew back in 92’ where they branched into graphic design and illustration in the entertainment industry and for many fashion brands.
SMART—Florence, Italy– attended the Florence Art Institute in the late 90’s and later worked as a designer and consultant in the fashion and advertising industries. After founding his own street wear company and making strong connections with other artists in the US he began to focus more on his craft as a graf artist influenced by a keen eye for style.
SKORE–has contributed immensely to the UK’s graffiti tradition from the mid 80’s to the present. He entered the game through his love for break dancing and what was the b-boy culture in the US. Through traveling with other break dancers and being mentored by older writers Skore was encouraged to develop his own style. Throughout the 80’s he became one of the pioneering train writers and has influenced many up and coming artists to this day. Currently he works in the design industry and is still a regular painter because Graffiti lies in his spirit and heart as one of the most prolific writers of his time.
CAN2—Mainz, Germany discovered his love for drawing and visual art at the tender age of seven. His first piece was recognized in 83’ a few years later he got his first job doing a school mural project. In 92’ Can 2 traveled to Hamburg to study illustration at the Hamburg School of Technical Art where he birthed his own unique style and graffiti character. He is currently working for his personal agency started in 02’ where he works on illustration, graphic and web design.
ATOM:hails from Witten Germany where he first became interested in Graffiti in 86’. He formed his own crew called “The Real Deal” in 92’ and he traveled all across Europe freelancing and perfecting his art form as a writer. At the time he also got into freelancing for a merchandising company designing album covers. He has earned his on custom color from his hard work entitled “ Atom Napalm Orange”.
RIME:East Coast US. Rime began whetting his palette when he met another writer in school from Brooklyn. After learning several tag styles he began to hone in on the craft and forge a style and name for himself. He took to the art of tagging and “bombing” around town to establish his name. Rime has painted over 17 US cities, five European and two Asian countries. Rime is known for his ecstatic style with rounded bubble letters and the contradiction of angular edges. His confidence and artistic exuberance place him second to none in the world of graffiti writers.
Many contribute the success of the event and the apparel line to the commercialization of an art form once valued and guarded. What do you think?
From my interviews and experience making the film I was able to understand that a lot of the true graffiti culture and writers have been buried and hidden behind walls because of the negative and illegal implications of Graffiti writing especially here in NYC.
Speaking with some of the local artists and pioneer writers allowed me to understand the true passion behind graffiti and its presence throughout the world. I was given a context from which such a culture has emerged not marred by negativity and illegal sentiments. Graffiti is an art form that once bonded communities and enabled positive self expression through colorful art.
Many mentor programs have been founded upon the fundamental essence and importance of graffiti as an urban art form. Graffiti is not something that is bad or that promotes violence—it is the context and the space in which it is created that promotes the type of audience and crowd for the art.
Rather than policing the art authorities should focus more on building initiatives that promote self expression but have regulated spaces in which to do so. Its similar to the parking crisis in NYC if you park in a red zone you get a ticket but nonetheless the State has acknowledged that everyone with a car needs to park. It should be the same situation with cultural art that has been adopted and is still perpetuated and celebrated by many generations of people.
This is an extremely important debate to have at this time with the onslaught exploitation and codification of “urban culture” and the implications it has as well as the capital it brings to uber companies such as Adidas. I want to hear your voice… graf my comment page!
MAKE IT NICE: Directed by TALIBAH NEWMAN