The History of American Graffiti

Before people start rolling their eyes about yet another graffti book, I have to say that this one looks pretty good. Not only did the infamous Roger Gastman (who is a Washington DC legend in my book; I have to rep that), but it really does attempt to trace the distinctiveness of the evolution of American graff in the past 40 years.

The book contains interviews with over 500 artists, and over 1000 photographs (seriously, this thing could break an Ikea shelf I bet) and of course, the one and only TAKI 183 writes the book’s foreword.

The book will be released in the beginning of April, but can be pre-ordered on Amazon

Taki 183 canvas sells for 50,000 €

The Taki 183 canvas that I mentioned a few weeks ago sold this week at auction for 50,000 €, which was the high estimate. Go buy a kickass José Parlá or a doze beautiful Ryan McGinley photos or a Banksy or anything else with that money! I know that tastes differ, but for less than 1% of that price, it is possible to get a Taki 183 screenprint that includes a spray painted tag, and that’s what Taki is about anyway…

Thanks to Viktor O for the tip.

TAKI 183 goes to auction

I hate to do this, but every once in a while, I have to be a bit negative on Vandalog. The above painting is by graffiti legend Taki 183. It is an original painting and measures 140x140cm. How much do you think that is worth? And keep in mind that on Taki’s own website, you can buy screenprints that include a large spraypainted “Taki 183” tag for $250.

That painting is in an upcoming graffiti art auction at Pierre Bergé & Associés. The estimate is €35-50,000. That is absurd, laughable even. I’ll admit that unlike Taki 183’s screenprints (one of which I own and love by the way), this painting is actually aesthetically pleasing, but that doesn’t excuse this outrageous estimate. Even though that’s just an estimated price, it’s also a suggestion and gives potential buyers a general idea of what somebody else thinks the piece is worth. The estimate is especially relevant since Taki 183’s original works have never been sold publicly before. If this painting ends up selling, well, kudos to Taki 183 and the auction house, and if they buyer would like to contact me, well I’ve got a few Mr. Brainwash pieces to sell (okay if Mr. Brainwash turns out to be Banksy or something, boy I am going to have egg on my face)… But I can’t see it selling for anywhere near that estimate.

Now, to end this post on a positive note, let me say that if you don’t have a Taki 183 screenprint, it’s definitely something worth checking out. That prints are pretty affordable, and they are undoubtedly pieces of graffiti history.

Robbo and Taki183 interviews

I Love Graffiti has posted two great interviews this week. The first is with graffiti legend Taki183 and the second is with Robbo (of fighting with Banksy fame).

With Taki183:

Taki, where did you grow up?

I grew up in Washington Heights, moved there when I was a little kid. A lot of Greeks at the time stayed with the Greeks, then that changed with the Heights, the183th street, hung out with everybody and it was a pretty nice place to grow up.

Is it safe to say Washington Heights was the birthplace of modern graffiti in New York City?

I would say the east side of Manhattan was the birthplace of graffiti because that’s where the media picked it up. They couldn’t give a crap what happened in Washington Heights or the Bronx. When it happened on the east side, that’s when it was in the paper.

When you started writing graffiti, what were you calling it? Did you call it tagging or writing?

I think we were calling it writing, but if we saw a subway car we would say, “Let’s go hit the car.” If you hit it from end to end, you’d “kill the car”— that was how we talked Part of the reason it became big during the summer of ’70 is because I was going to summer school at George Washington High School and my desk was full of graffiti. I had written my name and all these people would write on my table also. I already had a name and people were meeting me and they would go out and write. That was the big summer I was working as a messenger. I was in a lot of places and I just kept writing; as long as I had a marker I’d keep writing. It was addictive.

You were doing this solely for the purpose of writing your name?

Yeah, just to say I was there, basically.

Read the rest on I Love Graffiti…

And with Robbo (which was actually the English translation of an interview done for a Hungarian blog):

When did you start writing graffiti, and what did inspire you?

Robbo: Back in the late 70″s and early 80′ i was a young skinhead writing on wall’s before i new what graffiti was. About 1983 i had seen graff on tv. films ie; the worriers, at about that time i noticed a tag named KOSH and realized that he was a writer a well and thats where it all began.

How did you tell your parents, that you’d like to do this? What was their reaction?

Robbo: My mum was cool about it as graff was not the social problem that it is today. I never lived with my dad but when i see him he always said he new i was ok coz he See my name everywhere.

How did you feel, and what did you paint on your very first painting?

Robbo: My first piece was of (THE MASTER ROBBO) with a ghostbusters character. I felt very prod and excited.

What names and crews have you painted so far? When and how did your current crew founded, and what does it’s name stand for?

Robbo: ROBBO,ROB484,ROBSTER and ROBER. WRH (we rock hard.1986 till now)

WD (world domination. 1987 till now). PFB (only crew members are allowed to know what it stands for. 1989 till now ). My first crew was THE ART MASTERS (1984‐86).

Read the rest on I Love Graffiti…

Cityscape exhibition in London


This seems like a cool line up for a group show. Especially looking forward to Skullphone, Neck Face and Taki 183 since I have never seen their work in the UK and I’m a big fan of Neck Face in particular.

Here’s the press release:

Lava Collective presents: Cityscape

Previews November 5th, 6pm – 9:30pm. Then open daily, 11am – 7pm.

The LAVA Collective has put together a group show of predominantly North American origin, focusing on street art and urban culture. Big names like Shepard Fairey, Swoon, Dalek and Skullphone vie for attention with an exciting selection of emerging artists.

The stars of the show are Brooklyn duo Peru Ana Ana Peru, who have been invited over especially to install a site-specific montage of their work. This couple have made a name for themselves in NYC with their vibrant and distinctive street pieces but they also produce video, sculpture, and fine art. They have got a big solo show coming up at the Brooklynite Gallery NYC before heading over here to oversee their first appearance in a London show.

Cityscape will also showcase the photography of Ricky Powell. The man they call the ‘Fourth Beastie Boy’ was on hand to witness the birth of hip hop culture in NYC. For this show he has submitted a selection of his classic portraits, including Run DMC, KRS One, Easy E, Eric B and Rakim. These extraordinary photos depict iconic musicians in intimate surroundings; Easy E is tuning a radio, Jam master Jay is all smiles at the airport. This is a rare opportunity to see Powell’s work in London.

For the full artist line up, go to

TAKI 183 Prints For Sale

Without TAKI 183, we probably wouldn’t have graffiti as we know it. He was the first tagger to leave his own neighborhood, and the New York Times article about him spawned an epidemic of tagging. Eventually, those tags became graffiti, but TAKI disappeared, only being occassionaly spotted in graffiti documentaries. He essentially gave up on tagging when he go too old for it.

But now the legendary TAKI 183 is back. His first ever commercial works have just gone for sale on his new website,, and it looks like he is trying to get back into the graffiti scene.

Taki 183

This is not some guy taking the piss like Tox was with his prints. It might be a guy trying to cash in on his fame, but who cares? TAKI 183 is a legend and he has every right. I’ve bought one of these prints, because I think they are extremely important to the history of graffiti.

So essentially, today is a good day, an awesome day, for graffiti and street art.

Via I Love Graffiti

Le Tag in Paris (this show includes Taki 183)

My French is pretty terrible (just got back from France, realized I couldn’t say much more than ‘merci’ after 9 months not taking the language at school), but what this video is still pretty cool, and I Love Graffiti was able to help sort out with the details about Le Tag.

Le Tag is an exhibit in Paris of graffti by 150 writers. It is currated by French architect Alain-Dominique Gallizia.

Taki 183

Artists in the exhibit include (and I can’t believe this first one) Taki 183, Seen, Doze Green, Phase2, and L’Atlas.

I know that in some ways Taki 183 is just one guy that the New York Times picked up on as an early tagger, but the article featuring him inspired so many people to start tagging, and he was one of the first to really get their name throughout New York City. I didn’t even realize he was still writing his name. The last I’d seen of Taki 183 was in Bomb It the movie, and he didn’t seem too interested in graffiti. Even though it’s “just a tag” and I really like Seen and some of the other artists in this show, Taki 183’s stuff is my personal highlight of Le Tag.

Le Tag runs until April 26. More at the official website.