Brian Knowles on the hunt for The Reader in Oregon

Editor’s note: Earlier this year, Brian Knowles reached out to me in response to Ryan Seslow’s post about teaching a class on street art and graffiti. Brian also teaches about street art and graffiti at the university level. As it turned out, I knew Brian’s Instagram account and his flickr and he always seems to be catching great work that I don’t see elsewhere, so I asked Brian if maybe he would like to do a guest post highlighting street art and graffiti in Oregon. Of course, what I was really hoping for was a post about The Reader/Read More Books/Boans…, but I figured I’d give Brian the freedom to do whatever he wanted. He responded that he would love to do a post about The Reader’s work in Oregon, so that turned out perfectly. The Reader is one of my favorite street artists/graffiti writers/whatever working outdoors, so I couldn’t be happier for Brian to let us publish some of his photos of The Reader’s work in Eugene and Springfield, Oregon. – RJ Rushmore

Eugene and adjacent Springfield, Oregon straddle the main rail line and Interstate 5. Two hours south of Portland, it’s the last big stop before San Francisco. It’s a good resting place for travelers heading north or south. The graffiti artist Read More Books has been a frequent visitor, as evidenced by the number of his pieces in the area. I’ve been documenting graffiti and street art here for the last 5 years. Every year a few new pieces appear as Reader passes through. None are ever legal, yet they seem like they were always supposed to exist in that spot.

For me, Read More’s style has a timeless quality. His work feels like it could have existed for decades, and his skulls and books give his admonishments to ‘Read up!’ and ‘Read More’ an apocalyptic flavor.

Below is the classic Reader throwy of the open book. Here inverted black on white and white on black. These are from 2011.There used to be trees between the books, hence the spacing. Here is an earlier photo.

Click to view large
Click to view large

The black and white book below is from the end of this summer, and the double books on the semi are also 2013. There’s a shot from its original location, and then one from its new home behind a fence with other trailers. Whomever moved it to the new location did Reader a solid and made the rear book visible from a major street. The colored triangle shapes are actually by one of Reader’s friends.

book by river up close copy

Click to view large
Click to view large

double book on semi now moved copy

Higher than the rest, this Boans roller is all that’s left of a combo roller piece that Reader featured in his Label 228 zine. I never managed to see the wall before it had been dissed. The current graffiti underneath is better than the original diss, but not of the quality of that original epic piece. Here is a scan of that zine page.

Click to view large
Click to view large

Just down the tracks from that roller is “The Rapture”, a massively long spelling of the words with a still unfinished OYE drawn out in yellow lines at the far end. It’s visible from a local park and appeared around the time of those ‘end of the world/rapture’ predictions. Here is an earlier photo.

Click to view large
Click to view large
Click to view large
Click to view large

Continue reading “Brian Knowles on the hunt for The Reader in Oregon”

The diversity of You Go Girl


Until I was looking through Carnage NYC‘s photos, it never really dawn on my just how much variety You Go Girl has in their work. You Go Girl is one of those rare artists somewhere between a street artist and a graffiti writer who really has no boundaries for how they get up. It could be stickers, rollers, posters, spraypaint… It could be a character, tag, a throw-up… You Go Girl doesn’t fit comfortably any boxes. That sets them apart from a lot of street artists and graffiti writers who seem to find one thing and stick to doing that well until they get recognition for it (and then they keep going but at least by that point they might be getting paid).

Here’s just a small sampling of the different styles of work that You Go Girl produces on the street:


You Go Girl with The Reader aka Boans
You Go Girl with The Reader aka Boans
You Go Girl with The Reader
You Go Girl with The Reader







Photos by Carnage NYC

Photographing stickers without losing context

GATS in Brooklyn. Click to view large.
GATS in Brooklyn. Click to view large.

The difficulty with photographing sticker art or graffiti stickers is that it’s really difficult to provide context for the sticker without losing all the details that might make it interesting to begin with. This context versus context struggle exists when photographing just about any sort of street art or graffiti, but it’s especially true with stickers. They are usually so small that you have to get inches away for a good photo, but then it’s hardly clear if the sticker is on a busy street or in a leafy suburb, surrounded by other interesting things or the lone bit of culture for an entire block. This is especially important with illegal work like stickers where an artist is taking a risk to put something in a particular location of their choice (okay admittedly stickers are not all that risky). Understanding the context of the piece can really add to my appreciation for it. I don’t know if I’ve the first person or the thousandth to figure this out and I don’t consider myself a serious photographer, but I think I’ve stumbling across an interesting way to take photos of stickers that balances context and content: Panorama mode.

AVOID pi in Brooklyn. Click to view large.
AVOID pi in Brooklyn. Click to view large.

My iPhone has a panorama mode that I don’t think I’d ever used until earlier this summer, when I accidentally realized it could be useful for photographing stickers. I was just fooling around with my iPhone, seeing if the panorama mode could work if you had something up very close and also something far away that both needed to be in focus. So I tested it by photographing a sticker and trying to move from the sticker to some background elements across the street. I saw the resulting image and suddenly I hardly cared about my little experiment. I saw a photograph that captured the details of a sticker while still giving context to its placement, and I fell instantly in love with the technique.

Kosbe in Brooklyn. Click to view large.
Kosbe and more in Brooklyn. Click to view large.

Obviously taking photos with a wide angle lens or in panorama mode is nothing new, but I can’t remember ever having seen it used for this purpose before. If anyone wants to prove me wrong, please leave a comment. I’d love to see what other people have been doing with this technique.

Click to view large
xleos (I’m guessing) in West Philadelphia. Click to view large.

What do you think of this technique? Does it is balance content and context well enough? These are just some early shots by me, and I’m no photographer, so if you think you can take this further and do it better, please do and let me know how it goes. I would love to see others improve upon this. For me, it’s made documenting stickers so much more fun and fulfilling. Anyone can photograph another printed André the Giant sticker, but this technique highlights how context can make even printed stickers unique so long as the placement is interesting.

Shepard Fairey in. Click to view large.
Shepard Fairey in Philadelphia. Click to view large.

Continue reading “Photographing stickers without losing context”

Read More Books / The Reader showing “Affective Duplication” at White Box

The Reader in New York

Read More Books aka The Reader always keeps us on our toes with what he’s up to. From December 6th to January 26th, The Reader’s latest solo show Affective Duplication will be open at the University of Oregon’s White Box Gallery. Along with an eclectic mix of found object sculptures, paintings, and installations, this show will debut new video work (I’d be really interested to see that). If you’re in the area, this sounds worth checking out.

Photo by Luna Park

The Reader’s solo show on now in Springfield, OR

The artist and graffiti writer by the names of The Reader, Read More Books, Books, Boans and others (who has a big new piece up in NYC) has a show on earlier this month at Ditch Projects in Springfield Oregon. The closing party for the show is Halloween night, where there will be a concert at the gallery by White Manna, Midday Veil and Testface. Entrance will cost $5.

Read up in a down economy does not look like the show of an artist struggling with the transition from street to gallery, something that most street artists and graffiti writers who eventually work indoors under that outdoor identity seem to experience as a challenge. While this isn’t The Reader’s first time indoors, he’s definitely more well-known for his graffiti. It’s so great to see an artist whose outdoor work I love so much transition indoors so smoothly.

We’ve got a few pictures of the show, but you can check out a more complete set of photos on the Ditch Projects website.

Photos by Brooks Dierdorff

Everything Ever & Nothing Never at Needles & Pens

Read More Books

This weekend Needles & Pens in San Fransisco has what looks to be a particularly cool group show opening. Everything Ever & Nothing Never, curated by Austin McManus, includes work by Read More Books, Deuce 7 and many others. The show opens this Saturday from 7-9pm and runs through May 27th. Seeing work made for indoors by either Read More Books or Deuce 7 isn’t too common, so seeing the art of these two very talented artists together in the same show is a rare opportunity. Don’t miss this one. Check out our exclusive preview of Everything Ever & Nothing Never after the jump…

Continue reading “Everything Ever & Nothing Never at Needles & Pens”

Weekend link-o-rama

Neckface and Reader stickers in NYC. Photos by Sabeth718

If you looked at Vandalog this week, you’d think it was a slow week in street art. That’s not so, but I’ve been locked down working on Up Close and Personal (opening pics here). So here’s some of what I missed covering this week:

Photo by Sabeth718

The Reader – read it

A couple of months ago, I posted about The Reader, a book by Reader. Reader is one of my favorite writers, and also one of the most reclusive writers. Not that I would know exactly how reclusive, I’ve never met the guy. But that’s the rumor, and before this, I’d never heard of him doing a book or a zine or print or original artwork for indoors or anything like that. So when The Reader came out, I immediately picked up a copy. While I could tell from some photos online that this would not be your typical graffiti book, I had no idea how far removed it would be from Subway Art and the like. The Reader has just one photo of Reader’s graffiti. Instead, it is full of collages and stickers.

A mix of (I think) his own words and appropriated texts, The Reader sets out a unique worldview. If Reader is a modern hermit, The Reader is his manifesto. While I can’t say I agree with everything in The Reader, I loved reading the book and found it hard to put down. This isn’t an art book, although it is definitely a work of art. The Reader is a crash-course in a certain philosophy.

The Reader is available online for $18. Also, since the book came out, Reader has also released what I think is his first screenprint.

Photos by Operation Madman

Weekend link-o-rama


This week was exam week, so that means that the majority of my time was split equally between studying and procrastinating with my roommates on N64 and that this week’s link-o-rama is a bit longer than usual:

Photo by RJ Rushmore