kottke.org posts about graffiti

Prettifying graffitiJul 26 2016

Mathieu TremblinMathieu Tremblin

For a project called Tag Clouds, street artist Mathieu Tremblin paints over graffiti tags and makes them more legible. The result looks like when Word says that the Hardkaze and Aerosol fonts are used in the document you're trying to open but are missing from your computer and you click OK to replace them with whatever's available. I think the font above is Arial, which is perfect. I also like this faux-watermark piece he did:

Mathieu Tremblin

Miss Banksy, if you're nastyNov 05 2014

Everyone knows graffiti artist extraordinaire Banksy is a man. What this post presupposes is, maybe she's a woman?

But what Banksy Does New York makes plain is that the artist known as Banksy is someone with a background in the art world. That someone is working with a committee of people to execute works that range in scale from simple stencil graffiti to elaborate theatrical conceits. The documentary shows that Banksy has a different understanding of the street than the artists, street-writers, and art dealers who steal Banksy's shine by "spot-jocking" or straight-up pilfering her work-swagger-jackers who are invariably men in Banksy Does New York.

All of which serves as evidence against the flimsy theory that Banksy is a man.

Or maybe Banksy's like the Dread Pirate Roberts?

How graffiti vanished from NYC subwaysJun 27 2014

Nice episode of 99% Invisible on how New York City got rid of the graffiti on all of their subway trains.

For decades, authorities treated subway graffiti like it was a sanitation issue. Gunn believed that graffiti was a symptom of larger systemic problems. After all, trains were derailing nearly every two weeks. In 1981 there were 1,800 subway car fires -- that's nearly five a day, every day of the year!

When Gunn launched his "Clean Trains" program, it was not only about cleaning up the trains aesthetically, but making them function well, too. Clean trains, Gunn believed, would be a symbol of a rehabilitated transit system.

Remember, the train cars used to look like this:

Christopher Morris Subway

1980s NYC subway photosJun 18 2014

You've probably seen Bruce Davidson's photos of the gritty 1980s NYC subway, which were collected into a book published in 1986.

Bruce Davidson, Subway

Earlier this year, Time posted some previously unpublished photos of the NYC subway taken in 1981 by Christopher Morris, an admirer of Davidson's.

Christopher Morris, Subway

Weep you girlsJul 26 2012

A big list of Pompeian graffiti proves that the writing in bathroom stalls and tourist attractions hasn't changed much in a few millennia. You know, there's a lot of, "Antiochus hung out here with his girlfriend Cithera." There's some, "To the one defecating here. Beware of the curse. If you look down on this curse, may you have an angry Jupiter for an enemy." And then my absolute favorite, "Weep, you girls. My penis has given you up. Now it penetrates men's behinds. Goodbye, wondrous femininity!" (via @cordjefferson)

When life gives you graffiti, make moneyMay 14 2012

Last week, graffiti "artist" Kidult painted the word ART in pink paint all over the Marc Jacobs store in Soho. The store's staff cleaned it up, but not before snapping a photo of it and dubbing it Art by Art Jacobs. And then, in an awesome twist, Marc Jacobs put the photo on a tshirt and offered it for sale: $689 or $9 less if you want it signed by the "artist". The Observer's Foster Kamer has the story.

Jacobs, in this situation, has made one hell of a commentary about the absurd commoditization that some street art has yielded, and how easily ostensibly subversive art can actually be subverted, facile as it so often is, and it may be the best take on the matter since Exit Through The Gift Shop.

I'm going to pay for those quotation marks with lots of email and tweets, aren't I?

Update: Kidult has answered back with a tshirt of his own that pictures the "artist" tagging the store. $10.

Banksy + Tom Hanks = HanksyFeb 09 2012

The Awl has an interview with a street artist named Hanksy, who takes images from Banksy and incorporates Tom Hanks into the mix. WIIIILLLSONNNN!!


I've come across comments or stories written about Hanksy saying I'm directly ripping off Banksy's style. Like, "Where does this guy get off, stealing Banksy's work?" They are completely missing the point. It's a satire. My goal was never to make a profit. It came about and there was a genuine excitement around the people at the gallery and the community in general.

I'm pretty sure the interviewer, EA Hanks, is Tom's daughter and she got her dad on the record about Hanksy:

Regarding your work, Tom Hanks sends the message, "I don't know who Hanksy is, but I enjoy his (her?) comments via the semi-chaos of artistic expression."

But the T.HANKS trash can remains my favorite Tom Hanks street art:


Kind of Bloop album postered on Jay Maisel's buildingJun 30 2011

A pair of fair use crusaders hired some "street art underground" friends to place several posters of the Kind of Bloop album cover on the building that Jay Maisel owns in Manhattan as payback for Maisel threatening to sue Andy Baio over using a representation of Maisel's photo of Miles Davis for Bloop's cover.

I hope that every time Jay leaves the house, he sees these posters -- and as he looks at them or tries to tear them down he thinks about how evil what he did was. Maybe he'll realize that at some level all art borrows from other art, and suing another artist for fair use appropriation undermines all artists. Maybe he'll feel guilty about being such a thief. And then maybe he'll think about giving that money back -- or donating it to charity or something. But probably not.

Something tells me this isn't going to end well. (via @jakedobkin)

Graffiti is a crimeApr 28 2011

From the NYC transit authority, a 1988 video about the consequences of painting graffiti in the subway.

Intense! (via ★vuokko)

Sweater treeOct 01 2009

A tree in Baltimore recently was bestowed with its sweater for the colder months. Local knitters constructed a garment specifically for the tree, with the only restriction being that they had to use white, green, and purple yarn. The latest sweater replaces last year's style, which was removed for the dog days.

"We actually made a little bikini for it for the summer, but it fell apart."

The sweater tree is an example of a growing urban phenomenon called yarn bombing, aka yarnstorming or graffiti knitting. Yarn bombing is believed to have its roots in Texas, where it was invented as a way for knitters to creatively utilize their unfinished knitting projects. Common targets are telephone poles, trees, and banisters, but in Mexico City, yarn bombers aimed their knitting needles at a more ambitious endeavor: a yarn-covered bus.

Update: It appears that yarnbombing has reached the streets of Dunsborough, a fairly rural area of Western Australia. Wrapped, a collective of knitters between the ages of 8 and 87, has taken over the streets with their purled pieces. In September, the group got together and crafted wraps, pom-poms, and finger knittings that are being placed on signs, trees, and poles by a group of "knitting taggers" during the month of October. Their goal is to promote knitting events in the area, and to make a difference in the community by spreading woolly good will. The sweater swaths have tags affixed that direct the viewer to their website where they outline the project.

(thx dave)

If you sprinkleApr 01 2009

A collection of quirky toilet signage. And for what to read after you've latched that door, there are several sites dedicated to writing found on the walls of bathroom stalls. (Warning: most of it does contain language that falls soundly in the "potty mouth" category.)

Please Do Not Throw Toothpicks in The Urinals The Crabs can Pole Vault.

I wonder if they frisk for pens and markers before allowing admittance to the Art Museum Toilet Museum of Art.

Remember, it's airbrushedJan 13 2009

"Don't forget..." is a street art project that consists of Photoshop palettes pasted over heavily airbrushed advertising in a metro station in Berlin. (thx, phil)

Graffiti for butterfliesJul 16 2008

Butterfly graffiti directs migrating monarchs to urban food sources.

Monarchs regularly pass through wide swathes of human settlement as they migrate each year from wintering sites in Mexico to summering grounds in the United States and Canada. GFB is the equivalent of a fast-food sign on a highway, advertising rest stops (waystations) to monarchs traveling through the area.

Image FulguratorJun 30 2008

The Image Fulgurator is an ingenious device that detects the flash from nearby cameras and quickly inserts a message onto whatever is being photographed so that it shows up in any photos being taken.

It operates via a kind of reactive flash projection that enables an image to be projected on an object exactly at the moment when someone else is photographing it. The intervention is unobtrusive because it takes only a few milliseconds. Every photo another photographer takes of an object at which the Fulgurator is also aimed is affected by the manipulation. Hence visual information can be smuggled unnoticed into the images of others.

Check out the results. (thx, red)

Graffiti Research Lab built their own cameraJan 09 2008

Graffiti Research Lab built their own camera rig to capture bullet time photography (a la The Matrix) for $5000-$8000. Here are the instructions to build your own and the music video they made using the rig.

Liquidated Logos by French street artist Zevs.Dec 13 2007

Liquidated Logos by French street artist Zevs.

Re-painting the logos in their own colours, the artist pours paint over them, liquidating one logo after another.

I am a sucker for dripping paint.

Tattoos for blind people can be madeOct 18 2007

Tattoos for blind people can be made by placing implants under the skin to create embossed text on the skin.

Update: Somewhat related is braille graffiti. (thx, jake)

Remember the Splasher/graffiti/defacing business fromJun 26 2007

Remember the Splasher/graffiti/defacing business from last week? The group of people collectively know as the Splasher is back with a manifesto: "if we did it, this is how it would've happened". Not the most succinct, these art school revolutionaries.

A fellow named the Splasher has beenJun 22 2007

A fellow named the Splasher has been splashing paint on street art around NYC over the past few months. Here's some of his, er, work. Well-known street artist Shepard Fairey (the Splasher has targeted several of his pieces) opened a show last night in DUMBO and two guys tried to set off a homemade smoke bomb at the opening, leading to speculation that one (or both) of them was the Splasher. Gothamist has more. Jake Dobkin has photos from Fairey's show, which looks pretty nice.

Update: The Brooklyn Paper is reporting that DJ 10 Fingers subdued the suspected Splasher before he could light his stink bomb. (No, seriously!) The would-be stink bomber is facing a possible 15 years in jail.

Street artist Banksy gets the New YorkerMay 11 2007

Street artist Banksy gets the New Yorker treatment with a profile in this week's issue. "The graffitist's impulse is akin to a blogger's: write some stuff, quickly, which people may or may not read. Both mediums demand wit and nimbleness. They arouse many of the same fears about the lowering of the public discourse and the taking of undeserved liberties." Complex tracked down the alleged photos of Banksy mentioned in the article. Print magazine recently wrote a piece on Banksy as well.

A vandal leaves the scene of the crime.Apr 24 2007

A vandal leaves the scene of the crime.

Jake's featuring a photo today of someApr 20 2007

Jake's featuring a photo today of some NYC street art by Bloke, who does paper-plane pieces. I'm a sucker for dashed lines.

Update: More stuff by Bloke here. (thx, daniel)

A video of NYC graffiti artist RevsMar 30 2007

A video of NYC graffiti artist Revs as he puts one of his sculptures up in the city. Rare footage indeed. "I'm into the individual spirit, anybody who does things in a solo way. Ted Kaczynski, Mother Theresa, Jesus Christ, dudes who were just out on a mission, solo." (thx, david)

Laser Tag is a new project fromFeb 20 2007

Laser Tag is a new project from Graffiti Research Lab. The idea is that you use a high-powered laser pointer to trace a pattern on the side of a building, a camera captures that pattern, some software processes the capture, and a projector displays the graffiti-ized pattern back onto the side of the building, more or less in real-time. The effect is pretty cool. The process and source code are available here.

Bubble Bobble street art in London. BBJan 23 2007

Bubble Bobble street art in London. BB is one of my favorite arcade games ever. (via wonderland)

Santas riding the NYC subway in 1987. SeeingDec 26 2006

Santas riding the NYC subway in 1987. Seeing graffiti on the subway always amazes me.

Nice symmetry to this photo taken bySep 25 2006

Nice symmetry to this photo taken by Jake Dobkin of some people walking in front of graffiti.

Eyebeam's Graffiti Research Lab has won anMay 30 2006

Eyebeam's Graffiti Research Lab has won an Award of Distinction at Ars Electronica 2006. Congrats, guys!

Set of photos depicting NYC in the 80Apr 24 2006

Set of photos depicting NYC in the 80s. Everytime I see pictures of subway cars covered with graffiti, I marvel at how clean the cars are now.

Nevermind...the video is fake. This isApr 18 2006

Nevermind...the video is fake. This is one of the most insane things I've ever seen....graffiti artist/entrepreneur Marc Ecko tagged Air Force One. The US govt can't even effectively guard the President's plane...how does Homeland Security expect to do it with all commercial passenger airplanes? (via airbag)

Even native New Yorkers are often disorientedMar 29 2006

Even native New Yorkers are often disoriented when exiting subway stations, so why doesn't the MTA print a little direction indicator on the pavement near the exits? Better yet, download the stencils provided here and let's do it ourselves.

"If you see something suspicious, welcome toJan 24 2006

"If you see something suspicious, welcome to how New York got started." (via gothamist)

Conference sketchesSep 18 2005

At the beginning of the conference, sketchbooks were distributed to every attendee. We were urged to sketch our thoughts during the sessions & panels in our books and then tape the results onto the Sketch Wall in the Design Fair. As I was too busy typing into my virtual sketchbook (plus, I can't draw), I left the drawing to others, but I did head down to the Design Fair to see what other attendees had done. Here's a couple I found interesting:

Juan EnriquezMore cowbell

In addition to the sketches, the wall was also being utilized more generally for graffiti, both written (with marker and paint) and created with the tape used to fasten the sketches to the wall. Here's a favorite bit of tape graffiti (tapeffiti?):

I [heart] undo

That would make a great tshirt.

Going all city is graffiti slang forSep 17 2005

Going all city is graffiti slang for putting your graffiti on trains in all five boroughs of NYC.

Cool "drips" graffiti seen in NYC.Aug 08 2005

Cool "drips" graffiti seen in NYC.

"Graffiti Taxonomy presents isolated letters from variousJun 10 2005

"Graffiti Taxonomy presents isolated letters from various graffiti tags, reproduced in similar scales and at close proximity". "The intent of these studies is to show the diversity of styles as expressed in a single character."

A street sculpture by REVS was recentlyJun 05 2005

A street sculpture by REVS was recently stolen in my neighborhood.

Wow, how to make moss graffitiMay 02 2005

Wow, how to make moss graffiti. "Soon the bits of blended moss should begin to re-couperate into a whole rooted plant - maintaining your chosen design before eventually colonising the whole area." Again, wow!

Street art legend Revs is back, butApr 21 2005

Street art legend Revs is back, but this time he's (almost) legal and working with iron sculpture. I've seen a bunch of his work in Dumbo.

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