Friday, August 21, 2009

Graffiti With a Message

I know that Bad Monkey Designs is all about the entire graffiti movement. However, looking at our collection, one can see a certain lean toward a particular style. While the Wild Style murals of this urban art form are truly amazing. I've always had particular interest in the stencils, stickers (or, slaptags) and scrawlings of those artists that have a message.

Take, for instance, a recent series of messages painted throughout New Jersey's Hudson County. This unknown artist has taken to quoting Bob Dylan and obscure foreign films. Some of his more prolific include, "Your Days of Plenty are Numbered" and "Dear Hoboken, don't follow leaders, watch your parking meters". While cryptic, it also gives one cause to stop, think and interpret the real meaning of the message - question authority? stick it to the man? wake up, people? No one is quite sure and this, for me, is the appeal. You can read more at the Cliffview Pilot website.

After reading the article from the Cliffview, I was reminded of other taggers that have been responsible for these "campaigns of thought". Borf was a graffiti movement started in 2004 in Washington, D.C. by art student John Tsombikos. It is said that his series of tags were inspired by the suicide of a very close friend. The "Borf Brigade" later claimed that "capitalism and the culture of aesthetics created the alienation and feelings of worthlessness that caused the 16-year-old to commit suicide" Phrases and murals with tags like "Grown Ups are Obsolete" and "Borf Writes Letter to Your Children" were seen everywhere in the D.C. area for almost two years.

It's artists such as these that have become part of the core inspiration to Bad Monkey Designs' collection of graffiti inspired urban wear. Creative minds like Borf and others before him make the average passer-by stop and think. While most people look at graffiti artists as vandals, there are others that see many as talented minds and "urban prophets". For those that question, just look at how different graffiti styles have become more and more mainstream. The Obey campaign, started by Shepard Fairey has become one of the most popular (and commercially successful) urban art "exhibits" while the works of Bansky have sold for tens of thousands of dollars all over the world.

Whether commercially successful or not, all of these taggers started with one common goal - to make people make people make people wake up. These artisits, and others like them, continue to inspire me and thousands of others. So, while communities continue to "battle graffiti" there will always be an underground movement that believe "Art is Not a Crime".

1 comment:

Katie York said...

Great blog post! After reading, it really does make me think of graffiti in a much different way - a message with a meaning.