Tuesday, April 8, 2008


I can start by saying that graffiti’s roots started with petroglyphs, hieroglyphs of ancient Egypt and Mayan culture, the Roman Empire and Greece, but it has evolved so much and even if some things do resemble the “graffiti” we now know its hard to compare and make direct links to it. This is why I will start off in the late 60’s early 70’s. The start of writing can never be to clear, lots of people have different stories of how it started and most is passed down by word of mouth, so there’s no way to find out the true start. Here is what I have found with my research.

TAKI 183, the first publicized writer, came from New York City Manhattans. TAKI was a messenger in downtown Manhattans, he would leave his mark “TAKI 183” along the routes that he was taking. Though a lot of people think that TAKI was the first writer, there were several before him. CORNBREAD and COOL EARL based in Philadelphia were also huge writers in the late 60’s and JULIO 204, FRANK 207, JOE 136 and STAY HIGH 149 in New York.
But with his tags “TAKI 183” spread out around the city he got the attention of the New York Times and an article that made him famous (TAKI 183 Spawns Pen Pals). So even though there were other writers before, he became the most known thanks to the media.Then writers like FRIENDLY FREDDIE started to put Brooklyn on the map. Soon after, graffiti transferred from the streets to the subway and to the lay-ups. The subway carts became a new canvas for writers. Writing was continuing to evolve. Tags were being transformed, first to unique tags for every writer with there own style, then designs along with them meaning with outlines, thicker letters and wherever their imagination took them. Every year there would be more and more writers bringing more and more ideas to the table, raising the competition. There were bubble letters, block letters, Broadway style, 3D’s , whole cars , characters, these were all new ideas that had been brought up by writers at the time.

By the mid 70’s most concepts of graffiti where created and just kept on developing. Some graffiti even hit the galleries later on, but this all soon started to slow down starting the 80’s, and a lot was picked up by other cities world wide. Writing in New York became more and more difficult with the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) putting in a higher budget to stop graffiti. A lot of artist got discouraged and stopped writing, but others saw this as a challenge. These years were very hard and writers didn’t have the same respect for each other. A lot of crews were formed and battles became more common. Lay-ups became more dangerous, not only because of the increased number of guards, but to which crew the lay-up “belonged” to. If writers didn’t know who you were and you came in to drop something in their yard, they would beat you down and rob your paint.

By the late 80’s more writers were quitting and more trains were art free. The MTA was finally
getting what they wanted, even though there were still some writers never letting go MAGOO, DOC TC5, DONDI, TRAK, DOME , DC GHOST, SENTO, CAVS, KET, JA, VEN, REAS, SANE, SMITH and more.

On May 12, 1989 the MTA decided to clean all trains that were marked and made sure that no graffiti will ever run. So most writers stopped or moved on to the streets, except clean car writers that still though writing should belong on the train lines and no where else, such as GHOST, POE, KET, SAR, FUZZONE, SACH ,TFP, VEN, ZENO, REAS, IZ THE WIZ, VFR, CAVS, SENTO, SANE&SMITH, JA, BRUZ, COPE2, PJAY, ROB, YES2 and SEEN , but these trains would only run for as long as one day and then get buffed.