Class #2 – 7/10 – Re-Cap, Info & Resources

Class #2 – 7/10 – Re-Cap, Info & Resources

Continued Definitions on Graffiti.

Early NYC Graffiti Writers:

Cornbread, Taki 183, Stay High 149, Phase II, Stitch 1, Cool Stan,​ Barbara 62, EVA62, Tracy168, & SuperCool223

We Screened Style Wars the film/documentary – Re-watch it here below.

Style Wars is an essential part of the definition process of understanding NYC graffiti. The film was made by Henry Chalfant & Tony Silver in 1982.

Who is Henry Chalfant?

The Style Wars website

Various Markers, tagging styles, tips, types, thickness and flow. The power of a marking tool and the potential it posses in both public and private spaces.

Learning to TAG – Class Exercise with Tagging, creating a name, graffiti alphabet demonstration and practice. MArkers, types, tips and tools of the trade.

Guest Artist Presentation :: RJ Rushmore

“RJ Rushmore has been involved in contemporary art as a writer, curator, photographer, arts administrator, and fan since 2008. With a focus on street art, graffiti, and public art, RJ facilitates and promotes disruptive art outdoors, in galleries, and online. He founded the street art blog Vandalog, and is currently Co-Curator of Art in Ad Places and Marketing and Digital Communications Manager at Creative Time.

RJ has been featured in Artforum, CNN, The Creators Project, The Economist, Hyperallergic, The Nation, The New York Times, PAPER, Time, and elsewhere.”

Find RJ on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

RJ is the author of VIRAL ART (2013) – We will be discussing this book in the coming days – Please download or read it online here (This is one of my favorite books!) –

RJ is the curator of the All Big Letters Exhibition –


Questions to ponder (respond in the comments below)

What did you think of Style Wars the Film? How has your perception about NYC & Graffiti changed since screening the film?

What did you think of today’s tagging demo and exercise?

Did you select your graffiti name? If so, what is it?

RJ Rushmore was our guest artist today, what did you think of his presentation, projects and evolving work? (He will be responding to your commentary)

15 Replies to “Class #2 – 7/10 – Re-Cap, Info & Resources”

  1. I really enjoyed watching segments of STYLE WARS.
    It solidified my preconception that graffiti as it existed in the late 70’s through the 80’s was a means of self expression for mostly inner city kids who needed to make their mark on the world.

    I had always thought that there was a mutual respect among graffiti artists towards the artwork that they created. So it disappointed me to see that there was a segment of the culture that went out of their way to mark up the successful designs of others.

    I enjoy typography and letter forms, so it was freeing to not worry about their legibility, as I would with a typical graphic design or logo.
    I have not settled on a graffiti name yet, although I think it will end up being simply my initials.

    Thanks for reaching out to your friend RJ Rushmore.
    I think the most profound thing he said was that graffiti is either a sport or a hack. It puts the entire genre into perspective.

    1. Well said Len! There is so much culture in and around this art form, and it only continues to grow and expand. CAP was a ruthless graffiti artist who wrote over and crossed out the works of anyone and everyone. He made a lot of enemies..

  2. I first want to say that I’m really enjoying this class so far and the film Style Wars was so good I finished watching it when I got home after class today. I also had a fun time practicing my graffiti alphabet and coming up with my own tag.

    Meeting and listening to RJ Rushmore was very interesting, I really enjoyed his advice of buying a “tag marker,” place it in your pocket and walk around with it. Not to use it but just to feel the power you hold, that the world has now become your canvas. I am curious though, I know RJ has a great admiration for street art and graffiti artists, has a creative eye to curate shows, bringing old and new artists together, and archiving street art online…would he ever want to see what life is like on the other side and try to create his own works on the street?

    1. Excellent! You must carry a marker at all times now right?! Well said on all fronts here, and indeed a second and third screening of style wars will really help you pickup even more details and tid-bits. I continue to discover new things each time I watch the film.
      Would RJ consider creating some specific art works of his own for the streets, I am banking on this!

  3. Style Wars the film allowed me to grow appreciation for the medium. I enjoyed watching the film because like you had mentioned in class, it’s raw. It is the true perspective of the graffiti artists, like a day in the life of. It brought me to the 80s and allowed me to fully envision what these groups of people were like. There is so much meaning, thinking, intelligence and coding that goes into graffiti which goes unnoticed by most of the population. They need to know the materials they are using, the dimensions of the space they have and it’s really impressive how everything is free-hand. They need to understand chemicals and relationships between materials so it is near impossible to remove their artwork. It’s impressive.

    The tagging exercise was very therapeutic. I’ve never liked my handwriting, it’s very messy. But this exercise allowed me to escape from my judging and let it flow out which then made me feel like I somewhat enjoyed my handwriting. I think this is a great technique to calm people down.

    My name I have selected so far is Gur 118. That is my nickname from my group of friends from middle school and I will be getting married on November 8th hence the 118. I’ll see if I can get a cool design out of it.

    I really appreciated the time and knowledge that RJ Rushmore gave to explaining his views and what he does. I thought it was so cool that wanted to talk to us. He’s accomplished so much and is still so young, he is inspiring for others entering into the art world. What really stuck to me was his analogy for the vision of graffiti artists using the mind of skate boarders. I could still really relate to that even though I am not a skateboarder because I am a photographer, I walk the world differently because of it. Everywhere I walk, drive, go, I am constantly thinking about making a great photograph, what angle I would need to be at, what would I include in the composition. I can’t turn it off! So that must be how graffiti artists think too. So thank you RJ for your time! I hope to see some of his curated street shows in person!

    1. GUR118 – Great! Cool to share your example and connection between the eye and mind of the photographer in relationship to skateboarding and the rider’s perspective. Glad that you enjoyed Style Wars, such an important piece of graffiti history.

  4. I really enjoyed how Style Wars incorporated the different perspectives from the residents of New York City. We were given insight on the typical graffiti writers day, the Mayor’s objection to the trend, and what local New Yorkers thought about it. The film followed the young graffiti artists around through their typical day, even showing them sneaking into the underground subway tunnels. I never imagined those entrances would have been so easy to break into back then!

    The comparison that Style Wars made between graffiti, rap, and breakdancing in the 1970’s really put everything in perspective for me . When the film pointed out the similarities between the three everything began to fall together and make sense. Each was a way to let loose, create their own voice, and beat the system. Graffiti being the written word, rap- the spoken, and breakdancing- the acrobatic language. Each allows the individual a free and organic way to express himself in a slightly different, yet all related way.

    Watching the free flowing process of the tagging demonstration was very interesting to me. The majority of the time I think too much about the outcome and where I’m trying to go with an art piece, so to scribble the alphabet down in an intuitive, gestural style, was enjoyable. However, once that part was done and the decisions began, I became stuck. I still can’t settle on a name! I never really had any interesting nick names and I don’t particularly like the flow when writing my own name. Still thinking…

    As the class progresses, and after watching the film, I’m really starting to understand and appreciate the mindset of the graffiti artist more and more. Looking forward to more.

  5. Part 2:
    I was very interested in RJ Rushmore’s Ad Takeovers, “Art in Ad Places.” I’ve always felt the negativity of intrusive ads in our everyday lives. It’s impossible to go anywhere without seeing ads, most of which are either trying to sell you things you don’t need, or shoving false images of photoshopped models down your throat, creating a desire for a self-image that is completely unattainable, even for that very model in the ad. The idea of needing to alter and manipulate the public space you’re in really helped me to connect with the mindset of graffiti artists. They want to make the public space their own, and be as intrusive to the public eye as the ads are to them (and us). This really resonated with me after hearing about the Ad Takeover, and thinking about all of the ads that we’re subjected to seeing everywhere we turn. I love the concept of replacing payphone ads with actual artworks by current artists. “Stop Telling Women to Smile” by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh was one of my favorites on the Colossal website. I hope these Ad Takeovers have a part two in the near future!

  6. I know that the government does not allow graffiti. After watching the film style wars, I think that graffiti is never possible to eradicate. They never stop. Extreme policies can only be suppressed and not eradicated. When the law is strict but the artists are getting more and more done, the living space of graffiti is getting smaller and smaller, but this does not prevent some artists from doing it. I like the various styles of graffiti very much. I think it was very interesting to design my own graffiti name in class today. Graffiti is very artistic in my opinion. It’s not just a simple spray paint tag. For example, the art form that is expressed through various fonts and patterns seems to me, It makes me very interested. I hope to have the opportunity to do some more self-creation in this class. I think graffiti is an art. It can express all kinds of thoughts, a yearning, a spiritual sustenance. It doesn’t have too many rules and regulations, and many of them are just on the spot, full of pure breath and vitality, as long as it is applied properly. The graffiti location is a beautiful scenery of the city!
    I drew a lot of graffiti text tag exercises “Joselyn” in the classroom. In the end, I felt that I would like to reduce my name to JOS94X. JOS is the abbreviation for my English name, 94 is my birth year, and X is my last name.

    I am very honored to meet RJ Rushmore through video chat today. After class, I searched for art in ad places online. He said that ” outdoor advertisement is visual pollution”. I think that working with an artist every week, as well as photography, Illustrations or comics covering the original advertisement is very good, just like I don’t like advertising ” brainwashing ” very much, and many works are rich in artistic meaning.

  7. Graffiti isn’t strange to me, but this is the first time I got to know about the Style Wars film and all these creative writers.

    The original form of this art is free and unlimited, every surface in our daily life could be writer’s canvas. Without hindering the seriousness of art, is happened to giving graffiti charm, happiness, and simplicity, it’s like a spiritual return to primitive and childhood.
    Graffiti art has been introduced to China since the 1980s, Due to the late start time, graffiti art in China has a very strong imported color at the beginning, this causes a series of problems between writers and society, in a different culture like China. From the outset, it was incorporated under the supervision of the social management department, and the graffiti behavior was placed in the normative management to try to eliminate its negative impact on the order of society and public space.
    But graffiti is never an art of surrender.
    Today we met two cool guys in the class, one is another side of professor Ryan, aka unknown. And RJ Rushmore.
    His unique perspective of graffiti reveals a lot to me, I used to carry a marker in my school bag when I was in junior high school, I don’t consider myself as a writer back in that time, but the purpose is the same as the advice he gave us today, trying to leave some symbols and marks on somewhere I like, our teacher wasn’s encourage us to do this, after I draw on the door in my classroom, the marker was confiscated by my teacher also my ambitions in doing graffiti, but the fire of being an artist still burning in my heart.

    1. Ah, well said, and thank you for the insight via how it goes in China. I have been doing more research on a global scale and starting to find some interesting contrasts for sure.

  8. Style Wars film was very informative to watch in class today. There was an overwhelming amount of information, and I was able to understand a bit about the mindset and lifestyle of the graffiti artists. I have never tried to understand the reasons of why graffiti exists, how it came to exist, and the complexities involved in creating graffiti(including how to get away with entering the spaces, and making your mark). This film forced me into pondering on this. Graffiti used to look like vandalism and destruction to me. For example, if I passed a building torn down I would just accept that it is torn down & would not delve into the thoughts of how it came to be in that state of being. This film also showed me that there is a wealth of history behind graffiti. In the past, a glance at a marked up wall would leave the thought that someone bored was scribbling on the walls randomly. Now I understand that there is intention for the motivation.
    I really enjoyed today’s demo and lesson on tagging. Initially, I felt awkward to write my name without the traditional learned rules of script or print. Afterward, I felt that it was quite relaxing to be without the exact conformity of copying, and to be able to create freely adding my own style. I am still thinking on a graffiti name. I need time to absorb tagging, and graffiti as an acceptable and valid form of art.
    RJ Rushmore is surprisingly so young, yet he seems quite knowledgeable. He has earned my respect in what he is doing to spread his understanding of graffiti to the public and art community through his efforts. With his explanation, I was able to look at the depth of the tools, utilization of art space, etc. in greater depth.

    1. So well said Chie! Thank you so much for the thoughtful response on this. Style Wars is one of the best ways to step into the Graffiti world. It helps understand the intentions of the artists and what their day to day experiences were at that time in NYC history. Your visual awareness in public space has expanded, and cities will visually share more with your eyes. I’m glad you enjoyed the tagging demo and had the opportunity to express yourself by participating freely! RJ is an amazingly talented art critic, curator and author. I have admired his work, insights and energy since I discovered his blog many years ago!

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