I Tag Therefore I Am

Grafitti is originally an ancient form of artwork that has evolved into a modern way to spend tax dollars on building repair. For some, however, it is a form of self and/or political expression. One grafitti artist shares his love of painting subway cars in Berlin and his aggresive attitude to wannabe stencil sprayers. In an effort to combat the opinion that grafitti is mere vandalism born out of boredom, he explains that grafitti has true artistic flair.

I can’t remember finding anything more appealing to me than graffiti. It was mystical to watch for all the types of codes and names that I had never noticed before. The urge to be part of this game has grown slowly. I recall painting my first subway car, where the journey began. The stress, adrenalin, endorphins, paranoia; in this moment I felt 100% alive. I started to develop a deep connection with the urban landscape as a vital organism, much like our skin, that I am a part of. You climb through its insides at night, you begin feel it breathe.

Most people, however, don´t understand graffiti and often do not want to. But graffiti is a culture in itself, and it’s not possible for people that are unintrested to appreciate a good tag. Street art, like stickers or stencils, is more tolerated probably because it’s not that destructive and it´s easier for the general public to understand it. Street art is just easier on the eyes. I don’t hate on street art. I’m just not that interested in it. It’s hard not to hate most of the people coming to street art though, because they are stealing elements that define graffiti. Yet all the while they take no interest in really getting to know the scene. There are some people just doing graffiti tags writing their name, others are properly painting trains, which is a more prestige scene, and there is a really small group that are writing tags on subways daily. In Berlin there’s perhaps a thousand people doing graffiti on a daily basis, with about two hundred of them painting subway trains and maybe twenty of the two hundred are just writing tags in the subways.

I’m a big fan of art and there are so many artists that inspire me. It’s for this reason that I get really aggressive about street art. They have no inspiration, they have no idea what they’re really doing, they can’t evolve. They go for a shock effect, exaggerating the outcome of a inspiration-less stand-still-and-spray stencil. When I’m doing a piece it’s a whole body transcendent experience. I’m doing grafitti kung fu.

Don’t get me wrong. I recognize that I’m just painting subways. I don’t count myself as being overly-productive. Ten years ago I had my first debate about whether grafitti is art or just spraying paint on a wall. To be honest, I still don’t know. I just paint. The important thing is just to continue. It’s my addiction. I paint to keep my sanity. Sometimes you can find something really spiritual in these moments of seeming routine.

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