Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Graffiti 365 - Jay "J.Son" Edlin (et al)


all photos: NoLionsInEngland


A sub woofer resonating rumble and Richter scale registering tremor signalled newly published book Graffiti 365 crashing through the letter box today. 365 graffiti artists, 2 inches of pulp and about the same weight as a newborn baby, you could use this book to barricade your door.

On the surface it’s a simple idea beautifully executed. 365 double pages each having a large photo on one side, waffle on the other. That’s 730 pages of awesome photos and writing, heads will enjoy it and new initiates will learn much.


(PS -excuse these photos, I had to use Lady NoLion's camera and the bloody kids think it's ok to put it way with a totally discharged battery, these 3 pics were all I got)


The content is part historic record, part contemporary survey, part graffiti and part street art. The graff history aspect skews the national representation to a North American bias but in terms of current writers and street artists, the survey represents quite even-handedly Australia, Europe, UK (no, I don’t need you to point out where we are on a map) and Latin America as well as the US.

Most of the pages feature writers and their crews or artists but just as interestingly we get J.Son & Co.s’ insights from the graff culture coal face. The book mixes ol school subway kings and their crews with new era street artists with brief tutorials on technique, vocabularly and ancient legends of benches, yards, galleries and landmark events that milestoned the birth and adolescence of the graffiti movement in New York. Among loads of things I never knew, I never heard before about writers going into the yards where decommissioned trains were stored prior to being dumped in the ocean (really? C’mon NY...all that shit can be recycled) and doing nostalgic “scraps”. Sounds like substituting Tesco’s own brand for Coca cola - a slightly pussy copy of the real thing.


NOGA (Nation Of Graffiti artists), NY 1978, photo Michael Lawrence


Martha and Henry contribute extensively of course but the photos that excited most were those of Jack Stewart, capturing 1970’s chaotic explosions of tags and pieces in colours and styles that to today’s eyes look rough, ready and wild.

[photo sometime soon - see above]

Zephyr writes the opening blurb and reports that the book’s author J.Son has experienced a lobotomy-like conversion in the process, he now sees some point in some street art. And that to a large extent captures why this book is worth reinforcing your shelves for. A battle hardened writer, a there-at-the-genesis graff head steeped in tunnel mystique and whole car yard missions has filtered the graff he loves and the street art he respects. He draws the genetic link between the two and if it qualifies to be in this book then it has been passed fit for consumption by a real graff head.



Piece by Rasta, Character by Revolt, photo by Pjay One


The book condenses colour, atmosphere, history and style into a very easy read with an un-hectoring style. It smoothes over the fault line between street art and graffiti in a way that will introduce many a polarised graff or street art bigot to the merits of the other form. A superb achievement.

Warning, if you like reading in bed and gently falling asleep with a light novelette gently resting on your nose, you are going to wake up with a black eye with this book and….. PROPER BLOODY FONT SIZES PLEASE I can hardly read fucking VNA these days and needed a telescope for photograph labels in this book. There is real knowledge to be gained from knowing when a particular painting was created and where. I will even confess that knowing who took a photo can often reveal something about the era, the location and the circumstances under which the graff was likely to have been created.

By the way – I don’t feel any obligation to mention that I am honoured to have had a few snaps included in the book, because I have no interest at all in its success or otherwise, merely a belief that if you need help selecting a graff book from the landfill graff photo albums available today, then hopefully this little write up could help you (see also – Crack and Shine and Subway Art).

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Jack Stewart did a really nice book called 'Graffiti Kings' all about the 1970's NYC train writers that I'd recommend if you haven't already got it. Lots of really good photos of early stuff.

NoLions said...

Anonymous, I hadn't come across that before. I hope it's as fascinating and revealing as the selection of photos from the late Mr Stewart in this book.

Cheers - NoLions

Anonymous said...

No prob. Yeah, you won't be disappointed. It's as good as or even better than Subway Art in my opinion, but covers the era preceding that (late 60's to late 70's). It shows how train graffiti came into being and developed stylistically. Lots of good text to go with the pictures too.

Anonymous said...

Check out the official site: http://www.Graffiti365.com

J.SON said...

sorry, the link was improperly formatted... For the official site, click here: www.Graffiti365.com

Mya.L said...

Talking about graffiti/street art books, I'm selling my out-of-print "VITE FAIT BIEN FAIT" (about 70s and 80s stencil art) - if anyone's interested!