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Graffiti Is Now In Vogue, Literally


02.06.15 Bucky Turco

The same week that Oxygen debuted a terrible street art show, Vogue published a feature online about graffiti…or something. It’s so fucking fluffy I don’t even know where to start. While some might appreciate the mainstreaming of urban art, the House of Anna Wintour is the last place I’d expect or want to see it happen.

The clickbaity headline screams, “6 Artists Who Are Bringing Graffiti Back to the Streets (and on to Instagram).” Ignoring the fact that graffiti never left the streets and many writers would argue that Instagram is killing graffiti, let’s see what the world’s biggest purveyor of vapidness and shallow beauty has to say. Writer John Spyrou, whose expertise in art includes a listicle about colorful stairways, sets up the premise as so:

As graffiti evolves from a renegade act into a respected art form in its own right, with splashy museum shows and legal murals commissioned from street-art stars, a group of New York artists is pushing the once outlaw practice further underground.

Huh? Street art evolved out of graffiti, not vice versa. Graffiti has been evolving in its own right. Also, how does one push something further underground by posting it on Instagram, a social media network owned and operated by Facebook? Here’s what Vogue gets wrong about each artist:

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It’s style that distinguishes artists like Cash4 from the mainstream.

No. It’s his graffiti that distinguishes him from the mainstream, because graffiti is still not mainstream, with the exception of Banksy, a street artist.

CASH4 is also described as an “archetypal post-Internet tagger.” LOL. What is a “post-Internet tagger”?

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Fade has a style that is varied, making it difficult to spot his tags.

Although FADE has several styles of tags, they’re all very discernible and unmistakably the artist’s own. I also can’t imagine FADE appreciating a description of his hand style as “messy and quick scribbles.”

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Droid is a pioneer of a new style of graffiti in which paint is loaded into, and expelled from, a hijacked fire extinguisher.

Droid is dope, but fire extinguisher graffiti is nothing new and he’s not a pioneer of it.

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Stak, a member of the esteemed TFP crew, is a veteran of wild style graffiti.

Yes, he is. And the TFP crew is legendary. He’s also very new to Instagram compared to lots of the other older school cats.

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“Smells’s work is pervasive on Instagram and has even spawned a hashtag, #smells907”

SMELLS doesn’t even have an official Instagram account for his work and every artist has a hashtag. That’s how hashtags work.

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Zexor is the guru of speed-tagging and is known for defacing pre-existing graffiti.

Speed-tagging? Is that a new Olympic sport? I always assumed that all tags were done fast, that’s the essence of a tag: speed. Also, characterizing ZEXOR’s graffiti as “old-school bubble writing” is just silly. It’s graffiti.

ZEXOR is a bizarre choice for a piece like this. Although he’s well known amongst a niche group of hardcore graffiti writers, the masses only started taking notice of his work recently, after he started ragging all those Bushwick Collective murals, which ANIMAL exclusively reported last month and other media outlets eventually followed suit, like Vogue.