Search Results for “Graffiti”

October 11, 2013

5 Pointz

5 Pointz: The Institute of Higher Burnin’ or the 5Pointz Aerosol Art Center, Inc. is an outdoor art exhibit space in Long Island City, New York, considered to be the world’s premiere ‘graffiti Mecca,’ where aerosol artists from around the globe paint colorful pieces on the walls of a 200,000-square-foot factory building.

The complex was first established as the ‘Phun Phactory’ in 1993 by Pat DiLillo under a program called ‘Graffiti Terminators’ to discourage graffiti vandalism by encouraging artists to display their work in a formal showcase. In 2002, Jonathan Cohen, a graffiti artist operating under the name ‘Meres’ began curating the work. If he is not familiar with an artist, Cohen will ask for a sample of their work; if it is a mural, he will ask for a layout as well.

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October 4, 2013

George Grosz

Swamp Flowers of Capitalism 1919 by George Grosz

George Grosz [grohs] (1893 – 1959) was a German artist known especially for his caricatural drawings of Berlin life in the 1920s. He was a prominent member of the Berlin Dada and New Objectivity group during the Weimar Republic before he emigrated to the United States in 1933.

According to art critic Robert Hughes: ‘In Grosz’s Germany, everything and everybody is for sale. All human transactions, except for the class solidarity of the workers, are poisoned. The world is owned by four breeds of pig: the capitalist, the officer, the priest and the hooker, whose other form is the sociable wife. He was one of the hanging judges of art.’

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May 29, 2013

Gary Baseman

Gary Baseman (b. 1960) is a contemporary artist who works in various creative fields, including illustration, fine art, toy design, and animation. He is the creator of the Emmy-winning ABC/Disney cartoon series, ‘Teacher’s Pet,’ and the artistic designer of ‘Cranium,’ a popular board game.

Baseman’s aesthetic combines iconic pop art images, pre- and post-war vintage motifs, cross-cultural mythology and literary and psychological archetypes. He is noted for his playful, devious and cleverly named creatures, which recur throughout his body of work. Baseman’s art is frequently associated with the lowbrow pop movement, also known as pop surrealism.

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May 25, 2013


Qee [kee] are a collection of designer toys created by Hong Kong-based company Toy2R, which was founded by Raymond Choy in 1995. Qee figures vary in their design. The original Qee has a body that resembles an extremely simplified human form, somewhat similar in appearance to Playmobil or LEGO figures, though distinctively round and squat.

Depending on its theme, a figure may have the head of a bear with asymmetrical ears called a ‘BearBearQ’; a cat called ‘KitCatQ’; a dog called ‘DoggyQ’; a monkey called ‘MonQ’; or a rabbit called ‘Bunee.’

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April 18, 2013

Barry McGee

Barry McGee (b. 1966) is a painter and graffiti artist. He is also known by monikers such as Ray Fong, Lydia Fong, Bernon Vernon, P.Kin, Ray Virgil, Twist and further variations of Twist, such as Twister, Twisty, Twisto and others. McGee graduated from El Camino High School in South San Francisco, California. He later graduated from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1991 with a concentration in painting and printmaking.

McGee rose out of the Mission School art movement (‘New Folk’ or “Urban Rustic’) and graffiti boom in the San Francisco Bay Area during the early nineties. His work draws heavily from a pessimistic view of the urban experience, which he describes as, ‘urban ills, overstimulations, frustrations, addictions & trying to maintain a level head under the constant bombardment of advertising.’

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April 18, 2013

Margaret Kilgallen

Margaret Kilgallen (1967 – 2001) was a San Francisco Bay Area artist. Though a contemporary artist, her work showed a strong influence from folk art. She was considered a central figure in the Bay Area Mission School art movement (sometimes called ‘New Folk’ or ‘Urban Rustic’). Kilgallen was born in Washington, D.C. and grew up nearby in Kensington, Maryland.

She received a BFA in printmaking from Colorado College in 1989 and an MFA from Stanford University in 2001. Though diagnosed with breast cancer, Kilgallen opted to forgo chemotherapy so that she might carry a pregnancy to term. She died in 2001, at age 33, three weeks after the birth of Asha, her daughter with her husband and collaborator Barry McGee.

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March 18, 2013



Brian Donnelly (b. 1974), professionally known as KAWS, is a New York-based artist and designer of limited edition toys and clothing. Donnelly graduated from the School of Visual Arts in New York with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in illustration in 1996. After graduation, KAWS briefly worked for Disney as a freelance animator painting backgrounds. He also contributed to the animated series ‘101 Dalmatians,’ ‘Daria,’ and ‘Doug.’ He began his career as a graffiti artist growing up in Jersey City.

Later moving to New York City in the 1990s, KAWS started subverting imagery on billboards, bus shelters and phone booth advertisements. These reworked advertisements were at first left alone, lasting for up to several months, but as KAWS’ popularity skyrocketed, the ads became increasingly sought after. In addition to New York, KAWS has done work in Paris, London, Berlin and Tokyo. KAWS’s ‘Companion,’ a grayscale figure based on Mickey Mouse with his face obscured by both hands, was adapted into a balloon for the 2012 ‘Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade’ as part of the parade’s ‘Blue Sky Gallery’ feature.

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March 18, 2013

Urban Vinyl

Urban vinyl is a type of designer toy, featuring action figures in particular which are usually made of vinyl. Although the term is sometimes used interchangeably with the term designer toy, it is more accurately used as a modifier: not all designer toys can be considered urban vinyl, while urban vinyl figures are necessarily designer toys, by virtue of the way in which they are produced.

Like designer toys in general, urban vinyl figures feature original designs, small production numbers, and are marketed to collectors, predominantly adults. The urban vinyl trend was initiated by artist Michael Lau, who first created urban vinyl figures in Hong Kong in the late 1990s. Other creators of urban vinyl figures are Japanese artist and designer Takashi Murakami, Australian designer Nathan Jurevicius’s ‘Scarygirl,’ based on characters from his comic of the same name, and produced in conjunction with Hong Kong company Flyingcat, and former graffiti artist KAWS.

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February 8, 2013

Toynbee Tiles

The Toynbee tiles are messages of unknown origin found embedded in asphalt of streets in about two dozen major cities in the United States and four South American capitals. Since the 1980s, several hundred tiles have been discovered. They are generally about the size of an American license plate (roughly 30 cm by 15 cm), but sometimes considerably larger. They contain some variation on the following inscription: ‘TOYNBEE IDEA, IN MOViE `2001, RESURRECT DEAD, ON PLANET JUPITER.’

Some of the more elaborate tiles also feature cryptic political statements or exhort readers to create and install similar tiles of their own. The material used for making the tiles was long a mystery, but evidence has emerged that they may be primarily made of layers of linoleum and asphalt crack-filling compound. Toynbee-tile enthusiasts believe that a native Philadelphian created the tiles because of the large number that appear in the city, their apparent age, and the variety of carving styles.

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February 7, 2013

Steve Powers

Steve Powers (b. 1968) is a New York City artist who at one time wrote graffiti in Philadelphia and New York under the name ESPO (‘Exterior Surface Painting Outreach’). Powers is from Philadelphia’s Overbrook neighborhood; he graduated from Robert E. Lamberton High School in 1987 and took classes at The Art Institute of Philadelphia and the University of the Arts. In 1994, he moved to New York with fellow writer and designer Ari Forman, in order to expand the reach of his magazine, ‘On the Go.’

ESPO’s work often blurred the lines of legality. For example, pieces like ‘Greetings from ESPOLand’ utilized the style of the Asbury Park Billboards and appeared to be a legitimate billboard. In 1997 ESPO began his most ambitious non-commissioned art. He painted on storefront grates in Fort Greene, Bedford-Stuyvesant, TriBeCa, and the South Bronx, covering the entire grate with white or silver paint and then using black to make each grate into a letter in his name.

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September 12, 2012

Gang Signal

Gang Signs

A gang signal is a visual or verbal way gang members identify their affiliation. This can take many forms including slogans, tattoos or hand signs. Many of these, especially slogans and hand signs, have become part of popular culture. ‘Throwing up’ a gang sign (e.g., ‘Stacking,’ ‘walk’) with the hands is one of the most known and obvious forms of ‘claiming.’

It is used in many situations where other identifiers may not be possible or appropriate, and it can also show that a gang member is in the area to ‘do business’ as opposed to just passing through. Usually these signs are made by formation of the fingers on one or both hands to make some sort of symbol or letter. It can also serve to relay more specific information, such as what set they represent within a larger gang or in which activities they are currently taking part.

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August 24, 2012


Natalia Sokol

Voina (literally ‘War’) is a Russian street-art group known for their provocative and politically charged works of performance art. The group has had more than sixty members, including former and current students of the Rodchenko Moscow School of Photography, Moscow State University, and Tartu University. However, the group does not cooperate with state or private institutions, and is not supported by any Russian curators or gallerists.

The activities of Voina have ranged from street protests, symbolic pranks in public places, and performance-art happenings, to vandalism and destruction of public property. More than a dozen criminal cases have been brought against the group. According to its members, Voina has no formal leadership, and all members are considered equal. Conceptions are worked out by Oleg Vorotnikov (a.k.a. ‘Vor,’ ‘Thief ‘– the chief ideologist), Natalia Sokol (a.k.a. ‘Kozlyonok,’ ‘Goatling’ – the chief coordinator), Leonid Nikolayev (a.k.a. ‘Crazy Lenya’) and Alexei Plutser-Sarno (the chief media artist, the author of the group’s media art and texts).

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