Graffiti Lives: Beyond the Tag in New York's Urban Underground

Paperback (Print)
Buy Used
Buy Used from BN.com
$13.00
(Save 41%)
Item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging.
Condition: Used – Good details
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $10.06
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 54%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (14) from $10.06   
  • New (4) from $16.52   
  • Used (10) from $10.06   

Overview

On the sides of buildings, on bridges, billboards, mailboxes, and street signs, and especially in the subway and train tunnels, graffiti covers much of New York City. Love it or hate it, graffiti, from the humble tag to the intricate piece (short for masterpiece), is an undeniable part of the cityscape.

In Graffiti Lives, Gregory J. Snyder offers a fascinating and rare look into this world of contemporary graffiti culture. A world in which kids, often, shoplift for spray paint, scale impossibly high places to find a great spot to “get up,” run from the police, journey into underground train tunnels, fight over turf, and spend countless hours perfecting their style. Over the ten years Snyder studied this culture he even created a few works himself (under the moniker “GWIZ”), found himself serving as a lookout for other artists engaged in this illegal activity, spent time in the train tunnels in search of new work, created a blackbook for writers to tag, and took countless photographs to document this world—over sixty included in the book.

A combination of amazing “flicks” and exhilarating prose, Graffiti Lives is ultimately an exploration into how graffiti writers define themselves. Snyder details that writers are not bound together by appearance or language or birthplace or class but by what they do. And what they do is reach for fame, painting their names as prominently as they can. What’s more, he discovers that, though many public officials think graffiti writing will only lead to other criminal activity, many graffiti writers have turned their youthful exploits into adult careers—from professional aerosol muralists and fine artists to designers of all kinds, employed in such fields as tattooing, studio art, magazine production, fashion, and guerilla marketing. In fact, some of the artists featured have gone on to international acclaim and to their own gallery shows. Snyder’s illuminating work shows that getting up tags, throw-ups, and pieces on New York City’s walls and subway tunnels can lead to getting out into the city’s competitive professional world. Graffiti Lives details the exciting, risky, and surprisingly rewarding pursuits of contemporary graffiti writers.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"In his first book, fan and socio-anthropologist Snyder doesn’t just celebrate urban street art and its rising stars, but takes a thorough look at its history and future, the language of public art and the idea of the graffiti artist as criminal—including an intriguing challenge to the ‘broken windows theory’ cited by law enforcement and NYC government officials as central to their efforts. Along the way he decodes a backdoor in the East Village covered with a dozen different tags—’in the same way that the sedimentary layers of ancient ruins inspire archaeologists to tell tales of past civilizations’—profiles rising and established stars, and takes a raw, detailed tour of the scene. . . . Snyder’s ‘the kids are alright’ assessment, buttressed by many examples of thrill-seeking taggers finding successful careers in art, design, publishing, and (commissioned) mural-painting, is well-articulated, convincing, and quite possibly reassuring for the urbanites living among (or perhaps raising) today's writers and bombers."
-Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review

,

"Outstanding, innovative, and multidimensional. . . . I can easily see this book becoming the new ‘best book on graffiti.’ "

-Joe Austin,author of Taking the Train: How Graffiti Art Became an Urban Crisis in New York City

"Graffiti lives! proclaims author Snyder in this new, vaguely academic account of graffiti in the urban underground—particularly New York."
-New York Post

,

“Graffiti writers, the book argues, cannot be understood merely as practitioners of vandalism and social disorder, but also as members of a diverse subculture who, in many cases, have used their experiences to build legitimate careers.”
-The New York Times

,

"Will prompt readers to look again at graffiti scrawls they may previously have ignored."

-Kirkus Reviews,

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

In his first book, fan and socio-anthropologist Snyder doesn't just celebrate urban street art and its rising stars, but takes a thorough look at its history and future, the language of public art and the idea of the graffiti artist as criminal-including an intriguing challenge to the "broken windows theory" cited by law enforcement and NYC government officials as central to their efforts. Along the way he decodes a backdoor in the East Village covered with a dozen different tags-"in the same way that the sedimentary layers of ancient ruins inspire archaeologists to tell tales of past civilizations"-profiles rising and established stars, and takes a raw, detailed tour of the scene with guidance from writers like ESPO, MEK, and AMAZE (their trip through the "Freedom Tunnel" from 72nd Street to 125th Street under Riverside Drive is especially exciting). Snyder's "the kids are alright" assessment, buttressed by many examples of thrill-seeking taggers finding successful careers in art, design, publishing, and (commissioned) mural-painting, is well-articulated, convincing, and quite possibly reassuring for the urbanites living among (or perhaps raising) today's writers and bombers.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Kirkus Reviews
Not all graffiti artists are hoodlums, declares Snyder (Sociology and Anthropology/Baruch Coll.). Possibly the best thing about this ethnographic thesis on New York graffiti artists is that the author doesn't pretend to be one of them. He exhaustively lays out his own background-Irish-Catholic kid in Green Bay, Wis.; ardent lover of punk rock and hip-hop in college; misfit graduate student at the New School in New York City-before getting much into those of the men he is writing about. (This is not, by and large, a woman's world.) Snyder follows ethnographic discipline to a fault, explaining time and again what his methods of field research were and how he came into contact with the graffiti "writers" who spread their art over the walls, tunnels and store grates of New York. More suitable for a paper being presented to a degree review board than for a general-interest book, this approach doesn't leave much room for his actual on-the-ground research, most of which was conducted in the late '90s and is now out of date. There are some worthwhile passages amid the portentously deployed academese, however, particularly those on the writers' actual working methods. Snyder may hammer home a few points with numbing repetitiveness, but the points are worth making. First, the connection between rap culture and graffiti is weaker than most people believe; many of the artists here identify more closely with punk than rap. Second, graffiti as an art form doesn't necessarily have a direct link to criminality. The author points out that it's frequently thicker in tourist areas like Soho than in poorer, less-trafficked locales, showing that for most writers having their work seen is more important thananything else. Snyder, who clearly became too close to his subjects to retain much objectivity, too breezily brushes aside citizens' concerns about graffiti. Nonetheless, his book will prompt readers to look again at graffiti scrawls they may previously have ignored. A few kernels of insight buried under layers of grad-student balderdash.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814740460
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 4/15/2011
  • Pages: 252
  • Sales rank: 1,020,763
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Gregory J. Snyder is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Baruch College, City University of New York.
Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Prologue xi

Introduction 1

1 Getting In

Starting the Blackbook 13

A Brief History of Graffiti Writing 23

Crime Space vs. Cool Space: Breaking Down Broken Windows 47

2 Getting up

VERT: First Contact 59

Writers Block: Blackbook in the Streets 65

Welcome to ESPO Land 73

ESPO: Illustrating Struggle 81

Into the Tunnel: Under Manhattan 85

A Pilgrimage to MEK: A Bronx Graffiti Tour 89

Legal Graffiti: Contemporary Permission Spots 97

Style Points: ESPO s Brooklyn Mural 105

Illustrating Criminal: Split PSOUP 115

AME: Bombing Styles, Inventing Self 119

AMAZE: Out-of-Towner Gets Up in the Tunnel 129

The Grate Graffiti Solution: ESPO s Public Surface Announcement 137

3 Getting Out

Over the Wall: Graffiti Media and Creating a Career 147

Writing Style: It's Not What You Wear 159

Career Opportunities: Rewriting Subculture Resistance 167

Timmy Tattoo: Timmy's Long Island Tattoo Shop 173

Gabe Banner: Market Wise 177

ESPO/Steve Powers: Dreamland Artist Club 181

CODA: Graffiti for Life 189

Appendix: The New Ethnography 191

Glossary 199

Notes 203

Bibliography 219

Index 227

About the Author 241

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)