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Graffiti - Street Art or just Vandalism?


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Feeling most bored this evening, so thought I would get a debate going about the classic subject of Graffiti.


What be your opinion? Obviously example like the one below are an eyesore, but I cant help admiring stuff like the Inch (Scourge of The Chronicle) one on the right. Used to love going along Chilly Road on the Metro when I was a kid aswell, some awesome pieces along there.


http://blogs.phillyburbs.com/news/bcct/wp-content/blogs.dir/2/files/2008/May/Tuesday/vandalism.jpg http://www.graffiti.org/dj/n-igma14/newcastle/large/inch.jpg

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Guest lankybellwipe

Feeling most bored this evening, so thought I would get a debate going about the classic subject of Graffiti.


What be your opinion? Obviously example like the one below are an eyesore, but I cant help admiring stuff like the Inch (Scourge of The Chronicle) one on the right. Used to love going along Chilly Road on the Metro when I was a kid aswell, some awesome pieces along there.


http://blogs.phillyburbs.com/news/bcct/wp-content/blogs.dir/2/files/2008/May/Tuesday/vandalism.jpg http://www.graffiti.org/dj/n-igma14/newcastle/large/inch.jpg


That says Inch? I'd have to waste hundreds of pounds in fares to work it out!!


In answer......... love some, hate some/most!  Can't see the prob with keeping the love!

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Got an inch tag on the back of my shed, either he was trying to do it in record time or it's a fake though.


Love the Banksy style ones.











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Don't know if people ever seen this interview with Inch, worth a read like if you've got an interest in this sort of thing. It's from back in 2004, around the time he started writing Avek.




Increase the Piece interviews another of the North Easts most prolific writers. Inch of TNS shares his experiences, and gives his views on various aspects of graffiti and graffiti culture.


ITP: In many ways it's ironic that the biggest writer in the North of England writes the word INCH. Was there a conscious effort when first deciding to write this?


INCH: Basically I was going to write SINCH. But it was 5 letters, someone already wrote it, not up here, but rounded it down to 4 letters. Drop the S really.


ITP: When did that start?


INCH: I did it early nineties then I didn't do a lot with it, then I came back mid-nineties and doing it again a bit more prolifically.


ITP: Just to set the record straight, who are the current members of TNS?


INCH: (laughs) Basically it isn't my crew per say. I mean, yeah I write it but other people write it now. Yeah it's a close-knit thing, there is some fringe elements of people who would say that they're in it. I'm probably gonna be really embarrassed and miss someone out, but the core people… Skire writes it, Royal, Orbis, Fine, Inch obviously, Task and Open writes it. Spyra, Grub and Sebz write it, and there are some new kids in it, Avek for example. So there's a base of about 4 or 5 core people who've wrote it since the early nineties, then there's about 5 or 6 people who've wrote it late nineties early 2000. And the only people who've got any leeway with it, is the old 4 or 5. Like they're the only people who can bring in new crew members.


ITP: And the original meaning of TNS?


INCH: There was two. "Taking No Shit" or "Taking No Shorts" which are essentially the same thing, and "The New Style". Then there was "They Never Sleep", then there was a whole other bunch of meanings, but it's basically those core three meanings.


ITP: How have your views, regarding the graffiti scene as a whole changed from the first few years as a writer, compared to current days views, if at all?


INCH: I dunno, you never question your opinions when you've done it for quite a long period of time. You don't really think about it too much. It's kind of like second nature. Peaks and troughs really. It's quite good at the moment, paint's relatively cheap and there's good paint out. I mean, a lot people would bitch like "it was never like that back in the day - give all these kids a bunch of Carplan", but I ain't arsed about that. Again, you'll get the kids saying "Yeah, but you had 3 hours to do there". You know, it's all different opinions from people.


ITP: How many times have you been arrested for "Art Crimes"?


INCH: [Laughs] Well, I sum it up with one sentence. I've never been charged or done for INCH! I know they've tried to charge several people, but not the real perpetrator!


ITP: There's many ways people try to push younger writers in the right direction, like community youth projects and legal halls of fame etc, but at the end of the day there's always gonna be some kid who wants to write his name illegally. Are they wasting their time? (That's the community worker, not the kid!)


INCH: Well, the keyword in that sentence was Youth. Wasn't it? If there's a bit of a misdemeanour, a bit of a buzz factor, kids will invariably go through, what police would perhaps categorise as, petty crime. I don't think there's any way of them avoiding it really. I mean, workshops are really good but then it's Catch 22, like where can you do it after there? You get all these kids down a youth group, give them all a bunch of paint, get them all excited, show them how to do it, then you say, "you can't do it unless your Dad's prepared to let you decorate the inside of his garage". It's good that they're doing these things but they should think a bit more about it. There should be some location, I think they're looking into that now.


ITP: Over the years you've obviously influenced a lot of North East writers. What kind of influence do you hope you have given them?


INCH: Just to get up and do something for themselves really. I don't think anyone's particularly anyone's took anything from me, any specific element. Question authority, and have fun, and just go for it really!


ITP: When you first seen the "Pinch Inch" article on the front page of the Evening Chronicle, what was your reaction?


INCH: I was surprised that they'd glorified a certain individual, naming them [iNCH]. They don't normally go as far as naming a specific writer. They usually use archive examples of graffiti so they're not inciting certain people. It's a curious one, I just thought that there was no news that week! I dunno, the title was quite good. The imagination that must have went into that [laughs]!




ITP: How do you view the governments concerned efforts to clampdown on graffiti as "Unsociable Behaviour" and the recent Crimestoppers "Shop a Vandal for £500" campaign? Do you think any of this will reduce the amount of graffiti being done, or do think it just raises the stakes?


INCH: Cat and mouse, raises the stakes. But it's just a scapegoat, it's a load of bollocks. They're just saying graffiti is the bottom rung of the ladder, give them two years and they'll be robbing your gran and be on crack cocaine! It's a soft target. It's one of these crimes where they can make a visible effect on it to the public as an example. Where they cannot really, other than give you a bunch of statistics, say we've cleaned there and the public can see for themselves if they've done that. But it's a bit harder with other crimes to make it so visually evident that they've done something about it, where with graffiti they kind of can.


ITP: Going back to the "Shop a Vandal" campaign where they had the 12 most wanted, who do you think should have been on there, apart from yourself?


INCH: (Laughs) With regard to straight up damage, consistency and doing it long activity and going the distance, NEMA could be in a lot of trouble if they pin anything on him. Some of the London kids. COS, he's killed it. It's weird 'cause my attention's turned to areas in England where they have a subway system, 'cause that's predominantly where you're gonna get a prolific and large amount of graffiti. Glasgow and Liverpool, a few kids there, but most of it's London. But some of the DDS, ZOMBIE, TOXIN and ELEMENT and all them, they're just absolutely, from nowhere, just killing it.


ITP: You touched on something earlier, with people saying that it leads onto other crimes. Yourself for instance, don't do any other crimes…


INCH: Apart from trespassing! But yeah, I've painted off and on for 10-15 years and haven't progressed onto any other crime. I'm a perfectly rounded adult and approachable human being you know. I'm a respectable person. I have morals as well!


ITP: What's your best and worst graffiti memory?


INCH: It's hard to pinpoint when you're put on the spot. I mean, obviously there's so many highs otherwise I wouldn't have been doing it. I like the buzz of actually physically doing it, and the fun and everything that goes with it sometimes more than the finished product of the painted piece. The worst is possibly the some of disappointment when you go on a mission and you travel some distance to do somewhere, and you've waited in the field for ages, and the British Rail workmen seem to be like, 10 guys and 1 spanner. And they're literally tightening one nut and it's taken them all night. All that can be a fuck on and a hassle. The train missions are good though, I like the roofs as well, something that's challenging.


ITP: You're quite well know for the rooftops…


INCH: Yeah, it's the excitement, the adrenaline sort of thing. That's the thing, they introduce all this security and that just makes you think, shit, I'm just gonna prove them wrong and go in there and do it. And that's kind of what sets everyone away. "They've got camera's, you couldn't do that" and that's like raising a red flag to a bull!


ITP: Pretty much what's happening with the Metro at the moment when the camera's aren't even working…


INCH: Then they put it in the paper announcing it and they wonder why it's repeatedly getting painted! But it's a part time solution to a full time problem, that's just pushing it from A to B. That's just them and their statistics really. A camera will not stop it, it'll either push it to another area or just mean you get a low denomination of graffiti, as opposed to getting colour pieces, it'll reduce it to throw-ups, perhaps tags.


ITP: Where is the most outrageous location for one of your pieces, dubs or tags?


INCH: All the roof action's pretty good 'cause you get screwed if you get seen. I don't know the name of the street in town, but it's next to Wilkinsons. Basically it was like "Jump London". To get to the end building we had to go up a full street going across roofs and entailed a whole load of stuff. I mean, we got halfway along the whole street and one of the roofs was flat and dropped in, and the next gable end peak was really high so we had to go back, get down, get some ladders off the scaffold we climbed up, cut that and then go over with these ladders. And this is all in the centre of town, cameras at the top of the street, and then when we physically got to the bit we wanted to paint, it was literally facing a hotel. Across the street was a six-storey hotel with god knows how many windows.


All the backjumps and bush whacking trains, when the drivers in, all the subway action. Stuff with third rail's usually adds a bit more into the equation!


ITP: Are you influenced by anything outside of graffiti for your artwork?


INCH: Basically, Henry Chalfont's got a lot to answer for! I mean, I like old New York subway graffiti, if I ever wanted to get inspiration to go out, put StyleWars on. You know how people in America take McDonalds to court for obesity? I'm sure something in a court case could try it on Henry Chalfont! [laughs]


ITP: So are you into any other kind of medium of art, popart etc?


INCH: I can relate to it and appreciate it but I'd just be trying to be cool and hip if I said I was into it!


ITP: Who are your favourite past and present writers?


INCH: Present writers, some of the NM kids. It took me a while 'cause his style was a bit offkey, and took a bit to win me around, but I quite like THE. PIZ and NYLON. I've always liked SKORE.


Blade and Comet from the seventies. Theirs was a lot of prolific, no-frills, in your face, blockbuster sort of stuff, and it really worked. It's usually the people who influence is the people I paint with. It's really hard to have an opinion about some when you know them as an individual. It's like you're blind to their imperfections, because you know them on a personal level and know them as individuals.


ITP: I can see influences in your work when you said you like the blockbuster stuff and the easy to read stuff…


INCH: I like graffiti to be graffiti. These big productions, I think they're too busy and trying to impress people outside of the cult. I mean, mine's transit orientated so you've only got so long to get your message across. It's like "umph!" there it is, gone! It's kinda spontaneous, it's gotta be "do you like it or not?" It's not "I like it because…I've had a look at it for the past 10 minutes… the detail…". Graffiti's not to be really examined or picked at, it's not like fine art or anything.


By the time graffiti reaches the media it's all well and good, but I'd encourage people to see it in it's environment, the way it's supposed to be seen. Like you could go on the train and scour the tracks looking to see if there's anything new, and that's the best way to encounter it. The surprise! A photo is second generation graffiti. The colours ain't as good, the impact is taken out of it, it's like 2 dimensional. Then by the time it reaches media, it's doing nothing more than documenting something that isn't going to be there in the future. It kinda takes the edge off it a bit.


ITP: Any last messages?


INCH: Just try to have fun and, I know it sounds lame, but do it from your heart, you know. But you've gotta be careful now 'cause the authorities are really taking it serious and they're trying to make scapegoats out of people, so keep a clean house and be well protected! Sounds like a sex thing! [laughs]. Just have a lot of fun while you can, while you're young, you only got one life. Just go out and be creative, have fun but be very careful. But seriously there's no such thing as being too careful. Forensics, cameras everywhere. Big brother 1984 society now!


Oh yeah, and "Free Kazom, Kaper and Anders!"



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it can look good in the right place.


when did it start here?

i was watching something on tv the other day, cant remember what, it was from the 60s, in London. I was amazed at how clean , tidy the place was and not a hint of graffiti on the tube. it was like another ' clean' place.

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