Page 1



DrawBridge Street Art, Graffiti Issue






Paint Life

Contents n August

Down the Rabbit Hole Street Art BiP Guess Cave Randoms

4 8 11 14 16







an Francisco spends $20 million annually cleaning up graffiti. Complaints are made and what one person may think is beautiful another may see vandalism. The term “graffiti” has a negative conotation associated with it, yet the term “street art” gets praised. So how exactly do you distiguish street art from graffiti? Public Works works under the common assumption that the presence of graffiti “creates an environment that breeds bigger crimes.” But to the untrained eye, graffiti is not so far off from street art, a hot commodity in the city — and for that matter, trained eyes often don’t separate the two, either. “To me, it’s like asking what’s the difference between two different forms of art,” says graffiti and street-art photographer Gary Glasser.”We see art in all forms. I shoot murals, large and small. Colorful and not so colorful. Some of it may be considered graffiti.. all of it is art.” “In essence, they are both the same,” says street artist Victoriano Rivera. “Each realm is a vessel that acts against the establishment, illegally applying paint or medium to an urban landscape. The difference being that one is a cultural movement; the other, a derivative of that movement, is now a commodity.” “What I feel is that street art is basically gentrified graffiti,” says another artist. “I used to be obsessed with graffiti, but I didn’t have any-


one to do it with so my efforts fizzled out pretty early. I used to spend hours looking at graffiti online and in books. Now that I paint on the street, I think that traditional, letter-based graffiti is too constricting for me — but I still really love and respect it. Those guys risk everything for what they do.” “To me, they are all the same, honestly,” says artist PJ Sierra. “But graffiti is more so a ‘name/ tag’ skill which involves crews and rattlecans. Street art is a hybrid of what graffiti is today. The difference, in my opinion, is the times. Because eventually, graffiti and street art will both be known as self-expression. And whether you’re a graff writer or a street artist, your goal is the same: To prove we existed on this earth by leaving our mark.” Still, that leaves a dilemma: Some residents of the city view these marks as vandalism, while many consider them art. But there are ways to distinguish the difference — and least legally, historically and culturally — and here are ten of them.

10) Graffiti Artists Have Crews Most graffiti artists crew up. In “Tagging Up,” Westword explored the complex relationships within the graffiti world, as well as the massive size of the community: An estimated seventy-seven crews are working in San Francisco; a couple of the largest are TMF and TWS. But then again, there are graffiti writers who don’t identify with a crew at all. Rogue writers who tag on their own include some of the most prolific graffiti writers in San Francisco. Unlike graffiti writers, street artists don’t tend to work their way up the hierarchy of a crew; they often come straight from the studio into the street-art scene. 9) Graffiti Is Harder to Read There are many types of graffiti. Wildstyle is the most difficult graffiti signature to read; it has its own language. Then there is the tag, a signature using just one color, and the most common type of graffiti seen in San Francisco. A throw-up is a signature that uses two or three colors, but is still done quickly. There are also wheat pastes, stencils, slaps (stickers), bubble graffiti, block busters and “bombing,” which refers to the speed with which the work is done and focuses on quantity over quality. 8) Graffiti Gets “Dissed” The hierarchy within the graffiti world is also a factor, reflecting years of conflict that include instances of artists tagging over other artists, or “dissing” the graffiti on the wall, because of long-standing rivalries between their respective crews. Sanctioned

murals are less likely to get dissed: When murals are authorized by the city or businesses — particularly on “problem walls,” places where graffiti tends to pop up the most — 99 percent of the time graffiti writers will respect the art that is put there. If it’s beautiful and complex, taggers leave it alone. 7) Street Artists Use Different Modes of Painting, Graffiti Artists Use Aerosol Aerosol is one of the major factors that separates graffiti writers from other artists. Although street artists may use aerosol, they also employ everything from acrylic and oil paint to projectors, wood or metal, and multimodal materials. Graffiti is all about the freehand use of aerosol. That’s the art’s defining factor, and as most aerosol artists will tell you, it takes years to perfect.

“To me, it’s like asking what’s the difference between two different forms of art.”

6) Street Artists Paint in Broad Daylight If you see artists painting during the day or early evening hours in San Francisco, they are probably creating street art. Street artists are also sometimes given lifts by the company that hired them. Graffiti writers almost always paint in the middle of the night or early morning to insure not getting caught. 5) Street Art Is Abstract Many local street artists have the ability to move from the studio to the street without limitations; they simply consider themselves artists. Similarly, street art is often called urban art, public art or outdoor art, all politically correct terms that attempt to distance street art from graffiti’s bad reputation. 4) Street Artists Use and Sign With Full Name A great sign that you’re looking at street art rather than graffiti is the signature on the bottom right corner of the piece. Often including an Instagram username or the creator’s full name, it is like a modern version of an artist’s signature on a canvas. Graffiti writers in San Francisco work under pseudonyms, often “Super Hero” identities. Street artists who were once graff writers usually pick a new name or begin working under their real name.


3) Street Artists Talk to the Press If you can Google an artist whose work is on the streets, that person is usually a street artist. Graffiti writers are reluctant to talk to the press, because most of the work they have done is illegal and they run the risk of being apprehended for work they may have done years ago. Artist Shepard Fairey, creator of the iconic Hope poster for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, was recently arrested in Los Angeles after the Detroit Police Department issued warrants for his arrest on two counts of malicious destruction of property — for acts he allegedly committed years before.

2) Graffiti is Ever-Changing You are less likely to see a graffiti piece survive the test of time — and not just because SF Public Works will buff it out. Even on permission walls, graffiti is constantly being adding to and painted over: It is the most temporary form of artwork. In contrast, much of the famous street art in San Francisco will be remain untouched for at least a year, and some celebrated murals will be kept intact for years.

Key Terms Graffiti By Kate

-graffiti: Writings or drawings which are scribbled,scratched, or sprayed illicitly on a wall or other public surface -Wildstyle: commonly includes a set of arrows, curves and letters which have been so transformed as to be rendered arcane to the eyes of non-graffiti artists. It has also been common practice to incorporate 3D elements into the pieces. Letter structures are therefore rendered to add depth of visual perception of the work. Many artists have different elements to add to their wildstyle that gain that writer a good deal of respect within the graffiti scene, espe-


cially if one creates his or her own style and stays original and creative. Veteran artists tend to go for more complicated forms of wildstyle in which the types are hard to read but broad in creativity. Getting one’s style mastered is key to achieving this success. -tag: a simple letter font that a writer uses as their alter ego to mark surfaces with, like a signature. -piece: short for masterpiece is generally a thought out body of work including intricate letter structure, sometime characters and other elements are included. -production: A collaboration of artists creating a singular “piece” or multiple “pieces” alongside each other, some with matching color schemes or overlapping themes. -all city: term writers use to declare that they have tagged their whole city or that they want to go “all-city” tagging every

1. Street Art Is Sanctioned, Graffiti Is Not Street art and graffiti both make San Francisco more colorful; they make artistic and political statements that reflect the culture of our city. In the end, the biggest difference between the two is not style, but the fact that graffiti is illegal while street art is sanctioned. “Street art is the evolution of graffiti,” concludes artist Anthony Garcia Sr., a Westword MasterMind.

neighborhood in their city. -bomb: generally a quick 2 letter or shortened version of their tag name created in a hollow/bubble/straight letter structure that is bigger than a tag but smaller than a piece. This is more about quantity. -throw up: The same idea as the bomb but can be the whole tag name instead of a shortened version. -toy: someone new to graffiti or lacks common sense on the rules or isn’t very good style wise. -king: someone who has put in immense work in their scene that is respected by a large body of people. Generally someone who is either known for their style abilities or the quantity of their works one can find. -side bust: someone who places their tag/throwup/piece right next to another persons without their knowledge sometimes overlapping their work.

This is an insult. -hack/dis/cap: in any scene there are people who do not like each other and in the world of graffiti you can demonstrate that by destroying someone else’s’ work by either marking a line through their work (hack/dis) or going over their work (cap). -bubble letters: a letter structure, very bubble like, no hard lines can be found in this letter structure. -characters: a cartoon or stylized version of a non-letter form (think of a cartoon character) -euro style: a European stylized way of writing graffiti that was influenced from old 80s New York train style letter/ character from. -burner: generally a throw up or a piece that has been intact at a location for a long period of time. Burned into a surface, long lasting. -getting up: the act of doing illegal graffiti. -mural: generally a legal form of art work on a wall/public space. Can use any mediums. -street art: a style of art that has influences from graffiti, (use of spray paint, letter structure, scenery or lifestyle depicting urban subculture.) Can be both legal and illegal forms of street art. The artists themselves can have a background in graffiti but their main focus is generally performing larger more thought out bodies of work. -moniker: generally a character along with a nickname. The term moniker generally refers to hobo graffiti where hobos would mark different train cars as a calling card or marking their trips/life along the way. -writer/graffiti writer: identity, someone who writes illegal graffiti would be known as a writer or graffiti writer. -stencil: a cut out of an image used with spray paint generally to mark a surface. The most well known stencil artist would be Banksy. -straight letters: a straight letter structure style/form of graffiti. Generally used to be large scale so it can be read from far away. -Grilled: a surface that is covered by tags or throw-ups on a single area.



BiP Oakland

u sometime?

Can I meet up with yo


ous demands paranoia

Sorry, staying anonym


Why are you still anon

want the rk is illegal, and I don’t Most of my smaller wo ing a public image. distraction of maintain erviews?

Why don’t you do int


that would Don’t have much to say look better on a wall. ll?

Will you paint my wa

representaTalk to my producer at Be prepared tive[at] al piece of art for me to paint an origin lines. No amount of without content guide money changes that.

m or one

e your name? Acrony

How do you pronounc


tter. Do your thing.

Absolutely does not ma


San Fransico

San Francisco


San Fransico

San Fransico


as r G


o sR

s ot

10 7

7P os tS tS F

Relax your Hamster

Street Art or Graffiti? Tenderloin


Pop quiz! Which pieces are street art and which are considered graffiti in this neighborhood of the month!?



1. Olive & Polk

2. Hemlock & Polk


3. Alice B. Toklas & Polk 4. Olive & Larkin



5. Olive & Polk


6. Austin & Polk 7. Post & Larkin


Answers on pg. 16





The 11 year-old Street grafitti artist


n 11 year-old graffiti artist. Damn at 11...hell I don’t remember doing anything that cool at 11. I’m sure a lot of you out there probably were doing amazingly cool stuff but at 11 I was busy watching Looney Tunes and eating ice cream. Sure I slopped a paintbrush on a piece of paper here and there, sharpened a few colored pencils and created scribbles that would reluctantly be hung on the fridge but what this kid creates is, to me, amazing. Mind you, he actually started using a spray can when he was 9 and mentally he was there even before then but at 9 his hands had finally grown enough to actually comfortably hold a spray can and create some spectacular works of (street) art.

“It’s not a gang, its a crew” His graffiti persona goes by the name Cave. His real name unknown since, like many others of the craft, he wishes to remain anonymous as he mimics the rules of the graffiti masters. “They don’t know who they are. Sometimes they do illegal stuff and, you know, that could get you into trouble.” Yet unlike those he references, he only painted on legal walls and in his backyard or at least he did...last year. This year you can find his mark throughout SanFrancsico, the city by the bay he calls home.


Written by Ariana Palafox JPS is his crews name although as of last year his crew only consisted of him alone. “Three letters, someones piece. Its not a gang its a crew.” He says, making sure that the difference between the two is duly noted. “Just painting stuff.” he adds, “JPS that is the crew I’m in by myself because no one really paints my age around here.” He goes on to talk abut having met a boy his age in Berlin that also painted and that it was the best day ever. It’s actually really inspiring to know that even though he obviously yearns for a “crew” he continues to do what he loves even if it’s alone. His observant nature has made him a prodigy of the street art community and his dedication has earned him an internship with Apexer, a well known street artist from San Francisco. You’ve found your art, little dude, I hope you find your crew.


R andom Corner Find the banana somewhere in the magazine and win a high five!

Š Made by Ariana Palafox

Answers Find the dick in the sea of Ducks


1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

Graffiti Street Art Graffiti Street Art Street Art/Mural Gaffiti Street Art

A Poem: If you’re scared to check your bank account You should probably check your bank account The End Convenient ways to check your balance anywhere you are. Life Transactions


Fin Thank you, come again.


The Drawbridge Magazeen  
The Drawbridge Magazeen