Magazine article Eye : The International Review of Graphic Design

The Words of the Prophets

Magazine article Eye : The International Review of Graphic Design

The Words of the Prophets

Article excerpt

Subway Art by photographers Martha Cooper and Henry Chalfant (Thames & Hudson, 1984) changed my life, writes Henrik Kubel. It was the basis for developing my own style of graffiti lettering. Looking at 'burners' on New York subway trains was the biggest inspiration an up-and-coming, twelve-year-old graffiti artist could ever wish for, and aspire to. The impressive spray-can art of 'writers' such as Skeme, Dondi, Seen, Quick and Revolt made my heart beat. Seeing their work inspired me to become part of the underground graffiti movement in Denmark, walking on the tracks at night, waiting in the yard for the guard (and his dog) to have a tea break before 'hitting the train' ... always on the run, always on the lookout, day and night. It was my life, I lived it, and not a week went by without looking in Subway Art.

The book documents the work and lives of New York graffiti artists from 1970 to the early 80s, including Cooper's MAD (1981) and MIDG (1982) shown above. Subway Art shows the scene and culture in simple fashion with artist interviews, behind-the-scenes photos, tales from the yard, hundreds of photographs of train pieces, throw-ups, tags, and a unique A to Z of the language developed by the graffiti writers to describe what they do. …

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