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grafitti/grəˈfiːti/

writing or drawings scribbled, scratched, or sprayed illicitly on a wall or other surface in a public place

origin: mid 19th century: from Italian (plural), from graffio ‘a scratch’

I’m back into my definitions after a week off. I love the way they look. Today, my chosen word is graffiti. Graffiti has been a huge part of my life ever since I was about 21. I didn’t know it was to be this way. I had a boyfriend. Boyfriends have obsessions. His was just this. Graff.

He had a crew.  They scribbled away in books every evening, planning to go out into the cold misty mornings in Bristol, London, Leicester, and paint. Little did I know at the time, how dramatically the world’s view on graffiti and street art would change. Nor, how my family’s view in more recent times, would change.  Moreover, neither did any of these boys. They had a passion, and they followed it.

Many days I stood there, pretending to look interested, freezing and wishing I were inside a warm pub, or shopping centre. I definitely showed keen curiosity at the start, looking at photos and sketches, hanging out with the crew, telling people proudly, my boyfriend was a ‘graff artist’. It was cool, right? When it came to the crunch, however, there were many days when I didn’t want to get up at 5am, or stand out in the freezing cold, or pose, in front of a piece, for a photo.  You see, I liked it, I thought it was cool – but it wasn’t my passion. 

Graffiti has become such a widespread phenomenon. If you type the word ‘graffiti’ into Google, an actual online graffiti creator appears, where you can type anything and it becomes graphotised! How it cheapens the real talent.  These guys, they were the real deal. They weren’t in it to show off, or for fame, or money, they actually took risks… and they REALLY loved what they did. Now, looking back. I have to take off my hat to them all. They stuck at it. They are the true artists.

Surprisingly enough, I’m not going to launch into an online debate of the art versus vandalism topic. I don’t need to, it’s already been done so many times before and it’s not a subject for today.  But…if you ever do just think of it as mindless vandalism… take a moment to think about the hours spent poring over sketchbooks, the money spent on paint, and the  long days outside in the cold grey haze of the UK, suffering for your art.

On this day, I simply want to say this… if you have found your passion, your thing – keep at it. Even if you are the underdog, you make no money from it, or have other responsibilities, keep at it, at the weekends, in the evenings… because it’s ‘your thing’. Nobody can take that away from you. And you never know… one day.. ..it might just be the next big thing……

For Tosh….. Who always did his thing. His dream kept alive by the STR crew. And for the STR Crew, and all the boys in Bristol, Cardiff and Devon, who now keep the dream of Tosh alive. And Oner…who he nearly gave his day job up for………

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2 Comments Post a comment
  1. A poignant tribute & a great behind-the-scenes snapshot of a little known yet very familiar world.

    January 14, 2012
  2. jen #

    Em
    you are in my thoughts.
    Lovexxxxxxxxxx

    January 25, 2012

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