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By Eric Felisbret (DEAL CIA)
Contributions by Luke Felisbret (SPAR ONE)
Foreword by James Prigoff


Decades after the movement globalized, New York is still the mecca of graffiti culture. Painting there is a badge of honor, with graffiti artists from around the globe making pilgrimages to New York for that purpose. This is the city where it all began.

There have been many books and films documenting New York City's graffiti movement, but most focus on specific time periods. Graffiti New York fills that gap, detailing the concepts, aesthetics, ideals, and social structures that have served as a cultural blueprint for graffiti movements across the world.

The book features approximately 1,000 images, complemented by texts by the authors and relevant players in the movement, as well as descriptive graphics and sidebars. Ranging from the birth of simple signature tags to today’s vibrant murals, and covering the ups and downs of the movement, the culture’s value system, its social framework, the various forms of graffiti, and significant artists and crews. Readers will depart with a greater appreciation and understanding of the culture and will be able to observe graffiti with an informed eye.

We have been documenting graffiti for over thirty years. As native New Yorkers we have had the privilege of observing this art form from its earliest stages. During our childhood in the early 1970s one of our favorite pastimes was counting the frequency of individual tags on the subways... JOE, FRANK, BABY FACE, COCO STITCH! We were fascinated! In time our fascination got the better of us and in mid 1970s we picked up markers and joined a force already several thousand strong.

Our passion for graffiti ran much deeper than just the desire to tag.  We were intrigued by all aspects of the movement and made it our objective to learn every detail we could about the culture and its history. We began to photograph graffiti on the city's streets and subways and conduct informal interviews with the artists. Being active artists allowed for intimate access to and a first-hand understanding of the culture. It has been a very rich experience and we are lucky enough to count some of the most influential figures in the culture among our personal friends and collectively we are aquainted with hundreds of artists.

With the advent of the Internet we decided to work on a project that would enable us to share the culture's important stories with new generations of artists and the general public.  In 1998 we launched first Web site dedicated exclusively to the history of New York graffiti.

We had been working on the site for several years, and wanted to produce a book, but we were holding out for the right opportunity. The right opportunity came to us via James Prigoff (co-author of the classic Spraycan Art). Jim put us in contact with Harry N. Abrams. We were excited about the possibility of working with Abrams because we were impressed by the quality of their previous graffiti-based titles. In particular, Steve Grody's Graffiti LA.  Our thought was to create a companion piece based on the New York scene. We met with Abrams and submitted a formal proposal which was well received.

The New York story is largely an oral history, told from generation to generation from many perspectives, so we felt it was important for the artists' actual words to play a large part in the telling of the story in this book.

New York's history is quite vast, so it is impossible to cover every major artist and crew, at least in the confines of 340 pages. So we made substantial effort to interview a diverse segment of the community as we could--a cross section that would present a clear picture of the movement as a whole.

One of the biggest challenges was coordinating schedules with many of the artists we wanted to appear in the book.  While we were able to connect with the bulk of artists there are some that we were unable to pin down prior to the publisher's deadline. By the same token we were lucky enough to secure interviews with elusive individuals that rarely grant interviews.

In addition to photographs from our thirty-year collection, the book also features photos from some of the artists’ portfolios. Also several well-known photographers were gracious enough to share images from their collections, including Henry Chalfant, Flint Genarri, William Green, Jon Narr, Ernie Panicolli and James Prigoff.

We hope you enjoy Graffiti New York.

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