Seeing as one of my bookshelves hast just collapsed due to excessive amount of rapspray books I think this may be a poignant time to highlight some of my personal favourites. It seems like every month another weighty tome gets chucked at us, and its about time to sort some of the wheat from the chaff. Heres ten good ones in no particular order.
Espo’s book really was a bit of an eye opener and a natural progression once you had peeped Subway Art and Spraycan Art. Kinda like progressing from weed to hash. Cool storys, good selection of famous and lesser-known writers, and nifty hints for teenage toys. My copy is mysteriously disintegrating due to poor binding though so you might wanna get a newer reprint.
Beat the clock
Theres nothing worse that a shit throwup, seriously. I know you’re supposed to make it look effortless and quick, but some writers have just got it and others don’t. WUFC, GT FMK and some others show you how its done. Good binding and solid format.
Moses and Taps: International Topsprayer
What’s there left to say about this book that hasn’t already been scribbled on the interwebs? Some of the pieces and concepts here are just next level and very, very clever. To the point of autistic spectrum disorder. The german text reads well and is written somewhat like a police report in that it uses a lot of technical terminology. I gather the english text is a bit laborious and doesn’t work quite as well. The book itself is a lovely piece of work and very slick. Well worth the asking price.
Fuzz One: A Bronx Childhood
Never mind graffiti books, this is one of my favourite books of all time. Period. Fuzz’s autobiography is packed with some gnarly stories about life in NY in the 70s and 80s and some of the stuff contained is truly hair raising. You reckon you’re a proper hard ass after doing a few all-nighters? Fuzz was out painting trains at the age of 11. I have no problem admitting I was indoors playing with lego and drinking Horlicks at that age. I’ve never been hunted down by gangs equipped with golf clubs either. Or ever come close to half of the crazy shit Fuzz recounts here. The text is coupled with cool original photos and plenty of action shots. A must if you have a reading age of above that of the average Sun reader.
Surf the City
There was a time when Stylefile was the best magazine coming out of Europe hands down. Slick production, good photo quality, solid lay outs. Surf the City was among their first hardback publications and a real eye opener to me in my toy days. Page after page of painted steel in all its varieties. A spot hunters dream.
Million Dollar Vandal
I love seeing a few good insides and sleek handstyles, and Desa’s book has got them to boot. He managed to gain a serious amount of notoriety for doing a bit of damage in the 90s. This book contains lots of newspaper clippings and stories to illustrate what happened at the time. Also has funky print-jobs and some very nice photography. An excellent book if you can get your hands on it, will make you want to turn your missus roll-on into a mop in a flash.
Style; Writing from the Underground.
There have been a fair few books about the early days of NY graffiti, but they all pale into comparison to this. Phase 2 had a hand in getting this made, and it appears to have been printed by some Italian operation. Bit of a weird one but very, very informative and analytical about the styles and writers of the first wave of trainwriting. Good luck finding a copy, I jacked this from a kid in high school and have never seen or heard of another one.
Had to include this, does what it says on the tin.
Rockin’ It Suckers; New York City’s Most Wanted Graffiti Vandals
I wish this book was just a bit longer than it is! Proof of its quality is the fact that every lame graff tumblr out there has stolen at least four photos from this book since its publication. On a similar note I would recommend Sento and Ghosts On The Run books.
Won ABC’s epic graphic novel really is a bit of an undiscovered masterpiece. A must for anyone interested in characters, most of this was put together while he was inside for aerosol related offences. The comic is scattered with photos of his trainwriting days, and seriously he pulled of a few things people would have trouble with these days. Just check out the dragon e2e’s. I heard there was a second installment of this but I never managed to track it down.
Honourable mentions to “All City Writers” (would have reviewed it but I am currently using it as a makeshift dinner table), and Supe’s “Le Team Manager” (which is more of an exhibition catalogue than a book).
PS: I had to play it straight and buy most of these books, but Im happy to review any material if you send it me gratis.