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> The history of graffiti Issue: 2009-1 Section: Other



How graffiti started

The new artistic phenomenon that has already spread all over the world is named Graffiti.

This movement started in New York around 1960 to 1970.

In reality it started from a bunch of kids who wrote their names or their nicknames on the walls, mailboxes, telephone booths, underground crossings and on the electric railway and the subway.

In that way, a competition evolved between them about who would do the most signatures. At all probability then the most signatures were TAKI’S 183, according his interview in 1971 for the New York Times newspaper.

The real name of TAKI was Jim, a young Greek boy who worked in New York as a child for all chores.

He traveled a lot with the electric railway and in his trips he used to write his name everywhere. Some other writers of that period were JOE 136, BARBARA.62, EEL159, YANK 135, EVA 62.

Their names were written in public places and day after day they became heroes in their area.

After the invention of spray things became easier and therefore many people started to be occupied with this activity.

As a result, no more space was available for further painting.

It was essential to find something new. They began to make bigger letters while they put an outline (with a different color from the one inside). Thus, the new style of Graffiti was born which was named piece. In 1976, Caine 1 painted a whole train all by himself.

After that a team known as crew the fabulous five painted the second train in the history of Graffiti.

At that time, the writers worked hard to build their own style embodying other elements like commas, full stops etc.

One of the greatest inventions of Graffiti was made by Phase 2 and that was the arrow (the same one invented the so-called bubble style). The letters were no longer obvious.

Therefore, this new technique imported a new style that afterwards was named wild style. A consequence of this was the creation of new elements of background.

Back then, the writers cost hundreds of million dollars.

Guards were employed to monitor the movements of the writers. Some guards had started to become more violent to those who painted trains, so after a while only walls were painted.

In 1983, Yaki Kornbl, a merchant from Amsterdam, went to New York and tried to find the most talented writers.

He wanted to promote this type of art to the European market. He thought that it would be just like 20 years ago when pop-art had been successful in Europe.

Yaki formed a group of accomplished writers who took part only in serious competitions in New York.

In this group many famous talented people such as Dondi, Crash, Ramellzee, Zephyr, Futura 2000, Quik, Lady Pink, Seen, Blade, Bil Blast were included.

Their events in the Museum Boymans van Beuningen had major success.

The critics looked at their work positively. The young guys from Holland were (and possibly still are) very insubordinate, so at that time you could see Graffiti signatures every where in the street. At the same time there would be the historical meeting of writers from New York with writers from Amsterdam.

Consequence of this was the beginning of the creation of two separate groups of writers. The first one began to make genuine art, with new motives and inspirations.

Their art began to become more complex, skillful and of course very well paid.

The other groups were more traditional writers who painted the walls. That kind of group mainly referred to young people and it was united with other types of art, as the break-dance, the rappers and the dj.

All together seemed to be the culture of the hip-hop in the street. At the beginning of 1980, the hip-hop culture had become more popular in America and it began to develop in Europe.

The most important thing is that the media promoted this culture.

Thanks to them, the hip-hop culture became known and thus a lot of young artists became popular (Star Bambata, The rocky steady crew, Phase 2, Blade etc.).

In Spain, B-boys are dreaming to enter the crew Africa Bambata-Zulu Nations in the near future.

In Great Britain, you could once find the signature of Zulu almost everywhere.

In a lot of cities, in Europe and in America Graffiti began to spread even faster after the exhibition of Rocky Steady Crew, because one of the members was a famous writer from N.Y.

But the most characteristic factor for the spread of graffiti was the beat street, a documentary.


Graffiti as a concept

Graffiti, according Wikipedia, is the expression of emotions or the painting on obvious sites, public places (walls).

But for those who paint graffities, the above mean nothing.

Graffiti is something more than just painting.

It is personal expression, a way of life, a way of communication in an alienated world. It’s an art full of ideas, emotions and views but also worries of the younger generation.

The works of these delegate artists acts as a punch towards the establishment, the social stereotypes, everything they want to change, a statement of what they love, they like and what they identify with.

Unfortunately governments consider graffiti vandalism and illegal action, that’s why the Commission of Environment and the European Union established the persecution on the ground of decimation of public property.

In the most of cases, Graffiti writers get autonomously and spontaneously, without taking any approval from the relevant to depict the wall of an abandoned house or the wagon of a train.


The history of graffiti in Greece

Graffiti first came to Greece in 1986, with colorful patterns and messages mainly on wagons of trains.

The Greek community faced the issue a bit reluctantly without paying any particular attention, until the first international magazines showed up , like True colors and Style wars , that dealt with the theme and prepared the ground for its evolution from then on.


In 1998, the institution of the Greek national festival of graffiti was established in collaboration with the Greek –American union while at the end of the same year the first list-album of the Greek graffiti was released.

From the 22 of June until the 21 of July 2002 in ten cities of Greece the Chromopolis festival took place, which was organized by Carpe Diem magazine, with the support of the Ministry of Culture.

The artists painted buildings with main subjects such as peace, friendship, solidarity etc.

From the appearance of the first graffiti up until now, there is a permanent evolution of the art of graffiti but also a more general acceptance by the community, something which is a good sign for the artists of the street.


All pictures included are original, except of 2,7,8 taken by internet.

They have been done by the writer of this article and other Greek students especially from our school (i.e. Tikelis Panos).


We ask from students of all the European schools to send their graffities to this magazine so we get to know better each other and become a bigger family.



I would like to thank Tsaireli Olga and Vassilou Kiki for the English translation and Tikelis Panos for his graffities.



  • STEVE DASK: Graffiti. Art works 2008;
  • STEVE DASK: Art series. Art works 2006;