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Scrap Yard

Until recently, I did not know there was a retail graffiti business. I assumed that the purveyors of the activity availed themselves of the various supplies from art and hardware stores. Like anything else, however, if there is a demand, someone will provide a supply. This small shop, the Scrap Yard at 300 West Broadway in SoHo just north of Canal Street, is owned and operated by Mark Awfe. It carries the requisite materials (paints, spray caps, etc.) and many other items such as T-shirts, hats, DVDs, books, magazines, mixed tapes, fat caps, video graff, collectibles – all related to graffiti. Click here for a peek inside.

In reading about graffiti, I found a world with its own language/grammar, images, and culture. All of it foreign to me – the conversation on various graffiti sites was essentially unintelligible. There are many famous graffiti artists, like the mysterious Cost and Revs, whose work has appeared citywide. There are websites such as 12ozProphet (originally a magazine from 1993), akanyc, and fourthehardway. Although the term graffito (plural graffiti) means to inscribe or scratch and goes back to Roman times, the term graffiti now generally implies vandalism – art done on a public surface without permission of the owner. I am seeing references in reading to legal graffiti, a strange concept since the essence of graffiti has been its outlaw rebel element. It will be interesting to see if this activity will morph in some way to become benign and more commercial…

31 Responses to Scrap Yard

  1. Keith Haring was the only graffitti artist I ever liked. I used to see his little crocodiles all over Manhattan.

    Mostly I think graffitti is psychologically threatening… giving the impression that public spaces are ruled by lawlessness and crime.

    Mostly I think graffitti is artistically boring at best… and usually it’s totally obnoxious. Mostly it’s all bravado and contempt for what used to be a public space.

    Basically I think it’s just criminal really.
    Why don’t they just get a canvas and paint on that like every other artist?

    Ugh!

  2. Interesting… thanks for the post.

  3. This is indeed a different and fascinating store. Whether it is accurate or not, I make a distinction between graffiti and murals. To me graffiti is definitely unwelcome and an intrusion on public and private space; murals, which I love, on the other hand, are usually commissioned and serve somekind of useful purpose: to beautify, to inform, to educate, to entertain, to advertise, and the list goes on. I think I’ll start looking for murals again here in Mazatlan; I’ve found loads and posted them in the past on my visualstpaul blog.

    Thanks for the photo. And, have a good week-end!!

  4. john – I can’t disagree that it is an illegal act and vandalism. And generally it makes its subject area look trashier. It’s a shame that there isn’t a better outlet for the rebel spirit to express themselves.
    Brian

  5. I think we can all agreee Graffiti is garbage but it was interesting to learn they have their own store.

  6. i think there’s a little more to graffiti than an infraction of laws or a traditional visual aesthetic. if you really think all graffiti is mere garbage, you should check out “style wars” – a great documentary on the subject. it shows that there are deep cultural and personal motivations behind the creation of graffiti. if you can’t see some merit to graffiti, then you haven’t looked hard enough or long enough.

    sure, SOME graffiti clogs our mental/visual space, but that’s not ALL graffiti. is it really problematic to be challenged by our public spaces?

    and anyway, isn’t it sometimes nice to see evidence of a lively human spirit, rather than a blank, grey cement wall?

  7. harlequinpan says:

    Nice shop for graffiti!! maybe a SPLASHER shop next time! :)
    i don’t think graffiti is garbage,we do the same thing at home,when we are 3 or…..

  8. showtrotta says:

    Not quite sure what to make of that store, but if you are interested in learning more about graffiti and street art Wooster Collective is a good site.

  9. NASEONE BROOKLYN says:

    graffiti is fun.

  10. About 20 years ago, when I lived in Chicago, I photographed a lot of graphitti. I even framed a lot of it. Some, I found, was downright artistic. I live in the area. Can’t believe I never knew about this place. I’m going to have to visit, just to visit. Too wild.

  11. Graff is beautiful.

  12. “Remember crime against property is not real crime. People look at an oil painting and admire the use of brushstrokes to convey meaning. People look at a graffiti painting and admire the use of a drainpipe to gain access.”
    -Banksy

    “The time of getting fame for your name on its own is over. Artwork that is only about wanting to be famous will never make you famous. Any fame is a by-product of making something that means something. You don’t go to a restaurant and order a meal because you want to have a shit.”
    -Banksy

  13. I find graffiti an artform it is an expression or colors and a sense of power over the system we all know graffiti is vandalism but graffiti artis aren’t hurting anyone there is a big difference between a vandal and a graffiti artist though vandals defile property in nice areas they destroy communities just to rebel for a day a true graffiti artist is in it to send message not to destroy what people work to build graffiti is meant to beautify those ghetto areas it is supposed to make the child that is sad in his room happy to see a magical world of colors and let him/her feel much better it is an escape so before you bash graffiti just remember that it IS an artform it is more of an artform to some than painting a tree is

  14. HEY HI WAUZZUP? IM FROM COLOMBIA AND I WAS THERE LAST SUMMER. THE STORE IS REALLY COMPLETE AND PROVIDES WHATEVER YOU NEED ABOUT GRAFFITI SUPPLIES AND STUFF…

    A REAL PALACE FOR GRAFFITI ARTISTS

  15. graffiti is ‘vandalism, crime, lawlessness and even violence’…… but is less violence than robbing or killing people on the streets…If not, maybe places like 5ptz would not exist.

    criminals are ruled by guns… we are ruled by art. Graffiti is more than 8 letters, one word or a painted wall… is a LIFESTYLE

    graffiti artist and anybody hit me up at mfn18@hotmail.com and fenixxrap18@gmail.com

  16. i have to disagree with all these people saying that graffiti is a violent crime, and a “vandalism”. Although it is illegal, i feel that graffiti is a great form of expression and a art form, art is what people make of it. picasso drew like a five year old, why? because he felt that was a great form of expression and art. i feel the same way. its all in the eye of the beholder and i for one feel that it is beautiful and very interesting to look at. So not only do i love graffiti, but i also admire and have the highest respect for graffiti artists.

  17. do they sell aany great markers like posca do em dirty krink molotow on the run and more ? an do they sell anny good ink like hard to buff or invisable

  18. Okay, for all of you who just said graffiti is a crime, how ignorant can you get?
    Graffiti is OUR form of expression.
    Graffiti is all most of us have. Its how we portray what we feel, Sure there are some kids who do it to be “vandals” but a real graffiti artist can paint on anything and have it look amazing, what do you do when you have nothing else but an idea in your mind and a can of paint in your hands?
    Whos going to see our canvas?
    So we paint on a canvas and hang it in our room and then what? A real graffiti artist can make a viewer feel what he or she is feeling.
    Personally, graffiti has helped me through things a canvas would never understand, I express my self by painting on walls, and believe me if this were the 80′s all over again the graff would be even more amazing.

  19. Really, graffiti is art when its done right, theres a difference between tagging (just seeing a crappy as lined name on the wall) and graff. graff can go anywhere from stenciling to having enough cahones to sit there and spray up a sweet idea you had in your head, any ass hole can tag, it takes someone really into it to do graff. and the real graff is the stuff that made you think and was just covering up a wall you didnt give a cr@p about anyway, half the time, it makes a place more noticeable to you, cus hey, you looked at it when ya wouldve just walked by it anyway, and sure we could just paint on canvas but only people going to galleries would notice, this brings things we want to say to the public eye cus you walk by it you dont have to have an invite to see it.

  20. crackspot1 says:

    This place is the best place ever to come to by stuff for yourself.I will be coming alot to this place in the summer.What are the store hours?

  21. Anonymous says:

    Graffiti is a form of expression. It wouldn’t be so prominent if the world we lived in was so against people expressing themselves. Children are left as their parents toys. This democracy is pointless. It rules by the threat of violence, and the only democratic things left are scraps of our first constitution. Everything about this country is basically anarchy except taxes, and oil prices. Theres really no government, just a big bunch of corporations, fueling the last politicians.
    Graffiti may be perverse but its people expressing their problems, and their beliefs.Just in a lot of casses its been turned into vandilism.

  22. maybe it’s an art form and maybe it’s not. i think of graffiti as a way to pass time. i’m a bored teenager and graff is fun.

  23. you know i find it COMPLETELY fascinating to come across intellegent dumb people. GRAFFITI is just as legitimate an artform as any other medium you’d come across.

    Dadaism
    Orphism
    Surrealism
    Cubism
    Abstract Expressionism
    Pop Art
    Minimalism
    Futurism

    VANDALISM…wich is the defacing of public property. can be applied to ANY of the artforms above when done on PUBLIC PROPERTY without permission.

    GRAFFITI….ART FORM
    VANDALISM…CRIME

    seems pretty simple to folllow right?

    last time i checked art wasn’t ILLEGAL…at least not in the free world anyway.

    ewok one
    daim
    loomit
    haze
    123klan
    doze
    kaws
    futura 2000
    ghost
    dalek

    just a few graff artists doin MAJOR things and applying their talents in a positive light.

    then you take artists like

    the late keith harring
    takashi murakami
    the design collective of superdeux
    hydro74

    who take the same visual elements from the graff world and create
    AMAZING pieces. canvasses,clothing,commercials,skate and snowboards,prints and more.

    what it REALLY seems to boil down to is this. if it’s in the hood or “ghetto” as some people would label it,or if it comes from the hood and people who live or associate with the hood. it’s written off by society. BUT if it’s presented by someone else SOMEWHERE else….it’s embraced by the world it seems.

    funny how things work out that way right :) open your minds people and see things for what they are…NOT what people tell you they are.

  24. hurdlesyo-”any ass hole can tag”
    Dear “hurdlesyo”
    The tag has the most expression and is the mostbeautiful part of Graffiti .Sure any “ass hole” can write something with a can in a public space (that is if he/she has the motivation and courage). But a true tag has style, emotion and a fuck load of expression. Beauty is in the eye of the holder..The tag is the most important part of our culture and takes a LOT of skill to bust a nice handstyle. Some graffiti artists who have years of spraying under their belt still cant rock a dope tag to save themselves.

  25. ILLADELSTYLEZ.COM says:

    I THINK ALL THESE PEOPLE THAT ARE LEAVING COMMENTS ABOUT GRAFF BEING GARBAGE AND TRASH NEED TO KEEP THAT TO THEMSELVES.THOSE THAT ARE HATING DON’T MATTER AND DON’T COUNT.YOU CAN KEEP YOUR UPITY ASSES AS FAR AWAY FROM GRAFF AS YOU CAN.NO ONE ASKED FOR YOUR OPINION.WE DON’T “DO IT ON CANVAS LIKE OTHER ARTISTS” BECAUSE IT’S NOT FOR CANVAS.IT’S GRAFFITI….WE DO IT WHEN AND WHERE WE PLEASE.THAT MIGHT BE TOO MUCH FOR SOME TO HEAR,BUT TOUGH SHIT…..JUST HOPE WE DON’T TAG YOUR HOUSE AND CAR…..CAUSE THEN WE’LL HAVE A FRIGGIN BALL…..

  26. 01SonofAbe says:

    For anyone to say that art, in any form, is not art, is ludicris! The surface for which the form of art is actually applied can not change the actual substance! Wheather it is done illegally or not doesnt change the validity of its essence! Yes, to some, the act of applying your art to a surface illegally might change the outlook of ones liking but , still SHOULD NEVER change the actual substance, ART! It is what it is! DOne wrogn or right should be determined by the owner of the canvas! If the canvas is a wall to a building, the painting of an army soldier on it might make that wall owner happy. It might make him upset. The picture itself might be offense as well. If permission was given to the artist, it being legal still might not change to outlook to a passer-by! The onlooker might find the content offensive! The legality didnt change it the actual picture did.
    For each person, what is beautiful is different. Different is neither right nor wrong. Look deeper inside before placing a judgment.

  27. I would like to comment on all of the people saying how Graffiti is a bad thing and is in our faces, in our public spaces….
    when was the last time you walked anywhere (particularly in NYC) and didnt see an ad of some guy in his underwear or some half naked broad?
    or 6000 ads for movies and plays and the latest bic razor with 93 blades.
    advertisers constantly jam what they deem ok down our throats.
    but when some kid (or adult) decides he wants to put something he or she thinks is “share-worthy” in the same space all of a sudden its a crime and its an eyesore. I think when i have to have ad companies “art” hounding me every second of everyday that THAT is an eyesore. THAT should be a crime.

    and one last thing to think about

    back in the days of trains the artist or bombers goal was to blanket every train on every line with his “tag” or name
    writing it over and over on the same train…. doesnt the MTA now rent ad spaces for companies to do the same exact thing…. hmmmm

    ENJOY everyone

  28. Optimus Crime says:

    Graffiti is art no matter what angle you look at it from, you say we should use a canvas, the streets are our canvas, you say that it clogs up public space and yet you walk unperturbed through streets choked with ads. Simple name tags or mural pieces are just further expressions of the artist's persona, who cares if a tag is shitty, everyone has to start somewhere.

    I'd rather see a hundred thousand sloppy name tags than another billboard or poster for some processed hollywood garbage like the sorcerers apprentice or the expendables.

  29. graffitti is a true urban art form invented by the sharp minded kids in the ghetto! looking for excitement fun competition and fame!in these mean streets of new york! and im proud to be one of them!… roto one no comp boys!

  30. For good information about graffiti, look for the iPad Book “Henry Chalfant’s Big Subway Archive.” Google search “Big Subway Archive” and it should be at the top. Tons of awesome pictures.

  31. For good sourcing about graffiti history, seek out the iPad Book “Henry Chalfant’s Big Subway Archive.” Bing search “Big Subway Archive” and it should be at the top. Tons of awesome pics.


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