ASK BSA/IOK=Graffiti isn’t Art Coverboy

Some dood named Russell Jones(no odb) wrote a book called Inside The Graffiti Culture:Why Graffiti isn’t Art.
Jones used Ohio graffiti writer Ask as his coverboy.

Here is the description:

Product Description
Illegal graffiti is disconnected from standard modes of visual production in fine art and design. The primary purpose of illegal graffiti for the graffiti writer is not the visual product, but “getting up.” Getting up involves writing or painting one’s name in as many places as possible for fame. The elements of risk, freedom and ritual unique to illegal graffiti serve to increase camaraderie among graffiti writers even as an individual’s fame in the graffiti subculture increases. When graffiti has moved from illegal locations to the legal arenas of fine art and advertising; risk, ritual and to some extent, camaraderie, has been lost in the translation. Illegal graffiti is often erroneously associated with criminal gangs. Legal modes of production using graffiti-style are problematic in the public eye as a result. I used primary and secondary interviews with graffiti writers in this book. My art historical approach differed from previous writers who have used mainly anthropological and popular culture methods to examine graffiti. This analysis enabled me to demonstrate that illegal graffiti is not art.

  • mike carney

    considering that doctor ask is in grad school for art i find this endlessly funny.

  • jimi

    Fuck that.

    So is he saying then that it isn’t art because it doesn’t become a product? If something revolves around creation, “getting up”, then it isn’t art? How is the motivation for “fame” in any way different than the motivation for fame from people like Schnabel, Hirst? Why do people use their educations to further shitty viewpoints? Like what does this dude possibly get out of writing this book?

    ETC, ETC

    For a good look/perspective on graffiti, totally about the Campus area, read Nick Crane and Nikki Skirnak’s Eternal City zine. It documents their correspondence with a fellow heading up a local “Good citizens clean up graffiti” group.

    • Russell Jones

      Not much if you are wondering.

      I interviewed a lot of writers for this book. I think you know that some writers don’t believe it is art. My thesis is, add everything about graff up, and it doesn’t equal any other kind of art. I’m not saying it’s not art to put it down, I’m saying that it isn’t art so people do not think it is something it’s not. People in academia don’t bother to understand graffiti for what it is. By me saying its not art, it forces them to understand what it is.

  • wes flexner

    One of the main things I used to tell younger writers is that you must have a personna to enhance your graffiti.
    If you aren’t a character then your graffiti is gonna come off flavorless.

    So even the commarederie and fame aspect has art and concept to it.

    Dood is dead wrong when he says the primary purpose isn’t what it looks like. Being fly has been the name of the game from day one.

    I could buy an arguement that graffiti is purely craft ,maybe.

    Even though that could be refuted by breaking down how a letter is rocked and freaked actual can convey some deep shit about a person, and is always evolving.

    Jimi, where do I get that zine?

    • Russell Jones

      I think it’s definitely more than craft.

      Is how it looks more important than getting up?

  • msgoodtimes

    Having published through VDM, my experience is that they pick the cover art, not the author.

    • Russell Jones

      No I picked the cover art.

  • wes flexner

    Ms. Goodtimes,

    The publisher choosing the cover art makes some sense. VDM put a legal graffiti mural on the cover of a book about how illegal graffiti isn’t art.

    Aside from that though, the thesis is flawed still because the author has either pre-supposed that bombers don’t care what their work looks like as long as they catch fame or didnt interview enough writers.

  • -i dont consider graffiti art
    -i dont consider graphic design art
    -i hate illustration with a passion
    -i like straight up vandalism best
    – and i love dr. ask

  • wes flexner

    obvoiously vandalism will always be more artistic than photo-realistic drawings.

  • vanny

    i love dr. ask too.

  • jimi

    vandalism > ______

    I FACEBOOKED you the profile of one of the people who put together that zine.

  • ana

    wait, this book is $54 and it’s only 84 pages?

  • MiddleSchoolArtTeacher

    Dear Russell Jones,

    Before you can say what is and is not art, you need to ask yourself the questions, “What is Art?” This question clearly can have many answers, but defines “artworks” as “the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.” How can you say than that Graffiti is not art when it clearly is “an expression.” And I hope it would be “more than ordinary significance” because you choose to do research, write a book and have it published on the subject of Graffiti.

    Next, you said “The primary purpose of illegal graffiti for the graffiti writer is not the visual product, but “getting up.”” So is the art of Jackson Pollock “not art” in your mind, because he would only ever create art when drunk and make art to escape from reality. The fact that what he created while drunk became wildly famous, was just a bonus. And what about Marcel Duchamp who was constantly pushing the boundaries of art. He loved F-ing with people’s concept of art more than what he actually created. You can’t tell me you think Duchamp’s artwork “Fountain” (a urinal) is art, but graffiti is not.

    Lastly, the concept surrounding your ideas on, “The elements of risk, freedom and ritual unique to illegal graffiti serve to increase camaraderie among graffiti writers even as an individual’s fame in the graffiti subculture increases.” Do you know how many artist during the Middle Ages and Renaissance were hired by The Church to create “holy artworks.” These artists did not always enjoy the subject matter of their commissioned work, but needed money. So, artist would include secular imagery in their artworks to include their own “expression.” Some would even do this to see if they were good enough to fool The Church with their skill of hiding images. During those times, being deceitful towards The Church was clearly consisted “illegal.” So, applying your above quote about creating artwork for “illegal purposes” does that make Leonardo DaVinci “not an artist?” Several of his artworks included secular imagery and he had to have beneifited from the high of risking fooling The Church and getting paid for it. And yes he was “famous amongst his comrades.” DaVinci was concerned about conveying his own agenda not always his clients.

    In conclusion I don’t understand how graffiti can be anything but ART! At least according to mine (and art history and the artworld’s) definition of Art. You need to remember the past before you can create a new future.

  • greg s

    what a thrown together, rush job, sporadic, piece of garbage this book is.
    read almost all of it.
    try again bub.

  • Tomrikker

    A bunch of horse shit. You say some silly shit in this book.

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  • What a nice read.

  • There are some fascinating closing dates in this article however I don’t know if I see all of them middle to heart. There may be some validity however I will take maintain opinion till I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we want more! Added to FeedBurner as well

  • phil

    Don’t painters sign their name on their works for fame?

  • phil

    How is that any different than Graffiti artists “getting up”?