not a member? click here to sign up
The Writing's On The Wall
The Irish graffiti scene is part of a vast international subculture with its own brotherhood and traditions. Monica Heck meets a couple of Irish practitioners, RASK and A.K.A.CRAP...
Monica Heck, 12 Sep 2012
RASK (shortened from Rascal) completed his first-ever piece in this very location in Drogheda. “It was August ‘87. That was me hooked to be honest. This was the ‘80s. A totally different mindset. I stood on the other side of the river and looked across and that was it. I had to do another one and another one, bigger, more colours, riskier places...”
His personal story is like those of most of his contemporaries throughout Europe, the first generation of graffiti artists in this part of the world. “In the mid-eighties, hip-hop came as a package to Europe,” he recalls. “It was this new cool culture out of New York. Exciting music, dance and art all came together.”
Some writers were also break dancers or DJs.
“I always say graffiti is the bastard son of hip-hop,” he explains, “because the dancers and rappers make money now and have gone mainstream. We’re the people still on the street doing stuff. Even some of the famous graffiti artists are out there for the love of it, as opposed to the paycheque.”
Many events, including the Bridge Jam are now supported by paint companies, in this instance Montana. Local governments, arts councils and companies who have a vested interest in the urban market have also invested in the scene, paying for travel and expenses and sometimes offering a small fee.
“Many artists fund their paint simply out of their wages,” RASK says. “Of course there is paint sponsorship and paid work which also helps you build up a stock of paint. Some of the high-profile artists will have some kind of paint sponsorship. It depends on your productivity. Not everyone is out there painting all the time. Sometimes I use six colours, other times I could be at a wall with 50 cans.” At around a fiver a can, that can add up pretty quickly.
Another Irish writer, A.K.A.CRAP from Galway, painted at the bridge this year. He has a distinctively Celtic “Book of Kells”-ish style, a mix of knotwork and zoomorphic symbols with ‘80s New York graffiti. He started painting in 2001, influenced by an Australian school friend who showed him the ropes. “I used to see old freights with TDA and JOR pieces on them and always wondered what it was about.” Now he knows, and depending on how active he is, he says his art usually costs him a few grand a year.