Graffiti draws a remarkable counterpart to marketing and advertising. Memorable street campaigns take the same creativity, consistency, branding and visibility needed to make marketing work.
Street artists are marketers gone rogue (also a popular theme of the year) - developing and executing creative concepts, many with a specific and often populist tone. Like it or not, the closer you look, the more of a message there is to see in the details of graffiti.
DC represented big in 2009, and themes in our graffiti and street art reflected important, meaningful local issues: problems of homelessness, DC's non-state status, and few (but expanding) outlets for public art. Check out a full photo set of the year in DC graffiti on Flickr.
These are the freshest names and stand out styles in DC graffiti:
Names Up Everywhere:
Top Creative in DC Graffiti:
Fill: REZIST. (Next: JAKE). REZIST's fill-ins are always crazy colorful - and legible. Same with JAKE, who tones down the new school funk and maintains a wild style.
Bomb: CHE. (Next: MOE). A close call but easy to pick. MOE may have more tags up, but CHE is mighty close - with bigger fill-ins and better, riskier, more visible spots. MOE tagged Adams Morgan's mural on DC's non-state status - an ironic, shady move to deface a message the rest of DC's graffiti seems to be all about. Watching CHE and MOE get up this year was like watching the good guy vs. the bad guy - and here, the good guy wins.
Spot: JAKE. (Next: CHE). JAKE is up in the undisputedly best spot in DC - in the middle of the Potomac River on Georgetown's Key Bridge. To hit the spot, JAKE had to either get a boat, or haul gallons of paint and loads of supplies under the bridge span across its huge arcs, starting at several chainlink fences directly next to the US Park Police office. JAKE's piece is one of the most visible in the District, in a place that's the antithesis of graffiti - squeaky clean, picture perfect Georgetown. A huge hassle, if not nearly impossible to remove. It epitomizes graffiti in a clean, simple, colorful piece that carries impressive implications in logistics and location.
Stencil: Park. (Next: 51). Stencil images hit the streets of DC to illuminate two big issues in DC: homelessness and political representation. Amidst the toughest economic time in decades, DC slashed funding to social services that help the homeless. Next, the 51 stencil hit corners and street boxes with a simple, clear, concise message: make DC the 51st state - no matter how our vote tips the political scales.
Poster: DECOY (Next: Peeps). DECOY covered more DC walls than any other poster artist this year with a distinct style that's easy to spot. DECOY was part of an awesome cartoon poster campaign in early December at 14th/T (already removed!) along with the next pick: Peeps. All year, poster Peeps popped up all over the place in DC.
Sticker: Crook. This sticker is iconic of everything about graffiti and Washington DC: free speech, politics, corruption and dissent. The sticker's amazing wit calls attention to the fundamental issues in both graffiti and politics - and common to us all: open access, free speech, expression, opportunity, and equality.
Something missing? Leave a comment and links to pics of your favorite DC graffiti!