On a recent trip through a place called Shoreditch, East London i came across something detailed in the image below. What you are looking at is ‘Graffiti styled’ advert for Microsoft, carried out by a ‘creative’ agency called Jack. The corporate street art advert was painted slap bang over an ‘Elmo’ spot that had been there for 6 years and a recently painted piece by Italian graffiti artist ‘Mr Wany’, both of whom did not get paid for their work and are great contributors to graffiti culture. The problem here is not necessarily creative agency’s selling graffiti culture to corporate companies, which is nothing new and a bit of a grey area in many senses, the issue here is the agency’s who know nothing about the culture strolling along and getting paid to cover up real graffiti art with their imitation corporate adverts….which in my opinion is shocking.

Upon finding out who was behind this disgrace i contacted them and explained the serious mistake they had made. I also told them they could try and turn this situation around by funding the re-installation of real graffiti by the very people they had shat on. Sadly they did not want to co-operate, probably because they are too busy organizing their next money move to try and clear up a mess they’ve left behind them. So anyway here i am doing what i said i’d do in the hope that people like this learn from their mistakes.

Above is the website for the agency that carried out this mess. I am urging all artists and designers who care about graffiti culture or just honest, London, sub-culture in general to boycott working with them. Please feel free to share this story through your networks or email them via their contact page and let them know your thoughts. When your spot gets buffed – it’s a shame. When your spot gets covered by another writer – it’s beef. When your spot get’s covered by a fake graffiti styled Microsoft advert – it’s a fucking disgrace and a sad state of affairs. Help stop this happening more in the future. Thank you.

I’ll leave you with a couple of brilliant quotes from none other than Jack agency……..

“A creative urban communications agency with
15 years street-level experience conceiving
and activating ground-breaking happenings,
pop-up stunts and unconventional advertising
for some of the biggest, boldest and edgiest
brands around the world. ”

“We are fiercely independent and creativity and credibility is at the heart of everything we do.”

“There’s nothing much our teams don’t know about what and where is cool on the street. And who’s hanging out there. And how best to talk to them.”




  1. Anna says:

    Totally agree with what’s said here and well done for taking up the issue with these people. More power to your elbow!

  2. Squat Rat Cunt says:

    Instead of trying to counter act them on a professional level by urging people not to work with them, people need to counter act this by attacking this on a graffiti level…….Paint bombs and extinguishers all over that shit……Toys get gone over…..Simple as

    Any unlike any graffiti writer they’ve got a public address:

    1 Bayham Street, London NW1 0ER

    Fuck that shit up if your passing through!

  3. Doug says:

    I totally understand where you’re coming from. We’ve seen such a huge shift from graffiti and street art being a platform for communities to be heard, towards safe, corporate drivel. For the most part I’m wholeheartedly behind you.

    However, the particular Microsoft piece that you’ve pointed out stands in Red Gallery, and generates a pretty substantial amount of revenue. This revenue in turn helps allow the space to then be used, for the vast majority of the year, by artists that aren’t paid for the trouble. It also goes towards allowing the courtyard to play host as a space for independent, locally run, pop-ups and events.

    The same thing goes towards the Village Underground, who have been sporting some pretty big ad campaigns over the last six months, however, in 2013 along they’ve had massive murals by Phlegm, Kid Acne and Stik.

    Graffiti and Street Art culture is changing alarming fast and it saddened me to see all these Microsoft ads appear, it actually saddened me more that people seemed to be pretty passive about them. I didn’t see anyone take them out. But it also goes for so much of this average street art that’s kicking around at the moment. For an area so heavily concentrated in art, where’s the revolt, where’s the people changeling this, where are the two fingers to the state, the whole area needs a shake-up.

  4. anonymouse says:

    This is graffiti in 2013. There’s no big control button which says writers and crews can do gallery exhibitions, clothing lines and legal work without graffiti stepping over into the mainstream. It can’t happen. You can’t have it both ways. Graffiti IS mainstream now thanks to the commercial activities of graffiti artists.

    Yes, this Microsoft piece is a sad picture of ‘graffiti’ art today (particularly in places like Shoreditch). In my view, so is every gallery show involving street art.

    Microsoft is a brand. ATG is a brand. Both come from different worlds but they join up in the middle with a desire to sell that brand. Sure, Microsoft’s ad agency don’t have any respect for the graf culture ATG come from, or the work they are going over, but they don’t care; they just see a marketing opportunity to exploit.

    • ATG says:

      I’m not sure you can compare us to Microsoft. I have no problem with street art galleries and commissioned murals for companies. They both serve a purpose that illegal graffiti does not. What i do care about is the point i have raised – wanky creative angencies selling off writers spots to global corporations for street art adverts.

      • ATG - THE BRAND says:

        the commercial brand latching onto graf is like a graf crew trying to latch onto being a commercial brand

        • ATG says:

          Us creating tee’s and doing gallery shows is quite different from Microsoft buying into graffiti. Almost all big London graffiti writers have crossed over in to that world at some point. Tox has done prints, DDS have printed and sold tees, Teach has done gallery work, Oker has done gallery work, 10 foot has done prints and the list goes on. Lots of people have used this issue i’ve raised as a chance to churn out anonymous hate or to simply switch the focus on myself and ATG, but If you think for one second i don’t have a leg to stand on with regards to Microsoft painting corporate ‘urban art’ over my boy’s spots then you need to check yourself. ATG can be viewed as a brand so i know vaguely where you’re going with your statement but a grass roots movement created by friends and born out of painting graffiti every night really cant be compared to Microsoft. Sorry that doesn’t wash with me.

          All of this stuff is just distracting from the reason i put this feature out in the first place. It’s sad.

          • JP says:

            Really like what you’re trying to do here- two fingers to the advertisers moving in on graffiti space. But i’ve also got to call you out.

            This is clearly the result of your own logic. You have successfully transformed a graffiti crew into a *cool* *urban* brand. This method of switching into a ‘legitimate business’ transforms, not only your own lives, and your own crew, but also the space of the city where your graffiti is located. Now ATG dubs are the same as billboards. There is nothing essentially ‘graffiti’ that any of your paintings retain. As soon as you use that logo like a brand that is what it has become. You are admen, not a graffiti crew.

            Do you *really* think that your paintings are categorically different from a billboard? How? As soon as there is a product behind the image and not someones anger, or an excluded child’s need to be seen, then this becomes just another poster for a dumb clothing line that noone wants or needs.

            You ever wonder *why* these bastards want to enter the scene and appear to be part of it. Its not because they are just that nasty. Its because guys like you have used graffiti as a vehicle, you have driven it out of the hands of poor, alienated youts and into the hands of professionals who only see it as a medium for *cool*. You have been probably the worst perpetrators when it comes to opening up graffiti for marketisation and cultural appropriation in London at least.

            I know you started with the best intentions but look at you now. The only answer to this is: don’t. sell. graffiti. don’t. sell. your tag. don’t. sell. your style. It is a purist logic you will reject as implausible ‘anonymous shit-chat’ but it would have been the only thing to protect the culture and keep it for the poor and excluded- where it should have stayed.

            Like it or not this is a process you are a part of, I hope you can take your arguments here more seriously and begin to move away from this quasi-corporate-street-wear model. Graffiti was never *yours* to sell, but that is what you have done, and now the best thing to do would be to reverse the damage. Get militant. Get out there. Kill this awful website. Start working with some of the youths who could really benefit from the social-life and creative release that graffiti could give them.

            Otherwise- in ten years time it will be only white kids from posh houses doing graffiti- as a quick route into the graphic design industry. a scary prospect I hope you’ll agree.

          • ATG says:

            I hear what your saying. I’m not ignorant to the way this whole game works and if people think ATG are guilty in helping to commercialize graffiti then that is something i can live with but i sleep easy knowing we contributed a lot to London graffiti culture from times way before we had ever printed on a t-shirt or put artwork in a gallery. There is a clear line that is crossed when corporations are taking out illegally painted pieces with faux graffiti adverts and that is the point i have made and that is what i want to try and prevent. What people like myself, and others who have crossed over into the broader creative world from illegal graffiti, are not directly responsible for is this action. I’m not taking on the commercialization of graffiti here in general, which would be about 20 years too late, i am challenging clueless agencies who don’t know shit about the culture and have never lived it but feel it’s ok to make money off going over peoples spots. It is worth reminding you that i have dedicated a huge part of my life to illegal graffiti and all the high’s and lows that come with it. I never sat there one day and said “ok i’m bored of bombing now i’m going to see how much money i can make out of graffiti on the way out”. One of the powerful things about graffiti is that it opens you up to things in life that you may not have discovered otherwise so i don’t regret any part of mine or ATG’s transition into building careers within Music and ART. In my lifetime i hope to invest a lot more time than i already am in young people who may feel alienated from society and show them that you don’t have to go through the normal routes to acheive something in life and be somebody, because that is what years of graffiti taught me.

            I’m glad all this has got people talking about the issue but it’s backwards for it all to be turned back on myself and ATG…makes very little sense. Graffiti got sold a very long time ago, there is no point trying to steam in and pass the blame on us, especially when the whole reason this has come about is because i’m actively trying to help stop some of the worst examples of graffiti commercialization take place. I agree that every time someone does something mainstream with graffiti it encourages big brand interest, but long forgotten are the days when graffiti was a dark unkown sub-culture unreachable for the masses, solely carried out by pissed off kids in the ghetto. I have fully taken on board what you have said but at the same time you are coming at me with some blame game. I could just as easily have kept my mouth shut with this and likewise with the coca-cola mural in hackney wick last summer but i didn’t, because despite my involvement with mainstream art stuff, it makes me sad and angry to see it because i was raised on London graffiti, I haven’t been about 5 minutes i’m a 26 year old man who was stealing tins and trying to paint dubs on my lunch break when i was 12 years old. That is why on both occasions i contacted the agencies involved and that is why you’re lecturing on me on graffiti ethics right now. I’m not here to politic with other writers about the whole state of graffiti culture in general because it something i have watched change over the last 15 years, and know too well, i’m trying to tackle one particular issue. All the best to you anyway i appreciate your words they are by far the most insightful so far, even if they are anonymous and i don’t agree with it all. JM

          • ATG says:

            Also to answer your question on how whether I think our paintings are the same as corporate billboards? – from when ATG crossed over into other things like Art clothing and music we stopped being just a graffiti crew, But the feeling that drove you through years of painting graffiti on the streets before the cross over doesn’t just leave your system. When our Dj’s do sets in clubs around the world, we’re not thinking ‘this is a good advert for selling tees’ ,same as when we put on Art shows and the same as when we paint graffiti. Back in the day when we did what we did with graffiti, it wasn’t easy. Putting on free raves in abandoned tower blocks, isn’t easy, nor is organising raves and exhibitions around the world. It all takes complete and utter love for the culture. So while you can say we are a brand and we only do things to sell tees these days etc, I would argue that the small profit we make from selling clothing merely helps us to continue doing all these things that people love to engage in. The day we stepped away from being just a graff crew is the day we stopped considering ourselves a graff crew but it doesn’t mean we’re going to stop painting because it’s where we’ve come from. We were never aiming to sell graffiti, and I don’t think we have, we were merely aiming to do something bigger with ATG than just graffiti, and with doing exhibitions and parties around the world we achieved that. Whether we have sold clothing along the way to support this movement is irrelevant and cannot be atrributed to the reason Microsoft and Coca-cola think its ok to cover up real graffiti. It’s actually an insult. Dont forget how much work we have put into the London scene spanning over a decade. What you have to realise is that for every writer who objected to us crossing over, there are kids at raves and and art enthusiasts around the world who welcome it.

  5. Mighty Gent says:

    If a creative agency needs to call itself ‘street’ and ‘urban’ then it has obviously missed the boat and lost the plot and has no clue about art or respect for other artists.. its disgraceful that they have painted over someone else’s work like that… no ****ing clue…

  6. fuck your brands says:

    atg is about as relevant to “real” writers as microsoft. #artfagproblems

  7. 4Lb3Rt0 says:

    Graffiti are fragile and ephemeral.
    I agreed 100% with Squat Rat Cunt.

    Actually I have started a project to “preserve” memory of graffiti culture in Milan:

    I had photos of graffiti in Milan from the 90s so, I started to go back on the same place and take pictures from the same point of views and publish them to let people discover disappear masterpieces.

    I think rember and avoid to forget is a way to preserve a culture.

  8. Great read and unfortunately we’re seeing a trend toward this by agencies struggling to tap into the ‘youth’ demographic.
    A recent case in Poland resulted in major backlash from the street art community and has them now literally paying for the mistake by sponsoring work in the hope of regaining respect from the established artist networks. Fight the power.

  9. Fucks Sake says:

    what’s a sadder reflection of graff is the fact the people who got taken out are going online to moan about it instead of taking the spot back. just makes you guys look even worse and fair play to the agency and microsoft their just shitting on you and why should they give a fuck about some gay graff rules. when you shot tshirts and all that business then you lose your right to moan about this kind of thing because you’re part of the problem.

    • ATG says:

      your missing the point i’m afraid. This is not about us and what we do it’s about trying to stop creative agency’s selling off graffiti writers spots. Simply that. The day you catch ATG auctioning off writers rooftops to corporations is the day you can tell us we have no right to object to it. Painting over it is easy and will happen but that alone does not stop wack agency’s doing this stuff in the future. Raising awareness online and creating a negative backlash for these agency’s in the industry does.

      • Fucks Sake says:

        if you really think these agencies are going to give a fuck about an ‘online backlash’ then your really missing the point. they love the fucking attention, thats why theyve done it! just take the spot back, dog their office if your in the manor then move on.

        • ATG says:

          The things gonna get dogged regardless. My point is that when that is all that happens they can just pass it off as ‘dumb kids vandalising’ and nothing more. But if they start hearing about all the negative press they are getting in the creative world on top of that, it makes them think twice about doing it again out of the fear of losing money down the line. Anyway i hear your point.

  10. . says:

    ‘funding the re-installation of real graffiti’ – Real graffiti is funded and re-installed?

  11. David Samuel says:

    This type of stuff should not happen but I think your missing the point. This is not Jack Agencies fault. Jack did not buy that spot, the people who they worked with on the project did. Jack are a group of creatives who do offer a ‘Urban Marketing Experience’ but they don’t know about the culture and to be honest are just giving someone a fist full of cash to do a job, they ain’t the artists they are middle middle men offering a service to big brands. I was asked to do this job but I said I only do it on spots that I have used before and are used for these types of commissions. The fact this Legendary piece by Elmo was taken was the choice of the company hired to do this commission. This person ran around the area asking relevant buildings in the area for as much wall space as possible. Work like this will be taken on by many types but it’s down to your personal ethics on how you do it. The company Jack hired obviously have no conscious or give a fuck about our culture.

    • ATG says:

      Terry from Monorex advised Jack agency that they should not go over people’s artwork with this job after he got called out about the hackney wick ‘Coca-cola’ disgrace, and received negative backlash from the client, but it fell on deaf ears. The people who painted are also definitely to blame although i don’t know who they are? I know how the whole process works with these types of things therefore i know that Jack agency are the people paid to organize these things. They have the power from now on to get location scouts to look only for places that doesn’t have peoples work on it. I asked them to reverse what they have done and explained why it was important for both them and graffiti culture in general but they didn’t want to know.

      • David Samuel says:

        I get ya bro.. I have been told with authority that that is not the case, he was running round asking and paying for sites. That dude can hustle hard and it cant be knocked but he don’t give a shit about the scene, its a big pound £ sign for him which is fine and good luck to him, he’s good at his job but blaming Jack aint right, they are ignorant to the world of graffiti, they have an interest and obviously use it to make money but the buck ends with the artists who take the job on. If Monorex or any of their artists had an ounce of respect for the culture this would not happen. Just because someone says ‘Yeah do it and we’ll pay you does not mean it needs to be done’.. It’s like me offering you a rock that I’ve paid for just to watch you smoke it.. you don’t have to do it. I’m not sticking up for Jack, they are not my clients, they have never hired me or any RK artists through me I’m just speaking what I’ve been told and asked.

  12. Sue Gregor says:

    ‘First we had the revolution. Then the advertising guys picked up on the revolution. Then the revolution became a really groovey way of selling things.’ Richard Neiviel Oz magazine from the 1960′s

  13. ViktorVaughn says:

    This is as bad as “Street” wear brands that adopt Graffiti related genre’s and work them into their clothing. There is nothing “street” about find a font and pasting it all over cheap leggings and white Tee’s, that have been mass produced for a quick profit buy people that have no involvement in it’s movement or cultural backgrounds.

    I find it weird how socially a culture like graffiti can be so outlawed and ostracized, yet on a corporate level its a “cool” way to attract attention. Where is the line?

    Many artists have risked their lives, jobs, freedom in search of being part of a cultural history, simply for the love. Then completely pigeon holed by people that use it to make money.

  14. atg are lame says:

    clowns going over clowns

  15. truth2012 says:

    The truth is writers were paid to do this campaign. That big fat art fag at Red Gallery got paid for the use of the spot. Jack do know about Graf, you don’t know about them. Whinging on the net will not change commerce. Shoreditch is a free fire zone of wannabe hipsters and graffiti writers…perfect for a campaign…end of. Do something dont whinge

  16. Apple says:

    Someone at least paint over the branding on it for now

  17. Scott Williams says:

    I think if this “advertising” was a billboard instead of fake street art advertising then there might not be such a fuss. Mainly if it didn’t cover other REAL artists work then it wouldn’t be so offensive to our culture. It would have probably had more impact if it had its own clean space and wasn’t posing so comically within and over real street art. The fact that other artists were involved in organising the covering of these works in such a way is what really topped it though…. They needlessly covered Elmo with a black background….It’s just really bad placement, as it covers 2 or more artists work and it ends up that MICROSOFT HAVE INSULTED THE CULTURE THEY ARE TRYING TO COMMUNICATE WITH!

    I wonder if Microsoft like it when people take out their adverts???

    Clearly Microsoft and Jack Agency don’t care about the people they upset in order to get what they want.

    While were on the topic of Microsft do you remember how they use child labor in china..

  18. EMILLY says:





  19. Keavy Lynch says:

    This is quite jokes compared with the whole welsh quarry fiasco.
    I mean, you went to a place (where you were unfamiliar with the local cultural history and significance of its walls and trails and ignorant to the conduct expected by the active, ‘grass roots’ participants and contributors to its culture, or else was simply being pig-headed) and painted a graffiti-style advert for your brand and website over a part of what those very people and others regarded as beautiful, at least impressive, historic, familiar and culturally important.

    The instance of the Microsoft/ Jack Agency outrage, gives me wild de ja vu.
    Someone else went to a place (where they were unfamiliar with the local cultural history and significance of its walls and streets and ignorant to the conduct expected by the active, ‘grass roots’ participants and contributors to its culture, or else was simply being pig-headed) and painted a graffiti-style advert for a brand and product over a part (the ‘E’) of what those very people and others regarded as beautiful, at least impressive, historic, familiar and culturally important.

    The only difference between you and the welsh-unamused is you couldn’t find out who the artist was immediately, so you lashed out at the first person/ people, going back up the buck-pass sequence, that you could identify and find contact for. Directing your anger at the wrong person then meant you weren’t able to make many/any sensible arguments in your essay.
    The quarry-folk, took the time (and I’d imagine their task was more challenging) to find out who the artist was that painted the advert they were upset by, and because they had located the right person, a lot of their arguments were firm and made good sense.

    *the artist is the only person who can reasonably be called wrong for breaching the unwritten rules of a culture (and only then if they profess to be aware of it)

    Neither Microsoft or Jack Agency has done any wrong, as businesses their sole interest is making more money than last year. From the top of each business’ hierarchy all the way down to the lowest management position, each employee is to strive to recruit the best personnel while spending as little money/hours as possible on this process. This means that successfully-visable agencies who broker the creation of successful adverts that are satisfactory and uninflamatory to the 99 percent, like Jack maybe, get hired sometimes.
    It isn’t in the interest of big business to respect the finer intricacies of the cultures they exploit beyond what helps them sell their product.

    The point I’m trying to make is that your complaint is a not specific to graffiti, or anything ‘street’, it’s a complaint about Capitalism, it’s been lodged a thousand times before, and writing articles about something else wont change much.

    The photo of the advert over Elmo’s piece with the caption “nothing’s sacred anymore” would have said what you really meant far more effectively.
    The whole thing is a sorry state of affairs, its tragic always to see and advert allowed to cover art with more integrity just like bill-boards on the faces of beautiful old buildings, but in both instances it’s a tragedy better taken on the chin than the shoulders.

    C’est La Vie – B*Witched

    • ATG says:

      Haha yes. Very good. Although 2 of your facts are wrong. I painted some of my art on the quarry, no advert no website involved. I also announced that I had done it on a very popular website so the information landed at their feet. No rooting around needed on their behalf. It’s a very interesting point you have raised and it crossed my mind to during all of this. I’m no angel, thats granted. I also took on board their outrage at my actions and had a good think about it you’ll be happy to know. Microsoft and Jack agency have definitely still done something very wrong though. It would be like me going back up to Wales and paying snowdonia council to let me build a fake mountain scene out of plastic on top of the real mountains and then charging people to come and see my fake plastic mountains. Good work bringing that old controversy back to the forefront though. It’s relevant. I like your style.

      Ps I sort of agree about taking most things on the chin and not the shoulders with regards to capitalist exploitation… Actually I don’t, But anyway this particular issue is something I actually can help change so why not?

      Probably also worth noting that Microsoft are a huge immoral corporation engaging in slave labour around the planet and I am a self employed artist from North London.

  20. Haha says:

    As if ATG have never worked with corporate businesses?! You are so hypercritical… You think you have more of a right to do grafitti than some agency because you did it when you were a kid?? Grafitti is everyone’s- not just yours, it existed before you and will exist after you. You’re not a politician, you’ve never studied politics- does that mean you have no right to talk about politics? You’re just gutted someone else made a load of money out of your trade! Get a grip, get a job, and stop railing at everything you represent

    • ATG says:

      We would be hypocritical if we had done corporate graffiti style murals over real graffiti in the past. Which we have never done and never will.

  21. LT says:

    As if ATG have never worked with corporate businesses?! You are so hypercritical… You think you have more of a right to do grafitti than some agency because you did it when you were a kid?? Grafitti is everyone’s- not just yours, it existed before you and will exist after you. You’re not a politician, you’ve never studied politics- does that mean you have no right to talk about politics? You’re just gutted someone else made a load of money out of your trade! Get a grip, get a job, and stop railing at everything you represent

  22. YEs says:

    It’s just a another shit idea…the same agency could of paid the same money for the same client WITH A GOOD IDEA and it wouldn’t f**k with my view…I bounce around Shoreditch all the time and wish they had given the control of the idea/project/time/money to somebody who knew about decent paintings

  23. Robbie Williams says:

    Its hilarious that you think you can divert the off the topic by comparing issues.
    you can’t compare a self employed artist with that of microsoft’s culture eating capitalist agenda and the teams of people employed to help it along. It just doesn’t wash. but just for the sake of argument i will appease you. Panik of ATG who works for him self making art saw a blank slate wall in wales and thought it would be interesting to paint. He did so in the aim of personal enjoyment and also for some images to put on his blog; which essentially help build his online portfolio. The local welsh climbing community were upset but Panik never claimed to be a climber or a slate miner and he really did make an honest mistake assuming that a blank cliff face in the deserted quarry of wales was ok to paint. but one could easily argue that it is no different to him painting a track side in london and TFL getting upset, so nothing new…….. Microsoft on the other hand asked Jack Agency to pay a couple of so called artists to choose a suitable location and then paint an advert. In doing so they posed as part of the community and covered local artists. They also got directly payed for the destruction of culture. The artists were totally aware of what they were doing, and they did not care as they were getting paid.

    you can not compare the two issues as they really are different. A self employed artist naively paints on the wrong cliff slide is not comparable to a group of artists getting payed by a multi billion corporation to go over peoples work from there own community.
    one has soul the other doesn’t.

    Panik of ATG doesn’t destroy culture in the same way as Microsoft or Jack Agency and its affiliates. And as you will see the two can not be compared…

    we already know that microsoft have used child labor in china…

    Only last month microsoft have been accused of using teenagers as slaves paying them 37pence an hour….

    They also use prisoners to make thier products on the cheap which is also seen as slavery…

    They also pollute the environment to avoid fines…

    They dodge tax…,microsoft-hp-in-tax-dodge-scandal.aspx

    They track phone users even though when tracking has been turned off which is a breach of privacy…

    they don’t even look after there own employees…

    Robbie williams (Take That)

  24. honestly says:

    This issue is not about working with big companies – it’s about needlessly covering others artists artwork within the local comuunity. Plain and simple.

  25. jimmy buffet says:

    A constant of graffiti is that your work has finite existence. value judgements on the piece that supersedes yours, be it real graff, street art or advertising is a mute point – the only person who has a claim on that space is the owner / occupier of the building. don’t lament increased competition out side that of the traditional graffiti circle for wall space or spots, re-take them or shut up. for the record elmo and microsoft are both cunts (in a cultural sense).

  26. JP says:

    Yo JM,

    This isn’t some ego-beef so I don’t think anonymity matters much (correct me if I’m wrong), this is about graffiti as a historical social-cultural movement- its bigger then you or me. Being a legend in the scene doesn’t make it any better that you are marketising graffiti, it makes it far, far worse. You simply have all the more power with which to move *the culture* from *the streets* and into *the boardroom*. The logic is like a boomerang, it also reverses itself, every tag on every blitzed surface represents space that the admen salivate over, and they will buy and sell ALL OF IT. Make no mistake, this is an ongoing process, of which this example that you are fighting above is only one infraction.

    You say that this all happened twenty years ago, but lets be clear this is *a process* of marketisation this didn’t happen on one starry night, long-ago when Cosa first did a Nike tag on his throw-up. This happened over the space of 15-20 years gradually; it was part of a slow attrition against all that could not be bought or sold.

    Look at a hospital: it used to be that we were patients but soon we will be customers, slowly even universities are becoming a part of the high-street. And it *will* get worse unless those who are capable can help to stamp on it with all their force. What kind of an attitude says ‘yeah its done, so we are just going to be a part of it’ fuck that, you must have a bit more fight then that? You’ve climbed enough rooftops and you must’ve sat in enough police cells to know that graffiti is fought by the state for where it sits- not as a piece of art, or an advert, but as an act *against* private-property.

    Think of the potential that ATG could have as an argument against the very kind of marketisation that you are presently a part of. Imagine if all this hate against *artfags* (a deflected anger against the appropriation of graffiti for commerce) could be turned somewhere useful, against the billboards, against the aggressive ad-sticker campaigns, and against the *graffiti-clothing-streetwear-brands*, then we’d be somewhere really interesting as a movement. Graffiti *could be* a politicising force against austerity, independent of the newspapers, inherently anti-police, and armed with a wealth of knowledge of the city. That would be a proud ‘graffiti culture’ to preserve. One with teeth, that opposes advertising with ruthlessness. This isn’t just abstract: you are perhaps uniquely placed to influence the direction of the culture. Kids look up to ATG, you lot are important to the direction things take. This is a good fight for sure. But you need to take your ideas more seriously and help make graffiti something resistant again. Its a paradox you are in: you seem to be on the right side but materially- you are working against yourself.

    Partly this is a contradiction that is always in graffiti. I think it is in ‘the faith of graffiti’ that Norman Mailer writes about how graffiti emerged from children who learned their visual education through cereal packets, adverts and cartoons. This is the birth of graffiti of the style that we practice: children who were undernourished mentally, appropriated those parts of the visual landscape that were intended to exploit them (commodities they could not afford, television intended to pacify them, Coco-Pops that are too delicious for a single bowl) and turned it into a language that was their own. Although writers have been moving their work into galleries since early in the cultural history of *our style of graffiti* (something with its own, distinct problems), a move towards a branding-model (the ATG brand) is a step towards the dissolution of *graffiti culture* as a category. Advertising is what spawned graffiti. This story will continue like a tragedy- the parent will eat the child.

    Comemercialism (buying, selling commodities and the cultural attachment to that- advertising etc.) is hostile to all of what graffiti represents and vice-versa. Where graffiti was born in poverty, commercial branding endorses/encourages/requires wealth, where graffiti is about social activity, advertising is about individual-needs, while graffiti endorses and promotes theft, commerce is about commerce. The reason ‘graffiti’ *is* all of these oppositional things is because it emerged from the poor as a resistance to advertising/branding, it is inherently oppositional, and it is *nothing* else. This antagonism has helped keep graffiti writing (the actual tag, dub etc.) partially separate from branding and advertising and this distinction is paradoxically also what makes admen spray their Y-fronts about graffiti- it hasn’t yet been conquered, and so it represents a lucrative, virgin territory.

    Kids have learned to turn off when they see an advert or a poster, but when they see some graffiti they do not yet respond with the same cynicism, but that is only because they haven’t yet completely learned not to trust the ‘graffiti culture’. When this trend towards Graffiti-crew-turned-brand generalizes, graffiti will die- it won’t exist anymore as a social activity for young and alienated kids. As soon as those kids stop participating and graffiti becomes a brand identity it is gone- vanished. They begin to get disenfranchised as soon as you open up your franchise.

    If you really want ‘graffiti culture’ to be separate and resistant to advertising then pack up shop and move one.

    • ATG says:

      Hi – The reason i don’t like the anonymous thing is because people end up saying things in a way they wouldn’t normally with their name attached or face to face, so it can become a counter productive debate/shouting match, but your last comment was more levelled. You know what you’re talking about and you make interesting points. ATG is ever evolving and who know’s what shape or form it will take down the line, but youth development is something we have been loosely involved with for a long time and i know speaking for myself, is something i will become more involved with as time goes on. If we were just a graff crew then the whole branding of ATG would never have happened. The fact that logo represents more than just graffiti means it has been turned into brand to represent a lifestyle and era in London and will most probably continue to be represented as a brand as long as we’re doing the range of things we are doing now. What activities a brand engages in however is a whole different story. Right now the thing that i felt needed to be addressed was this particular issue that i’ve come across for the second time and feel it needs to be stamped out if possible, so i am using my influence to try and do this. That is all. ATG on the whole was created by a group of people born to parents who are lifelong social activists and far left-wing campaigners so the concepts and ideology’s you are explaining here are not alien to us or falling on deaf ears. You clearly have a good insight into these issues at hand and i hope you use all of your knowledge to it’s full potential in order to try and improve situations you feel strongly about and the lives of people around you, as i hope to myself. Thank you for your words. JM

  27. L says:

    Lots of good points raised.

    Just an observation: they didn’t even really need to paint out that black bit at the top of the ad. The message is contained lower down the wall, the top section is just buff.

    I don’t understand why they went so high, they could have stopped at the top of the ‘Surface’ box…

  28. truth2012 says:

    The people who painted the advert are well known writers. Red Gallery will sell that space to Mcdonalds if they asked to use it. I would not be concerned about any graf in hipster central Shoreditch. Its here today and gone tommorow and if you don’t like it, go dog it.

  29. @ truth 2012 says:

    Which well known writers painted it then?

  30. ha! says:

    seriously- you internet lot chat alot of guff. especially those precious about fucking graffiiti or ‘community’ its ridiculous, its the same bullshit thinking that has banksy under plastics.
    if you dont like the scenery- get up off your arse and change it. the city is open 24/7

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