Graffiti black books were a pivotal part of my journey transitioning from skating to street art. They introduced me to the artistic aspect of graffiti and opened my eyes to the depth of the culture when I was just a young vandal.
I was introduced to graffiti by seeing black books from a few young writers from WLA and Venice CA around 1991. Skating and hip-hop drew me in, they went hand in hand for a young teenager in the 90s. Before I wrote graffiti I was copying skateboard graphics and band logos from my moms record collection, she was an artist/sculptor and always had a few sketch books in the house.
These elements made graffiti an inevitable path, it started with logos like AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Metallica etc. I drew inspiration from skate deck graphics like Powell Peralta, Alva, Natas, The Bones Brigade etc. Around the same time I saw the movies “Style Wars” and “Wild Style” but never knew the depth of the culture before I watched those films. After reading the two bibles of graffiti, “Subway Art” and “Spraycan Art” I became obsessed with what they referred to as “style writing.” I had seen some tags around town but had no idea what it meant or why people were writing prior to this.
I put a lot of effort into doing books but I later found it easier to have a rough sketch and figure the rest out at the wall sometimes with no sketch at all. The art of freestyling is a whole other post. Overall, I always deemed the black book an important part of the culture seeing how the subway writers from NY planned out whole cars and end to ends and how some black books circulated amongst writers.
I remember seeing masterful full double page black book pieces back in the day from some badass writers. Aside from developing styles and practicing, black books are circulated among crew and greater graffiti community, I always liked getting a book back from a homie after it’s been blessed. The art of rockin’ books seemed to really die down after the 90’s. As the evolution of graffiti continues I hope that the art of rockin’ black book never dies. In the spirit of keeping the lost art alive, I hope to keep tradition going and get back to rockin’ black books.