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Published:December 7th, 2005 21:07 EST
Graffiti Writers Leave Their Mark--Literally

Graffiti Writers Leave Their Mark--Literally

By Andrew Chien

The Bloomfield Wall of Fame is an interactive museum that accepts any and all artistic contributions from its visitors. As a result, it appears to be just another urban sprawl of vandalism.

Brew, 22, is an active contributor to the Bloomfield Wall of Fame at Watsessing Park. Dark haired, stocky, and holding a can of black spraypaint, Brew hopes to make his mark upon the world -- literally.

The can makes the sound of teeth jangling inside metal as he shakes it. Then, a burst of black paint on the wall. The push of a button combined with a flick of the wrist leaves sharply edged letters written in print but the letter`s compactness gives them the illusion of script - a tag.

Brew geared on his ventilation mask to signal the creation of a bigger, more detailed piece called a burner. A simple outline in bubble letter spelled out "BREW." Dimensions and shadows are added to "3D" the piece. Brew dropped down his black can and pulled out a fresh orange can of spraypaint. He proceeded to flesh out the skeleton with orange paint. Then, the body was peppered with red, grey, blue, and pink polka dots. Finally, he brought out the black can again to fragment the bubble letters which hardened the edges; with newly painted on screws and nails, the piece now seemed blocky and mechanical on a sun kissed wall.

Brew has just committed a crime in broad daylight.

Grafitti is still illegal despite any argument for the art. "It`s bullsh*t man, " Brew said. GKae got locked up just for writing his name, and some piece of sh*t rapist gets a lighter sentence than he does."

Unfortunately, this is not an exaggerated story. In an interview on, LA graffiti writer GKae, said, "When the judge handed me three years he said, ` don`t have one victim, you have tens of thousands of victims that have to see your graffiti on their way to work.`"

Graffiti has left its mark on the world.

Just like any type of good writing, graffiti shows instead of tells. The world began to take notice. In Britain, 123 members of Parliament including Prime Minister Tony Blair signed a statement for the "Keep Britain Tidy" campaign on August 2, 2004. The statement said, "Graffiti is not art, it`s crime. On behalf of my constituents, I will do all I can to rid our community of this problem."

The United States has begun subscribing to the "broken window theory" that reducing vandalism helps prevent crime. New York bans all sales of spraypaint cans to minors and requires the cans to be locked in a display case behind the counter. This was its critique of graffiti.

The criticism doesn`t bother Brew. Sometimes, I hate graffiti because of all the crap you have to go through but it`s just such a rush, " he said.

However, Brew is not the stereotyped individual: deviant, unemployed, or a school dropout. Despite living in Bloomfield, Brew commutes to both work and school in two different towns. He currently pursues a liberal arts A.S. degree from Essex County College, Newark.

To support the financial burdens of his life and education, Brew works in Division East, on 460 Bloomfield Ave., Montclair.

Yeah man, it`s a real cool place; we sell all sorts of sneakers there that run from $60 to $300, " said Brew. After a hard day`s work, he usually calls up his girlfriend, Sarah, who attends a fashion college in New York, or spends his paycheck on seeing movies or buying spraypaint.

But Brew says he doesn`t understand all the negativity against graffiti. It`s funny, all we`re doing is expressing ourselves but advertisements are bombarding you with mental graffiti just to take your money and convince you to be addicted to things you don`t need, " said Brew.

You don`t need television or the internet; all you need is a can of paint and there`s a chance for you to express yourself to hundreds, maybe thousands of people, " said Brew.