I felt very lucky to paint with Atome recently on a wall in Malabar. It was a quick painting session that highlighted our core graffiti practice in regards to style and form. Current graffiti standards can concentrate on details and getting the colours and theme right whereas old school aesthetics as they are coined seem more focused on the style and expression of the actual letter forms. These forms are the artists signature whereas some younger painters feel the style is expressed by how successfully the theme is presented and its technical mastery actualised. The newer forms are carefully crafted to present a unified picture field whereas the old school aesthetic is contained purely in the letter forms only. At times highlighting the differences in style, colour and form to differentiate the artists rather than unify them.
What I find interesting is that time itself can unlock an understanding of form and colour that can be so unique to the specific artist. Some artists can have a very distinct style early in their careers quite quickly whereas I feel as though it has taken me a while to really unlock a more sophisticated style.
What I find interesting is that contemporary art practice also highlights participation and collaboration letting people come into an artwork as participants. The difference is an overall feel is negotiated with key artists and curators not necessarily allowing the participants to create the structure of the work but to create within it. The similarity with the structured approach of current virtuoso graffiti artists is the need to place their work in a clearly defined structure allowing the key artists to structure it and other artists to participate. It is an interesting correlation of quite different practices and agendas.
The old school model is maybe a more modernist approach highlighting difference through choices made by individual artists rather than an overall group structure. In terms of population and dynamics it is easier for certain practitioners of art to liaise and create inclusive environments though this in itself can impede the individual outside of these norms. So essentially Atome and myself expressed our style and decisions independently but together.