Was having a laugh today with a friend at how our lives as artists are impinged upon by what I can only describe as ‘meat heads’. This association with graffiti seems to impact our reputations in many ways. There are so many of these heavy handed types but in essence they are a minority though due to various social rituals the way of the ‘meat head’ is simply carried over into the lives of some who are more open minded. My colleague who I paint with and I don’t follow these rituals. We tend to work independently and have a broad knowledge of different ways of working whether it is street art or art or graffiti.
I remember around three distinct years from 13 to maybe 15 where I found myself with problematic types of people. But I figured out that they had serious problems and started to find people who were more creative. This was defining for me because I did find the right people and didn’t find myself in the trouble these people conjured for themselves. I was never into aggression and I only defended myself if I had to. Luckily I never had to really defend myself and a lot of people disappeared from graffiti into serious crime. The sad thing was they were on that path and they had very socially problematic issues.
For instance once a group of teenagers including me were walking down the street and one of the older boys who by the way was pretty huge hit someone for no reason. Everyone was shocked and as soon as a turn off was apparent I left to go home. The person who threw the punch never had anything to do with the main group he was simply the biggest there and trying to prove himself. His act though sullied the whole group as some of the group thought this single act was just what this group did normally. It wasn’t the case but that is the association from a violent person and a vile act.
The person who hit a random person was known as a troublemaker in the area and he never had anything to do with the group again although years later someone who was there used him as an example of everyone who was there. I found this understandable but odd in that he was also there and due to him leaving the group as did the person who did the act thought that that was just what this group did. So that is why I learnt to avoid the trouble makers because their acts would follow you if you had an association. Even if really you didn’t even know them. They followed you for decades.
Because I was an active graffiti artist I never was around fights or aggression because I was too busy but as I found my feet I met a lot of people and found pretty much all of the graffiti artists I met to be ‘meat heads’. The thing to acknowledge though is these people didn’t keep doing graffiti and branched off into other crime. That is why I moved away because they were not focused on graffiti. The person I mentioned earlier who randomly hit someone may have counted himself as a graffiti artist initially but from what I knew he had never done any graffiti ever. He had no talent or aspiration and I heard years later that he had a history in jail for crime.
There are no surprises there and so another ‘meat head’ was a flash in the pan briefly and simply passed momentarily through graffiti only to make everyone look bad. This was one example and there were many. You had to be focused to avoid these idiots and it seems the same problems still exist in graffiti. But the scene is overall healthier though it is still intermixed with ‘meat heads’. So the person who tried to hassle me and my friend a few months back I heard was in jail so the cycle of these types just never seems to end.