British graffiti artist Banksy, who's been in the news quite a bit lately, is probably the most well-known graffiti artist of all time. He's also the only graffitist most people know by name. But there is a plethora of graffitists, both talented and not-so-talented, and some of them warrant just as much attention, if not more so, than Banksy. A few that top the list...
1. Lady Pink: Sandra Fabara
The Ecuador-born Sandra Fabara was raised in Queens, NY, and started creating graffiti in 1979, during her years at the High School of Art and Design. She quickly became the only female able to compete with the boys in the graffiti world. At the same time, she was already exhibiting paintings in art galleries. Her starring role in the movie Wild Style in 1982 made a national name for her and earned her a cult following. Since then, her works have been added to the collections of major museums. She now runs a legitimate mural company with her husband Smith, an artist.
2. Xenz: Graeme Brusby
Apparently, Graeme Brusby is "widely considered to be the UK's most important graffiti artist after Banksy." He's definitely one of the most Internet-friendly graffiti artists, with a web site, blog, Flickr photostream, MySpace, and fan forum. Brusby got into graffiti as a teen in the "˜80s, then studied at Edinburgh College of Art. Today, he's a member of "one of the UK's most admired graffiti art collectives," the TCF crew, and is frequently included in collaborations and exhibitions.
The graffiti artist SABER is the creator of a giant work on the sloping cement bank of the Los Angeles River, supposedly the largest graffiti piece ever created. The 1997 piece required 97 gallons of paint, took 35 nights to complete, and is nearly the length of a football field—so large it can be viewed in satellite images. SABER has held a solo exhibition and released a monograph, and he's put his skills to use working for Harley-Davidson, Levi's, Hyundai, and Scion, among others.
(Photo from anarchosyn's Flickr stream.)
4. Tox: Daniel Halpin
Daniel Halpin has gotten a reputation as London's "most prolific bomber" since his tag appears EVERYWHERE in the London rail system. His tag, consisting of "TOX" and then the last two digits of the year, is the most well-known tag in London. Apparently, 2003 was the apex of his tagging, with virtually every inch of the Metropolitan line covered in "Tox03." Then, in 2004, he was arrested. His graffiti, arrest, and trial were discussed in a Discovery Channel piece that same year. Despite the arrest, his tags have been spotted at least as recently as 2007.
5. Borf: John Tsombikos
With the help of some friends, John Tsombikos, an art student, left his mark all over D.C., including a five-foot-high face and a 15-foot "BORF," in 2005. Much of his graffiti involved mysterious phrases like, "Borf writes letters to your children." There was also a recurring face, which is said to be the face of one of Tsombikos' friends, who went by the nickname Borf and had committed suicide. In D.C., Borf graffiti was ubiquitous, on walls and pillars and bridges and overpasses. Tsombikos remarked he felt powerful, "like Batman or something," when he heard people talking about his work. But, in July 2005, Borf came to an end when Tsombikos and two friends were arrested for defacing property.
(Photo from niznoz's Flickr stream.)
BONUS: For more graffiti fun, check out the Graffiti Project on Kelburn Castle, for which Brazilian artists were brought to Scotland to paint Kelburn Castle. The site has photos, videos, and more.
Know of any other talented, prolific, or otherwise interesting graffiti artists? Tell us about 'em!
(Click on the images above to see larger versions.)