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5 Graffiti Artists You Should Know

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

Xenz.jpg 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.

3. SABER

Saber.jpg 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

Tox.jpg 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

Borf.jpg 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.)

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Art
5 Things You Might Not Know About Ansel Adams

You probably know Ansel Adams—who was born on February 20, 1902—as the man who helped promote the National Park Service through his magnificent photographs. But there was a lot more to the shutterbug than his iconic, black-and-white vistas. Here are five lesser-known facts about the celebrated photographer.

1. AN EARTHQUAKE LED TO HIS DISTINCTIVE NOSE.

Adams was a four-year-old tot when the 1906 San Francisco earthquake struck his hometown. Although the boy managed to escape injury during the quake itself, an aftershock threw him face-first into a garden wall, breaking his nose. According to a 1979 interview with TIME, Adams said that doctors told his parents that it would be best to fix the nose when the boy matured. He joked, "But of course I never did mature, so I still have the nose." The nose became Adams' most striking physical feature. His buddy Cedric Wright liked to refer to Adams' honker as his "earthquake nose.

2. HE ALMOST BECAME A PIANIST.

Adams was an energetic, inattentive student, and that trait coupled with a possible case of dyslexia earned him the heave-ho from private schools. It was clear, however, that he was a sharp boy—when motivated.

When Adams was just 12 years old, he taught himself to play the piano and read music, and he quickly showed a great aptitude for it. For nearly a dozen years, Adams focused intensely on his piano training. He was still playful—he would end performances by jumping up and sitting on his piano—but he took his musical education seriously. Adams ultimately devoted over a decade to his study, but he eventually came to the realization that his hands simply weren't big enough for him to become a professional concert pianist. He decided to leave the keys for the camera after meeting photographer Paul Strand, much to his family's dismay.

3. HE HELPED CREATE A NATIONAL PARK.

If you've ever enjoyed Kings Canyon National Park in California, tip your cap to Adams. In the 1930s Adams took a series of photographs that eventually became the book Sierra Nevada: The John Muir Trail. When Adams sent a copy to Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, the cabinet member showed it to Franklin Roosevelt. The photographs so delighted FDR that he wouldn't give the book back to Ickes. Adams sent Ickes a replacement copy, and FDR kept his with him in the White House.

After a few years, Ickes, Adams, and the Sierra Club successfully convinced Roosevelt to make Kings Canyon a national park in 1940. Roosevelt's designation specifically provided that the park be left totally undeveloped and roadless, so the only way FDR himself would ever experience it was through Adams' lenses.

4. HE WELCOMED COMMERCIAL ASSIGNMENTS.

While many of his contemporary fine art photographers shunned commercial assignments as crass or materialistic, Adams went out of his way to find paying gigs. If a company needed a camera for hire, Adams would generally show up, and as a result, he had some unlikely clients. According to The Ansel Adams Gallery, he snapped shots for everyone from IBM to AT&T to women's colleges to a dried fruit company. All of this commercial print work dismayed Adams's mentor Alfred Stieglitz and even worried Adams when he couldn't find time to work on his own projects. It did, however, keep the lights on.

5. HE AND GEORGIA O'KEEFFE WERE FRIENDS.

Adams and legendary painter O'Keeffe were pals and occasional traveling buddies who found common ground despite their very different artistic approaches. They met through their mutual friend/mentor Stieglitz—who eventually became O'Keeffe's husband—and became friends who traveled throughout the Southwest together during the 1930s. O'Keeffe would paint while Adams took photographs.

These journeys together led to some of the artists' best-known work, like Adams' portrait of O'Keeffe and a wrangler named Orville Cox, and while both artists revered nature and the American Southwest, Adams considered O'Keeffe the master when it came to capturing the area. 

“The Southwest is O’Keeffe’s land,” he wrote. “No one else has extracted from it such a style and color, or has revealed the essential forms so beautifully as she has in her paintings.”

The two remained close throughout their lives. Adams would visit O'Keeffe's ranch, and the two wrote to each other until Adams' death in 1984.

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Dan Bell
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Design
A Cartographer Is Mapping All of the UK’s National Parks, J.R.R. Tolkien-Style
Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park
Dan Bell

Cartographer Dan Bell makes national parks into fantasy lands. Bell, who lives near Lake District National Park in England, is currently on a mission to draw every national park in the UK in the style of the maps in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Kottke.org reports.

The project began in September 2017, when Bell posted his own hand-drawn version of a Middle Earth map online. He received such a positive response that he decided to apply the fantasy style to real world locations. He has completed 11 out of the UK’s 15 parks so far. Once he finishes, he hopes to tackle the U.S. National Park system, too. (He already has Yellowstone National Park down.)

Bell has done various other maps in the same style, including ones for London and Game of Thrones’s Westeros, and he commissions, in case you have your own special locale that could use the Tolkien treatment. Check out a few of his park maps below.

A close-up of a map for Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park in central England
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Cairngorms National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Cairngorms National Park in Scotland
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Lake District National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Lake District National Park in England
Dan Bell

You can buy prints of the maps here.

[h/t Kottke.org]

All images by Dan Bell

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