Monday, 13 October 2008


Finally the book is in the bag! Much to the relief of my girlfriend, cats, extended family, and everyone at the publishers, for that matter. 'Tis done. After the best part of a year and hundreds of hours of interviewing, transcribing, writing, scanning and designing, the project that started off as a dare is at the printers being turned from gigabytes of noughts and ones into paper with words and pictures on it.

I don't think I need to explain what this project is about, since the clue is very much in the title, but I guess some background information is probably the order of the day since this is my first post.

What you might know already:

Children Of The Can tells the story of Bristol graffiti through the words of the artists themselves, and includes 40-odd interviews, either presented as Q&As or in the form of what Richard at Tangent Books described to me as 'think pieces,' or essays with quotes, basically. 

A lot of the photos came from the artists themselves. Unlike most people who write graffiti books I don't have a huge collection of flicks. I'm a graffiti writer, not a photographer, although I do take a passable snap. Some of the pictures also came from amateur and professional photographers who love graff and live in Bristol. Big up to them, and all the writers. 

Bristol has a fairly small but very active graffiti scene and it's always been that way. I started painting in 1984 and have seen styles and writers come and go. Three of the four members of my original crew, Crime Inc, still paint: Inkie is a world-renowned wildstyle letter master and more recently purveyor of the 'Ink Nouveau' style; Nick Walker is an extremely successful stencil artist who has exhibited work all over the world, and kicked down a few doors for British artists without ever really being acknowledged for doing so; and I'm...well, I paint and teach. Let's leave it at that for now. My brother was the fourth member and these days is a graphic designer and one of the most opinionated critics of the modern scene that I know. Apart from myself, of course.

What you probably don't know already:

The majority of the interviews in the book were done face-to-face in some of Bristol's best (and or cheapest) public houses. At an average of 2.5 hours per interview and around two pints of Guinness per hour, during forty interviews I probably consumed something in the region of 200 pints of the black stuff. I don't even want to think about what that translates to in money. Add to that all the rounds I bought and that's a figure worth going to the pub to try and forget.

To my knowledge this is the first book of its kind. There are other UK graffiti books, and even one that specifically focuses on the scene in a particular city (Brighton Graffiti by Stuart Bagshaw and David Oates) but this is the first to include in-depth interviews as well as pictures. Bristol deserves it and I was worried that if I didn't do it someone else would do it badly. In fact they already have (see below).

The project came about when I sat down with some friends to look in horror at a little book called Bristol Graffiti that came out in 2006. It was so bad that my response was "Oh my God, I could do better than that" To which came the collective reply "Go on then!"

Paris (TCF/WSSK) lent me a copy of Overground 2 (by Tobias Barenthin Linblad and Malcolm Jacobson) to read, and that was my starting-point, in terms of style and 'finding a voice' for my own book; I bit their style. A book about Scandinavian graffiti, it gets right under the skin of eight writers by spending long periods of time with them and interviewing them. I can't recommend it highly enough. 

Children of the Can is published at the end of November and the best place to get a copy is from Tangent Books' website: It will also be available from Amazon and all the rest of the usual crooks, but they take such a big slice that I strongly advise you to buy direct from Tangent if you'd like to support a struggling artist (me) and a small local publishers (them). There's a link to their site top right. 

1 comment:

The Pale Walls said...

Oh Yeh baby lets get rock'n rollin! deed!

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