Ocean Spray

A new book shows that NYC isn't the only city where canned art is cool

With two best-selling books on the New York City graffiti scene -- Broken Windows and Burning New York - James and Karla Murray have proven that there's more to graffiti than aerosol and popo dodging.  And now, with their new book, Miami Graffiti, the duo is proving there's more to graffiti than New York City.

"Our goal," they said of the book, "was to showcase all the gorgeous artwork these Miami artists have done and help put Miami on the map as one of the epicenters of graffiti in the United States. We also would love for the city of Miami to finally recognize graffiti as a legitimate art form." 

Help recognize tonight, when James and Karla will be at Books and Books showing off images that prove aerosol is indeed awesome.

What inspired you to put a book together on Miami graffiti?

Speaking with many of the local artists. They explained to us how overlooked the Miami graffiti scene has been. Much attention has been focused on documenting the graffiti scene in New York. We had collected so many great photos over the years, but the artists were the ones who pushed us to put together the book.

What distinguishes Miami graffiti from that of elsewhere?

The colors the artists use. Miami artists often use tropical, vibrant, candy colors reflecting their environment. Another distinguishing thing about Miami graffiti is that it is often done inside abandoned factories and along trackside buildings, where the public would not often see it. Most graffiti in New York is now done on the streets.

What surprised you about the artists you interviewed for the book?

How motivated they have remained to create their art despite the monumental opposition from the city of Miami and society in general and despite the lack of recognition they have received. They create art for art's sake.

What's the most common misconception about graffiti artists?
That they are young kids just wanting to vandalize things.  In fact, many of the graffiti artists featured in our book are actually in their late 20s to early 40s and are very serious and talented artists. They often work a regular 9 to 5 job, even have kids, and still create graffiti because they enjoy painting so much. Creating their artwork is often a hobby to them just like many people go out and play golf. 

Did the graffiti artists you talked to cite artists they themselves are inspired by?
Yes, many of the Miami graffiti artists have been inspired by older Miami graffiti writers who are no longer painting. Artists typically spend a lot of time looking at and studying walls that they have seen in person and/or photos. Many Miami artists have also been inspired by classic New York graffiti writers, especially from the subway era.

What did you enjoy most about this project?

For us, the the biggest thrill was finding all this incredible art inside an abandoned building where nobody else would see it.  We have many pictures in the book from these abandoned places, called "penits," and our jaw would drop every time we would discover a new place and see it covered in graffiti.


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