My Graffiti and Street Art Bookshelf


Looking at the above view every day I realized some of you might find it interesting and, instead of just sharing a photo (or two, as that’s not everything in my library of graffiti and street art books) I thought it would be cool to write a little bit about the books that are on my bookshelf.

OBEY: Supply & Demand – The Art of Shepard Fairey

Who doesn’t need a big, chunky Shepard Fairey retrospective book on their bookshelf. I picked this up at the opening of the retrospective show at the ICA Boston.

The Art of Getting Over

I really appreciate the vibe of this book from ESPO/Stephen Powers. It’s hard to write about this stuff, as a graffiti writer, without it falling apart in one way or another. His sense of humor, passion for the subject matter and the fact that he was able to reach out to people he knew and respected to fill out the roster of people covered allowed him to sidestep any issues and come out with a legit classic.

Banksy: Wall and Piece

IF you like Banksy, this is a pretty good document of his earlier career. It doesn’t cover the later, larger scale antics and installations, but that might be for the best, anyway. There’s a lot to like about his work before he got all “international art sensation” on us.

Banksy in NYC

A great document from CARNAGE NYC of Banksy the “international art sensation” and his month=long residency in New York. A phenomenal book on a true media and art phenomenon.

Graffiti World: Street Art from Five Continents

With a page or two on every artist covered, there’s no depth in this monster tome. The breadth (five continents!) more than makes up for it.

Style: Writing from the UnderGround

I love this book. It might be too weird for the average civilian.

Subway Art

The classic of all classics. The one-two punch of this book and the Style Wars documentary changed my life forever.

Art in the Streets

The exhibition catalog from the Art in the Streets graffiti and street art show at LA’s MOCA. That was a great show and the catalog is well-worth checking out.
I'm slightly crazy looking in this photo

The History of American Graffiti

This is a great book. Read it from cover to cover and you’ll have a legit understanding of the history of American graffiti. I’m sure there are people in every city covered that can quibble with things the way we can quibble with some things as they’re portrayed in the Boston section, but the reality is, it’s a good representation of what went on. I expect the same is also true of the other cities covered.

The amount of crap that I saw Caleb take just in terms of the Boston section was enough to make me respect this effort immensely, even beyond the actual scale of the undertaking. Setting yourself up to hear it from every writer in America who feels slighted that they weren’t included is no joke.

Burning New York

In case you didn’t know James and Karla Murray are really great at what they do. They were an early Flickr follow for me and that paid off over the years, big-time.

This book captures a vibrant era in New York’s big-wall graffiti scene as the internationalization and internetization of the scene came to maturity with New York as the focus.

From the Platform: Subway Graffiti, 1983-1989

An incredible record of the diehards fighting against the MTA during clean train era. I’m not sure how well this book would translate to the uninitiated, but to writers and people who know the subculture, this book is a must-see.

Martha Cooper: Hip Hop Files

We’re blessed we had people like Martha Cooper around to recognize the significance of what was going on at the time in NYC and had the good sense to document it. A great record of a time and place that changed the entertainment and arts worlds forever.

Spraycan Art

If Subway Art changed my life, Spraycan Art coming along a few years later cemented those changes into something permanent. This book changed the way I look at graffiti and opened my eyes to what the world was doing. I knew what I was seeing in Boston every day and then what was coming out of New York and making it into mass media. Everything else was a mystery before Spraycan Art.

All City: The Book about Taking Space

This is a great introduction to the vandalism side of the equation, featuring interviews and photos from a number of big-time vandals.

That’s the tally for now. I’ll keep adding on as I add more books so watch Twitter for updates.