Abstract Edit

This film is a 1983 documentary on graffiti in New York City, that explores the street culture, and art that takes place in its subway system. We will take a look at the information given by the many individuals interviewed in this film and explore the different views on graffiti art in the city. Also, methods of making, and different versions of graffiti will be brought up in the article, and we will talk about a couple of big name artists in New York City. Lastly, we will take a look at the ways that NYC officials attempted to put a halt to graffiti, but ultimately, it will never be able to stop graffiti completely.

Storyline & Information Edit

Filming around New York City, one was able to see all the different paintings around the subway. The filming went on and interviewed many of the different artists and defined what they do and what they call themselves. The term “writer” and “bombing,” refer to the graffiti artists and the act of writing graffiti, respectively. Graffiti isn’t looked at positively by all however. There are two opposite points on this topic of graffiti. One viewpoint on it treats it like a plague; they want to do anything possible to make it stop. Among this group, Mayor Edward Koch declared that it is destroying New York City life and making the standard of living go down. He wants to see these graffiti writers be treated as vandals and put behind bars. On the other hand, the writers believe there is no harm in what they do. They see robbers and murderers making the city worse and as far as they are concerned, they are innocent.

Graffiti art also takes dedication, and the ability to trace and design the piece. Their many artworks take on deep meanings. Also, the goals of graffiti artists were to have as many places tagged as they can, in order to give themselves a bigger name. Many have their own style in the way they produce their art. For example, bubble lettering and design arrows are two common graffiti elements but they are not alike when comparing different artists. Some popular artists interviewed in the film:

Seen – Real name, Richard Mirando, is one of the most well-known graffiti artists in the world.

Sony – One-armed graffiti artist prominent in this early 80’s graffiti movement.

Kap – Artist who would tag over other artists work and caused some problems among the artist community.

Other incidents within the writer’s community were these tensions among each other for the lack of respecting each other’s work. Kap’s ideal goal was to have his tag be seen on every single train and every single line no matter how many artworks he wrote over, and thus causing these tensions.

Also, the official intervention from the city of New York was another contributor to problems with graffiti writers. Officials ordered the trains to be painted all white, and built these two barbed wire fences that were monitored by watchdogs in between the two fences. The mayor also hired celebrities to try and persuade these young adults to stop tagging around the city. Their biggest headline was; make your mark in society, not on society. Regardless, the writers interviewed knew that no matter what they would do to try and stop graffiti, it will never be eliminated.

Keywords Edit



Examples Edit


Graffiti artist, Sony, pictured at the middle.


Graffiti artist, Seen.


Graffiti artist displaying his stance on innocence of graffiti writing.


Mayor Koch displaying anti-graffiti publications.


Subway train in New York City.

Citations Edit

"Style Wars(1983)." YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2014. <>.

"Style Wars." Style Wars. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2014. <>.

All Images taken from Google Images