Taki 183 x Rime x Roids x Revok

May 20 2010 . 03:10pm

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Taki183 Interview on ilovegraffiti.de

January 18 2010 . 07:19pm

Graffiti writers around the world know the name that started it all: Taki183. A greek kid from 183rd Street in Washington Heights. Taki183’s simple signature captured the attention of a reporter and, on July 21, 1971, the article “TAKI 183 Spawns Pen Pals” appeared in The New York Times.(PDF Download). Just like that, he became a graffiti legend, with rumors spreading that he even tagged a Secret Service car and the Statue of Liberty. Amid all the rumors, Taki183 remained silent. Now, almost four decades later, Taki183 has emerged to tell a bit of his story. Our friend Roger Gastman sat down with 57 years old Taki for this ilovegraffiti.de Smalltalk.

Taki, where did you grow up?

I grew up in Washington Heights, moved there when I was a little kid. A lot of Greeks at the time stayed with the Greeks, then that changed with the Heights, the183th street, hung out with everybody and it was a pretty nice place to grow up.

Is it safe to say Washington Heights was the birthplace of modern graffiti in New York City?

I would say the east side of Manhattan was the birthplace of graffiti because that’s where the media picked it up. They couldn’t give a crap what happened in Washington Heights or the Bronx. When it happened on the east side, that’s when it was in the paper.

When you started writing graffiti, what were you calling it? Did you call it tagging or writing?

I think we were calling it writing, but if we saw a subway car we would say, “Let’s go hit the car.” If you hit it from end to end, you’d “kill the car”— that was how we talked Part of the reason it became big during the summer of ’70 is because I was going to summer school at George Washington High School and my desk was full of graffiti. I had written my name and all these people would write on my table also. I already had a name and people were meeting me and they would go out and write. That was the big summer I was working as a messenger. I was in a lot of places and I just kept writing; as long as I had a marker I’d keep writing. It was addictive.

You were doing this solely for the purpose of writing your name?

Yeah, just to say I was there, basically.

Did you go out to all the different boroughs?

I inevitably I did, but Brooklyn is a very big borough, so I wouldn’t make a point of stopping at every station and writing. At some point I hit all the boroughs, but not everywhere, it’s big job.

So in early 1970, the subway system has no tags except for you guys. At what point do you start seeing other people like BABYFACE 86, for example, or JOE 182?

I think it just happened overnight. Basically, you’d already hit the 169th Street station, and they would write right next to you. They wouldn’t write around the corner, they’d write next to you. People just added their names and it was pretty cool. The names tended to be clustered, and it kind of mushroomed from there. It just happened overnight basically.

Read the rest of the interview HERE

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