I’ll be the first to tell you that graffiti is a form of vandalism. There is no excuse for painting messages or artwork on property that doesn’t belong to you, unless you have permission. However, I do admire the talent. We all have seen the commissioned murals around the city. Their artistry is amazing! I’m in awe of the talent that it takes to create such artwork. I’m also in awe of the illegal artwork that you find on boxcars and various urban landscapes. I’ve even seen graffiti on barns in rural settings.
I got a text message with a picture of the first boxcar image below from my wife as she was heading into town. She does this when she sees something interesting that she thinks I might want to photograph. She knows me quite well! I did find it interesting, so I grabbed the camera and headed to the tracks. I thought I would be there to capture one picture, but after some investigation, there was more graffiti to be found.
The other thing that’s intriguing is some of the locations that you find graffiti. I’ve seen graffiti in locations that looked impossible to access. Most of the graffiti in these pictures were on the bottom of the boxcar, but the very first picture has graffiti covering the entire side of the boxcar. That took a little more effort than just walking up to the side of the train with a can of spray paint.
This post reminded me of a picture I took years ago in Nashville. After taking a picture of some graffiti on a smoke stack on Jefferson Street, I did some research and found the artist responsible. He calls himself Moist. I found an interview with him by a woman named Rachel. Her blog is called Grasping for Objectivity. An excerpt from the interview is below.
Rachel: When did you first discover that you were Moist?
MOIST: Well I went for a walk one day about four years ago when I just started getting into graffiti, I walked really far.
I love just walking sometimes, like Forrest Gump.
It started raining super hard and I was in Highland Park, and instead of running for cover, I just stood there in the rain. I watched people pack up and scatter in fear of getting wet like it’s going to ruin their lives or something. What’s the big deal with getting wet? Its water, we need it to survive, but oh no when it falls from the sky and lands on us we all trip out and run for cover.
So I just sat on a concrete stair and scratched the word MOIST into the step with a rock I found all while getting drenched. From then on I wrote MOIST.
I also love that so many people legitimately hate that word. It’s more likely to stick in peoples heads and more likely to be brought up in conversation. I love it when people hate it. It’s weird.
Rachel: How do you choose your targets?
MOIST: I like your questions. I get on Google maps and place a bunch of pins all over the city that spell out my name then I try to hit them all. If it’s a spot that gets a lot of attention, then it’s good, or if it looks really cool in a photo, like an old falling apart abandoned building that most people wouldn’t think twice about.
Here’s a picture of Moist’s work. I shot this on Kodak Portra 400 film with my favorite SLR, my Olympus OM1 and 50mm f1.8 lens.
How did he do this without getting caught? I’d be willing to bet that he was not following OSHA and TOSHA regulations, the least of which is properly tying off. Like I said, I don’t condone his actions, but you have to admire the determination, the fearlessness and the talent. Like and Follow me at Shuttering Thru Life for my next adventure. Thanks for reading!