Infogram: Costs of Graffiti Removal in Different U.S. Cities

The battle between graffiti writers and their city’s graffiti removal team will likely never end. I thought about the costs the city must be paying to continually paint over graffiti. (Because I’m pretty sure a lot of taggers still steal paint, their supply is virtually endless.) While looking through San Francisco Department of Public Works’ graffiti page, the first sentence says SF spends over $20 million a year to remove graffiti. At the bottom of the page is a link to the Graffiti Hurts informational website. There I found the cost of graffiti removal for several different U.S. cities. For some of the data, the expense was given annually, for other cities only the cost of removal for 2006 was provided. Because of this, I created two different doughnut charts in my infograph: Costs of Graffiti Removal in Different U.S. Cities

Costs of Graffiti Removal in Different U.S. Cities

*I was unable to find New York’s graffiti removal expenses.

Sources For Infograph Data:

Graffiti Hurts

San Francisco Department of Public Works


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A Look Inside the Minds of Bay Area Graffiti Writers

Bay Area graffiti writers, Savor KI and Napo CPB, discuss why they like graffiti, some of their influences, and what keeps them doing it.


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Ocean Avenue M Muni Stop Graffiti Spot Profile

Last week I posted an audio story for part of which I visited the Muni stops on Eucalyptus and Ocean Avenues – located between 19th Avenue and Junipero Serra Boulevard – to ask frequenters what they thought about the graffiti on the buildings by which the train passes. I figured it would be a smart idea to show the area and some of the graffiti to give some perspective.

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Some of the reasons I think this is a cool spot are: It’s relatively high traffic. Almost everyone who rides the M line will see it.  Besides a mural on one corner of the roughly three block stretch  Although some of it is on the sides of the businesses, most of the track is the back of the fence in residents’ yards. Also, paintings usually run for at least a few weeks. Through some work  I did previously with the San Francisco Department of Public Works graffiti removal task force, I know the SFDPW must coordinate with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency in order to ensure workers are not run over while removing or painting over the graffiti.

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Artists and SF Residents Weigh in on the Effect of Graffiti

I interviewed a Los Angeles graffiti artist named Savor and some of his answers sparked my curiosity.

I asked some residents of Ocean Ave. in San Francisco if they thought growing up in a city with a lot of graffiti influenced people to take part in it.

Here is an audio edit I created of the interviews:

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Graffiti writers paint nine stations during BART strike

During the recent Bay Area Rapid Transit strike, graffiti artists across the Bay Area tagged the insides of nine stations while workers were absent. Stations hit the hardest include Glen Park  and Balboa Park stations in San Francisco and Bay Fair station in San Leandro.

After a strike in July and BART workers requests still not being met, employees went on a four day strike from   Oct. 18 to Monday Oct. 21, 2013. Following the death of two maintenance workers in Walnut Creek during the strike, staff and management reached and agreement to end the protest.

Upon reopening the transportation system on Tuesday Oct. 22, workers and commuters found that multiple graffiti artist and crews had covered nearly every part of the stations including the high-voltage electric third rail, which sources say was on during the strike.

While BART continues they’re search for the culprits, the abundance of graffiti led to the arrest of 2 males in connection to tagging in a Richmond BART train storage yard.

Growing up in the North Bay Area, I would ride BART all the time to travel. Since becoming interested in graffiti and moving out to the city, I have been amazed by the people who are able to paint in these dangerous areas. I usually see a bit of graffiti in the stations but nothing like this. I think it takes a ton of guts to paint in a station when they are not on strike. Artists definitely took the opportunity that was given to them to put their name out there.

For writers and anyone who is interested there are more pics of the Glen Park Station and a few others on Flickr.

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Stencils to Holding Cell: A Brief History of my Graffiti Transformation

For lack of a more significant post, this article will document my transformation from stencil and street art enthusiast to criminal graffiti artist.

So in high school, I was kind of a skater-punk (probably a wannabe to some) but for a while, I was pretty obsessed with DIY stuff like recording your own music and making your own clothes. My friends and I would use stencils from Stencil Punks to spray paint our own custom band shirts, jackets, patches, etc.  From there, combining my passion for graphic design, I began creating my own stencils,  just for personal use. At the time, I did not like graffiti for the most part. I thought stencils were super cool but I didn’t really understand the point of tagging and could not comprehend wildstyle piecing. I’ve drawn my name in block and bubble letters since I was a kid but until the interview I did with Savor, I never realized how much that affected my interest in graffiti. It’s still throwies over everything.

Then in 2008, my senior year, I was grouped with an acquaintance in my video production class who strictly blackbooks, meaning he draws graffiti but doesn’t paint illegally. From sitting next to him and talking about this type of artwork, I began to doodle more aggressively in my school notebooks. After graduation, I moved to San Francisco, a graffiti mecca. I’m not sure what it was exactly, I think becoming familiar with writers and finding their tag somewhere or noticing local taggers who put up new tags everyday in my neighborhood, but suddenly I wanted to be apart of that too.

Fast-forward to 2010, the summer of my freshman year at college. I was visiting my friends in Chico – one of which is my stenciling buddy introduced previously – and of course they were designing their new beer pong table with spray paint. I had a few too many and think it would be a good idea to tag their driveway… only it was not their driveway… it was a  public sidewalk.  After returning to the house, I decided I wanted to paint some more.

The neighbors had called the police thinking I had also tagged their car so I hadn’t even made it down the block when a squad car zoomed past me, skidded to a stop and peeled out in reverse to get to me. (Apparently the whole party heard the screech). I guess it was bad timing walking out, paint in hand but being 18, I got to spend the night in the cell. I was arrested on a charge of misdemeanor vandalism, sentenced to community service (which ironically introduced me to more SF writers) and paid fines for the removal. I was also just recently released from my three-year informal probation (meaning I didn’t have a probation officer).

Virtually the first time I ever went out to “paint,” I got caught. My friend still calls me Leon.

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When I Met Graffiti Legend Joker at 1AM

One of the first times I visited the First Amendment Gallery or 1AM, I happened upon one of my graffiti icons, Joker ROF CA ICP. (The capital letters are the names of crews with which he is affiliated) The only reason I recognized him was because I had recently watched a video on YouTube that briefly showed his face.

He walked up to the counter next to me, so I asked if he was in fact Joker then shook his hand and told him it was an honor to meet him. He asked for two cans of Montana 94, one in flat black and one in sea-foam green or turquoise for a wall, he told me later, which his friend had just buffed for him.

I asked if he had time to sign my black book and he did. I told him the throwie he was drawing in my notebook was one of the first pieces of graffiti I had seen since moving to the city and was virtually the reason I strayed away from my fascination with stencils and street art and divulged into the graffiti culture.

He told me that he is always trying to evolve and push his artwork. I love his newer works which are more detailed and abstract but I am a sucker for what I consider the classic Joker throw-up. It is cool to be able to track his progression through photos in Flickr, since he dates a lot of his work with the year. Throwies and pieces from as early as 2009.

It was a pretty surreal experience. He was the first ‘real’ graffiti artist I had ever met and it took place before most of my journalism school so I was pretty much just starstruck but it is an experience I will never forget.

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